Vanderbilt fans were taken prisoner some time last week by Gus Malzahn. I'm not exactly sure when it happened (probably around Thursday when it was reported Vanderbilt made Malzahn an offer approaching $3 million dollars to coach the Commodores), but it did. In Vanderbilt fans' defense, we didn't know we were being held hostage Vanderbilt fans, we were just the stupid kid who got into a stranger's van because he offered us candy (remember that Diff'rent Strokes episode?). But make no mistake about it Commodore fans, we were held hostage.
Vanderbilt supporters were released Monday when Auburn announced they had reached an agreement to keep their offensive coordinator by raising his salary to $1.3 million dollars a year, as well as promising to read him a bedtime story whenever he had trouble sleeping. Yet for some reason, Vanderbilt fans seem to be identifying with their capture rather than directing their anger at him. This is known as Stockholm Syndrome. Wikipedia says (so it must be true): "In psychology, Stockholm syndrome is a term used to describe a paradoxical psychological phenomenon wherein hostages express adulation and have positive feelings towards their captors that appear irrational in light of the danger or risk endured by the victims, essentially mistaking a lack of abuse from their captors as an act of kindness." I get that the analogy isn't perfect (a fact Seamus has already pointed out to me, thank you very much), but I think it might be applicable here.
Commodore fans have spent the better part of the last two days bemoaning David Williams' efforts to land Malzahn as if there was more Vanderbilt could or should have done to woo him. All reports seem to indicate (although we've all become skeptical of "reports" these days) that Vanderbilt was willing to meet Malzahn's demands (salary, staff, facilities), and every time they'd meet them, he'd have another. This indicates to me, uninformed as I am, that Malzahn was never really coming to Vanderbilt; that he was looking for a reason not to take the job. In the end, he was probably hoping to use the Commodores either to leverage a better position from another school, or get Auburn to pony up to keep him. The "Gus, we'll do anything to get you," mantra seems a little misguided if for no other reason than we did everything we thought we had to do to get him, and it still wasn't enough. How fans can blame David Williams for Malzahn deciding he'd rather stay a coordinator than take on the challenge and responsibility of being the head coach is beyond me. It's also classic Stockholm Syndrome (if one were trying to apply a very serious condition to a sports scenario that, in the grand scheme of things, isn't that serious at all).
Now, Commodore fans are unhappy with the apparent #2 choice, Maryland Offensive Coordinator James Franklin, because well, I don't actually know why. Some have raised questions about his "readiness" or what he brings to the table. They question his success as an offensive coordinator at Maryland, doubt the recruiting prowess he is supposed to have, and claim that because his recruiting ties are limited to the Mid-Atlantic Region, they won't translate down South. Alternative names are thrown about like David Williams and the search committee missed someone a guy who happens to read a blog has heard of and thinks would be a "great hire." Maybe Franklin won't be successful, but I don't think we'll know that for some time. As I'm sure will be said many times on this site once a new hire is announced, Vanderbilt fans are going to have to be patient.
The idea of Vanderbilt hiring Malzahn was too much for Commodore fans to bear. We were so excited with the instant credibility, name recognition, and sex-appeal we thought he'd bring, that we lost site of what actually happened: he held us hostage. When Malzahn was done playing his game, he re-upped with Auburn, causing Commodore fans to be despondent , and Vanderbilt University to be held up to public ridicule yet again when it comes to football. Yet there are some who say we should have done more for Malzahn? That what happened with Gus was somehow David Williams or someone at Vanderbilt's fault? Patty Heart just emailed the VSL Newsroom and thinks you guys are off-base.