Vanderbilt coach James Franklin called Alabama's Nick Saban "Nicky Satan," and promised he'd outwork Saban's staff. / Don McPeak, USA TODAY Sports
You can split Vanderbilt football into two distinct eras: With James Franklin, the Commodores' third-year coach, and without James Franklin. Prior to Franklin's arrival in 2011, remarks from Vanderbilt's coach could be taken with a grain of salt ‚?? because so many had promised competitive football only to fall flat. Franklin, who is 15-11 after two seasons in Nashville, has delivered.
This week, Franklin made another promise. During an appearance at Central High School in Macon, Ga., which was hosting its fall sports banquet, Franklin told the crowd that he has Alabama and coach Nick Saban in his sights. Only he didn't call him "Saban"‚?¶
"There's this guy at Alabama, I think his name is 'Nicky Satan,'" Franklin said.
"I think you guys have probably heard of him before. I'm going to outwork him. I'm going to outwork him, and that's kind of our plan every single day."
Franklin's passion, which obviously propelled him to take aim at college football's newest dynasty (and its coach), is also what attracted Central linebacker Nigel Bowden to Vanderbilt. Bowden, a four-star prospect, is a member of the Commodores' 2013 recruiting class.
"This man right here has so much passion," Bowden said at the banquet. "And I believe this is a man I can look up to for four years. And I'm telling you, man‚?¶ he is what he says he is. He walks the walk and talks the talk. I've never met anybody with so much energy and so much passion."
You'd say that Franklin's comments would get Alabama's attention, but after winning nine games in 2012 ‚?? a program-best in nearly a century ‚?? there's every reason to think that the Commodores have put the entire SEC on notice.
"People ask, 'Well, what's the secret? How are you able to come in there and turn that thing around so quickly and be able to do the things you're doing?' There is no secret. There is no secret," Franklin said.
"It's about hard work, it's about attention to detail and it's about having a collective mentality. Everybody within our administration, within our school, the captains, the trainers, the managers, anybody that's going to come in contact with our players is going to have the same consistent, positive message over and over and over again."
Vanderbilt is not scheduled to meet Alabama during the 2013 regular season, though given the way the Commodores have improved over the last two years, it's not totally out of the realm of possibility ‚?? if still not likely ‚?? that it'll be Vanderbilt-Alabama in the SEC title game.
UPDATE:Franklin called Saban to apologize, saying that his "Nicky Satan" remark was made as a joke, according to The Tennessean.
"Obviously, tremendous respect for Coach Saban," Franklin said. "I just got off the phone with him. Tremendous respect for them. I've got tremendous respect for what they've done. Everybody is chasing them. The guy has won three or four national championships."
Franklin said the two spoke only briefly, since both are occupied with recruiting.
"(I was) really talking about the work ethic that he has a reputation for, and that we're going to outwork them," Franklin said of his comment. "I made a joke. And in today's society with all the media and social media and people with tape recorders and things like that, that doesn't come off that way. I know people have tremendous pride in Alabama, and their fans are fanatical. So I understand. But it was a joke and I didn't mean to offend anybody."
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Read the original story: Vanderbilt coach calls Alabama's Saban 'Nicky Satan,' calls to apologize