June 1st, 2012
01:47 PM ET

Vanderbilt football coach in hot water over comment on assistants' wives

Vanderbilt University head football James Franklin is playing defense today after comments this week that he looks for assistant coaches based on how attractive their wives are, not on their experience.

Here's what he said on 104.5-FM "The Zone" in Nashville on Wednesday concerning his assistant coach hiring criteria.

"His wife, if she looks the part and she's a D-I recruit, then you've got a chance to get hired. That's part of the deal," Franklin said, according to CNN affiliate WSMV.

"There's a very strong correlation between having the confidence and going up and talking to a woman, and being quick on your feet and having some personality and confidence and being articulate, than it is walking into a high school and recruiting a kid and selling them."

University Vice Chancellor of Athletics David Williams threw a yellow flag on Franklin on Thursday, according to a report in The Tennessean.

"He clearly made a mistake. And clearly, what he said is not how he feels and not how we feel,” Williams told the paper.

Williams quickly backtracked on Twitter.

"My foot doesn't taste good, I hope I did not offend any1, I love & respect," he tweeted. "Attempt at humor obviously fell a few yds short."

"If a man can convince the women of his dreams 2 marry him, he can probably do just about anything, that type of confidence along w/coaching skills is what I am looking 4.

"As a husband & father of 2 daughters I regret the way I conveyed my message!" he tweeted.

Williams told Franklin that kind of humor is not appreciated at the Southeastern Conference school.

“He said he was really in a joking mode, if you like, and didn’t mean all of that. And I explained that’s a thing you don’t even joke about," The Tennessean quoted Williams as saying.

He stressed that spousal looks were not among the attributes Vanderbilt looks for in employees.

"Clearly his comments do not reflect the values and hiring practices of Vanderbilt University, Vanderbilt Athletics or Vanderbilt Football," Williams said in a statement on the school's website.

Vanderbilt had a record of 6 wins, 7 losses in 2011, his first season as head coach at the school.

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Filed under: College football • Football • Sports • Tennessee
soundoff (167 Responses)
  1. billu

    sad day when americans are OUTRAGED over a joke, but having the national economy destroyed by obama (who is back on his 16th vacation of the year no doubt) is no big deal

    June 2, 2012 at 8:45 am | Report abuse |
    • R.M. Goodman

      What "outrage"? The only outrage that seems to be prevalent is the whinging of the status quo and lunatic fringe.

      June 2, 2012 at 9:33 am | Report abuse |
    • Ortho Stice

      Only Gumby is guilty of a bigger stretch than that comment.

      June 3, 2012 at 3:14 am | Report abuse |
  2. Helgu

    Vandy female students get ready – you will be judged on your good looks and your ability to be a trophy to your husband rather than your research in nano technology. Sad, sad little men who view the world this way.

    June 2, 2012 at 10:34 am | Report abuse |
    • max3333444555

      sad that people have no sense of humor. tip for the male students – avoid any woman who takes this too seriously. she wont be a whole lot of fun to hang out with...

      June 2, 2012 at 1:57 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Blah blah blah

    Whether he was joking or not, people are too sensitive for a statement like that. Everything is an issue anymore. People need to relax more and stop being so uptight. If the school didn't like the statement then quietly dismiss him. Everyone in this world @ some point says something that offend another person. Suck it up & keep it moving. It teaches us how to deal with it the next time a similiar situation arises. Idk, maybe I'm the that think wierd.

    June 2, 2012 at 10:43 am | Report abuse |
  4. max3333444555

    it was a joke. i think its funny. people are uptight

    June 2, 2012 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • mema

      @max...What part of his comment is funny?! None. If his intent was to be humerous he has fallen flat on his face. How is it ever funny to make a wife sound like an object or trophy!? Besides beauty is in the eyes of the beholder so who is to say that they didnt get the wife of their dreams. I for one as a femal€ find his sense of humor (assuming it was a joke) crude. If he really does judge someone on their wife I would say his character should be judged on his comment, joke or not.

      June 3, 2012 at 9:13 am | Report abuse |
  5. Thinks2010

    What I'm wondering is how the wives feel about Vice Chancellor Williams' statement, "Clearly his comments do not reflect the values and hiring practices of Vanderbilt University, Vanderbilt Athletics or Vanderbilt Football.." His statement would seem to imply that he thinks at least some of the wives are not attractive because the is pretty much the only way one could "clearly" know that the wives' looks play no role in Franklin's hiring decisions. It appears both Franklin and Williams have both stepped in it, so to speak.

    June 2, 2012 at 2:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • mema

      Huh! You got all that out of that comment! You have a very active imagination. Williams statement does not imply anything about wives being unattractive at all. The coach is a representative of the school and he should be responsible for his words and actions in relation to his position.

      June 3, 2012 at 9:23 am | Report abuse |
  6. patrick ©

    I'm sure his comment was tongue and cheek. If you grew up in the south it is an unspoken rule to marry a hottie.

    June 2, 2012 at 2:13 pm | Report abuse |
  7. TimeIsNow99

    A comment that distateful and bigoted in nature reflects on the University and their athletic program. Any good mother should have severe reservations about sending their young boys into a program where they will be mentored by this man. I say can the guy and move on before a loss of recruits drives the zUniversity into a slow death. Canning the guy would also seperate the image of the university from the comments that the coach made. We will see what the school stands for based on their actions. I wonder if he tells his olayers that unless they are bagging the chearleader team, they are not going to play??

    June 2, 2012 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
  8. jester & jackal

    You people need to take jokes better. Though I Kay not like the joke it is still a joke. If it was a serious requirement it would be listed on the application. Here is another joke you can be mad about. White men can't jump.

    June 2, 2012 at 5:16 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Jessica

    NO APOLOGY NEEDED. This man has a point. We all judge people in different ways. and the people they affiliate with do give us clues into their personality and abilities...
    If a man has a beautiful top of the line wife, he MUST be the kind of man who has confidence and charisma....
    he has a point... DO NOT APOLOGIZE ... you told the truth about one of the ways you measure the person you are interviewing.. 🙂

    June 2, 2012 at 5:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • mema

      Jessica..The problem with your comment is that, what is beautiful is different to everyone. So who is to say any perspective assistant coach did not marry the women of HIS dreams. I hope you never are refused a job or opportunity based on your looks. Geez.

      June 3, 2012 at 9:44 am | Report abuse |
  10. Laurie

    I am absolutely appalled by this man's comments. So, a man shows confidence by having a hot wife? What about a man that marries a doctor or lawyer? I'd be more impressed that he married a woman who's probably more intelligent than him. That shows confidence. I guess it was a waste of time to fight for women's rights. We shouldn't be spending our money on education and advanced degrees.. we need to spend it on plastic surgery so we don't hold our husbands back!
    What kind of example is setting for his daughters? Does he tell them they need to be attractive when they grow up so they don't keep their husbands from getting a job?!
    It's insulting that women are still judged this way and that these neanderthal opinions still exist.
    Whether or not this is the hiring policy, I think the University should fire him for being moronic enough to state it.

    June 2, 2012 at 7:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • secularbear

      Laurie, I consider myself a godless liberal and am generally supportive of women... I have a mom, sister, wife, and daughter. However, the reality is that men want hot women, and women want rich guys. That's just how it works.

      June 3, 2012 at 12:24 am | Report abuse |
    • Paul

      I like your comment and agree that a man who marries a doctor or a lawyer or a CEO or a number of any well educated woman also displays confidence. BUT AREN'tT WE STILL JUDGING.
      Humans are not machines. We can only try to be politically correct. The reality is that we really. In the present status quo. A pretty woman can still survive using her looks . 50 years from now the tables will turn and men will find themselves in the same boat. When women as a rule become the ones with the most money and power men will find themselves a lot more dependent upon their looks.

      June 3, 2012 at 9:55 am | Report abuse |
  11. k

    Dum joke if that's what he intend. The way the wife look has nothing to with getting the job done. If that's the case there would be alot of more unemployed people that has got to be the stupidest not even funny joke I ever heard. Rude rude rude.

    June 3, 2012 at 4:07 am | Report abuse |
  12. RM

    Vandy... they are the ones who will allow an athiest to be pres. of the Christian Students club, or a christian to preside over the muslim students group by what they passed recently right? So they have an issue with this, really?!!!!

    June 3, 2012 at 8:26 am | Report abuse |
  13. annebeth

    OK, so I now understand why Vanderbilt is the basement dwellers of the SEC. The football team finishes 2011 with 6-7 record, 2010 with a record of 2-10 and in 2009 a 2-10 record, with ZERO wins in the SEC. Maybe the "hot wives" need to let the men step aside and they coach. It could be no worse.

    June 3, 2012 at 9:22 am | Report abuse |
  14. RH

    Unfortunately the practical reality is that if you make ANY hiring decision on anything other than the person's qualifications for the job (based on what you advertised/published) you open your employer up to a hiring-discrimination lawsuit.

    Does it happen? All the time, but openly and blatantly saying that would give anyone who didn't get hired a wonderful chance for a very very public and expensive lawsuit against the university.

    That is why most major employers take a very hard line on any comments like that - many employers will very quickly investigate and rapidly fire even very senior employees for comments or actions that open them to lawsuits.

    Is it wrong for our society to be lawsuit-happy? Sure, but it has also eliminated a whole series of discrimination and problems – not many of us want to go back to the 1940's or 1950's.

    June 3, 2012 at 9:39 am | Report abuse |
    • Stu

      Everyone can be critical of this comment all they want, but it was a joke in poor taste. In no way does it really mean that Vandy discriminates in it hiring, it just means that their coach doesn't have much common sense when it comes to humor.

      June 4, 2012 at 2:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Don

      He may be safe. To bring the suit, a plaintiff would have to be willing to stand up in court and state what a woofer his wife is. Seems unlikley to happen.

      June 4, 2012 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
  15. KG

    IF you are dumb enough to make a public statement like that then one has to wonder what criteria were used when evaluating whether or not to hire you

    June 3, 2012 at 9:53 am | Report abuse |
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