Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Naval Intelligence: Miami of Ohio had better not be the next MTSU

Victory in Columbia was more than just a "signature win." It's starting to feel like this program is finally showing signs of life. Photo by Stan Jones, VandyMania.com.
All the talk in today's articles -- both in and out of Commodore Country -- is first, that this truly was more than just an upset win: indeed, it was a convincing vindication of Coach Bobby Johnson, his staff, and their efforts to rebuild the Vanderbilt Football program.

Second, it has been said that this situation is remarkably similar to some of the years when we've been only one game short of a bowl berth: like 1999 or 2005. In order to make sure it doesn't happen this year, we must take care of business against Miami.

Now before we get into today's NI, a couple of things for people to know about yesterday. First, we gave props to Marv for his Nostradamus-ness in our "BLOGS" section; second, the 1937 statistic was given by VU Athletics, and I have checked it to the best of my ability against the all-time records in the 2007 football media guide.

From what I can tell, we probably beat higher-ranked teams back when we were winning national championships (i.e., 1906 and 1911), but rankings were not given back then.

Regardless, it is safe to say that the 1937 statistic still stands. And I'm not the only person to argue that the win has major implications for the long-term history and future of this program.

In today's Vanderbilt Hustler, Jarred Amato gives us some in-depth, well-written historical perspective on what this win means.

Elsewhere in Commodore Country, we've all been excited about Mac Adams' rise to leadership over this Commodore team -- especially since that leadership meant beating the sixth-best team in the country. But whatever happened to Chris Nickson? Maurice shows us that Chris' attitude is incredible, considering the circumstances.

You've probably heard by now, but it's worth highlighting: D.J. Moore and Brett Upson were both named SEC Players of the Week thanks to the win over the Gamecocks. Maurice notes that a VU pair hasn't earned the honor together since Jay Cutler and Earl Bennett in the 2005 win against Tennessee.

A trio of incredible statistics from Maurice's piece:

Vanderbilt received two votes in this week's Coaches' Poll, putting them at 16th among the "others receiving votes" category (and, doing the math, putting them at 41st in the country).

This is so great that I'll just quote it straight-up, "Since the beginning of the '05 season, Vanderbilt has won 6-of-13 road games. Prior to 2005, the Commodores had won just 6-of-30 road games." In other words, we've won 46% of our road games since 2005!

Vanderbilt is currently 44th in the BCS standings. Tennessee is 46th.

In the City Paper, Brett Hait writes that much of Vanderbilt's success this year is attributable to the Defense. And certainly, that much was clear in the upset win against Spurrier's 'Cocks: it was the first time since 1992 that Vanderbilt held an SEC opponent without a touchdown (15 years).

Elsewhere in the City Paper, Brett gives us a preview into the 2007-08 men's basketball team, with a piece about Commodore veterans teaching newcomers lessons from year's Sweet Sixteen season.

According to Alex Gordon, it's about executing in the last two minutes and "being together." Hopefully that 4th-in-the-East ranking that the SEC Media bestowed upon Vanderbilt today will help motivate the team to do just that -- get together and prove the doubters wrong.

The Football Defense gets some more recognition from the nationally-syndicated Sporting News, where it's observed that the key to Vanderbilt's resurgence isn't that difficult to understand.

Also out there is a piece from the Cincinnati Enquirer about the Miami Redhawks' coming out flat against Temple.

In officialdom, we have Bobby Johnson's press conference, recognition of Vanderbilt as the national team-of-the-week, a PDF file of this week's Miami game notes, a brand-new Commodore History Corner entry (about Ricketson's trick-play touchdown that led to our 1937 win over LSU, the other highest-ranked team defeated by a VU team in our history), and a note about D.J. Moore's selection as the national defensive player of the week.

Also in officialdom, the Miami Redhawks have their version of the game notes posted in both html and PDF. Enjoy.

On the pay-sites, there's some very good analysis, but most of it is, well, payment-requisite. You'll have to find those on your own.

In the blogosphere, Brandon Barca (who kindly "LinkedIn" with me today) has some more great South Carolina wrap-up.

Vanderbilt players celebrate in 2005 after beating Tennessee for the first time in 23 years. After the Commodores' win against South Carolina, Vanderbilt is 44th in the BCS; Yew Tee is 46th. What will happen in Knoxville this year? Photo by the Associated Press.
A great blog post is up on Nashville Ballerz, where Brett Hait writes that the time for Vanderjokes is over. His argument?

"For years, Vanderbilt has been on the business end of countless jokes from other SEC football fans. Fans around the league automatically penciled in a “W” next to Vanderbilt’s name on their team’s schedules and made snide comments.

"Not. Any. More.

"The Commodores have been shedding their doormat status for the last couple of years after victories at Tennessee and Georgia. But the win over No. 6 South Carolina was the final coming out party. This wasn’t a lucky win. It was a domination of an opponent supposedly in the national championship hunt. (Well, at least as much as any team this season can be in the national title hunt.)

"Need any further evidence? Vanderbilt is No. 44 in the BCS standings. Tennessee is No. 46."

Feels good, doesn't it?

Elsewhere, there is a blog-like post by College Football Insider, who notes that Vanderbilt was named the team of the week over Kansas, Rutgers, and Temple.

The Orlando Sentinel has a little fun at Vanderbilt's expense with a blogpost entitled How Vandy can win the East. Actually, though, I think he's making more of an observation about SEC parity than he is taking a swipe at the 'Dores (of course, we only have win every game between now and Wake to do it, but hey -- it's possible, right?).

Over at a unique blog, Professor Bob Epling ranks Vanderbilt seventh in the SEC ahead of South Carolina, Tennessee, Mississippi State, Arkansas, and Ole Miss.

I don't know if I agree with those selections at all, actually. I'd put us down where the VSL guys did -- around ninth-ish.

And speaking of VSL: they've posted their weekly Power Rankings of the SEC, they've got us at eighth, ahead of Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi State, and Ole Miss. I think that's definitely more accurate; I must just put Arky at 8, move us to 9, UT to 10 with the state of Mississippi bringing up the rear.

VSL has also posted the rest of the Conference's combined power rankings, and the 'Dores come in at 10th -- but they're only two points behind Arkansas. Apparently our win was only good enough to put us ahead of Mississippi State.

Finally, on Best of the SEC, we get plenty of coverage in the post about South Carolina and the Commodores. And no, my friend, it does not sound like a music group. Sheesh.

Thanks, as usual, for the S&S reference and the props; as for whether to be impressed? Well, let's go with impressed. Because, as Maurice noted in his article (see above), we're 6-for-13 in road wins in the past 3 years. Sounds to me like we're getting better.

I also have to agree with BoSEC when he argues that you should not boo your own team. Of course, he is a Kentucky fan and I am a Vanderbilt fan. I suppose we, together, have a little more experience dealing with adversity than the likes of the football powerhouses out there. That, of course, is one of the arguments I made back in my Requiem piece a few weeks ago.

That'll do it for today; please remember Mark in your prayers. He is in San Diego, and he has had to evacuate because of the fires. He's safe, but pray that his home will remain safe, too.

THE MATH: 4 wins, 3 losses; 5 games remaining, 2 wins needed for a bowl.

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