I’ll Bet You Would

Looks like Vandy is ready to scratch Ohio State off the schedule:

Vanderbilt is scheduled to open the 2013 football season at Ohio State, but athletics director David Williams would consider scrapping that if the SEC asks the Commodores to open with a conference game on national TV.

“I’ll put it this way: I love opening up on Thursday night,” Williams said Friday. “I think there’s some excitement that goes with being the first game of the year. That’s really cool.”

I think it’s cool to have a good game to open the college football season, but it’s not necessary.  After all, we’ve been waiting for more college football since January, so I think we’ll take what we get.  Towson and Prairie View A&M?  Cool.  As long as they are playing football, it’ll work.

But the SEC’s television partners apparently don’t feel the same way:

“My gut reaction is everything holds the same (with Ohio State), but I can’t say that for sure,” Williams said. “Clearly there is a desire from our TV partners to have more opening-week SEC games, and that has not been a tradition in the SEC.

“So they have to figure that out. If we need to have two opening SEC games, which four of you are going to give up your nonconference games so we can do that? Well, if it’s that important, somebody’s going to have to give those up. It’s still a work in progress.”

So there you have it.  A Vandy-Ohio State matchup would have been, um, interesting, but I guess not interesting enough for ABC to put on a Saturday night.  Instead, Vandy will play a Thursday night game against someone like Kentucky or Ole Miss so ESPN can fill up their SEC lineup.


Because New Uniforms Help You Play Better

While I thought it was about blocking and tackling and running fast, Vandy coach James Franklin says otherwise:

“It is about staying current,” Franklin said. “For the recruits and the community, we want to show the continued change we are making here.”

Some Folks Call it Roster Management

If this happens at Alabama, Nick Saban would be kneecapped by the media.  At Vandy, meh:

Sophomore center Logan Stewart and freshman running back Mitchell Hester have been dismissed from the team for breaking team rules, Franklin said. Stewart’s violation took place a couple of weeks ago. Hester’s “disciplinary issue” happened roughly a month ago.

Stewart played in nine games and made six starts prior to suffering a season-ending knee injury at Tennessee. His progress was slowed at the start of the season due to a bout with mononucleosis. Hester was redshirted in his first year.

“It’s like I’ve told you, I’m going to have a player’s back but they have to have my back, our team’s back and the university’s back,” Franklin said. “If it’s going to come to a point where I don’t feel like it’s that way, we’ll make a change.”

Franklin said it was too early to know if Wesley Johnson, who moved from left tackle to center late in the season, would stay at that position.

Franklin said some redshirt juniors have opted not to return for a fifth year and their final season of eligibility. While Franklin declined to go through the roster and note each one, he said running back Micah Powell, linebacker DeAndre Jones and offensive lineman Caleb Welchans were among that group.

“A lot of guys walked for Senior Day and a large number of those guys decided (not to return),” Franklin said. “That’s not based on our decision, but guys graduating and guys who haven’t been playing or not playing a significant role who are going to go get jobs or may go play at smaller schools.”

Those departures will pave the way for Vanderbilt to have a larger signing class.  [Emphasis added]


SEC 2011: Review of the Preview

Way back in the pre-season, I predicted the order of finish for both divisions in the SEC, along with who I thought would meet next Saturday in Atlanta.  Now that the regular season is finished, let’s take a look at how I did.

SEC East

1) Georgia Actual 10-2 (7-1), Predicted  10-2 ( 7-1)

  • Preview: “Mark Richt will remain on the hot seat after the Bulldogs lose to Boise and South Carolina, but 10 straight wins later, his future in Athens is extended.  Georgia probably has the league’s best quarterback, at least for this year, and brings in hotshot freshman Isaiah Crowell, who will try to be this year’s version of Marcus Lattimore or Michael Dyer.”
  • Review: This is probably my best call of the season, although I thought South Carolina would wind up in Atlanta.  Crowell had a decent year, but never came close to Lattimore status.  Murray exceeded expectations and has a good shot to be the SEC’s offensive player of the year.

2) South Carolina Actual 10-2 (6-2), Predicted 11-1 (7-1)

  • Preview: “Steve Spurrier calls this his best team yet in Columbia.  If OBC can keep his troops clear of the buffet lines and cocktail parties he may be right.  Alshon Jeffery, Marcus Lattimore, Stephon Gilmore and yes, even Stephen Garcia make it hard to pick against the Gamecocks for a repeat.  They’ll stumble against Mississippi State, but earn another berth in the SEC Championship Game.”
  • Review: The Gamecocks successfully transitioned from Garcia to Connor Shaw and finally hit their stride when Shaw came up to speed.  Although the Gamecocks lost to Arkansas, it was a lackluster loss to Auburn that kept them from a repeat trip to Atlanta.

Continue reading

Bama-Vandy Bullet Points

** This was my first game to watch live this year.  I had to buy an extra ticket and, as expected, demand was pretty soft.

** A night game following up two very emotional contests could have spelled troubled in the past.  The Tide look sluggish, but not uninspired, in the first half.

** Playing Vandy at home after big wins over Arkansas and Florida was quite a bit different than traveling to South Carolina last year.  Never underestimate scheduling.

** The Tide is now 6-0 and, therefore, bowl eligible.

** For the third week in a row, the Tide defense forces the opposing quarterback to the sideline.  Bobby Petrino took Tyler Wilson out of the game late to preserve his health, John Brantley was knocked out last week and Vandy starter Larry Smith came out of the game after running into Josh Chapman.

** Jordan Rodgers came on to play quarterback for the Dores and played fairly well, but assured himself a role in highlight footage after getting crushed by Mark Barron.

** With four touchdown passes, AJ McCarron became only the fourth Tide quarterback to throw for four or more in a game.  Gary Hollingsworth holds the record with five and Mike Shula and John Parker Wilson each threw four.

** Marquis Maze is clearly our go-to guy at wideout.  He caught nine passes against Vandy and is on pace for a great season statistically.  But most of his receptions seem to happen around the line of scrimmage.  That may be effective against most teams on the schedule, but I don’t think it will work against LSU.

**  Getting the ball to our wideouts was clearly something to work on heading into the Vandy game and the team responded.  By my count, the wideouts accounted for 18 receptions and three touchdowns.

** McCarron looks to be more and more comfortable each week, but his touchdown pass to DeAndrew White at the end of the first half shows the tight rope Bama is walking at quarterback.  The Tide had third and goal from the three and McCarron dropped back to pass.  He sensed pressure, moved to his left, then threw a pass to the back of the end zone that only White could catch.

** The problem?  Well, McCarron could have walked in for the touchdown while his pass to White was high, forcing an acrobatic reception along the back of the end zone.  I like his play-making ability, unless that pass falls incomplete.

** Jalston Fowler is a pile-mover.

** Do we really need all of the piped in music before every game?  The pre-game pageantry of college football apparently has turned into a hip hop concert.

Alabama – Vandy Thoughts

When Vanderbilt rolls around on the schedule, fear is not the typical reaction and that’s the case this year.  Vandy comes to town with a decent record – 3-1, which includes a 30-7 drubbing of the Ole Miss RBBs, but, barring some sort of emotional melt down, the Tide should handle the Dores pretty easily.

The Tide has won 19 in a row in this series the last loss coming in 1984.

While this series has been one-sided in Alabama’s favor, it has produced some memories for me as a Tide fan.

My first on-campus Alabama game was in 1982 to watch Alabama squeeze by the Dores 24-21.  A picture of the game program is included here.  I still have that program somewhere.

Although the Tide won that day, the atmosphere after the game was like we lost.  There was no celebrating.  I went to the game with a friend and his family and afterwards, we went by Bryant Hall to see who we could see and to try to get some autographs.  We got a few, but through the windows of the dining hall, we also caught a glimpse of Coach Bryant. It was the closest I had ever been to him – or ever would be.  He was sitting at a table with several other people around and his body language told the story of the day: he was tired and you could almost see the sense of relief of escaping with a win against Vanderbilt.  That picture stuck in my mind as the 1982 team began their slide to losing an unheard of four games in one season.

The day had other highlights as well.  On the way out of Bryant Hall, we hounded a few other players and former players for autographs.  Ol’ number 47, Byron Braggs, playfully put me in a headlock as he signed for us.

All-in-all, it was a surreal day.  I witnessed my first game in Bryant-Denny, but the atmosphere was very subdued and somber.

Other memories of Vanderbilt include the 66-3 drubbing by the Tide during the 1979 championship season.  President Gerald Ford was on hand in Nashville to witness that drubbing.

My dad and I rarely went to Bama games together, but we sat in the upper west deck to watch the 1992 champions kick off their season with a 25-8 win.

In 2006, the wife and kids and I witnessed the Tide beat Vandy 13-10 on a last second kick by freshman Leigh Tiffin.  That game was also a sign of things to come.

In 2007, we were so pumped over our new coach that the family traveled to Nashville to watch the Tide, led by Terry Grant, beat the Commodores 24-10.

The series with Vandy hasn’t produced very many, if any, memorable games on the field.  But it has produced a lot of memories of Tide football.  The family and I will head out again tomorrow to watch the Tide and hopefully some good memories will come back with us.

Week 5 Picks

Alabama 21, Florida 13 – If The Tide can get steady play from it’s quarterback and keep Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps in check, they can escape Gainsville with a win.

Arkansas 35, Texas A&M 31 – The Hogs welcome aTm to the party with a loss. One concern: Arkansas QB Tyler Wilson received a slight concussion against Troy and was beaten up against Bama.

South Carolina 41, Auburn 31 – The October nightmare begins for the Tigers. The Gamecocks haven’t played well thus far, but can’t help but get untracked against Auburn.

LSU 56, Kentucky 6 – I don’t expect a hangover for LSU after the trip to West Virginia. Kentucky is not a good team, so the Tigers can name their score.

Ole Miss 24, Fresno State 23 – This is the toughest game of the week to pick. Which scheduling guru signed the Black Bears up for a game against Fresno? In Fresno? I guess that’s the way this season is going for Ole Miss. I have no logical reason for picking the Rebels other than they happen to play in the SEC.

Georgia 31, Mississippi State 17 – A huge game for both sets of Bulldogs. UGA is the better team and should win with ease.

Tennessee 52, Buffalo 17 – Tyler Bray should have another big game against a lesser opponent.

Vanderbilt – The Commodores have an off week to prepare for Bama.