I was there, this Saturday. And so was Mark. We haven't posted until today because we didn't want to be hasty. We needed some perspective. And from what I've seen and heard from this weekend, I think that was a good decision.
Thomas Paine's words, from his 1776 work "The Crisis," echoed in my mind as I prepared for today's Naval Intelligence:
"These are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. ... [T]he harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph."
Now, indeed, is the time when we learn who the real Vanderbilt fans are, and when we see who was just coming for the Richmond-style fireworks.
After a week that we -- and that's right, we, the Vanderbilt fan base, bloggers, and internet pundits -- lose a game that we had built up into a sort of giant program-barometer that was season-making or -breaking, we will see how our fan base fairs against such a disappointing and psychologically-devastating game.
And boy, there is a lot of evidence to show how the chips will fall this next Saturday when one reviews the Vanderworld after Saturday's fault-line producing game.
I think Maurice Patton best captures the mood of Vanderfans with his headline in Sunday's Tennessean: Vandy seethes Red. And why all this calamity? Some argue, as anti-Vanderbilt columnist Joe Biddle does, that it's all Chris Nickson's fault.
One of the bright spots in Saturday's defeat, I thought, was the Defense's performance. And true, they did wear down in the second half, but I think that owes more to our lack of offensive production (and thus the increase in strain and work on the Defense that being on the field more caused). Maurice also talks about the Defensive performance by the 'Dores, with an emphasis on their second-half wearing down.
One of the other bright spots (except for a dark moment on a return-for-TD) on Saturday was our punt game. Though it could look deceivingly abyssmal, Maurice Patton argues that it's working like it's designed. Most of the time.
Joe "I am the reason people call my newspaper the 'UTennessean'" Biddle has a column that basically says this is "S--- O-- V---------" at its finest (or worst). Frankly, I'd like to knock him on his ass.* Ahem. But, that would be assault, and how would I pass the Bar, then.
In the City Paper today, Brett Hait has similar thoughts about 'Bama, and looks ahead to Ole Miss. The City Paper sports staff, on the other hand, has some thumbs down for Vanderbilt's "overall effort" this Saturday. I'd disagree with that; while we did "lay an egg," as they suggest, it was definitely much more nuanced than the entire team sucking it up.
With a little distance, Maurice writes, today, what we're all thinking in Vandyland: we can't let the 'Bama loss linger; after all, we still have a good shot at 3-1 with Ole Miss and Eastern Michigan on the horizon.
And speaking of Ole Miss, it's a good thing our Defense got some confidence against Alabama this week, because Maurice writes that the Rebs bring a potent offense to Nashville this Saturday.
Since Ole Miss has no where near the amount of coverage that 'Bama does, there's little in the way of opposition press today. But, there is some good stuff out of The Vanderbilt Hustler (and as a former Hustler columnist-and-sometime-reporter myself, I'm glad to see it).
Jarred Amato (who, some intrepid Facebooking revealed, is a junior English and Communications Studies double-major from Boston) has some great analysis on the role that penalties played in the loss. Jarred also has an opinion column that has some good stuff as well (and I totally agree with him about the red outfits -- sheesh, doesn't anyone in the Band remember that they're the Crimson Tide?).
Anyway, make sure you read through Jarred's stuff (and no, I don't really know him, I don't think). And look out folks, we've got yet another Vanderbilt guy on his way to doing well in the Sports world (if you don't know what I'm talking about, go take a look-see on prominent sports journalists on TV and in the papers, and you'll see that despite our lack of a journalism major, VU grads do quite well for themselves).
VUCommodores.com admirably gives us the AP story and the post mortem on the game with their post game notes. Will Matthews writes urgently that we are not SOV. Apparently, there were some people with whom the football player's post-game press conference comment about us being the "new Vanderbilt" despite the loss really resonated -- in his "Commodore Notebook," Rod Williamson also disparages the SOV remarks that some reporters (did somebody say Joe Biddle?) were dragging back up out of the bad old days.
On VandyMania, Blake Lovell sounds like a pastor or a therapist as he tries to calm the Commodore nation down with some breathing exercises and some perspective. The "VandyMania Staff" (who knew they had one?) give us a generalized game recap article that doesn't really raise much new material.
On the VM boards, Brent has his Monday's stories post that encourages us to look "onward and upward."
And here's where things get interesting. As they tend to do, disturbing losses really heat up the message boards, and with expectations so high, the disappointment had people tearing it up. "Vugeek" starts us off by wondering whether Saturday's game marked the end of Nickson. "ForVU" chimes in that he likes Adams.
Trying to lighten the mood a little bit, and reflecting his long experience with the frustration that Vandersports can bring, "AlbertCamus" tells us that his computer chair survived "the interference [call], the phantom face mask, the punt return, the DL breakdown and Saban's smug look." It's in threads like these that Vanderbilt fans really do show the depth of their loyalty and make me proud (more on that below).
Perennial friendly-rival poster "NashReb" talks a little smack and tries to help us focus on the future, not the past. And I have to mention that later in the thread "AlbertCamus" accurately and humorously sums up my feelings about the Ole Miss game this year: "we owe Mississippi a scorched earth vengeance effort after rolling over like Old Yeller on valium last year." Amen to that.
Apparently, not all was lost when it comes to our bowl hopes, or at least, that's what "dVANd" thinks. In a similar vein, "DallasDore" tries to rally the troops and get people excited for the Rebels' invasion of Nashville.
We get some controversy started when "DoreDane" informs us that if we lose to Ole Miss, Bobby Johnson must go. I guess somebody should go cybersquat on firebobbyjohnson.com -- oh wait, somebody already has.
"TXdore" challenges the people who are up in arms over the so-bad-they're-almost-funny calls we get from our SEC officials. It's actually a very interesting thread where people try to come up with ways to fix what they perceive as a broken system.
In his eighteenth post on VM, "VandyDadd" tells us that he's done with everything Vanderbilt, including "thug and stupid 'student-athletes.'" Wow. Needless to say, that gets some people going elsewhere in that thread.
There's a funny post by "MagnoliaLeague" who wants us to start yelling "What's your price?" when we inevitably get one of "those" calls from our friends (?) in SEC officialdom. I also like the version suggested by "cjdore" -- "We'll pay more!" I mean, you gotta love Vandyfans.
Vandyfan neophyte "DeacsNDores," who has declared his allegiance to Wake Forest and Vanderbilt, with a priority on the 'Dores, asks about opposing crowds at Vanderbilt Stadium. My question to him: isn't it like that in the ACC, too? I mean, I can't imagine that WFU can field that many more fans than we do.
On the nuts-'n-bolts side of things, "Biltmore" argues that a healthy Chris Nickson is our best hope for success this year. I think I agree, though I did appreciate the effort that Adams put out when he was in the game.
Back on the Ole Miss side of things, "Vandyman74" lets us know that we open as 5-point favorites against Ole Miss. Guess the folks in Vegas still have confidence in us, despite our little problem with the Vanderbilt +3 from last week. Oh, and by the way, does anyone remember what the UM-VU spread was last year?
Another fan, who apparently has attained the VM rank of "ClassyVUFan" shows that this moniker is not exactly accurate. "Cdore78" tells us that we're back to S---- O-- V---------, pure and simple. Ugh. I hate that phrase with a passion (hence it's censored nature throughout this post). I don't understand why he feels like he needs to tell us if he's jumping ship. I mean, it's like someone committing suicide: if you're making a big deal about it by jumping off a bridge and assuring the crowd below "I'm gonna do it," you're probably just looking for attention.
"ORDore" makes a great point in his post-game reaction post: we always overreact to losses like this, and he points to the Furman loss in basketball last year as proof. Hey, I like where that logic is going... to a bowl, maybe?
Moving over to VandySports, there's lots of stuff, but it's all premium (I mean, it looks like quality stuff, but is it really worth the cost to join Rivals.com? -- some of us love Vanderbilt, but just can't afford it). Their boards, like VM's, are also on fire.
"GoDores2005" starts a thread about Rod Williamson's post-'Bama Commodore Notebook that is universally negative. I don't get it; I sort of agreed with Rod, to be honest. I really do not think we're S.O.V., or at least, I don't think there's enough evidence to prove it yet.
Completely out of left field (and apparently asleep for at least a year) is "VanderWill74" with his observation that the State of Tennessee approved new Vanderbilt license plates. I've had one on my 4Runner since March of last year.
"ATL14straight" puts up a poll asking us what we're most ashamed of after last Saturday; I voted for "some of the posts on [VandySports]." "Vusportsfan" tells us his thoughts on what our current issues are in football. And finally, "vandy33" takes a look at Ole Miss.
In the blogosphere, the loss has energized the guys at Vanderbilt Sports Line, and they offer initial thoughts in a Saturday post about what "wasn't supposed to happen." Today, they highlight the recriminations that are circulating around Commodore Country today.
You've gotta agree with Marv at Who Ya With: Saturdays' game was physically sickening to watch (after all, I do have a cold thanks to my standing in the rain to stay 'til we sang the Alma Mater).
The loss also got Save the Shield going as well: he has a reaction post, a discussion about whether Bobby's coaching is to blame, and a post that's doing it's best to be positive.
Finally, in one of the most philosophical reactions to the loss on Saturday, there's my own post about what I learned while standing in the pouring rain (I posted it on my personal blog because it didn't seem like the sort of thing we usually put on here -- but it does sum up the way I felt after standing there on Saturday).
Well, that's where things stand on this Monday-morning-after. It was a bad weekend, but like Scarlett O'Hara said (and let's face it, things were a lot grimmer for poor Miss Scah-lett), "Tomorrow is another day." Hang in there, Commodores.
* Legal Disclaimer: No violence or malfeasance against Joe Biddle or anyone related to or associated with him is hereinabove intended, advocated, or supported. The phrase that appears before the asterisk, supra is hyperbolic and satirical in nature. Neither Star & Stripe, Mark, or Diezba advocate any tortious or illegal activity, and they specifically and explicitly repudiate, denounce, and disapprove any such activities.