Sunday, October 30, 2011

Same Old Vanderbilt Students

I love Douglas James. But with respect to the students, he's wrong.

In the comments section of the post-Arkansas threat, Douglas James wrote:
"I don't blame students and casual fans for not showing more support for this team yet. Die hards such as the people who frequent this blog know this team is getting much better, but the casual observer just see's Vandy getting another moral victory. This is a small and jaded fan base, they are going to have to win these games and win them often to turn around 50 years of apathy.

I think it will get done and really hope Franklin is committed long term (would love to see him be the Frank Beamer, Bobby Bowden, Bill Snyder of Vandy where he coaches the team for 30 years and basically becomes the program). But that is gonna take a lot of time and beating Elon, UConn, Ole Miss and Army is just not enough...yet"
The students attendance at the last 3 games I've attended has been awful, and this morning's performance was a disgrace.

I understand that 11:20 is an early start. I remember what Friday nights in college were like, and I admit that I myself tardy for games when I was a student. But that's no excuse. Not anymore. No Commodore team was EVER 4-3 in the month of November during my four year tenure at Vanderbilt. Frankly, I'm not sure if the team won 4 games WHILE I was a student. Forget that for just a minute. If you are a senior, you were a freshman when this team won it's first bowl since the Eisenhower administration. You know what a successful team looks like, and this one has a chance to get to another bowl to book-end your college career. Show up.

If you are a sophomore or junior, this Vanderbilt team has won, 7 games into the season, as many games as the previous two teams won in the last two seasons. If you are a junior or a sophomore, you've seen bad teams who were unable to compete. That's not this team. Show up.

And Freshman, what are you doing? If you didn't care about going to football games, why didn't you just go to Emory, Wash.U, or Penn (I know most of you applied there)? You go to school in the SEC. Embrace it. Listen to Coach Franklin's recruiting spiel. You go to an unbelievable school in the best football conference in America. Show up.

Arkansas was the #8 in the nation. Vanderbilt had played a very good game against a good (albeit not great) Georgia team that they lost in heartbreaking fashion two weeks prior. They absolutely smoked Army last Saturday. To compare this Vanderbilt team to previous teams ignores the demonstrable progress that has been made. And it lets the students off the hook.

I am not exaggerating when I say that, with the exception of the band, there weren't 50 students in the student section when the game began. The student section, at peak capacity, might have been half full. That's unacceptable. If students want the program to get better, they have to be part of the solution. Memorial Gym is one of the most difficult places to play in the SEC (if not the country), in part because of the student section. So long as tickets are readily available for opposing fans to purchase, Vanderbilt will be at a disadvantage. But that does not have to be exacerbated by students who are unwilling to do their part.

I don't think Vanderbilt lost to Arkansas or Georgia because the student section was sparsely populated. But it certainly didn't help. The Commodores have 1 game left this season. It's against Kentucky, and it is definition of a must-win if Coach Franklin's team has any chance of going to a bowl (middling or otherwise). There's plenty of blame to go around for today's loss, and some of it belongs to the students.

Same old Vanderbilt? No. Same old Vanderbilt students? Unfortunately, yes.


VandyJon said...

I agree with you Bobby that the students have no excuse to attend games. But the Vandy admins have done little to encourage students to attend the games. Since the new Freshmen Commons began Vanderbilt has put their freshmen as far away as possible from Vanderbilt stadium. Vandy admins need to do a better job of forcing, yes I said forcing, students to the game.

I think it has to start with the tailgating experience. Vandy needs to give each frat a choice on game days, the frat can either have a Vanderbilt paid tailgating spot or the frat cannot have anyone in their house except frat members starting 5 hours before the game and lasting until 2 hours afterwards.

Similar idea for the Freshmen Commons. Each house should have a Vanderbilt paid tailgating spot with food and such. If the freshmen want breakfast/lunch/dinner, they need to come out and tailgate.

If Vanderbilt can create a strong tailgating experience where students want to attend, I think students will be inclined to go to the games too.

Anonymous said...

The students are embarrassing - as for opposing fans, you'd want to get to a real city too if you lived in the other SEC outposts.

The football team needs to start making a play at the end - see UGA and Arkansas game - clock management was terrible. Hopefully basketball will be better.

Vandyphile said...

I must disagree about clock management. We had our shots at scoring without being overly rushed. Had we scored, Ark would have had nothing much left on the clock to drive and score. That looks about right to me.

Vandygal78 said...

Nice writeup. Like Vandy Jon's ideas about tailgating for the students and frats. I'd also have shuttle buses from the Commons to the tailgating and game. It is kind of a hike.

Fwiw, need to clarify one thing. The juniors who played at Penn had NEVER had a conference loss until this past Saturday. My husband played there so I just wanted to say that they have a great football program. We go up for one game every year.

Anonymous said...

Placing even more rules and limitations on frats ruins the Vanderbilt experience. Horrible idea, VandyJon. Also, most freshman don't tailgate with the Commons; they tailgate with the frats. While it might be nice to beef up attendance at our football games, continuing to take away other great things about Vandy in order to do it is not right. Long live frat row.

Sdubs said...

You know, we have like 6000 grad students. That seems like an untapped resource for fans. I know that the law school, Peabody, and Owen have tailgates set up, but why not try to draw in more grad students from engineering, sciences, arts, etc.? Maybe create a grad school student section that is less frattastic so that older students don't feel out of place in the regular student section (not that one should feel out of place there, but I bet some do)? There has to be some way to tap that market...

Craig Pope said...

I attended the Divinity School during the Cutler era and we consistently had a crowd of 15 - 20 students at every home game, right in the middle of the student section. Most of us did our undergraduate work at small liberal arts colleges, so the chance to be a part of big time SEC football was a no brainer.

As a grad student you have to pay something like $20 a year to get a sticker on your student ID that lets you into all sporting events. It seems like a small amount, but I think that little act of investment and intentionality goes a long way toward feeling like you are making a choice to support the teams.

To Sdubs concern, the middle to upper levels of the student section are far less "fratastic" than the lower levels.

I also think that the Grad population is mostly going to show up for the experience of the game and for some socializing (i.e. time out of the library), such that actual on the field product is not that important.
If that is the case, then some effective marketing should to the trick. Make it a part of Grad orientation, get a student rep in each graduate school to be a cheerleader/organizer.

AD said...

Thought this would be of interest to those defending the current frat experience at Vandy:

Andrew Smith said...

The whole point of going to college, rather than taking some course over the Internet, is to be a part of the community. Students who avoid football games and another group events impoverish the school and should be condemned, by folks like us, by the administration and by other students.

I agree with the first comment about trying to force frats to tailgate. I'd actually go further were I the administration and basically declare war on frats that did not deliver every member to every football game.

I'd also start considering, in accepting people to the school, whether they were the sort of people who'd be active in the school community. I wouldn't choose idiots over loner geniuses but the admission process isn't just about getting grinds who ruined their childhoods to amass resumes that would let them get ahead of kids who wanted to live normal lives, it's about getting smart individuals who will also enrich the experience for everyone else. And we don't have that now.

Greg M said...

This is too funny and timely to our discussion to some degree I guess:

This is what SAE alumni think of their current crop of Vanderbilt student brotheren!!!

Stanimal said...

You give Florida a run this week, you might see those people flock.

AspenVU said...

Exactly -

I think the football boys will run the table the rest of the year.

Anything but Gatorade said...

As an outsider, I've never understood why more students don't go to Vandy games, either. The whole "It's so farrr!" excuse is pretty lame. At Kentucky, the stadium is barely on campus, and 90% of upperclassmen don't live on campus, anyway. The stadium is at least a mile from most of the fraternity houses. Yet our student section is typically packed unless it's an afternoon game when Keeneland is open. Vanderbilt kids don't have that excuse. It's dirt cheap, it's quality football, go to the games. Sure, the team might lose, but that's why you booze hard enough pregame not to really care about the end result, right?

Anonymous said...

I attended VU back in the days of DiNardo. We were never above 5-6 and the student section was jammed for all games except UF and UT b/c those were during thxgvng break. Not sure if the type of student has changed, the interest in football has diminished or what. But Sat's attendance was miserable.