TUSCALOOSA, AL - APRIL 17: Coach Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide watches his team during the Alabama spring game at Bryant Denny Stadium on April 17, 2010 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. (Photo by Dave Martin/Getty Images)
Vanderbilt football coach James Franklin phoned Nick Saban to apologize for calling the Alabama coach “Nicky Satan” while speaking at a Georgia high school banquet on Monday.
Video of Franklin speaking at the Macon (Ga.) Central High School fall sports banquet went viral on Wednesday, leading the Vandy coach to smooth things out with the Crimson Tide coach.
“There’s this guy at Alabama, I think his name is ‘Nicky Satan,’” Franklin said during his speech. “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.”
Though Franklin’s words may have backfired, they did serve a purpose. Franklin got Central linebacker Nigel Bowden to commit to the Commodores, so he was definitely playing to the audience. Bowden even referenced Franklin’s passion when he spoke.
“This man right here has so much passion,” said Bowden. “And I believe this is a man I can look up to for four years. 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 with what they do.”
After the video went viral, Franklin called Saban to apologize for what he called a “joke.”
“Obviously, tremendous respect for Coach Saban,” Franklin said, via The Tennesseean. “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.
“(I was) really talking about the work ethic that he has a reputation for, and that we’re going to outwork them. 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.”
Bama has won three national titles in four years, so the last thing you want is for them to be on your bad side. However, Vandy does not play Bama in the upcoming season, and the bold words helped Franklin garner more publicity for his emerging program.
Franklin has turned around a program that went 2-10 in back-to-back seasons before he was hired. He led Vandy to a 6-7 record in 2011 and a 9-4 finish in 2012. I think he’s just trying to make sure everyone knows that he means business.
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