Thursday, December 13, 2007

Tony Franklin: New Auburn Offensive Coordinator

Auburn Head Football Coach Tommy Tuberville has named Princeton native, Tony Franklin, the new Offensive Coordinator. Tony's coaching career has had its fair share of ups and downs but yesterday's announcement showed that perseverance pays off.

Tony Franklin started his football career as a player at Caldwell Co. and Murray State University. Entering the coaching ranks in Kentucky, Tony quickly made a name for himself with wide open offenses and developing high school quarterbacks. Having coached players like "Pookie" Jones, Franklin was known for helping talented young quarterbacks through out Kentucky.

As the head football coach at Mercer Co., Franklin would enlist the help of some successful high school coaches to lobby University of Kentucky AD, C.M. Newton, to hire an offensive minded football coach. A letter to Newton was sent by Franklin and signed by Sam Harp of Danville, John Vandermeer of Covington Holmes, Craig Clayton of Hopkinsville, David Barnes of Daviess Co., and Joe Beder of Leslie Co.

To make a long story short, Franklin got a meeting with C.M. Newton in which Franklin and Sam Harp made their case for hiring a guy named Hal Mumme. Now you know the rest of the story. It is to be noted that C.M. Newton conveniently left all this out his book he wrote with Billy Reed.

There is no use recalling the Hal Bumme and Fraud Bassett days because I will throw up but Tony had restored some confidence in me after my long and public distaste for Bill Curry's lack of recruiting in Kentucky. As we all know now as the ship was going down in Lexington, Tony Franklin tried to warn people what was happening but they did not listen. Everyone stuck their head in the sand and for people like Franklin there was a price to be paid.

Of course for those of us in Hopkinsville we will never forgive Mumme trying to ruin Artose Pinner's career. Much to Pinner's credit he stuck it out and learned that there was life after Bumme. Pinner led the SEC in rushing and was the SEC Offensive Player of the Year his Senior Year.

In 2001, Craig Clayton told me that Tony Franklin had written a book called "Fourth Down and Life to Go" and wanted me to help him with promoting it in the area. The book shed light on what was going on with Mumme and the Kentucky football program. Tony called me and wanted to come down to Hopkinsville to do a promotion so we had Tony down for an afternoon in which I set him up to be a guest on a local TV-43 talk show. Mike Chadwell who was the radio voice for the Hopkinsville Tigers on WHOP interviewed Tony at halftime. We set Tony up with a booth and an opportunity to talk with fans about what had gone on at UK.

Tony had a pretty good built in support group having been a member of what I refer to as the "Caldwell County Mafia". With Fred Clayton having won the State Championship at Caldwell in 1963 the Clayton coaching pedigree from that starting point is impressive. Craig Clayton, Franklin, Dan Hampton, Joe Talley, David Barnes, Dixie Jones, Joe Jaggers, Pat Gates, Steve Pardue(LaGrange,Ga), Bob Fritz and on and on.

I guess after what Tony endured from Mumme and UK he probably wished that he had never organized the effort to hire Mumme. In the end, Tony told the truth and shed light on some dark people. Football coaches in Western Ky privately commented that Tony would probably struggle to get a good job in coaching after the book even though he was being honest.

It took a couple of years but Tony Franklin has bounced back and proven himself again. Arriving at Troy University, the offense there was dead last in the Sunbelt Conference. In just one season Tony turned it around going from last to second in the Conference. In 2007, Troy's offense under Franklin was 17th in the nation in total offense and 25th in the nation in scoring offense.

From Kentucky's Offensive Coordinator to unemployed, Tony Franklin earned a new set of downs for his career at Troy and given the opportunity, I think he will be successful at Auburn. Even if you don't know Tony Franklin or if you don't even like football, you can be proud that a Kentucky boy waded through a sea of corruption and lies and is now the Offensive Coordinator at the University of Auburn.

1 comment:

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