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Cal Football Coaches - Q+A About Tony Franklin's Time at Kentucky

It was a while ago, but Tony Franklin was the OC at Kentucky for one year back in the Hal Mumme days. So we reached out to the good folks at A Sea of Blue (the Kentucky SB Nation site) and they were kind enough to answer some of our questions.


1. Franklin was OC for one year under Mumme at Kentucky and the offensive put up some impressive numbers during that season. How would you describe Franklin's role? Was Mumme hands-on or did he let Franklin run things on offense?

A Sea of Blue: Hal Mumme was in most respects his own offensive coordinator at Kentucky both when Mike Leach and Franklin were the OC. After spending his first three seasons as Kentucky's running back coach, Franklin moved over to coach the wide receivers in 2000, the year he had the coordinator title. Obviously, that gave him a bigger role in the offense, since running was used almost solely as a change of pace in the Mumme offense. To say Mumme was hands-on would be an understatement. I was not nearly as plugged in to the program then, but the word always was that Mumme had very little to do with the defense.

2. Were there any differences between Franklin's offense in his year as OC versus the years when Mike Leach was the OC?

A Sea of Blue: This is a difficult question to answer because they had a pretty big change in personnel. Tim Couch was around for the first two years of Leach's tenure, and then Dusty Bonner, a less skilled but almost as effective signal-caller took over. Bonner kept his job over then freshman Jared Lorenzen in spring practice, but the following summer Mumme had a change of heart and named Lorenzen the starter. Jared ended up being one of the best UK QBs of all-time, but his freshman year was rough. He threw 19 Ints., which can't happen in the Air Raid offense. Franklin was not working with a great offensive line, and Lorenzen ran for his life a lot of the year.

This may have had to do with personnel, but Kentucky ran with its QB more in 2000. People forget that in addition to being huge, Lorenzen was quite crafty and amazingly nimble for his size. Many of his 76 carries were not designed runs, but Lorenzen scored five rushing TDs in 2000.

3. The tight end: does Franklin use it? How?

A Sea of Blue: Though I don't remember specifics, the tight end was a big part of the offense in Franklin's year as OC. Derek Smith led the team with 49 catches, and backups Bobby Blizzard and Chase Harp combined for 34 more.

4. How was Tony Franklin as a recruiter?

A Sea of Blue: I'm guessing here, but having been a high school coach for most of the previous 8 years, I would imagine Franklin had a lot to do with in state recruiting. We certainly nabbed more than our share of in-state recruits during that time, most importantly Smith, Harp and Lorenzen.

5. What was the overall feeling regarding Tony Franklin during his time with Kentucky?

A Sea of Blue: The feelings about Tony Franklin as a coach are mixed up with a lot of things that happened since. The Mumme era did not end well as he allowed things to run amok on his watch. Franklin's decision to write a tell-all book about his experience met with mixed reviews. Some people in Lexington were refreshed by the candor of a former high school teacher who was in large measure an outsider on the staff. Others saw it as an act of disloyalty.

6. What's your sense of how Franklin developed players and fit them into his scheme? Did you see changes in the offense to take advantage of individual strengths?

A Sea of Blue: You can never criticize Mumme's staff for not developing skill position players on offense. Every Mumme team had players ready to catch and run in ways that fit its style.

7. What stands out most in your mind when you think of Tony Franklin's offense? Are there certain plays or formations make you grimace?

A Sea of Blue: This isn't a particular criticism of Franklin, rather the entire Mumme offense and the whole era. My quote at the time was "Mumme calls plays like a 13-year-old boy playing a video game". He wanted stats. In more modern parlance, Mumme coached as if he had his quarterback on his fantasy team. The Cats threw a lot very close to the goal line, quit running completely if the outcome of the game was no longer in doubt and generally confounded conventional football wisdom at every turn. But I will say this. It was a lot of fun.