Trophy Wives

Vanderbilt University Football Coach James Franklin brought new meaning to the term “trophy wife” during a radio interview in Nashville this week.  Not only did he say an attractive wife will get a candidate hired, but he also thinks it gives his team a competitive advantage.

“I’ve been saying it for a long time, I will not hire an assistant coach until I’ve seen his wife.  If she looks the part, and she’s a D-I (Division One) recruit, then you got a chance to get hired.  That’s part of the deal.”   Franklin didn’t stop there, “There’s a very strong correlation between having the confidence, going up and talking to a woman, and being quick on your feet and having some personality and confidence and being fun and articulate, than it is walking into a high school and recruiting a kid and selling him.”

Now, there may be some truth to that, but the reaction on social media was fast and furious.  Franklin issued the obligatory apology via tweet (is there a term for that yet, tweapology maybe?).  And it took multiple tweets to get the job done, seeing as 140 characters were not nearly enough to dislodge the foot from his mouth.

Attempt at humor obviously fell a few yds short. Was speaking to the courage it takes 4 men 2 approach the women who become their wives!!!!!”

“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!” 

“I clearly used language that doesn’t reflect my views on women and I am SORRY!”

Is Franklin really sorry for saying what he thought or is he sorry for thinking it in the first place?  And we wonder what his wife has to say about it.  Good humor gone bad or more honesty than most people were willing to hear from Coach Franklin?  David Williams, Vice Chancellor of Athletics at Vanderbilt, acknowledges he talked to Franklin about his comments and that, “None of those things are criteria for hiring at Vanderbilt.”

We all know that looks carry a high priority in our society.  Probably too high.  And that the pressure put on women by the media is enormous.  We also know that how you present yourself is the first impression people have of you, and the only one many will ever get.  Maybe having an attractive wife does elevate the impression of the men Coach Franklin interviews as coaching prospects.  What we don’t expect is for an employee of a respected university to come out and admit it, use it in a somewhat degrading way, and add to the societal issues his daughters are already up against.

Franklin is a second year coach at Vanderbilt.  He led the Commodores to a 6-7 season last year.  The Commodores website  credits him with being the only first year coach in school history to beat the records of the two previous seasons, make a bowl appearance, and “reel(ed) in the best recruiting class in school history.”

Well, at least we know how he did it.  The secret is out.



  1. Todd says:

    Very bad choice of words, and the media let him know about it. But, you have to admit that’s a very interesting theory in hiring someone. And I think, in a way, it’s actually a testiment to the women themselves, and I don’t mean that in a derogatory manner. Coach Franklin was essentially saying that, hey, if this extraordinary woman is willing to make a life-long commitment to this guy, he must be a good person to be around. And if he can talk such an exceptional lady into spending the rest of her life with him, he can probably talk exceptional players into spending 4 years at Vandy.

    Admittedly, he probably could’ve worded it better than “see his wife” and “looks the part” which sounds pretty shallow.

    • pigskinnpearls says:

      I agree with you and think he has a point too. I think it’s one of those things that is perceived, just not vocalized and probably for a reason! Had he communicated it differently he probably wouldn’t have found himself at the center of a media storm. Or say it at a cocktail party, not on the radio! Even an NFL coach could have pulled it off better. The fact that he works for a respected university didn’t help. Thanks for your feedback!

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