We still don't know who will start for Vanderbilt at quarterback this Saturday, as the team and the coaches send mixed signals on what will happen. On the one hand, Chris Nickson continues to assert that he is not as injured as he thought he was; on the other, Coach Johnson insists that he will not push Chris, because he doesn't want to reinjure Chris' hamstring.
It's a catch-twenty-two, and it's one that has huge implications for how (and who) we play against Ole Miss. Of course, it may be that we're just trying to keep Rebels Coach Orgeron guessing as he and his staff prepare what the Mississippi media seems to think is their much-weakened defense. I guess we'll see on Saturday how things shake out.
In today's Tennessean, Maurice Patton breaks down the confusion at McGugin Center and throws in some game notes as we head toward our date with the Rebels. Maurice also writes about one Mississippi player, Greg Hardy, who is working as a rare "two-way player" for the Rebs.
Keeping with what our friends at Save the Shield reported yesterday, David Climer writes an opinion column in the Tennessean today that highlights just how bad the officiating has been for Vanderbilt, and how it has affected our efforts to climb our way out of the SEC cellar.
In the City Paper, Brett Hait writes that Coach Johnson definitely remembers last year's game against Ole Miss; he quotes Coach Johnson, who called last year's game "frustration with a capital 'F'." Brett also lets us know that this Saturday's game is available on ESPN GamePlan.
We missed an opinion column from the Vanderbilt Hustler on Monday, and that's a shame, because Will Gibbons, a senior Public Policy major (way to go Facebook), has a great Cheap Seats piece that, like a lot of people have been trying to do this week, tries to calm Vanderfans down.
Down in the Cotton State (or is it the Magnolia State?), Jim Mashek writes in the Gulfport Sun-Herald that the Rebels may need to find somebody else to run the ball besides BenJarvus Green-Ellis (what an amazing name, by the way).
In the Jackson Clarion-Ledger, Robbie Neiswanger writes that Rebel quarterback Seth Adams got help from Mike Wallace last Saturday against Missouri, and that he'll need their help this week if they hope to beat the 'Dores.
Interestingly, the Memphis Commercial Appeal has virtually the same story about Adams and Wallace. I think it's extraordinary how much the media around the South parrot one another (like we saw in the 8 or 9 different stores on Nickson-Walker-Brundidge last week). How many sports reporters, do you suppose, get their ideas for their stories directly from the Game Notes PDFs put out by the SIDs?
Outside the Vanderbilt-Mississippi media, USA Today has their Inside Slant on the 'Dores for this week, and a certain three-letter chant from this summer has come back to haunt us (you know, I'm all in favor of goals, but shouldn't they be at least marginally obtainable?).
There's no new content on VandyMania; VandySports has a first look at the 2007-2008 men's basketball team (which really means they got pictures of the guys when they helped make the fog that the football team ran through against Alabama on Saturday).
The message boards on VM and VS are both still humming along nicely, and people are arguing about all sorts of fun things. Here's a sampling: "BrentVU" has his usual daily post on Vanderbilt stories (he also has a great "Fun Fact to Know and Tell" regarding Virginia Tech's loss to the Bayou Bengals -- be sure to check it out).
VM poster "roanoke" has a thoughtful entry asking why we aren't running much option this year. It's a good question, from my perspective (and one, I'm afraid, might be answered by Chris Nickson's injury this past week).
"NoSoup4U" raises his annual point about the Ole Miss fan base being "the most delusional in the SEC." As you might expect, that raises some hackles from people wearing Red and Blue.
"73Dorefan" is sick and tired of being outnumbered at Vanderbilt Stadium by opposing fans. His solution? Add "diversity." And the crowd goes wild...
In another flame-inspiring post, "Vandyfan555," in his twenty-third post ever, suggests that Coach Johnson should be equated with Woody. To my mind (and I did live through Woody's glorious final season as a VU freshman), that's just plain ignorant (perhaps a reflection of the said poster's inexperience with Vanderbilt football?).
In another interesting post (and he seems full of them, lately), "Vandyman74" posts the same photo of an SEC official being arrested that Jesus did at Who Ya With yesterday. He also has some of the story behind the photograph (always remember, folks, that failure to appear in court will result in a warrant for your arrest).
Lightening the mood a little bit, "Dores311" posts our golden-tinged, 'Bama-inspired opponent look-alike post. And, as usual, it's hilarious. Speaking of Rebels, one "grovelounger" posts a few Vandy questions from a Reb and shows he's not very familiar with the glorious Institution on West End.
Still on VM, "dVANd" is disappointed in Joe Fisher after a remark "The Voice of the Commodores" made that the poster views as homerish. Frankly, I would argue that it's Joe's job to put the best-realistic-light on Vanderbilt, and I think we have one of the best (unsung) play-by-play guys in the SEC -- and the country (go get 'em, Joe).
Lastly, "VandyBruin" pokes fun at each of us who were predicting doom and gloom after the 'Bama loss with his lose to 'Bama, season over post (and reminds us that 6 wins is still possible).
Over on the VS boards, "tennfitz," after watching video of the 'Bama game, has an awesome conspiracy theory about where the phantom facemask penalty came from last Saturday. "kt4dores" decides to get a little smack talk going against 'Bama, the SEC, and the world. "dynamitedore" point us toward an article about a rivalry-inspired bar fight.
In the blogosphere, our friends at Vanderbilt Sports Line show us some love and keep the ball rolling with some of their trademark Vanderbilt Hotline.
The PiRatings Ranking website has the Commodores, after week 2, at 105; our opponent Ole Miss is at 99 (the higher the rank, the better the team; also, I think he does score margins by the difference in the rankings; e.g., current rankings have us a 6-point favorite over the Rebs).
Save the Shield has more from David Climer about the SEC officials and the hate-fest aimed in their general direction that continues throughout the Vanderworld.
It seems, though, that the realization that there was some REALLY bad officiating last Saturday doesn't stop at the borders of Commodore Country.
According to our friends at Best of the SEC Blogs, even Alabama people believe the refs were rooting against the home team. Best of the SEC also brings out some of the frustration that Vanderfolks have been feeling of late, and gives us a shout-out toward the bottom of his Alabama report. I agree with his analysis, too, that we're a "tough crowd in Nashville these days" -- the days of being happy with a nice comment about "an improved Vanderbilt team" are over. These days, we want to win.
If you haven't already, go check out Vandy Tailgate, yet another Commodore blog -- and a very well-done one, at that (as you can see, they've been added to our blogroll).
And while we're on the subject of Vanderblogs, I think that it's great that so many Vandeyfans are getting out here on the web and making our presence known. There's no reason we can't compete (and compete well) with our fellow SEC folks when it comes to this sort of thing. In fact, from what I've seen, we're starting to get some really quality fan-reporting (including, I might humbly add, that published by Mark right here on S&S).
Finally, though we don't endorse political candidates on S&S (take note, F.E.C.), both authors, in their private capacity, were pleased to see that Karl Dean won the Nashville mayor's race (though we certainly welcome any and all Clement-supporters who frequent S&S).
I believe Dean's committed to continuing Bill Purcell's economic development of Nashville, and I know that I, for one, have been thoroughly impressed all the recent development in Music City. I believe we're well on our way to being one of the South's premier cities (and I would argue that, outside of Florida, we're clearly one of the Top 3 in the South: I'd put us tied with Charlotte behind Atlanta as best Southern city; i.e., (1) Atlanta, (2) Nashville-Charlotte (tie)).
Well, that's it for today. As we close out his NI briefing, enjoy these two pictures: one from the Associated Press and one from our own Mike Rapp at VandySports.com who captured the improbable fall of the number "9" from the helmet of one of Alabama's football players (it's pretty obvious in the AP photo; in the VS pic, look at Sean Walker's hands, where he's carrying the football).