Monday, December 13, 2010

The Search Continues: Bobby's Initial Reaction

"It's been quite a journey, quite a journey" - Dean Pritchard

Vanderbilt fans have been on a roller-coaster ride for the past 5 days, with things getting particularly exciting over the last 24 hours. That was, until the first official statement of this process came from an Auburn administration official saying that Offensive Coordinator Gus Malzahn would be staying on the Plains (at least until another SEC job is open). Vanderbilt fans have reason to be disappointed. Malzahn appeared to be the prized jewel for those teams looking for head coaches. Maybe he was. None of us have any idea what happened and how we got from the Washington Post reporting Malzahn was our guy to ESPN reporting he wasn't in a span of about 18 hours. Part of me speculates that Malzahn and his agent used the Vanderbilt offer to leverage as much money as he possibly could from Auburn and that he was never really interested in coming here. Reporting from would seem to indicate otherwise, I have no reason to doubt them since they obviously have sources inside the Vanderbilt administration and I'm just a guy who loves Vanderbilt sports who can't even get a press pass. But I digress. All we know, is Gus Malzahn will not be Vanderbilt's next Head Football Coach.

Call me crazy, but with the exception of the public ridicule we are now being subjected to (which, unfortunately, we're used to when it comes to the football program), Vanderbilt is really no worse off than they were when Robbie Caldwell resigned and the vacancy came open. In fact, one could argue, we're actually in a better position. Is this spin, a little, but that doesn't make it untrue. Assuming the efforts Vanderbilt went to in order to woo Malzahn have been accurately reported, Vanderbilt has unequivocally stated that they intend to dedicate more resources than they ever have to their football program. For me, that's a welcomed sign. Vanderbilt is serious. In the back of my mind, I always wondered whether Malzahn was the "right fit," I guess we'll never know. But if he turned the extremely lucrative contract that he was supposedly offered, than the answer is clearly "no."

Vanderbilt is not, nor will it ever be, a football factory. That doesn't mean that Vanderbilt is destined to be non-competitive - far from it. But it does mean, that in some ways, being a head coach here is harder than other BCS schools (in other ways its easier, but that's for another post). There are things the administration can do to alleviate some of the current obstacles, most notably, improve facilities and allocate the financial resources necessary to win. There are, however, certain things that are non-negotiable: mainly, academic standards and overall integrity. Vanderbilt needs a coach who will understand, and to a great extent, embrace what Vanderbilt is and acknowledge what it isn't. Kevin Stalling, Melanine Balcomb, and Tim Corbin have; clearly, Malzahn chose not to.

In light of all that's happened, Vice Chancellor David Williams has a decidedly more difficult job than he did a few days ago. Whether accurate or not, the perception is Malzahn turned us down, and all signs point to that being exactly what occurred. Whomever Vanderbilt hires, there will be the perception that he wasn't our first choice. If Vanderbilt demonstrates a similar level of financial commitment to the next candidate that they did to Malzahn, in terms of salary, facilities, etc...then ultimately, that won't matter. The most important thing right now, is finding the right person to lead Vanderbilt to competitiveness. It won't be easy, but he's out there.


Chuck Heston said...

No matter how bad it gets, at least we're not in a conference that separates teams into Legends and Leaders.

Greg M said...

What was it JFK said when he truned down the Vice Presidency? When someone accepts the second spot when first is available.. he has a tendency to do it for the rest of their life. Gus Malzahn mustg be a #2 kinda guy. Glad he turned us down. Now plese don't let us hire Franklin or make a hasty move.

Drewski said...

Does anyone think that Vandy should put into motion a plan to go ahead and upgrade our facilities? If potential candidates are requiring that we do that in order to get them, then why doesn't the school go ahead and start planning?!? If they were willing to do it for Malzahn, then wasn't stopping them for doing it for any other coach? It is obvious that Vandy needs/wants some type of improvement...why not start with something that they can control and act on immediately?

Bobby O'Shea said...

Someone suggested this on a thread over at I think it's a great idea, but my only concern is the money behind Malzahn won't be there for someone else.

TPAIN said...

This may end up being a blessing in disguise. I'm not convinced Malzahn is the offensive genius he is billed to be. He had Cam Newton - a ridiculous talent that was a career-maker for any coach who could find his own ass in the dark. His track record, while short, is solid, but I don't think he deserves Saban/Meyer/June Jones money (that's right, go Ponies). Furthermore, who knows what kind of storm is brewing for Chizik, Malzahn, and Newton. This could be a USC situation all over again, and if Vandy is stuck with a mediocre cheater, it destroys the program's credibility. If nothing else, the program has integrity, and if it loses that, well, then we're just a bunch of cheaters who can't win.