NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Vanderbilt coach James Franklin is more than happy to talk about his Commodores and Saturday night's game with undefeated Missouri. When it comes to the coaching vacancy at Southern California, Franklin has nothing to say.
Franklin shut down reporters' questions Monday about being on lists of potential candidates to take over at Southern California, which fired Lane Kiffin on Sunday.
The issue came up early Monday in Franklin's weekly news conference, and he avoided the question several times.
"For once, I'd like to sit in this press conference and talk about either the game before or the game we're playing this week," Franklin said. "Anything outside of that is outside of our control.
"This is something that we've been going through for three years here, and that's wonderful, but we're focused on Missouri this week."
Vanderbilt (3-2, 0-2 Southeastern Conference) has dealt with plenty of off-field distractions this season already, including a sexual assault investigation. Wide receiver Chris Boyd was dismissed from the team Sept. 17 after he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor for his role helping cover up an incident in June where four former players are charged with raping an unconscious student in a dormitory on campus.
Franklin said he was "excited about talking about UAB, our last game" and Vanderbilt's upcoming game with Missouri (4-0), who will be playing its Southeastern Conference opener against the Commodores.
He pivoted from one question about USC by talking about Missouri having the same black-and-gold team colors as Vanderbilt. Franklin said that should make for a very nice aerial photo of the stadium Saturday night. He also talked about how he wants to build the Vanderbilt program to the point where the stadium is sold out regularly and the Commodores are such a draw that people are peeking through the fence because they can't get a ticket.
Franklin, who led the Commodores to a 9-4 season last year, has been credited with turning around a Vanderbilt program previously swallowed up by the Southeastern Conference. He is 18-13 and has guided the Commodores to wins in 10 of their last 12 games, a feat that hasn't been accomplished by a Vanderbilt team since 1955-56. He also has received a contract extension after each of his first two seasons, and Vanderbilt is finishing a new indoor practice facility that should open within weeks.
Sophomore linebacker Derreon Herring also dodged a question on how he feels about Franklin being mentioned in connection with other programs.
"We're focused on Missouri this week, and there's not much we can do about it," he said.
Herring had one of Vanderbilt's two interceptions last week in a 52-24 victory over UAB that represented the Commodores' most complete performance of the season with the offense producing a 300-yard passer, 100-yard rusher and a pair of 100-yard receivers in Jordan Matthews and Jonathan Krause. Austyn Carta-Samuels threw for a career-high 334 yards. Jerron Seymour had 107 yards rushing for his first 100-yard performance.