Franklin comes in as coach at Vandy

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Vanderbilt's commitment to excellence and academics and the chance to coach in the Southeastern Conference helped school officials lure James Franklin away from Maryland to become the Commodores' new coach.

Franklin, the offensive coordinator who was in line to succeed Maryland head coach Ralph Friedgen, was introduced Friday as Vanderbilt's third head coach this season.

"It was obvious to me right away that this place could be something really special," Franklin said.

"It was really about the people. I was blown away by the people. Really, I was in a situation where I didn't really have to take a job. I had a pretty good situation. It was going to take something really special to get me to jump on board."

Franklin replaces Robbie Caldwell, who took over July 14 when Bobby Johnson unexpectedly retired and resigned Nov. 27.

This will be the first head coaching job for Franklin, who turns 39 in February.

He will be the first black coach of any major sport at Vanderbilt and only the second in the Southeastern Conference after former Mississippi State coach Sylvester Croom.

The Commodores are coming off consecutive 2-10 seasons after going 7-6 in 2008, their first winning season since 1982.

They've only recorded seven wins four times in the past 50 years.

MARYLAND: The university is strongly considering asking Friedgen to retire and accept a buyout, according to ESPN.com.

Franklin had been Maryland's coach in waiting.

At least three Maryland assistant coaches are aware of the likelihood Friedgen will not return for next season and have committed to follow Franklin to Vanderbilt.

GEORGIA: Less than two weeks before the Bulldogs play in the Liberty Bowl in Memphis, Tenn., the school has sold less than half of its ticket allotment for the New Year's Eve game.

Fans have bought approximately 4,600 tickets for the game against Central Florida. Georgia was allotted 10,000 tickets.

Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity said he told Liberty Bowl executive director Steve Ehrhart this week that he expects Georgia's final ticket sales to total between 5,500 and 6,000, including complimentary tickets for players, staff and guests.

McGarity said the slow tickets sales could factor into Georgia losing money on the bowl trip.

IOWA: Defensive coordinator Norm Parker says he's committed to returning full-time next season.

The 69-year-old Parker was hospitalized by diabetes less than two weeks into the season. He had his foot amputated a few weeks later and spent most the year in rehabilitation.


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