JOE BIDDLE: Vandy now acting like other SEC schools

JOE BIDDLE: Vandy now acting like other SEC schools (Image 1)

It has been noted that Vanderbilt's football team looks more like other SEC teams.

That hasn't always been the case. They were generally smaller, slower, weaker across the board when compared to other SEC opponents.

Oh, they were able to get some recruits and coach them up to SEC standards, but they never had the same numbers that teams they played had.

In back-to-back winning seasons and bowl games, the players under Coach James Franklin played more like SEC teams. They were bigger, faster, stronger across the board. The once wide margin has been shrinking.

But with the glory, sometimes comes the consequences.

That happened this week, when Vanderbilt police called Metro police's Sex Crimes unit to investigate an on-campus incident that allegedly took place at a Vanderbilt dormitory. Four football players were suspended from the team Friday.
Saturday morning, the four unnamed players were dismissed from school. Franklin met with those players and though what was said remains private, I would hope he told them about the golden opportunity he had afforded them when he signed them to a Vanderbilt scholarship.

He offered them a chance to better their future and they failed to take advantage of it. I would think he hammered that point home to them in typical Franklin fashion.

It should have produced a ripple effect throughout the team. There are a reported six other players still under investigation by Metro Sex Crimes unit. They, too, are unnamed at this point.
The alleged victim was also a Vanderbilt student, who also works on campus.

If this had happened at some other SEC schools that value winning football games above everything else, this could possibly have been swept under the rug depending on the severity of the charges.

By being the only private university in the SEC, Vanderbilt has at times in the past used the fact it is not a state university to hide on-campus arrests in the past. When Metro police becomes involved, it becomes public information when arrests are made.

When the Metro Sex Crimes Unit is called in, you know it is something serious and could likely lead to criminal charges.

All the facts have not been made public and it will be interesting to see how transparent Vanderbilt will be throughout this investigation.

Already names of players and the female are leaking out through the Twitter universe, on fan web sites and other fan-based outlets. No reputable news outlet would print those names.

Only after it has been made official by the investigating team of Metro officers, should any name be published.

This case should also send a strong message to Franklin and Athletics Director David Williams that they need to be more diligent and aware of the prospective student-athletes they offer scholarships.

I admit, the world of elite college football programs presents a Catch-22.
On one hand, coaches want to sign the best players they can get, especially to compete in the sport's premier conference. Vanderbilt used to battle the likes of Furman, MTSU and Georgia Southern for recruits. Since Franklin arrived on the scene, he prefers standing toe-to-toe with the rest of the SEC. After all, those are the teams he has to play.

Vanderbilt coaches used to go to a Saturday game using scissors against a team using high-tech weapons. And if Vanderbilt believes it is important to compete at the highest level, they are not going to do that with scissors.
It is then incumbent upon Franklin and his staff to constantly hammer into his players what will not be tolerated. Sadly, it is pretty much a 24-hour, seven days a week obligation when you have 18-to-22 year old football players who want to do stupid things other college students may get away with.

But that is where big time college football is. This may, or may not, be Vanderbilt's first taste of the added responsibilities.

Franklin has a great rapport with his team. Unfortunately, it didn't help in this case. He now has something solid to prove to his players what will happen when they make bad decisions.

Contact Sports Columnist Joe Biddle at  

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