Posts Tagged ‘Vandy’

James-Franklin-Vanderbilt-Commodores-2012-football-570x374The Vanderbilt football team went 8-4 in the 2012 regular season. It was the first time that Vandy has recorded 8 wins since 1982. Their reward for their accomplishment is a trip to the Music City Bowl. If Vanderbilt beats North Carolina State in the bowl game, they will have their first 9-win season since 1915. This will be Vanderbilt’s 3rd trip to a bowl game in the last 5 seasons. It will be their second trip to the Music City Bowl. This will be the first time in Vanderbilt’s history that they will be playing in a bowl game in back-to-back seasons. This new success in the Vanderbilt football program has may fans excited about it’s future moving forward on West End.

The bowl selection experience is not as cut and dry as some fans might think. Vanderbilt fans are relatively new in this process due to the fact that before 2008, Vandy had not played in a bowl game since the early 80’s. Vanderbilt fans are starting to learn that in order to get into one of the bowl games played on New Years Day, it takes more than just a good football team. It takes a big fan base. Bowl committees are in the business to make money. When given the choice, they are going to choose the team that will put the most butts in the seats.

Because of this, the Gator Bowl passed on choosing Vanderbilt and invited Mississippi State to play Northwestern on New Years Day. Both Vanderbilt and Mississippi State have an 8-4 record. Vanderbilt’s SEC record was 5-3 while Mississippi State’s was 4-4. Both Vanderbilt and Mississippi State beat Tennessee and Auburn. Vanderbilt defeated Ole Miss while Mississippi State lost to their state rival. If you just judge by the numbers, you would guess that the Gator Bowl would invited Vanderbilt over Mississippi State. But that’s not what happened. Mississippi State travels better than Vanderbilt in term of their respective fan bases.

So how can Vanderbilt change the perception that their fans don’t travel. The first step must happen at the Music City Bowl. Vanderbilt fans must sellout LP Field (69,143 capacity), the site of the Music City Bowl. Vanderbilt will be going for its best record since 1915. The game is in its home city, Nashville. There is absolutely no excuse for a lack of fan support at the Music City Bowl. The old excuse used to be that if you put a product on the field, the fans would come. Well…the product is on the field. Let’s see if the fans come. The challenge has been sent to Vandy Nation.

November 19, 2011. Jordan Rogers threw a pass to start the overtime period that was intercepted by Eric Gordon and returned 90 yards for a touchdown for Tennessee. Neyland Stadium went crazy as Tennessee Volunteer players ran on to the field to celebrate their 27-21 victory over Vanderbilt. It was one of the hardest losses for Vanderbilt to take. It was the first time in a long while that Vandy had been favored to win in this one-sided neighborhood rivalry. Yet once again, Vandy found a way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

To add salt to the wound, a tape surfaced days later with a recording of Derek Dooley saying after the game that “Tennessee always beats the sh&$ out of Vanderbilt”.

Here is a link describing the situation: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l1En2uf5gdk

In the video you can see James Franklin’s response once he was made aware of this video. He says that he’ll discuss it next year.

Well….it’s next year. And again Vanderbilt is favored against their hated rivals from the East. At 6-4, they are in position to have their best season since 1982. At 6-4 they are in position to have a chance to play in a New Years Day Bowl. Such accomplishments seemed unimaginable only 2 years ago before Franklin arrived on campus. James Franklin is telling the media all of the right things about the video. But don’t be fooled. He is definitely reminding his players about the scene that took place in the UT locker room one year ago. About the pain they felt when they walked out of Neyland Stadium knowing they let one get away.

There is plenty of motivation for Vanderbilt to play hard Saturday. This game Saturday could send a message across the state. Tennessee is hobbling in with a 4-6 record losers of 5 of their last 6 games. They have not won a SEC game yet this year. They just lost in 4 overtimes to a Missouri team that Vanderbilt defeated 19-15. Reports on the radio are saying that Tennessee could not sell all of its share of tickets for the game Saturday and their head coach will more than likely be fired at the end of the season. But none of that matters Saturday because Vandy has only beaten Tennessee once (2005) since 1983. Stats & records mean nothing this week. The only thing that will matter is the score when the clock hits zero. Can Vandy get over the hump? Can Vanderbilt seize the day?