Vanderbilt chancellor has to be cringing at coach’s comments about good looking wives

UPDATE Friday morning: As we expected, an apology was issued by Vandy coach James Franklin about his comments on only hiring assistants with attractive wives. The AJC is reporting that Franklin took to Twitter to say: “My foot doesn’t taste good. I hope I did not offend anyone … attempt at humor obviously fell a few yds. short. … I clearly used language that doesn’t reflect my view on women and I am SORRY!”

Vanderbilt’s vice chancellor of athletics, David Williams, said he told Franklin that his statements were “inappropriate.” “He clearly made a mistake,” Williams told USA Today. “And clearly what he said is not how he feels and not how we feel.”

Here is my original post:

Can a college noted for its academic excellence keep a coach on staff who says something as bizarre as this: He won’t hire an assistant coach until he checks out the man’s wife to ensure she is good looking.

Anyone doubt that Vanderbilt Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos cringed when he heard these comments made Wednesday by  Vanderbilt head coach James Franklin on a sports radio show? Or that the two men will be chatting soon?

In his commencement address to Vanderbilt grads two weeks ago, Zeppos urged them to find and embrace complexity to better their lives.

Franklin’s advice — at least to the male graduates at Vandy — apparently would have been to find a hot wife.

(I expect the standard-issue-gaffe statement soon that Franklin was only kidding and that he regrets his poor attempt at humor.)

According to the AJC:

Franklin, in an interview with Nashville radio station 104.5 The Zone, responded to a question about whether it helps a coach in recruiting to have a good-looking wife.

“I’ve been saying it for a long time, I will not hire an assistant coach until I’ve seen his wife,” he said. “His wife, if she looks the part and she’s a D1 recruit, then you got a chance to get hired.

“I mean, that’s part of the deal. There’s a very strong correlation between having the confidence, going up and talking to a woman, and being quick on your feet and having some personality and confidence and being fun and articulate, than it is walking into a high school and recruiting a kid and selling him.”

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

83 comments Add your comment

Dunwoody Mom

May 31st, 2012
2:27 pm

(I expect the standard-issue-gaffe statement soon that Franklin was only kidding and that he regrets his poor attempt at humor.)

Yep….

BT

May 31st, 2012
2:31 pm

His comments might be just that…kidding around. Lets make sure we dont over react as is done most of the time today with such issues until we know better. It seems everyone is offended by everything now-a-days!

Maureen Downey

May 31st, 2012
2:34 pm

@BT and all, You can go here and scroll down to Franklin’s interview and listen to the interview and decide for yourself. This issue emerges toward the end of a long interview. He was not kidding in my view, not one bit.

http://www.1045thezone.com//Article.asp?id=2454434

BT

May 31st, 2012
2:43 pm

@Maureen, you read it yourself, he has been saying it for a long time and it hasnt been an issue until now. Surely Vandy did their homework before they hired him and knew what they were getting.

Maureen Downey

May 31st, 2012
2:45 pm

@BT, That may be although the sports world seems abuzz with this interview and it is getting lots of attention on sports blogs and publications. It may be that this interview puts his view before a much wider audience and thus has greater repercussions. With the exception of the good looking wives comments, he represented his university pretty well. He talked about the academic focus. And he is an articulate guy.
Maureen

Archie

May 31st, 2012
2:52 pm

As that animated cartoon mule used to say on the old TV show “Hee-Haw;” “Whoeee! I don’t believe I’d-a told THAT!

Tag

May 31st, 2012
2:58 pm

He obviously is not one of the Bear Bryant’s of the coaching world.

BT

May 31st, 2012
3:03 pm

@Maureen, exactly my point, the media outlets today will take issues and expand on them to the point of being ridiculous. I am not making excuses for his comments but no one today can make mistakes any longer. Whats even sadder is that ONE PC mistake today can cost you your job which i am sure will be called for by some.

Maureen Downey

May 31st, 2012
3:08 pm

@Bt, But isn’t he responsible for what he says? This is not an inexperienced guy suckered by a reporter; he is media savvy. He’s smooth and polished on air. He knows he works for a top-ranked university. He didn’t make a single wrong statement; he spoke for a while on this issue. He didn’t think better of it and retract it in the remaining minutes of the interview although he had plenty of time and opportunity.
I think that we often let public figures, including elected officials, off the hook. This was a radio interview with a very friendly group of hosts. Franklin was clearly among friends and fans and wasn’t under pressure or attack to make a statement. He was genial and happy to expand on this topic.
I think he is accountable.
Maureen

GFY

May 31st, 2012
3:12 pm

What an idiot……you just don’t say something that stupid. I can only imagine what the assistant coaches think of this clown.

Mara

May 31st, 2012
3:14 pm

1 – even *if* he was joking, the comment was in very poor taste.

2 – And I’d like to know what he meant when he ‘clarified’ with this statement – “There’s a very strong correlation between having the confidence, going up and talking to a woman, and being quick on your feet and having some personality and confidence…” — oh, yeah? Because confident men don’t talk to somewhat pretty women? Or that a confident man would never *marry* anyone less than drop-dead gorgeous? That the attractiveness of the woman is directly perportional to the confidence level of husband? (since obviously no woman can resist the charms of an articulate and confident man, so why would someone with self-confidence even *consider* an average Jane?!)

3 – If I were in the running for a coaching job, I don’t know which would offend me most – that my employment hinged more on the attractiveness of my spouse than my actual coaching abilities, or that my boss was leering over my wife. At that point I might have to wonder if one day it might go even farther…a little nudge, a little wink, and an ultimatum.

Hi Archie!

Uh

May 31st, 2012
3:18 pm

I hope he doesn’t apologize or retract his comment. We’re a society that values good-looking women. I think it’s possible to argue that this is even more likely to be true of people who work in athletics. If a potential assistant coach didn’t have the personality to attract a wife others would be likely to compete for, it may actually be a strong indicator that he’s not going to make a good recruiter. You may not like this proxy, especially if you want to deny how important culturally it is for a woman to be good looking, but it doesn’t change whether it works or not.

On the upside for the wives of prospective coaches, if sports programs with family pictures are any indication, I don’t think the standard is super-model beauty. It’s more likely to be taking care of one’s appearance and putting time into looking nice; which actually matters for everyone whether we want it to be true or not.

BT

May 31st, 2012
3:29 pm

@Maureen,I agree 100% he must be accountable and he should not be off the hook. He has proven to be a little controversial as well with his comments last year after the UGA game. Being the HC at Vandy is a huge responsibility that he takes seriously I’m sure. But we have become such a PC society that mistakes can no longer be tolerated. We have all said things that we have regretted saying after the fact. As I said, someone will be calling for his job soon.

Johnny Rocker

May 31st, 2012
3:29 pm

He should have checked with me before doing that interview.

KidsDoMatter

May 31st, 2012
3:36 pm

Better yet, what does his wife look like? If I were one of his assistant coaches, I wouldn’t leave my “hot” wife with this “jerk”.

crackerdawg

May 31st, 2012
4:04 pm

James,
How SMART is your wife

Mara

May 31st, 2012
4:05 pm

Uh wrote – “If a potential assistant coach didn’t have the personality to attract a wife others would be likely to compete for, it may actually be a strong indicator that he’s not going to make a good recruiter”

He might have had “10’s” flinging themselves at him left and right but *still* ended up marrying the witty, accomplished, intelligent and and adventurous near-sighted, limp-haired librarian. Just because a certain type of person is attracted to YOU doesn’t mean you’re going to be attracted back. Let alone attracted enough to marry them. A lot of people *don’t* marry just for looks, you know.

Mr. Holmes

May 31st, 2012
4:13 pm

Personally I don’t see the controversy. It’s well known that top football coaches all make Brad Pitt look homely, so it’s only natural that they’d have beauty queen wives. If they don’t, something’s wrong. #charlieweis, #romeocrennell, #georgeo’leary, #joepaterno, #buddyrexrobryan

Incredulous

May 31st, 2012
4:15 pm

I think the more salient point is how we as a society still look at women superficially, rather than based on character, achievement, or personality. This proves that women’s roles still haven’t evolved very far. Sad.

dores

May 31st, 2012
4:20 pm

What an idiot.

Nutshell

May 31st, 2012
4:23 pm

In a nutshell: This caoch is a pig!!!

Uh

May 31st, 2012
4:26 pm

Mara, I think number of accomplished jocks who “ended up marrying the witty, accomplished, intelligent and and adventurous near-sighted, limp-haired librarian” is small enough not to detract from the effectiveness of the proxy for recruiting. True love may not be about looks, I agree, especially for the rest of us. But I think in our culture you’re going to find a high percentage of men with strong salesmanship who have attractive wives. How many famous men whose livelihoods involve interpersonal skills and influence can you name whose wives are not attractive? (I’ll give you Bill Clinton).

duke

May 31st, 2012
4:44 pm

Oh, good grief! When will you guys grow up, and live in the real world? The coach did not say anything remotely sexist regarding anyone’s “attractive” wife. What he said is something that anyone who hires people knows very well- the wife is part of the package. The type of wife a man has makes a lot of difference in the way he performs his job. If he has problems at home, he will have problems at work. Plus the wife also has duties related to the job. For athletic coaches, the wife is expected to serve as an surrogate mother for the players; and there are various social duties. Finally, a man’s ability to 1) make a wise choice about whom to marry; 2) persuade her to marry him; and 3) keep her happily married reveals a lot about his ability to handle himself in this life generally.

Ross Perot never hires a man who drinks every day. People who make hiring decisions develop their own personal ways of judging a potential employee.

There are still people alive who remember when a wife would be flattered to be called attractive, when men and women enjoyed such interplay between the sexes; but that is not what this remark was about, anyhow.

Mr. Holmes

May 31st, 2012
4:56 pm

Finally, a man’s ability to 1) make a wise choice about whom to marry; 2) persuade her to marry him; and 3) keep her happily married reveals a lot about his ability to handle himself in this life generally.

Agree with this entirely. It all just hinges on your definition of a “wise” choice. Sounds like with Coach Franklin’s criteria (and yours…?), Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian would qualify as wise.

MannyT

May 31st, 2012
4:57 pm

Initial thoughts…
Am I surprised that this is probably a common thought of most guys who make 7 figure salaries based on getting teeagers to commit & perform for them, not at all…especially in the SEC where the stakes are highest. We might not approve of what he said, but it brings the thoughts out in the open. Otherwise, would this blog spend time on a college football coach? Honesty is the best friend of the media. When it comes out, it draws attention.

…then I listened to the audio link
Start at 10:30 mark
The raido guy brought it up & the coach gave an answer that will probably help him & his recruiting more than hurt him. The chancellor may not be comfortable with the response, but I don’t think the coach gets in trouble. When 17 year olds are major decision makers, this is one of many non sports things a college football coach keeps in mind.

I’m neither saying it’s politically correct nor something I’d say or approve. I do think it’s a real & honest response. I think I get it w/o agreeing with him.

William Casey

May 31st, 2012
5:03 pm

Were I a Vanderbilt football fan, I’d be worried right now. I wonder what attributes he looks for in players?

Incredulous

May 31st, 2012
5:07 pm

It IS flattering to be thought of as attractive, but also depressing that unattractive women are deemed unworthy. Makes men look completely shallow, but I guess this is considered masculine and positive in our male-dominated society.

GIVE ME A BREAK

May 31st, 2012
5:11 pm

I agree with you, BT. Everyone is too sensitive and too easily offended.

PatDowns

May 31st, 2012
5:23 pm

Coach has no reason in the world for issuing an apology for speaking the truth. It’s a guy/athlete thing, that all you whimps and PCers are either envious of or will never understand. Besides, good looking men and women, for the most part, exhibit exuberance and self-confidence. Traits that are needed when going out to recruit young men for the football team. Deal with it folks!

Bob Pritchard

May 31st, 2012
5:27 pm

I want to see a picture of his wife and his estimation of place on the hotness scale, his sister(s) if exist with the same, and his estimation of his young daughter’s hotness potential. He can then try to get along with the female members of his family.

mountain man

May 31st, 2012
5:30 pm

So did Mark Richt go defend him?

catlady

May 31st, 2012
5:30 pm

It might speak to his “values.”

skipper

May 31st, 2012
5:32 pm

Change it then, Maureen, to the liberal/everybody accepted version: “If the prospects wife is ugly enough to haunt an eight-story hotel by herself” or maybe “if you used her for a scare-crow and the crows brought back the corn they stole last year” then she has a shot. good lord, gal, lighten up!! This is one story you are twisting………..

Old timer

May 31st, 2012
5:36 pm

I see a coaching position at Vandy open…….they have had a stellar reputation.

Maureen Downey

May 31st, 2012
5:41 pm

@skipper. Doesn’t matter what I think. My point is that Vanderbilt is an academic powerhouse, eager to be seen as even more so on an international stafe. This does not jive with the image of the school, an image based on true academic achievement and true selective admissions. The point is what the chancellor of Vanderbilt thinks.
Maureen

skipper

May 31st, 2012
5:46 pm

I read your blogs and write (type) on them all the time……..even Ted williams didn’t get a hit at every bat! you (and anybody else who believes this) is making a mountain out of a molehill!
“Ugly folks….UNITE! Its a conspiracy!”
Ha!

No jock zone

May 31st, 2012
5:58 pm

Maureen, Every time you write about football, cretins like Skipper come out of the shadows. Skipper, isn’t there a Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition you can read? Or how about your Madden 2011 game on Xbox. Leave blogging to the adults.

Ron Burgundy

May 31st, 2012
6:04 pm

We need pics of these wives before I can come to a decision on this!

Albert

May 31st, 2012
6:37 pm

Smart guys will marry an ugly woman that no one else wants.

Maureen Downey

May 31st, 2012
6:37 pm

@To all,
As I wrote the other day, I am less tolerant of idiocy and personal attacks. Your comment will come down and all subsequent comments will be held in moderation. If your stuff is not posting, that is why. This blog is not a public square; it is a living room. As I have said many times, spit on the floor or put your muddy feet up and you will not be invited back. My feelings will not be hurt if you move to a different education blog. Safe travels.
Maureen

AlreadySheared

May 31st, 2012
6:42 pm

Grady Fuson: Artie, who do you like?
Scout Artie: I like Perez. He’s got a classy swing, it’s a real clean stroke.
Scout Barry: He can’t hit the curve ball.
Scout Artie: Yeah, there’s some work to be done, I’ll admit that.
Scout Barry: Yeah, there is.
Scout Artie: But he’s noticeable.
Matt Keough: And an ugly girlfriend.
Scout Barry: What does that mean?
Matt Keough: Ugly girl friend means no confidence.
Scout Barry: Okay.
John Poloni: Oh, now, you guys are full of it, Artie’s right. This guy’s got an attitude and an attitude is good. I mean it’s the kind of guy who walks into a room his **** has already been there for two minutes.
Scout Pote: He passes the eye candy test. He’s got the looks, he’s great at playing the part. He just needs to get some playing time.
Matt Keough: I’m just saying his girlfriend is a six at best.

“Moneyball”

Maureen Downey

May 31st, 2012
6:52 pm

@Already, Franklin and the radio guys reference the movie.

This is Mrs. Norman Maine

May 31st, 2012
7:11 pm

The guy’s an arrogant jerk and a sexist cretin but he knows full well that his status as football coach immunizes him from any serious blowback from Vandy’s chancellor even at school that is prestigious for its academics. Those are the rules of not just college sports but high school and professional. The rules are different for those guys. That’s the real outrage.

The Deal

May 31st, 2012
7:37 pm

Can we get back to a real educational crisis – the situation in DeKalb?

Maureen Downey

May 31st, 2012
7:37 pm

@The Deal, Writing about as we speak, but awaiting comment from the school chief before I post.
Maureen

Not a Serious Interview

May 31st, 2012
7:56 pm

@ Maureen The comments were not appropriate, but from the start of the interview
the mood is not serious-at one point in the interview he talks about how his players
are excited and have high expectations for this year (Super Bowl -exaggerated )
and says wait a minute “homeboy”. Everybody passed over that phrase which
could be thought of as just as patronizing,but the mood of the interview is not
serious. I wonder if his inappropriate comments were influenced by what
happened to another SEC head football coach earlier this year.

Repulsed

May 31st, 2012
8:01 pm

Good thing Dan Marino never tried for a job as an assistant coach to this schmuck!

FL guy

May 31st, 2012
8:59 pm

@Maureen and BT, you two should go out on a date and discuss this!

Maureen Downey

May 31st, 2012
9:19 pm

@Fl, Can I bring my charming husband and four kids?
Maureen

bootney farnsworth

May 31st, 2012
10:08 pm

Vandy once had Gordon Gee as Chancellor.
Same guy who tried to provide Jim Tressel cover.