Sunday, October 5, 2008

Conquer & Prevail!

Vanderbilt 14-Auburn 13
Photo by Mark Humphrey of the Associated Press

For the first time since World War II(1943), the Vanderbilt football team has started its season 5-0 thanks to a thrilling 14-13victory over Number #13 Auburn at Vanderbilt Stadium!

Vanderbilt itself came into the game ranked #19,and in the wake of the Auburn victory, the Commodores have now moved up in the national standings to Number #13 in the Associated Press survey and #14 in the USA TODAY poll.

It's the first time in many years Vanderbilt has won a game as a nationally ranked team, and Vandy also finds itself on top of the SEC East standings with a 3-0 record in league play!

The victory over Auburn came before a sell-out crowd on Parents Weekend (just like our big win freshman year over Alabama and Bear Bryant in 1969).

It was televised nationwide by ESPN, which also brought its very popular College GameDay pre-game show to Nashville and the Vanderbilt campus for the first time ever.

Thousands of rowdy Vanderbilt fans brought their cheers and some very unique signs to the show (such as: "The Geeks Shall Inherit The Turf", "I Got My GED At Auburn", "Phil Fulmer Ate My Other Sign" and "You People Are Blocking the Library."

As I suspected, ESPN analyst Lee Corso did not pick Vandy, in fact, he threw a Mr. Commodore mascot head on the ground as he donned a Tiger helmet to pick his winner. If you'll check, I believe you'll find that Corso's record is now below .500 this year. And in fact, one of the heroes of the Vandy victory, back-up quarterback Mackenzi Adams, said, after the game, that it fired up the team when Corso threw away the Vandy mascot head.

So what other reason do you need now to come back to Nashville the weekend of October 24-25 for Homecoming and our 35th Class Reunion?

The game against Duke (now scheduled for 2:00 PM Saturday afternoon, October 25) could either make us:

1. Bowl-eligible for the first time in 26 years (as predicted, I might add, by our Reunion leader, John Stein, when we held our Leadership Conference last winter).

Or it could:

2. Ensure a winning record for Vanderbilt for the first time in over a quarter of a century, and enhance our bowl opportunities.

For long suffering Vanderbilt fans, it hasn't gotten much better than that in a long, long time.

By the way, I did my part to ensure the Auburn victory. Betty Lee and I went to our daughter Katie Rosenhagen's house (she's also a VU grad)to babysit our grandson, Shaun. Now, over the years, Vanderbilt has done well when we have done that.

We were there last football season when Vanderbilt upset South Carolina on the road. And at that same location, I saw the Vandy basketball team beat #1 Florida at Memorial Gym two years ago and stage a near-miracle rally to beat DePaul in Chicago last season.

Of course, despite my efforts, things didn't start out to well in the Auburn game, with Vandy falling behind early (as it has in every game its played this year).

But again, I had a plan that works (at least some times). I turned the TV over to the baseball playoffs and started reading a new book by Bob Schieffer of CBS. I am interviewing him this week while he is in town for the Presidential Debate, so it was something I needed to do anyway.

I didn't know it at the time, but my tuning out began to impact the game immediately as Auburn missed the extra point on its second first-quarter touchdown. It was a mistake that cost them the game.

When I heard that the score at the half was Auburn 13 Vanderbilt 7, I took as an omen, my plan was working and we still had a chance to win. So I continued reading and watching the baseball playoffs, sneaking an occasional peek at the football game.

Each time I did it, trouble ensued. I peeked in the third quarter and we missed a field goal. I looked over again and a promising drive fizzled out. When Betty Lee returned from picking up some food for us, she found me watching and told me to turn it back to something else.

That's what I did, while we ate dinner, and we did not turn the game back on just AFTER the final interception that sealed the victory! And, no, I did not cheat and listen to the Vandy radio broadcast with Joe Fisher. :)

Next up is Mississippi State in Starksville. We don't play the Bulldogs very often, and checking the record books, we haven't won there very often either.

In fact, I believe the last time we got a victory there was the 1971season,during our junior year at Vanderbilt, when we upset the Maroons (MSU's other nickname) 49-19, with the big plays coming from Doug Nettles with a 28 yard interception return and a 57 yard punt return by Walter Overton.

A tough defense, featuring a ball-hawking secondary, along with great special teams play, is how this year's Vandy team is excelling.

Maybe we can do it again in Starkville next weekend.

Go Dores!


Steve said...

Somebody better take an air horn to Starkville!

When Vandy and Mississippi State squared off in the 1971 SEC baseball playoffs, they brought those infernal cowbell to McGuggin Field.

When Gary Cutler and I decided to attend all the Vandy road games our Junior year we decided we needed something to combat those cowbells.

We went out to the Army Navy Surplus store that Friday and purchased a Falcon Air Horn.
Saturday, it made its debut in the bleachers at Miss. State.

It didn't take too long until somebody reported us to a security officer. He very politely asked us to stop playing our horn every time Vandy did something good on the field. (Which amazingly enough was all day long!)

We told him, we'd stop if he'd ask the State fans to stop ringing those cowbells!

"Play your horn, all you want boys," he was heard to mutter as he walked away.

There's a great picture of Cutler at a Vandy baseball game with the rowdies holding up the air horn from our senior Commodore, you used on one of your first postings.

That air horn I'm sure deserves as much credit for that 1971 victory as much as your reading Bob Schieffer's book instead of sweating out each play while the football team did last night.

Do you plan to ask Schieffer if he has a book coming out on the wit and wisdom of Joe Biden on January 20th.

Steve Womack

John Wade said...

Hey Pat, I remember the Centennial Yearbook. Ever see J. Clark Thomas around? He used a lot of my graphics in that book. I had to be out the evening of the Auburn game, so I just set the DVR to record the whole game. It's the best invention of the 21st century, so far anyway. When things were going well, I relished every moment. When things looked dicey, I could speed up play. Now I can play back the game for my Virginia Tech friends here in Tidewater Virginia, and tell them about our great team this year, and how it has wiped out bitter memories of so many forgettable seasons since '69. I now truly regret not making it to our 35th due to work, but my thoughts and prayers will be with all of you. Have a blast! John Wade,