October 08, 2011: Vanderbilt Commodores coach James Franklin walks the sidelines during the second quarter against the Alabama Crimson Tide at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Alabama won 34-0. (Photo: Kelly Lambert-USA TODAY Sports)
By Jeff Lockridge, The Tennessean
- In a speech at Central High in Macon, Vandy head football coach James Franklin called Alabama head coach Nick Saban "Nicky Satan."
- Franklin called Saban to apologize, calling his comments a joke.
- Vanderbilt does not play Alabama in 2013.
Vanderbilt football coach James Franklin said he phoned Alabama's Nick Saban on Wednesday to apologize for referring to the four-time national championship coach as "Nicky Satan."
Franklin, who made the reference Monday at a Macon's Central High sports banquet, said it was meant strictly as a joke. Video of the speech has since gone viral.
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"Obviously, tremendous respect for Coach Saban," Franklin said. "I just got off the phone with him. Tremendous respect for them. I've got tremendous respect for what they've done. Everybody is chasing them. The guy has won three or four national championships.
"(I was) really talking about the work ethic that he has a reputation for, and that we're going to outwork them. I made a joke. And in today's society with all the media and social media and people with tape recorders and things like that, that doesn't come off that way. I know people have tremendous pride in Alabama, and their fans are fanatical. So I understand. But it was a joke and I didn't mean to offend anybody."
Franklin said that Saban was "good" with the situation.
"He's got a lot on his plate right now with recruiting. I have a lot on my plate right now with recruiting," Franklin said. "We spoke briefly. He said, 'Coach, I have a lot of respect for what you guys are doing up there at Vanderbilt.' I said, 'Coach, I've got tremendous respect for what you're doing.' And that was it. Got off the phone and that was it."
Alabama is coming off its second consecutive BCS title and third in four years.
Franklin, 40, just led the Commodores to their first nine-win season since 1915 in his second year at Vanderbilt.
One of the prized commitments in Franklin's 2013 recruiting class is Nigel Bowden, a linebacker at Macon Central High and the primary reason Franklin was speaking at the high school event.
While addressing a full room, Franklin said: "There's this guy in Alabama. I think his name is Nicky Satan. You guys have probably heard of him before. I'm going to outwork him. I'm going to outwork him. And that's kind of our plan every single day."
Alabama and Vanderbilt do not play in 2013. The Crimson Tide beat Vanderbilt 34-0 in 2011 in the lone meeting between Saban and Franklin as head coaches. The teams were supposed to play in 2012 until the SEC additions of Missouri and Texas A&M forced league schedules to be reworked.