Posted by Jerry Hinnen
A controversial Signing Day comment from Vanderbilt coach James Franklin on the topic of decommitments made its way back to new North Carolina coach Larry Fedora, who'd had one of his commitments sign instead with Franklin's Commodores. So maybe it's not surprise that Fedora had something pointed to say about Franklin saying the players who had backed out of their Vandy commitments were "not men of honor."
“What does he say about the kids that were committed elsewhere and de-committed from their places to go to his place?" Fedora told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution when asked about Franklin's statement. "That’s my comment. What is his comment on those people? He’s got someone in his recruiting class that did that very thing. He’s saying those guys are not men of honor? Basically, he’s saying he has got kids in his own recruiting class that are not men of honor."
"He said that," Fedora clarified, "and I didn’t.”
Fedora wasn't the only coach to speak on the record to the AJC about Franklin's comments -- Florida State's Jimbo Fisher and USC's Lane Kiffin each expressed disagreement in milder terms -- but the cutting edge to Fedora's complaint likely stems from the defection of Maryville (Tenn.) quarterback Patton Robinette, who was already attending orientation events at UNC before ultimately joining the Commodores instead.
To his credit, Franklin didn't shy away from the apparent hypocrisy of his comments, not disagreeing when asked if they amounted to a "double standard":
“I think you get frustrated, and you get upset because kids commit to you. But you’re exactly right. It was like the year before, when we got in here at the last minute and only had a month left for recruiting, we got kids to de-commit to us. I think that’s a very, very valid point.”
Franklin declined to address Fedora's comments specifically, saying he would only discuss "what we do here [at Vandy]." But he did also backtrack from his original "not men of honor" statement:
“I think I probably would’ve worded some things differently ... I have great respect for all the young men that committed to us. I have great respect for some of the men that changed their minds and went in another direction. They thought it was in the best interest for them and their family. But it hurts when you lose a guy when you’ve been recruiting him for a year.”
As "frustrated" as Franklin may have been, and as badly as losing a recruit may "hurt," it's still poor form for a head coach to criticize the decisions of a 17- or 18-year-old. (It also won't do anything for Franklin's already growing reputation as a coach whose emotions can sometimes get the better of him.) Kudos to Franklin for admitting the critics may have a "valid point"--but equal kudos to Fedora for being willing to point out why those comments shouldn't have been said in the first place.Keep up with the latest college football news from around the country. From the opening kick of the year all the way through the offseason, CBSSports.com has you covered with this daily newsletter. View a preview.
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