Monday, November 25, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

If you're a Commodore fan there is so much to celebrate as we observe the Thanksgiving holiday. That includes the last second 14-10 victory (in Knoxville) over the UT Vols last Saturday night (November 23).

It's the first time Vanderbilt has defeated the Big Orange two years in a row on the gridiron since 1925-26.

If you didn't see the game (or just want to enjoy it all again one more time like an extra helping of Thanksgiving turkey), here are the highlights courtesy of ESPN....

And of course there's still more to celebrate with the VU football team now at 7-4 on the season (final home game Saturday versus Wake Forest) and eligible for a school record third straight bowl invitation after the season is over. No wonder the students and faculty need a whole week off to celebrate Thanksgiving.

That's unlike back in the day when we were lucky to make it off campus by Wednesday afternoon, the day before Turkey Day (especially if you had a big test or paper due). Oh well, that's progress and besides, ANCHOR DOWN!

Monday, November 18, 2013

My How Times Keep Changing.....

For a VU Class that never enjoyed a winning season in football while we were in school, and had to wait until the year AFTER we graduated to enjoy the school's second- ever bowl game berth (1974 Peach Bowl), these last three years under Coach James Franklin have been almost miraculous to enjoy.

The Commodores have won at least 6 games in each of the latest three seasons for the first time ever, clinching its third straight bowl appearance (with the exact bowl, opponent and date to be announced in December). It's again something that's never happened before for Vanderbilt, jus like beating Florida and Gerogia in the same season this year!

Courtesy of VUCast,  here's what it was like on that special Saturday (November 16) when VU beat UK (University of Kentucky) to make bowl history for the school.....

And VUCast has another video to show how things continue to change on campus. Remember as you see this video regarding the wonders of the campus Recreation Center, that our Class didn't even have a student center to enjoy.....

All I can add is that even if I had suggested to my bride (also a VU Class of 1973 classmate) that we have a Vanderbilt-themed wedding back in April, 1974....well, I might have gotten hurt (and for sure ignored) with that idea! Oh well, just would have been 40 years ahead of my time! LOL

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Building Back The Magic!

As Vanderbilt begins another men's basketball season with an opening home game against Georgia State (November 12), it's clearly a rebuilding situation for the program. But as the Centennial Class at VU, we know all about that. Our freshman year (1969-70), despite high expectations because of a recent Number #1 national recruiting class, the Dores were picked high but finished with losing marks, both in the SEC (8-10, 6th place) and overall (12-14).

Sophomore year ('70-'71) it was a .500 mark overall (13-13) as well as in the conference (9-9, 4th place). In 1971-72, our junior year, Vanderbilt showed improvement again, going 16-10 and 10-8 in the SEC, again finishing in 4th place in the conference.

So fronted by a quartet of solid seniors (above, L To R, Rod Freeman, Chris Schweer, Ray Maddox and Steve Turner) providing leadership (and great rebounding), Vandy seems poised for potentially great things our senior year. And indeed the Black & Gold began the season with impresssive road victories at both Louisville and at Kansas. (With Steve Womack, I went up for that Louisville game to cover it for WRVU. I remember how excited the team was winning in such an historic venue as Freedom Hall where the game played).

The Dores started 8-1 in the pre-conference, losing only to Memphis State at Memorial Gym. While disappointed that game got away late from the Dores, come March it didn't look quite so bad as the Tigers would finish as national runner-ups to perennial NCAA champs UCLA.

 Then came a memorable SEC season with Vanderbilt going 13-5 and losing only one home SEC game (versus Alabama and future VU Coach C.M. Newton). The wins included finally scratching the four year itch of defeating Tennessee and Coach Ray Mears, smashing the Big Orange 86-74 in our final game as seniors.....

And then there was this unforgettable win as freshman Joe Ford (a Kentucky native) hit two free throws after time expired to defeat the eventual SEC champion and Elite Eight runnerupWildcats 76-75. Ford, a member of the soon to be famed F-Troop along with Jeff Fosnes and Butch Fehrer, was carried off the floor that night by VU students and fans.

But despite sweeping Kentucky home and home, losing to Alabama home and away as well as losses on the road to UT, Auburn and Florida doomed the Dores to lose the SEC title. In fact because in those days only the SEC regular season champion was invited to the Big Dance, and because home teams could not go to any other post-season tourneys (such as the NIT & the short-lived Commissioner'sTournament) if the school hosted the NCAA Regionals (which we did that spring), this Vandy squad, despite finishing 20-6 overall and tied for second in the SEC STAYED HOME that year. No post-season

40 years later, it still seems so unfair!

But what the Class of 1973 Seniors helped to build came to fruition the following season as the core of the 1973-74 team (the F-Troop and seniors Terry Compton, Lee Fowler, Bill Ligon and SEC Player of the Year Jan Van Breda Kolff) led Vanderbilt to only its second SEC title in school history under the leadership of already legendary coach Roy Skinner.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

We're Number One!

As I've said before, our music of the late 1960s and early '70s is our universal language, the common bond of our VU Centennial Class of 1973. To me the music is particularly important because it bringsa back so many memories of good times and good friends from working (and hanging out) at WRVU (my home away from home).

So I thought I'd start a monthly update looking back on the Number One songs (based on the BILLBOARD HOT 100) from the time we were together in school. Let's start with November, 1969.

We'd had a few months on campus and had gotten our sea legs as Commodores. Hopefully, we hadn't gotten too many deficiencies in our grades and we were looking forward to our first holiday break(and going home) with the Thanksgiving coming.

Of course, unlike today, we only got a five day weekend (Thursday-Friday) off, not the whole WEEK students enjoy now. And when we tried to start out early (go home Tuesday or Wednesday) one or more of our teachers would, of course, schedule a big test or paper due....

Now Elvis Presley is not a rock star I ordinarily think about in our era of music. He's more a 1950s and early '60s hit maker (and he was huge back then). But playing off his successful comeback in 1968, Elvis recorded his seventeenth and last number one record in the U.S., SUSPICIOUS MINDS, which hit the top (for one week) on November 1, 1969. The song is still ranked #91 on ROLLING STONE's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time (thank you, thank you very much)....

From November 8 until November 28, the Number #1 Hot 100 BILLBOARD song came from The Fifth Dimension, "WEDDING BELL BLUES." Written by Laura Nyro it not only became a top hit, Wikipedia says it coined what is now a popular phrase in pop culture, especially for women waiting for certain someone to either pop the question or set the date.

Indeed, two members of the group, Marilyn McCoo and Bill Davis were engaged when the song was a hit, but had not set a wedding date. Life does imitate art. Watch the interplay between McCoo and Davis in this YouTube video...

The final #1 BILLBOARD song of November, 1969 (November 29-December 5) was actually a two-sided hit from The Beatles,  COME TOGETHER/ SOMETHING. Both A-side songs came from the ABBEY ROAD album with COME TOGETHER written by John Lennon and SOMETHING by George Harrison. We didn't know it but the end for The Beatles was looming just ahead. It had been a long and winding road since they led the British Invasion when we were in junior high, but after the group split, we learned to let it be. Here's COME TOGETHER/SOMETHING.....

A couple of intereresting notes to offer. SOMETHING has been covered by 150 other artists according to Wikipedia. George Harrison said his favorite version was done by James Brown whic he kept on his personal jukebox. As for COME TOGETHER, it only made it to #4 in the UK, probably the song was banned by the BBC perhaps because the lyric "he shoot Coca-Cola" to be product placement.

If you've got a favorite song from our era you'd like to place here, send me an e-mail or a message below or the Class Facebook page and we get it on  (just like the old days at WRVU taking listener requests at 7424 and 7425 on the VU phone system). I'll never forget those numbers...or the music!