September 14, 2014

Same Old Vandy

Okay, so.

 I'm going to post twice in one day. I know that's kinda lame, but I have my reasons. I was just going to add this stuff to my list update that I just did, but I decided not to. Because I have a lot of opinions about this topic. 

Are you wondering what I'm talking about? 

Here it is...

I'm a Vanderbilt fan and I am NOT ashamed! 

Now, if you follow college football, especially in the south, you know that Vandy has been struggling. A whole lot. Like losing by double digits to Temple struggling. And, make no mistake about it, it has not been fun to watch. 

Basically, my whole life, I've been a Vandy fan. My dad grew up going to games. My grandfather took up tickets to the games up until I was in high school. On basketball and football. We've always had season tickets and I grew up going to games. And quite frankly, they've always been pretty much terrible. I know this. I've sat through seasons where they won one game and there were less than 15,000 people sitting in that stadium. I've endured endless and incessant trash talk from every single other team in the SEC. Well, their fans anyway. Vandy has been disrespected my whole life.

Now, you may be asking, why would anybody adopt a team that's so bad as "their" team? I saw that comment on twitter last night. From a UT fan. They couldn't fathom why anyone would be a Vanderbilt fan. But, here's why I am: because, it's the home town team. Yes, I live in Tennessee. I know that a lot of people view UT as the Tennessee team and that's fine. But, I don't live in Knoxville. I have no ties to that school or that city. And I love Nashville. Vandy is the Nashville team. When you grow up cheering for a team, especially an underdog like Vandy, it's kinda hard to switch allegiances. I could never...

So, enter James Franklin a few years ago. He came in on a blaze of glory, taught that team to get mad and fight and talked trash to every other SEC team in the process. And, not one fan will ever admit it, but for the first time ever, other teams were afraid of us. We beat good teams and we caught some other teams on down years, but it was such a blast, regardless. We went to bowl games, we got excited, we believed. And, more than that, the players believed. 

Then James Franklin left. And, he didn't leave nicely. I don't think anyone was naive enough to think that he was going to stay forever, but the way he left stung. A lot! He lied to administration, players and fans. He was talking to recruits before he even left and then half our recruit class decomitted the day he left. Shady, you better believe it. But, James leaving kind of lit a spark in the fans. All of a sudden, it was personal. Everyone was united in this stinky thing that was going on and it wasn't about Franklin, it was about the team. 

I'll say one more thing about James Franklin. I don't like him. I did. But, after the way he handled things when he left, I'll never be a fan again. But, he did one thing for Vandy football that I'll always be thankful for: he killed "Same Old Vandy." 

"Same Old Vandy" is the term for the Vanderbilt of old. The team that would play decent for a whole game and then find a ridiculous way to lose. Time and time again. And it's the term for the fans who just didn't really care. There was a lot of passiveness. A lot of thinking that a Vandy team just couldn't be successful. That it just wasn't in the cards for us. Because of James Franklin, "Same Old Vandy" is unacceptable now. The fans and the players want it to bad to go back to the old way.

Enter Derek Mason. We were told he would be a better coach than Franklin. We were told the players liked him more than Franklin. And, we were told this team was going to be good again.

And then the season started. 

Whomp, whomp.

Look, it hasn't been pretty. At all. It's been devastating, actually. It's heart breaking to see a team struggle and not even score offensively. It's gut wrenching to be on Twitter and see my team being disrespected again. It's awful to go on a message board and read everyone saying that our players are checked out and that they don't care. It's not fun to read in the paper about all the incompetency on both sides of the ball and especially on the staff. And, mostly, I just hate it for Derek Mason and the players because they're living it. I'm not saying he's done a bang up job, but the guy appears to love the school, the team and I mean, obviously he wants to win!!! The man has to be fearing for his job and that's ridiculous. It's been three games! 

Yesterday, I went with my dad to the game against UMass. You know, a team worse than us. (Not sure how they figure that considering we hadn't even scored an offensive touchdown the whole season..) 

I was worried about what I would see at that game. I was thinking the crowd would be awful and the players wouldn't care. That in two games, all the things that had been built up the last three years would be gone. 

But ya know what???

The place was packed! And, the players played with so much heart. They fought and clawed and even though it was a crazy, weird game, they won. Because UMass missed a game-winning field goal.   And, sure. Everyone made fun of them for almost getting beat by a bad team. And, the naysayers all jumped in and said they'll get killed next week by South Carolina. And they probably will. 

But, I saw what I needed to see to know that "Same Old Vandy" is not a problem. I saw fans that still have fight in them. And I saw players that still have fight in them. And I saw coaches that still have fight in them. 

Will this season be fun? Probably not. Will we even win another game? It's likely we won't win many, if any. Am I guilty of being negative about this team and this staff, too? Absolutely! 

But, for right now, I'm willing to be a fan who is patient and lets them work out their kinks. As long as I see the fight I saw today, I'm sticking with Derek Mason and those players. 

And, fans from other teams who talk trash about Vandy? Keep it up. Please. Because that will make it that much better when you get beat by us.