Thursday, July 15, 2010

Biddle Misses the Point, Creates Own Narrative on Johnson's Retirement

It didn't take long, but someone wrote a column blaming Johnson's abrupt retirement on Vanderbilt's football culture. While I'm not surprised at the sentiment, I am disappointed that it was the Tennessean's Joe Biddle who is pedaling the line. There is no doubt Vanderbilt is a difficult job, but to suggest, based on his comments and the tenure of yesterday's press conference that Johnson's decision to leave coaching was motivated by frustration in losing absolutely absorb. Biddle cites the statistic that Vanderbilt lost 27 games by 7 points or less during Johnson's 8 year tenure for the proposition that "Those types of games keep football coaches tossing and turning for nights, playing the what-if game until it's time to prepare for the next game." Yes, they do, because as it turns out, coaches don't like losing. Talk about a "dog bites man" observation, Joe.

My problem with Biddle's take is appears less grounded in fact then in the columnists own preconceptions that Vanderbilt's fate is football inadequacy. As Vice Chancellor Williams' urging to "bring out that trophy" during yesterday's press conference makes plain, that is simply not true. Is Vanderbilt going to compete for national championships like LSU, Florida, or Alabama? Probably not. But that's OK. While Vanderbilt likely won't punch a ticket to a BCS Bowl any time soon, neither Commodore fans, administrators, nor coaches really expect that. The definition of "success" is different, even if Biddle would try to make his readers think otherwise. Which brings me to my final point: how can Biddle on the one-hand open the piece by asserting that if Johnson and his staff hadn't had a successful season, Vanderbilt would have considered making a coaching change, while on the other share an antidote that there are professors at Vanderbilt who don't know there is a football team, and would be disappointed to find out there was? That Vanderbilt is a difficult place to coach is beyond dispute, but Biddle's column, at least to me, reeks of columnist who would rather make a point even if it's unsupported by the facts. Bobby Johnson retired from Vanderbilt because he and his wife wanted to do something else with their lives, to lay any part of that decision at the feet of a Vanderbilt program he was instrumental in revitalizing is insulting to Bobby and its fans. No matter, no reason to let the facts get in the way of a good column, especially if it's one you've been writing for your entire career.


AD said...

I read that this morning. What a confusing article. He really mixed messages. Every one-sentence paragraph was down-up-down-up.... More "on the one hand...on the other hand"s than a bad torts exam.

VandyPhile said...

Maybe it was the lack of local media support that made him quit. Maybe we should start that argument, ya think?

Vandygal78 said...

Boy this is so true. The paper has been so unsupportive. Remember the LSU game, viewing some LSU sports blogs it looked like they thought they had bulletin board comments. One LSU fan mentioned that the headline didn't match the quote from the player ; it didn't, the Tennessean added a crazy headline to make us look back. But it isn't just our newspaper, I've been looking at other papers and while they all respected CBJ, they had the craziest comments about Vandy. They act like it's the 1960 s or something. This has to hurt recruiting, if guys would believe this. Vandy needs to do PR push big time.

Anonymous said...

Biddle sucks. Always has. This is nothing new.

Just like american idol will aways blow fanny.