- Associated Press - Thursday, December 16, 2010

NASHVILLE, TENN. (AP) - Vanderbilt vice chancellor David Williams says he’s closing in one person in his search for a football coach in a deal he hopes to have concluded by the end of the weekend.

“I’m getting close,” Williams told The Associated Press on Thursday night. “I’m not at liberty to say with who.”

The Tennessean quoted John Ingram, a member of Vanderbilt’s board of trust and on the search committee, as saying the Commodores are about to wrap up a deal with Maryland offensive coordinator James Franklin.

Franklin told The Tennessean he couldn’t confirm that information.

Williams refused to be specific or mention Franklin when asked if Vanderbilt is wrapping up a deal with Franklin. Vanderbilt thought it was nearing a deal with Auburn coordinator Gus Malzahn last weekend when he took himself out of consideration for a pay raise to stay with the top-ranked Tigers.

The vice chancellor said he has been receiving calls from lawyers and agents for coaches expressing interest in the Commodores, including some who originally didn’t want to talk with Vanderbilt about its open job. This search started Nov. 27 when Robbie Caldwell resigned hours before the Commodores’ final game in a 2-10 season.

Williams said he thinks more people realize Vanderbilt officials really are serious about improving a program long considered the Southeastern Conference’s cellar dweller. The Commodores have had one winning season since 1982.

“I think that message is starting to get out more so people who may have shied away because they thought, `Well, it’s the same old Vanderbilt,’ realized maybe it’s not,” Williams said.