There’s an expression the kids are using these days that is applicable to Vandy fans: “I just can’t.”
After Jason Smith’s excellent preview for Vandy which hit the site on Sunday, we were inundated with tweets from self-righteous Vandy fans for no good reason. Jason was fair and guardedly optimistic as a Vandy supporter, which, given their history, is high praise.
I don’t think this reader understands the concept of comedy/tragedy in Shakespearian terms, and we’ll leave it at that.
For the math and science majors.
Anyway, James Franklin is gone after leading the Commodores to 3 of their 7 all-time bowl appearances. I don’t know if Derek Mason can sustain Franklin’s success (as Franklin’s ties to the mid-Atlantic were a boon to Vandy recruiting) but there’s a chance of a couple years of good coattail-riding for the new regime.
Vandy fans: as a private school wearing black and gold, you are to the SEC what Wake Forest is to the ACC. Except Wake Forest won an ACC title in our lifetime.
Five Players to Watch
- Jerron Seymour, RB: I hate the term ‘jitterbug’, as used by announcers to describe running backs short in stature from Barry Sanders to Quentin Griffin to Darren Sproles. Seymour fits that bill, and Uncle Verne called him exactly that on his game-winning jaunt against UGA last year. He had 14 TD’s last year and should be the focal point of an offense lacking in returning skill tallent.
- Darreon Herring, LB: As mentioned on the Vandy pod, dude had 10 PBU’s last year, one behind Vernon Hargreaves for best in the SEC East. And he’s a linebacker. He’s the anchor (get it, Vandy fans?) of what could be a stout front seven.
- Andrew Jelks, LT: Freshman All-American last year, and the note from Phil Steele is “was recruited by Alabama and Stanford”. See, Vandy fans? You started from the bottom, now you’re here, where here is preview mags highlighting what other schools offered your best players.
- Paris Head, CB: Three picks as a freshman last year, and now part of a defensive backfield that returns zero starters.
- Steven Scheu, TE: The only guy returning who averaged more than 10 yards per catch on the entire Vanderbilt roster. He had 9 catches last year.
Random Betting Tidbit
In the past 10 years, Vanderbilt is 27-13-1 against the spread when playing on the road as underdogs. Opportunity knocks only three times this year, as they’ll be favored against Kentucky, but play at Georgia, Missouri, and Mississippi State.
Dear Vanderbilt Fans,
You are right. We were wrong. Vanderbilt football is not a comedy in any sense of the word. It’s not a tragedy, either. It’s something else. The only way to describe Vanderbilt football is as a dominant powerhouse defined by stability, consistency and ruthless victory.
Nine or more wins per season is absolutely the standard for Vanderbilt football, any prognostication to the contrary is nothing short of ridiculous. After all, Vanderbilt has won nine or more games in two consecutive seasons. And in the program’s storied 124-year history, Vanderbilt has won nine games (but never more) more exactly 3.23% of the time. Nine victories or more, that is what Vanderbilt does. Just over 3 percent of the time.
Dont’ pay any mind to the 44 seasons of 3 or fewer wins. Forget about the school’s .261 winning percentage all time in SEC play. Ignore the fact that Vanderbilt has finished in the top three of the SEC East just once since divisions were established in 1992. Those facts are meaningless.
This is the new Vanderbilt. The Vanderbilt that James Franklin Vanderbuilt. He will lead Vandy to prolonged success. As long as he is in Nashville and the Commodores don’t have to deal with the turmoil that always follows new coaching staffs to middling programs, this football team will remain elite.
Our sincerest apologies for not recognizing all of this.
P.S. Obviously, Temple, UMass, Kentucky, Charleston Southern and Old Dominion look like wins, but where do the other four come from? An Ole Miss team that is much improved and beat Vandy last year? A South Carolina team that some are hailing as the best Gamecocks squad of the Spurrier era? On the road against a Georgia team that won’t be completely handicapped? On the road against a Missouri team that is rebuilding from departures after something called a Conference Championship Game? A Florida team that’s going to be hungry and a maniacal coach fighting for his job? A Mississippi State team on the road that might have a darkhorse Heisman candidate at QB? Or a home game against the state’s traditional power as the Vols look to restore balance? Just curious. Which four of those should we mark as victories to hit the expected nine wins? I could have sworn we had Vanderbilt ranked 12th in the SEC for a reason, and I thought part of it had to do with the program as a whole and the schedule. But I was mistaken.
So maybe I should take this opportunity to clarify something from my article that has been clear to pretty much everyone I have since let look at this “controversial” Vandy preview: Comedy is GOOD. In fact, it is great. It means that great things are happening and things are going to work out great. Hero gets the girl. Bad guys go down. Everyone goes home happy.
What I mean by saying that Vandy having a rebuilding year is “comedic” is that Vandy is now a legitimate SEC football power. They actually have rebuilding years like everyone else. This year they will be young. They will win games they should not (Carolina at home, anyone?). They will lose games they probably should win. JUST LIKE EVERYONE ELSE.
That’s a huge improvement considering Vanderbilt used to have “fluke” years where they’d win 5 games (maybe) and then return back to being the perennial SEC bottom-feeder they have been since the Truman administration was in the White House. That’s why I also still stand by the fact that Vanderbilt was always an “unsellable” program pre-Franklin. It took the stability of Bobby Johnson staying there for a billion years to get anyone to think of Vanderbilt as legitimate. Franklin put that program on the map, and David Williams, their athletic director, knows how to play the game from here on out. He hired one of the best new coaches in the country (after he almost had a guy named Gus Malzahn signing on the dotted line three years ago) and paid the man. Vanderbilt is here to stay.
Thus, my saying Vandy is going to have a six-win “rebuilding year” ought to be euphoria for every Vanderbilt fan out there. For the rest of you, calm the hell down. And watch Stranger than Fiction so you get my jokes.
Ugh. I can’t believe I had to use all caps in anything related to Vanderbilt football.