By Jay Coulter
Rewind the calendar one year and it's a safe bet that less than 1% of the state's college football fans could pick Tony Franklin out in a lineup. His name recognition was lower than the Libertarian Party presidential nominee (It's Bob Barr. Of course, I had to look it up).
What a difference a year makes. While not quite reaching the rock star status of former defensive coordinator Will Muschamp, Franklin's popularity in the state of Alabama has to have McCain and Obama envious.
As Franklin prepares for his first fall on the Plains, all eyes are on the creator of the Tony Franklin System. How he's reached this point in his career is nothing short of amazing.
Just a few years ago, Franklin was a broken man. Bankrupt and blacklisted from college football, the odds of him ever getting beyond coaching high school ball was slim and none.
He had broken one of the cardinal rules of coaching or any business for that matter. Franklin, who served as coordinator at Kentucky, wrote a tell-all book about the Hal Mumme years at the University. You will remember that Mumme's success on the field came with a price, ending in NCAA sanctions and Mumme's ouster.
Suddenly, the offensive guru who developed Tim Couch into a top NFL draft choice was jobless and had nowhere to turn. That's when he copyrighted the Tony Franklin System and began driving around the country hawking it to high schools.
Along the way a funny thing happened. It worked.
Franklin tells ESPN's Pat Forde in a column this week, that he had little choice. "It was desperation," Franklin said. "I was broke and trying to survive. A lot of great things happen out of desperation."
You know the rest of the story. Franklin fought all the way back, eventually landing at Troy last year and helping turn Larry Blackney's offense into a winner.
Speaking to the Columbus/Phenix City Auburn Club a few months back, he said the book was written out of anger and was something he very much regretted. Want a copy of Fourth Down and Life to Go? Good luck. It's selling for close to $200 on the internet.
Franklin says the book will never be republished. And why should it? His story after the book is a much better one.