Vanderbilt coach Franklin: I recruit unborn children

In James Franklin’s world, it’s never too early to make a recruiting pitch.

On Monday, the Vanderbilt head football coach admitted that he routinely sells the scholarship virtues of Commodore athletics to expecting parents, prior to the birth of their son or daughter.

“If I see a 6-foot-6 man walking in the mall with his wife, and she’s 6-2 and she’s pregnant, I’ll go up and offer their unborn child,” Franklin told The Tennesseean.

“I’m not exaggerating. I do that all the time. If I go to speak at an elementary school, if I’m out at a restaurant, we kind of have fun with it. It’s about developing a relationship with people. It’s about getting them connected with Vanderbilt. It’s about making people laugh and telling a story and having fun. It’s about having a sense of humor and not being some robot coach that I don’t want to be.”

Franklin’s out-of-the-box, prenatal pitches actually bring a touch of normalcy to reports of Vandy recently offering Jahlen Jack, a seventh-grader from Washington state, a football scholarship — just in time for the 2018 season.

Comparatively speaking, a 2013 infant — assuming he’s born before Sept. 1 (the traditional cut-off date for attending kindergarten in the fall of 2018) — wouldn’t be eligible for Vandy football until the 2031 campaign.

The eminently personable and sometimes controversial Franklin has enjoyed an interesting two-year run in the college football spotlight.

On the field, Vanderbilt is riding a seven-game winning streak — the longest current run of any SEC program. Plus, for 2011 and ’12, the Commodores reached back-to-back bowl games for the first time in school history.

Off the field, Franklin has made headlines with bold comments, first linking the Vandy assistant coaches’ recruiting acumen to their wives’ attractiveness and then characterizing Alabama head coach Nick Saban as “Nicky Satan” to an assemblage of students at a Georgia high school.