Monday, April 9, 2007

Northwestern/Vanderbilt Petition

With as our inspiration, we at Vanderbilt Sports Line are announcing a petition requesting that Vanderbilt Vice Chancellor David Williams and Northwestern Athletic Director Mark Murphy sign a long-term deal pitting these two fine academic institutions against one another to open up their football seasons for the next ten years starting in 2008. This game makes so much sense it’s stupid. Both are academically minded schools; both schools play in conferences that consider themselves to be the cream of the college football crop (Vanderbilt happens to be right); and both are schools that don’t get nearly the recognition they deserve for playing football the “right way.” This match up is scripted for the ESPN family of networks. It would be a quality game early in the season (a rarity these days), it would be between two natural rivals, and it would give the two schools the attention they both deserve.

By emailing your full name, email address, and school allegiance to the Vanderbilt Sports Line in-box, your name will be added to petition we will be submitting to both universities for their consideration. Below is the letter that will accompany your petition.

Dear [Vice Chancellor David Williams] or [Athletic Director Mark Murphy],

We are writing to encourage you to sign a long-term deal for the Vanderbilt Commodores to play the Northwestern Wildcats every season for the next ten years, starting in 2008.

As [Vanderbilt or Northwestern] students, parents, alumni, and fans, we think this game makes a tremendous amount of sense for a number of reasons. First, these great academic schools are natural rivals. Both are schools that play in fantastic athletic conferences and are often overlooked because of the premium they place on academic excellence. Second, this game would be a great opportunity for both schools to garner positive national television exposure for their football teams. Finally, by playing an institution with similar values both Northwestern and Vanderbilt can demonstrate that it is still possible to play NCAA football at the highest level, without losing sight of the fact that these students are student athletes, and that these institutions are institutions of higher learning.

Any deal should guarantee that both schools receive an equal number of home games and that, unless agreed to otherwise, the site of the game will alternate every year between Evanston, IL and Nashville, TN.

We urge you to give strong consideration to our request, as we think that a relationship between these two schools would prove to be mutually beneficial.

Thank you very much.

Yours respectfully,

Concerned Vanderbilt and Northwestern Fans


Anonymous said...

This game makes so much sense it’s stupid.

Sadly, no. I don't think playing ANY major-conference OOC games is an attractive proposition for VU right now until we reach a bowl. I'm serious -- Wake Forest? Too tough. Northwestern haven't been world-beaters lately but they have a history of some fairly recent success. That alone is reason enough not to play them.

Except for the over-arching quest for six wins in a season, I'd love to play them. But making a bowl is just too important, and the reward for scheduling well is virtually nil. What are we hoping for, BCS points?

It's nice to be macho and schedule tough and all, but I don't think you can come up with a cost-benefit analysis that makes the case.

Bobby O'Shea said...


Clearly, I disagree with you completely on this one. I think developing OOC rivalries is a good idea and getting as much television exposure as possible is important. Getting to 6 wins is key, no doubt. But for my money, scheduling Northwestern makes more sense than scheduling a game like Richmond (who is not a bad team and actually beat us a few years back if I am not mistaken – if I am wrong on this, I look forward to anonymous correcting me promptly).

I don't think scheduling NW makes us "macho" or "tough." Rather, it creates a rivalry game, it helps the team prepare more for an SEC schedule than playing paddy-cake U does, and it has the potential to garner some national attention. Particularly, if played on a Thursday night. For me, playing Northwestern has all the benefits of playing Michigan without the almost certain defeat that comes along with playing in the Big House. It is a chance to get on TV OOC, without necessarily having to forfeit home-field to do it.

Northwestern has had some success in recent memory, but they are hardly a powerhouse. Like Vanderbilt, they are trying to build and sustain a program, under very difficult circumstances. This game is not charity for either school, but an opportunity for each school to get on TV out of conference (something that is increasingly important for recruiting), get a "quality" OOC win, and highlight that you can still play quality football and treat athletes as the student-athletes they are. I firmly believe that Vanderbilt football would be well served by opening every season against NW, ending every season against Wake, and playing two weak OOC opponents in between. I really don't think this idea is that pie-in-the-sky, and I don't think it significantly jeopardizes Vanderbilt's chances at having winning seasons in the future.

Bobby O'Shea said...

It appears that Vanderbilt has not lost to Richmond recently. So on that count (and that count only), I admit I am wrong

Anonymous said...

I'm with Bobby. Say you want six wins - great:

Get wins over teams like Richmond, North Texas and MTSU, then eek by Ole Miss, Kentucky and maybe Alabama. BAM! Vandy got a big invite to the who-gives-a-shit bowl in Ames, Iowa with a payout of $50.00.


Get more TV coverage, beat a more quality opponent (like Northwestern), get your 6 or 7 wins and get in a more respected bowl. Vandy's big problem right now is that they don't scare ANYONE in the SEC when it comes to football - how can scheduling someone OOC that's decent hurt? It can only help.

Boyer in the District

Tom said...

I have to agree with Phil, I thought the 'rivalry' game with Wake Forest for the next 7 years was supposed to take care of the need to sign a like-minded school. I'd be happy if we signed up Northwestern after the Wake series ran out, but we still need some TSUs, Richmonds, etc to fill the schedule.

Making it to a bowl is the priority right now, period. Let's worry about getting to the right bowl once we've made it to one.

Anonymous said...

A few points:

1) Phillipvu94 is a jabroni. Seriously, I really don't like his attitude.

2) My dad went to North Texas -- and let me be the first to say that Vanderbilt wants nothing to do with the Green Machine. North Texas played in the NEW ORLEANS BOWL four years in a row earlier this decade. Stone Cold Steve Austin also played there.

Long story short: the Mean Green is a FORCE. Book them as a cupcake at your own peril.

Stanimal said...

4-8, dead last in the Big Ten in Offense, 7th in Defense. I hardly think this is a case of scheduling tough.

I mean, I SUPPOSE we could schedule all the ivy league schools to play us as our OOC schedule and go eat pizza at the bowl.

Before we get too far-gone and label Northwestern as the powerhouse is was back in 1995, let's take a closer look at the team, and at their schedule. Northwestern had 2 Big Ten wins, one against Illinois, the other against Iowa. The Iowa win is a good one, but let's not forget we beat Georgia, who struggled until they solidified their QB situation, but then kicked ass all the way down the home stretch. They also beat Miami (OH) who is Big Ben-less, and Eastern Michigan.

Now let's look at their losses. New Hampshire, blown out by Wisconsin, blown out by Ohio State, blown out by Penn State, blown out by Purdue, loss to Nevada, loss to Schizo-Michigan State, and about the same effort as us against Michigan. Call me crazy, but if you want to talk about competing in your conference, we played a lot of good teams much much closer than they did, AND we didn't lose to someone like New Hampshire.

I'm not calling this game a cupcake, but I'm also not anointing NW out of our league because of what they did back in 1995. As such, I'll offer a compromise. WHEN we get to a bowl game this year (and its not an if), I think this game would be a good one. I also think it makes more sense to play a team like this than it does to play a team like Michigan, which is where the root of this argument stems from. Bobby likes getting on TV because he thinks it helps recruiting (he's right if you win), and I don't like getting on TV to play a team like Michigan because I don't think you're going to get any sway from that. But you schedule a team which can draw enough interest to get on TV AND which we can win? I think there's a lot to run with there.

One caveat to Northwestern: Let's not forget that this is a team who lost their head coach to a heart attack just prior to the 2006 season. That'll mess up chemistry for any team, so perhaps their performance shouldn't be taken so lightly. Their 2005 team was good and got to the Sun Bowl. Does anyone know how many seniors are gone from that team?

Anonymous said...

WHAT THE HELL. Trust me, Vandy fan, you would rather not go to a bowl than go to a toilet bowl. I mean seriously - The GMAC Bowl? The Bowl?

Look, I know you want to DESPERATELY go to a bowl (ANY bowl game). However, getting rolled by a majority of the SEC and then piling on the likes of Richmond, Maine and Louisiana-Lafayette just to get in the Poinsettia Bowl is an embarrassment.

Bobby O'Shea said...

First off, I think it's important to tap down the rhetoric just a bit. Reasonable Vanderbilt fans can disagree about the best direction for the team to go in. Second, I liked Boyer in the District a lot more when he was agreeing with me. It is inaccurate to say that not going to a bowl is better than going to a "toilet bowl." For a team that hasn't been to a bowl since 1982, that is simply not true. Vanderbilt might never compete for a BSC National Title, but that does not mean that this program has to remain in the doldrums of the SEC. Making a bowl and having a winning record is the next step in that progression.
Three, Stan is right to say that Northwestern is not a powerhouse. Moreover, neither is Vanderbilt. Since 2001, Vanderbilt's OOC record is 12-9 with losses 2 losses to MTSU, 2 losses to Georgia Tech, 2 losses to Navy, and losses to Michigan, TCU, and Rutgers. Not a terrible group, but certainly not stellar. By cementing this series, Vanderbilt gives themselves an opportunity to earn a win in an OOC game over another major conference opponent, and to do so on television. Again, this game is very much contingent upon getting ESPN to commit to showing the first, say 4 games, with an option to pick up additional games over the life of the contract. But beyond that, it establishes a solid OOC rivalry that will serve both schools well. Let's say Vanderbilt wins 6 of the 10 games of the series that we are proposing (that doesn't exist yet), that would be a winning percentage that is still slightly better than our OOC record over the last 6 years. We are not proposing Vanderbilt play all of Vanderbilt’s OOC games are against major conference opponents. Rather, that Vanderbilt open and end the year with potential major conference rivals and schedule two weaker opponents in between. In the long-run, Vanderbilt football is well served by getting as much exposure as possible, all the better if it can be OOC. Plus, does anyone honestly think that Vanderbilt football will necessarily be competing for a bowl in each of the next 10 years? I hope they are, but I am not sure that that is realistic. If that's the case, wouldn't we want to have as many opportunities to raise our profile when we are struggling, in games that where there is both a reasonable expectation that we can win, and one that might actually end up on television?

Anonymous said...

Vandy got a big invite to the who-gives-a-shit bowl in Ames, Iowa with a payout of $50.00.

And when opposing programs have recruited for decades against you on the fact that YOU HAVEN'T BEEN TO ANY BOWL, then yes, that sounds pretty sweet.

I'm not 100% convinced the two are mutually exclusive, but I think we need to stack the odds in our favor. Turning up our nose at the Independence or Poinsettia or whatever so we can have an exciting OOC game is hardly in our long-term best interest. So you don't have to make the case that early bowls are lame (Yes, I know they're lame) to convince me -- you have to make the case that the long-term value to our program in playing someone good is higher than the value of playing in a lame-arse bowl.

If you don't like the idea of Vanderbilt playing in mediocre bowls, well, with tough scheduling you might just get another 25 years of mediocre-bowl-free Nirvana like the last 25.

Anonymous said...


That IMO is the best counterpoint. If we could be reasonably sure that NU wouldn't be very good, I'd be all for playing them. I love the idea of regular competition among Vanderbilt, Northwestern, Stanford, Duke, Wake, Rice, etc. I just love the idea of seeing Vanderbilt back in a bowl in my lifetime even more.

Stanimal said...


The problem is that at no time in college football can you guarantee a team won't be very good. Every team busts out of a slump every now and then. Believe it or not, there was once a time when Vandy football was not the cellar dweller of the SEC. There was also a time when Kentucky had a heisman trophy QB and a time when Wake Forest was abominable (just a couple of years ago, in case everyone forgot).

Sure, Vanderbilt has had a longer streak of below average results than most programs in the nation. But that doesn't mean we WON'T ever get better. Let's not forget that those teams that come out and surprise people aren't playing in a conference with Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, Alabama, Auburn, LSU, and Arkansas (no offense Ole Miss, Kentucky,Miss. State, and South Carolina, you've been good but not as good as those teams).

Duke was good in the ACC when Steve Spurrier was coaching. IT CAN BE DONE. Is CBJ the right guy to do it? Well it took Frank Beamer 6 years to get Va. Tech to its first bowl in his tenure. Sometimes it takes a little faith.

I want to get to a bowl game too, and I know we have a tough schedule, but my point is that we shouldn't shy from other big conferences just because they're big conferences. We're just not quite as good as the other teams in the SEC. Just like Ohio State didn't play any teams like Florida all season long.

Now if we could just stop embarrassing ourselves against MTSU this argument would be even stronger.

Anonymous said...

If we hadn't embarrassed ourselves against MTSU this argument would be even mooter. :)

Actually there's value to the easy win anyway, but once we get "over the hump" there's less marginal value to beating the patsies just to make a bowl and more value to playing slightly better opponents. But until we get there, i want to do everything to make that goal priority #1.

Aesthetically i don't even like myself for saying that. I hate lame MAC or Sun Belt games; it's just what we need right now.