Posted by Jerry HinnenJames Franklin announced Tuesday that two players had been dismissed from the Vanderbilt program for violating team rules. But one former Commodore apparently believes there's more to the departures than discipline.
Franklin said that sophomore center Logan Stewart and freshman running back Mitchell Hester have both been dismissed from the team following disciplinary issues in the past month. Stewart started six games under Franklin and appeared in nine (including against Georgia, where his clip of Kwame Geathers resulted in a half-game suspension), while Hester spent the 2011 season redshirting.
“It’s like I’ve told you, I’m going to have a player’s back but they have to have my back, our team’s back and the university’s back,” Franklin said. “If it’s going to come to a point where I don’t feel like it’s that way, we’ll make a change.”
Those changes -- or possibly the departure of several fourth-year juniors -- may not have sat well with recently graduated Commodore tight end Brandon Barden, who issued the following Tweet from his (since deleted) Twitter account after his team's season-ending loss to Cincinnati in the Liberty Bowl:
If you go to Vandy now, you seriously sign a ONE year scholarship #dirtygame #gladtomoveonFranklin was predictably quick to dismiss the apparent insinuation from his former player that he was cutting players:
“I would put our record of what we’ve done this year and what our athletic department and university have done for a long time against anybody ... Most new coaches come in and there’s all kinds of new turnover in the program. I find (the tweet) really interesting.If Franklin is playing a "#dirtygame" to make room on his roster for more recruits, he's paying an awfully high price for it; Stewart would have represented a welcome chance for continuity on the offensive line not just for 2012 but the next two seasons, and at a center position where experience is particularly valuable.
“When you have 105 guys on a team and you’ve just suffered a tough loss, there’s going to be some things said. There are decisions made where guys don’t know the whole story behind it. It’s like I told the team, I have no problem with them coming in and talking to me and I’ll explain it to them.”
More likely, Stewart and Mitchell likely have committed some kind of rule violation and Franklin has some justification for dismissing them from the team. Enough justification for Barden? Maybe not, but where dismissals for rules violations are concerned, that only puts Franklin in the same boat -- fair or not -- with virtually every coach in the SEC.
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