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James Franklin vs Midday 180

Midday 180

from l to r, Chad Withrow, Paul Kuharsky and Jonathan Hutton of The Zone’s Midday 180 Show

I usually stay away from the whole James Franklin nonsense. I just don’t hate on him like others do. Primarily because, as a lifelong Vol fan, my default position when it comes to Vanderbilt football has always been one of complete and total indifference.

And it remains that. But that doesn’t mean that I won’t ever have an opinion about Franklin that’s worth sharing. I will. It’s just that I won’t share that opinion via some hate-laced tirade.

Accordingly, I’m here today to share a (non-hate-laced) opinion about James Franklin as it pertains to an appearance he made yesterday on the Midday 180 Show which airs on Nashville’s 104.5 The Zone.

Did you hear about this? It was all over Twitter for a spell. Evan Woodberry even wrote a bit on GoVolXtra about it. In it, he details the “testy” exchange between Franklin and one of the show’s hosts, Paul Kuharsky. (Real quick — back in the late 90s / early 2000s, I lived in Nashville and used to run around a bit with Paul and a couple of his buddies. We’re no longer in great contact, but I always thought Paul was a good guy. It’s worth noting that my opinion of him back then has no bearing on my opinion of what happened on his show yesterday.)

And that’s what most people would have walked away from the interview remembering — the testy exchange between Franklin and Kuharsky. But there was something else which stood out even more to me, and it pertained to one of Paul’s co-hosts. I’m not sure which one, because the only voice I’m familiar with is Paul’s, but I’m assuming it was either Jonathan Hutton or Chad Withrow. Whichever it was, I’ll refer to him as Paul’s co-host throughout the remainder of this post.

James Franklin vs. Midday 180

The interview (which you can listen to by clicking THIS LINK) begins to get interesting at about the 6:24 mark.

Paul’s co-host: There was a tweet out there that I know got some attention, we talked about it here some on this show as well, and I’ll read it back to you. It says…

Paul’s co-host, con’t
: Do you believe that if a player that you’re recruiting decides to go elsewhere that they are “settling in life” by not going to play for Vanderbilt.

Franklin: You’re a beauty.

So freeze it right there. Saying “you’re a beauty” in that situation is tantamount to calling someone a dick. If you don’t believe me, ask Tiger Woods. Because that’s the exact line he used a little over a year ago when he got all pissed off at Alex Miceli who kept asking Woods unwanted questions about Hank Haney’s tall-all book.

Franklin follows “You’re a beauty,” with a lengthy explanation of how the tweet alluded to a consistent recruiting theme of the Commodores. Namely, “having the ability to come to Vanderbilt and chase all your dreams at the highest level.”

Franklin then discusses how Vanderbilt’s graduation rates speak volumes before finally getting to the heart of why the question struck such a nerve.

Franklin: My concern about that whole thing is… people tried to say that tweet was in response to something that happened. That tweet was sent out 18 hours before anything happened.

(The thing that happened? Jalen Hurd’s commitment to UT.)

Paul Kuharsky: Okay, we’ll grant you that it had nothing to do with that (Hurd’s commitment). Is somebody settling in life if they decide to go somewhere other than Vanderbilt? …The kid that went to Princeton, is he settling in life?

Franklin: (Laughs) You’re really interesting.

Okay, freeze it again. Franklin’s tone and delivery were unmistakable in that last line. Which means he’s now uttered his second derogatory comment to as many people in a matter of seconds.

On some levels, I get it. He’s being asked about a tweet he took a lot of crap for — one that was sent out nearly four weeks ago. What’s more, he’s being asked about it by one of his hometown stations. So I empathize with Franklin to an extent in that I’m sure it was a frustrating situation.

But by demeaning two different people in such rapid succession, Franklin handled his frustration like a total amateur. He’s behaved unprofessionally.

Franklin follows the “You’re really interesting” remark with more talk about “graduation rates” and “unbelievable opportunities,” before closing with “That’s what I’m saying. You can put words — you can say whatever you want. (But) that’s what I’m saying.”

Paul’s co-host then lobs Franklin a softball by asking whether or not Vanderbilt’s academics is a good selling point. Franklin believes it is and uses a lot of words to make the following point:

I’m selling kids on more than football. I’m selling them on what this school can do for them. That’s what the stupid tweet was about.

He closes with:

Franklin: People can be confrontational and try to flip it into something else and try to make a story out of it when it’s not, when all we’re trying to do is sell all the positives that Vanderbilt has. That’s what we’ve been doing from Day 1.

(And this is where it got extremely testy.)

Paul Kuharsky: I know it’s going to sound like I’m determined to get the last word, but in your tweet you said “settling in life.” That’s not me trying to put words in your mouth. That’s your tweet, correct?

Franklin: But you’re — relax, okay? I didn’t realize I was coming on this show to get jumped and try to create problems —

Paul Kuharsky: You weren’t.

Franklin: Hold on a second, hold on a second. My tweet has been consistent with what I’m saying. I’m talking about graduation rates, I’m talking about what Vanderbilt can offer. All we’ve done since I’ve come to Vanderbilt is sell our product, and people are like offended by the fact that there’s a coach that will fight and stand up for Vanderbilt. That’s all I’ve done. That’s all I’ve done since I’ve arrived here.

Paul Kuharsky: I’m not offended by it at all. I’m impressed by your enthusiasm and energy. But I’ll stick with my theme. I don’t think a kid’s settling if he goes somewhere else.

Franklin: You’ve said it four times. You’re exactly right. You’ve said it four times.

So let’s freeze it here again.

Do you see what Franklin did in that last quote? He finally conceded the point (albeit contentiously) by saying “You’re exactly right. You’ve said it four times.”

For what it’s worth, it was only three — and Paul had only brought it up twice. Even so, this is the part where I tell you that I feel that Kuharsky held his line for longer than he should have. Because what essentially transpired was a debate on semantics and Paul insisted taking the more literal line. And by holding that literal line, Paul helped create a contentious situation.

But here’s the irony — it was never Paul’s line to hold. The original question about “settling” was asked by Paul’s co-host.

And (another irony alert) I’d be willing to bet that one reason why Paul held that line — one reason why he insisted upon a literal answer  — was because Franklin had demeaned his co-host by calling him “a beauty” when he originally asked the “settling” question (not to mention the fact that Franklin demeaned Paul shortly thereafter).

Do I know this for a fact? No. Am I insinuating that from my past experiences with Paul that I know him well enough to predict that this was the case? I am not.

It’s merely my opinion based on one thing: the fact that if I were in Paul’s shoes, or in his co-host’s shoes, the “you’re a beauty” and “you’re really interesting” comments would have flown all over me.

So I believe that while Kuharsky may have contributed to the contentious situation, it was Franklin who created it.

See, all Franklin had to do was answer the first question from Paul’s co-host with something along the lines of:

“No, man. Of course I don’t literally think that every single kid who goes somewhere else would be settling. But I really do think this is a great place for a kid to go because…” At which point he could have articulated his various recruiting mantras and everyone would have been happy.

BOOM. Done.

But you know what wasn’t done at this point? The interview. Time for another softball.

Paul’s cohost: Coach, you wanna get the details out on the spring game?

Franklin: Yeah, yeah — and I appreciate you, I appreciate your professionalism…. 11:00 gates open… 1:05 kickoff. It’s going to be awesome. Really appreciate the opportunity to be on your show today. This has been great, and appreciate your professionalism.

And that’s the part which really stood out to me. Even more than the exchange with Kuharsky for one simple reason. It’s bush league.

Because by telling Paul’s co-host that he appreciated his professionalism (not once, but twice!) Franklin is suddenly making nice with the guy he called a “beauty” mere moments before just so he could stick it to Paul. Because Franklin is essentially telling Kuharsky by omission that Paul had NOT been professional, as evidenced, Franklin would likely contend, by their heated exchange.

[UPDATE: Big thanks to @mdtnvolfan who just tweeted me some info. Namely that the person Franklin called a “beauty” was Chad Withrow and the person whose professionalism Franklin appreciated was Jonathan Hutton. I mistook them to be the same person. My bad on that. It obviously means I’m a bit off in the paragraph which immediately proceeds this one. Still, I think my overall point remains valid — by telling one person how much he appreciates his professionalism not once, but twice, Franklin takes a run at the others by insinuating that they were not acting professional — a pretty strong take for a guy who busted out “you’re a beauty.”]

But this is where Franklin is SO incredibly off base, as well as where I give you one final irony alert. Because Franklin is calling Kuharsky’s professionalism into question when his derision and pettiness make it abundantly clear that it’s really his own that we should be examining.

Though, to be fair, it would have been awfully hard to examine Franklin’s professionalism in this case.

Because it didn’t exist.

But that’s just my opinion.

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facebook comments:

  • Troof Detector

    Franklin is a total jerk and has shown it time and again since his arrival in Nashville.