Sunday, November 18, 2007

Sometimes I really hate being a Vanderbilt fan.

I feel like a battered spouse. Vanderbilt's 25-24 loss to UT on Saturday left me hating myself for putting any energy into supporting this team. That makes not one, not two, but THREE games this season (all against Top-25 SEC opponents) that we have simply given away at the end after controlling throughout. We should -- and I mean SHOULD -- be 8-3 right now and in the top 15 or 20 in the country. Instead, we're 5-6 and almost certainly not going to a bowl game.

I don't want to dog the players too much -- everyone made his share of mistakes. Stewart on the roughing the punter call that turned the tide of momentum late in the third quarter. Hahnfeldt's missed field goal at the end (although in fairness, it was a tough kick and he was inches from making it). The list goes on. One thing is certain: Earl Bennett going down in the first half was NOT the reason we lost. We showed a lot of toughness for three quarters...turns out that still leaves 15 minutes unaccounted for.

I feel like a broken record saying this, but Offensive Coordinator Ted Cain has got to get his act together or take a hike. The play calling in the fourth quarter was horrific. I've come to expect nothing less from ole Teddy boy. When asked about it after the game, Mackenzi Adams said "The play calling was fine." Anyone in America can read through that halfhearted defense of your coaching staff. CBJ had this to say about it: "We're trying to move the ball. You don't want to put us in a situation where we can throw an interception or do something stupid." As much as I love Bobby, that remark smacks of a "playing not to lose" style that simply won't work in the SEC. The players deserve better. We all do.

And so, here we are again, approaching the end of yet another season of "woulda," "coulda," and "shoulda." I'll be there next Saturday to support the team and cheer us on to what will hopefully be the sixth win -- our first non-losing season since 1982. But I'm not going to sugar-coat this: we let a special season slip through our fingers, and we did it three times. After the game, defensive lineman Theo Horrocks summed up the Commodores' struggle after the momentum shifted and Vomit Orange started its comeback from being down 24-9.

Said Horrocks: "We just got down, couldn't get ourselves out of the hole. We've just got to learn how to finish."

Too late, fellas.

Basketball season, anyone?


Anonymous said...

Could be worse.

Look what happened to the country hillbilly bimbo crooner from american idol.

She lost on a quiz show to a 5th grader. She is dumber than a 5th grader. That explains why she was on american idol.

That is worse than losing to east TN hillbilly thugs in football by one point on the road.

Actually both sucks.

Stanimal said...

Season's done though in any other year 6 wins would get us to a bowl game. Just our luck that the rest of the SEC decided to have comeback years.

Good news is that basketball got the official john hancock's of Tchiengang and Goulbourne this week, and that Ogilvy has been awesome.

Talk about a deflating football season though.

August West said...

One game left. At least if we win that one, we'll have more wins than any year since 1982, and the first back-to-back 5 or more win seasons since the DiNardo years...

This season hurts, but it's not a wash by any measure.

Anonymous said...

So was "bad play calling" the reason Tennessee got outscored 17-3 in the second quarter?

Adams was right: the play calling was fine.

In 1968, the Cotton Bowl-bound Vols beat Vandy (5-4-1 that year) 10-7 when a 4th quarter field goal try by the Commies hit the crossbar and bounced back. This was right after the field goal kicker drew a 5 yard delay of game penalty because he had to re-tie his shoelaces.

Sometimes you don't get a win; sometimes a good football game is all you get. The Commies have played at least 8 good football games this year. That's all a football fan (as opposed to a "victory" fan) can ask for.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget the importance of the Wake Forest game...6 wins would be a quantifiable improvement.

Weird season: It seemed clear that the offense was going to light up every scoreboard, and the defense was the question mark. It turned out to be just the opposite.

Aaron said...

it is time to fire CBJ!!!!! I am serious he needs to go.

August West said...

That's right aaron: what Vanderbilt needs is more instability and wasted years adjusting to a new system because CBJ had the gall to do better than any VU coach in over a decade.

That would be awesome.

Unless Loyd Carr is dying to come to Nashville...

Aaron said...

How many years does it take for a new system to "kick in". CBJ has been there since 2002. He has had time to get his recruits in and his system in place. His overall record coming into this year is 15-43. We are going to be so bad next year we will be battling ole miss for the basement.

Comparing previous coaches is unfair. Who cares if he has done better than previous coaches, if we simply settle for the mediocre performances of past and present we are never going to improve.

He needs to go.

Seamus O'Toole said...

Aaron makes an interesting and much needed point: Why are Vanderbilt fans so willing to settle? Why are we so bent on making excuses?

You can point to the challenges of winning at an academically strong school in the SEC until you're blue in the face, but that doesn't change the fact that talent-wise we were among the top half of teams in the conference this year and we still didn't get it done.

Anonymous -- I never said the play calling was bad in the second quarter. I said it was bad in the fourth quarter. In my opinion, when you're only up by one score, you don't call plays that try to avoid "throw[ing] an interception or do[ing] something stupid" (as CBJ said). That's giving away the momentum and asking to get beat, ESPECIALLY when you're on the road in this conference. Do you disagree?

Douglas James said...

Firing Bobby Johnson would be a horrible decision. Our team and grown alot in the past few years and we are really starting to put some real talent on the field (and not just in the LB corp). While i am incredibly pissed about the results this year the fact that we have taken some big steps forward cannot be understated. While i think we might take a step back next year I wouldn't be surprised with a couple more strong recruiting classes and some patience and hard work we will start making regular bowl appearances under Bobby. I think this is very similar to Stallings first few years on campus (and keep in mind its a lot easier to win faster in Bball than football). Now Stallings has built a solid program. Continually firing coaches is not a way to build a team

Bobby O'Shea said...

I don't think firing CBJ is the right thing to do for several reasons. One, the team is making demonstrable progress and he has to get much of that credit. Two, he is primarily a defensive coach. Last I checked, not only has this defense played well, but that have performed above and beyond anyone expectations for that side of the ball. Three, is there a coach out there that Vanderbilt could get that we think would be an improvement? I don't think so. Firing a coach to fire a coach is dumb; firing a coach to get someone better is not.

Which leads me back to a point that Seamus and I have harped on a fair bit this season: Ted Cain is not getting the job done play calling. It is not enough to call a good game for a half or even three quarters. CBJ's defense of the play-calling is problematic since it absolutely reaks of "prevent" offense, which is a proven strategy to lose.

Annonyous' virtuousness as a football fan rather than a "victory fan" aside, I thought my man Herm Edwards was onto something when he said: "you play to win the game." I have a difficult time believing that anyone who really cares about this program enough to comment on a blog dedicated to it, could reasonably be accused of being a "victory" fan.

I understand that sometimes the better team on a particular day doesn't win, but there have been 3 Saturday's this fall where the better team has lost. That, to me, is both a demonstrable pattern and completely unacceptable.

Looking ahead to Saturday, Wake is a game the Commies really need to win to make this season anything less than an absolute disaster.

I welcome any and all challenges to any of the points I have made.

Anonymous said...

It's understandable to lash out at CBJ after VU gift-wrapped and delivered that game to TN.

But as douglas and bobby said in previous comments, Johnson has built a program that is a factor in the SEC. It's been a long time (15 years) since that could be said about VU football.

How the team responds against Wake is a huge test for CBJ, I repeat that 6 wins is a non-trivial achievement.

Aaron said...

Ok so the defense played well this year, the offense is subject to poor performances and terrible play calling, as noted above. Who hired Ted Cain???!?!

Furthermore, firing CBJ would not simply be firing a coach to fire him, and the notion that you have to have a coach ready and willing to take over before your fire someone is absurd. If that were the case then programs around the nation would be forced to simply sit and watch their teams suck because of bad coaching, all because they couldn't find an instant replacement.

There are plenty of good coaches out there that deserve a chance, and would be great at Vandy. The reason you have a coaching search is to find those coaches, but if you MUST have a name this instant, then howabout GA Mangus (O-Coordinator at MTSU). He has taken multiple d3 programs out of the dumpster and to championships. He is familiar with Nashville and the recruiting landscape. He played in the SEC, and he would come to Vandy. Read more about him here:

Finally, i am not sure about you guys but really what do you see promising about our recruiting classes from the last year and in 2008. the 2007 class got very little PT, thanks to CBJ, and the 2008 class is decent at best.

Bobby O'Shea said...

You think Middle hates us now, let's see what happens if we were to raid their offensive coordinator.

I think it is the basest form of sports talk to start throwing around "fire the bum" statements willy-nilly. And, while I think Aarron is misguided to call for CBJ's head, I think there have to be recriminations for the offenses lack of production and inability to play a full 60 minutes. If your boy Mangus can get it done, I'd be OK with giving him a spot to call plays with the big boys.

Anonymous said...

Seamus, I knew you meant the 4th quarter. I was asking whether you also thought bad play calling by Tennessee was why the Commies scored 17 points in the 2nd.

By the way, weren't Vandy's two best receivers on the sidelines with injuries in the 4th quarter? And didn't Adams underthrow a wide open receiver on that last drive?

PS -- I love this blog, check it every day.

Sol Blake said...

I was at the friends made me arrive late and vandy was down 6-0. I had to catch a filght and left at the beginning of the 4th quarter. I saw vandy win 24-3 while I was there. It was great.... I spent the whole ride to the airport with my head in my hands.

is there any doubt we need a new coach? we need some one who knows how to be successful at this level. Turning an SEC team that is close to good into a contender and top 25 team could be a spring board to bigger jobs for any coach. i say we hire the highest profile coach who is fired during the offseason. is lloyd carr too high to aim? something has to change, I can't take another season like this.

Unknown said...

If being a "victory fan" is wrong, I dont want to be right.

Vandy has had too many "good football games" over the past couple of years and not enough "victory games" for any fan to be satisfied.

Right after the game I would have led the charge to fire CBJ, but I think Bobby and Douglas have some good points. That said, and I know this sounds like a broken record, we have got to start playing 4 quarters and getting some Ws instead of "moral victories" and warm fuzzy feelings from watching good football games. We're not good enough to play like the Patriots and go balls deep every play/drive, but to quote someone above, "we cant play not to lose."

Prevent defense sucks.

Anonymous said...

Don't say "go balls deep." Though if you're implying the Patriots are all homosexuals, I can allow it.

Anonymous said...

Why settle for MTSU's offensive coordinator? Just hire Rick Stockstill himself, and let him bring his OC along with him. Do you think Stockstill wouldn't take a $500K/year raise to come to Nashville? Other coaches who would be an improvement include Houston Nutt (if fired from Arkansas), Mike Price (makes $500K/yr at UTEP), and Troy Calhoun (500k/yr at Air Force and impressive professional coaching resume) lists all NCAA FBS coaches, age, career records, and salaries.
Of course, this is all moot if the Dores get that 6th win on Saturday.