Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Do these stats show why VU will go bowling in '07?

Earl Bennett isn't the only Commodore who's looking to break some records this season. Photo by Stan Jones,
It's the kind of thing that you can't believe that no one has picked up on, yet. It's the kind of thing that makes you sit up and take notice (and possibly disrupt the class that you might be blogging during). It's the kind of statistic that makes you really believe that this actually might be the year.

On a blog I'd never read before (and only found because of some intrepid Googling and Technorati-ing), I found the following statistics that literally blew me out of the water:

Vanderbilt's three wins in the month of September mark "the quickest the Commodores have reached three home wins in school history."

Now, a word or two about this statistic, before I talk about the other ones I found.

It is the most dubious of the stats that the website in question posted. When I read it, the "in school history" part made me skeptical, so I did some research.

According to the 2007 football media guide (pp. 147-54), the Commodores' first 3 games were home games and VU won all three of those games in the following years: 1901, 1904, 1906, 1908-13, 1915-16, 1921, 1925, 1935, and 1950.

Now, to determine whether this statistic is accurate we have to decide if "quickest" means "earliest." Why? Because the "earliest" home game played in any of the years I just listed was September 23, which was a 47-0 win over MTSU in 1950.

Alternatively, the stat may be correct if it is only accounting for the "modern era," i.e., after 1950.

With the win over EMU, the Commodores earned their third win at home for the first time since 1993.

Now, this statistic may not seem like much, and the obvious reason why is that we have arguably played a very favorable schedule to this point this year. But let's look at some of the "cupcakes" that were on the schedule in the years between 1993 and 2007.

In 2000, we could have been 3-1 after four games if we had beaten Miami of Ohio at home (we lost 30-33) and Ole Miss at home (we lost 7-12).

In 2001, we had a great chance to be 3-1 after four games if we had taken care of business against MTSU at home (we lost 28-37) and Auburn at home (21-24 -- and note that this was a game we were winning until a fake punt in the fourth quarter -- I was there for that one).

The third win also marks the first time since 1984 that VU has won three of its first four home games.

Again, this is another astounding statistic that either says (1) we've come a long way or (2) our scheduling people for the past 25 years should be shot. I think it might be a little of both.

Particularly glaring years include: 1986, with losses to Tulane and Memphis; 1988, with losses to Duke (yes, Duke) and Ole Miss; 1998, with losses to Western Michigan and Ole Miss; 2000, with losses to Miami of Ohio and Ole Miss; and 2001, losing to MTSU and Auburn.

The three wins in September also mark the first time VU has had three home wins in the same month since winning all three home games in the month of November in 1982.

I could catalog more of the difficulties we've suffered over the long years wandering in the desert, but I think you get the point -- and this is supposed to be a hopeful post (and it's starkly depressing to read through the past 25 years of Vanderbilt football win-loss records).

So what does all this mean?

Well it could mean a lot or it could mean nothing. It all depends, I suppose, on the interpretations and spin you put on it.

First of all, I have to applaud the people who helped put together a schedule like the 2007 one. There is no reason that we should be playing some of the out-of-conference opponents we have scheduled in the past ten years (e.g., Notre Dame, Georgia Tech, Navy, and Michigan to name a few).

It makes a lot more sense for a program like ours to schedule teams like Eastern Michigan (a beatable I-A program) than it does to play the out-of-conference equivalent of another LSU or Florida. We play in the SEC; we do not need to add "extra" quality opponents. We've got our hands full as it is.

At the same time, as I pointed out earlier, I think that statistics like these are proving that Vanderbilt football is finally, finally on the way out of the wilderness, and boy is it time.

We are consistently (in the past three years) breaking records from the glory days of Vanderbilt football: our 1982 and '74 bowl years, and our pre-1950 days of dominance.

For example, the first statistic I discussed above, about the "quickest" home wins in school history: even if 2007 isn't the season with the Dores' quickest home wins in all-time school history, it is (without a doubt, thanks to our digging through the all-time records) the quickest and earliest that we have put together 3 home wins in 57 years. That's right: more than a half-century.

Two-thirds of our season remains, and it is the meaty part of our SEC schedule that looms before us. But we legitimately have a shot at getting to a bowl (as Maurice Patton's article in the Tennessean today outlines -- see today's Naval Intelligence briefing), and that's one record -- no bowl since '82 -- that I don't need a record book to check.

1 comment:

PhilipVU94 said...

It makes a lot more sense for a program like ours to schedule teams like Eastern Michigan (a beatable I-A program) than it does to play the out-of-conference equivalent of another LSU or Florida. We play in the SEC; we do not need to add "extra" quality opponents. We've got our hands full as it is.

Hear, hear. *applause*

The VSL folks disagree with us, though. They think it's somehow wimpy not to play major-conference opponents. Candidly, as bad as Northwestern, Duke, and Stanford figure to be for the near future, it may be a distinction without a difference.

Man, you're producing content faster than I can react to it. Can you really get away with blogging in law school? I might have to add that to my list of career alternatives....