The last time Vanderbilt won nine football games was 1915, nearly a century ago.
The SEC was still 18 years from existing.
What happened back in 1915? The House of Representatives rejected women’s right to vote, Babe Ruth hit his first home run as a rookie, and the first telephone call from one side of the country to the other was made.
Oh, and the nation’s first stop sign was put up in Detroit, Michigan.
So, yeah, a ton has changed since the last time Vandy won nine football games.
And as long as James Franklin is at Vanderbilt, the Commodores are going to continue to win. Right now Rivals has Vandy with the nation’s 14th best recruiting class. That’s a quality of player that Vanderbilt has never signed before. Plus, Franklin actually has tangible results to sell now. Every year won’t necessarily be better than the year before it, but I truly believe that if Franklin stays at Vandy for five more years, the Commodores will win the SEC east one of those years.
Looking at the 2013 football schedule, Vandy has a very good shot at eight regular season wins again. The Commodores are likely to open in a nationally televised Thursday night football game against Ole Miss. Win that game and Vandy probably opens the first half of the schedule 5-1 at worst.
Vandy is the only SEC school that has never hosted a CBS game of the week on campus.
An early prediction here — Georgia at Vandy on October 19th will become Vandy’s first CBS home game.
On to the post-New Year’s Day Starting 11.
1. Stanford, Northwestern, Vanderbilt, and Rice all won bowl games.
What’s more, Duke choked away a bowl win with a fumble at the five yard line.
Toss in Notre Dame playing for the BCS title and you’ve got all six of the top football schools in the nation playing in bowl games, with at least four of those schools winning games.
Per U.S. News Stanford at #6 is the highest ranked FBS school, while Duke is 8, Northwestern is 12, and Vandy, Rice, and Notre Dame are all tied at 17.
I’m going to write on this after the bowl season is over, but in the meantime, it’s worth considering, what’s changed to make these schools suddenly rise in conjunction with one another?
There was a time when the idea that Vandy, Duke, Rice, Stanford, and Northwestern just wanted to make a bowl.
By 2012 all five schools nearly won a bowl game.
This is amazing and deserves more attentino.
2. South Carolina has won 11 games in back-to-back seasons.
Is this more impressive than any two back-to-back seasons Spurrier ever had at Florida?
I think so.
The best Spurrier ever did at Florida was back-to-back 12 win seasons in 1995 and 1996. So his best two year period at Florida was 24-2.
The past two seasons at South Carolina Spurrier is 22-4.
When you consider how much more difficult the SEC is now than it was in 1995 and 1996 and South Carolina’s past football history, the Ole Ball Coach has outdone himself.
3. Les Miles inexplicably threw the ball on second and third down late against Clemson.
This is escaping most attention because the Chick-fil-A bowl is situated right as most of us roll into our New Year’s Eve festivities.
Plus, by the time we wake up on New Year’s the day’s games are already off and running.
But this decision cost LSU the game.
Yes, I know, there was a ridiculous 4th and 16 conversion — I saw this while standing at the bar — but Clemson should have had to burn its timeouts before LSU bombed a punt into the end zone. (By the way, LSU really missed Brad Wing, he definitely would have pinned Clemson deep on that final drive instead of shooting the ball through the end zone).
Anyway, the game really doesn’t matter at all, but LSU had it won and choked it away.
4. The Big Ten went 2-5 in bowl games.
The conference is now 2-13 in New Year’s Day bowl games over the past three seasons.
At this point I just feel bad even making fun of the Big Ten.
It isn’t a major football conference anymore, that’s why Urban Meyer wanted to leave the SEC for it.
5. Jadeveon Clowney’s hit will live on for a generation or more.
It’s simply amazing.
6. My New Year’s resolution: the half-Herschel.
I’m going to do 500 push-ups a day for the month of January. Then we’ll see whether to continue throughout the year.
I started yesterday during the bowl games, five sets of 100 each.
You’ll remember that Herschel did a 1,000 a day.
Can I do half that every day?
Go ahead and join up. Theoretically, you can drop down and do the push-ups in your office pretty easily. Same thing with travel, there’s really no reason all of us shouldn’t be able to do this.
Join the half-Herschel revolution.
7. Lane Kiffin became the first coach since 1964 to take a preseason number one team and finish the season with six losses.
Well done, Lane.
So we know Kiffin is now on the hottest seat possible for the 2013 season.
In four years as a head coach Kiffin has gone 7-6, 8-5. 10-2, and 7-6.
Anything less than nine wins in 2013 and he’s probably gone.
And by “gone,” I mean “will get the Dallas Cowboys job.”
8. It looks like Chip Kelly is leaving Oregon for the NFL — I wish the Titans would have made a run at him — so who do the Ducks hire?
This is going to be a big-time job opening that could end up shaking loose other jobs further down the coaching tree. In the middle of the recruiting season, no less.
So who would Oregon target?
The easy hire is already in-house, Oregon offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich. Mike Bellotti and Chip Kelly were both promoted from within as well, but this has actually become rare in major college football.
In fact, leaving aside a coach-in-waiting hire like Jimbo Fisher, and an interim getting the job like Dabo Swinney at Clemson, promoting your own in-house coordinator to the job has become a real rarity in major college football.
It almost never happens now.
So promoting Helfrich would keep from coaching search wildness exploding right in the middle of recruiting season.
If they didn’t go Helfrich, Chris Petersen is the first call. But if Petersen said no, who would you pursue?
My best guess on names that would be at the top of the list: Baylor’s Art Briles and Ole Miss’s Hugh Freeze.
You figure Oregon’s going to keep running a spread offensive attack.
Anyway, keep an eye on this job situation, it could get very interesting.
9. The Clowney hit completely overshadowed this amazing boneheaded first down decision by the officials in South Carolina-Michigan, but what the hell happened here?
How does this happen?
I have no idea.
10. If Aaron Murray comes back to Georgia, will there have ever been a more accomplished trio of returning SEC quarterbacks than AJ McCarron, Johnny Manziel, and Murray?
Think about how crazy this trio is, you have a Heisman winner, a two-time BCS title winner, and the guy who will set all of the passing records in the SEC all returning to school. Hell, Murray’s already thrown for 10,000 yards and 95 touchdowns — which is already an SEC record — and he still has a season left to play.
Anyway, I don’t think we’ve ever had a more accomplished trio returning.
11. James Franklin hugged a Vanderbilt fan during his post-game press conference.
The anchor is officially down.