Originally published Bleacher Report.
If you watched Saturday’s gridiron matchup, you heard the crickets in Benny Hill Griffin Stadium as the nation’s top team ended the first half, only defeating Vanderbilt, or in AnybodyElseInTheSEC-speak, “the rocket-scientists’ intramural squad,” by a score of 13-0.
And if you watched Saturday’s matchup, you saw one of the nation’s better defenses (seriously) give up 27 points to one of the nation’s best offenses, while one of the nation’s best defenses held The Worst Offense In The History Of Football (Except For Last Week When They Weren’t That Bad [But Maybe That Was A Fluke]) to a single field goal.
And it pissed the Gator Nation off.
They were out for blood; they didn’t get so much as a single eyeball. By the way—I think that was the first game that Warren Norman has worn a face shield. If I’m not wrong, kudos on the wit, Warren.
It was another moral victory, bringing Vanderbilt’s moral-winning streak to three. Chris Low opened the last entry of his power rankings with “Give the Commodores (2-8, 0-6) some credit.” See? They’re getting credit!
And if the team gets a win against Tennessee in two weeks, this abysmal year will suddenly become one of my three favorite Vandy football seasons of all time. Because I hate the Vols so very much.
Speaking of hating so very much, how about them Wildcats?
If Vanderbilt gets a win against Kentucky, I’ll be pleased, so long as it isn’t an offense-dominant game, which may undermine efforts to “market away” offensive coordinator Ted Cain. (Note: I prefer not to ask for people to be “fired.”)
But I’m having trouble getting fired up to play football against Kentucky with the Vols on deck and basketball season beginning tonight.
First, the Vols: I was raised in Kingsport, Tennessee, the thick of Vol Country (see Google Trends for proof), as a Vanderbilt fan. That’s like growing up a Vol fan in a place where UT football is insignificant, disrespected, and laughable. Somewhere like Gainesville.
Imagine the hatred I have for the Big Orange. It’s unhealthy. I could describe it in thousands of colorful ways, but I’m trying to make a bigger point.
My bigger point is that—and I cannot stress the magnitude of this statement enough—I’m beginning to hate Kentucky basketball more than I hate Tennessee football.
Maybe UT football isn’t getting to me because their season has been so pathetic. (So maybe Jonathan Crompton had a big game against Memphis. Check the score of the Vandy-Western Carolina game, chumps.) But to that I say: Kentucky basketball has been pathetic-to-average for the last four years.
And not only average, but arguably worse than Vanderbilt basketball. Vanderbilt won six of the last eight meetings with the Wildcats.
And yet, suddenly, a big recruiting year and the firing of a coach and they’re expected to be an unstoppable force. As if “Billy Gillespie” and “Gardner-Webb” and “2007-08” never happened. While their status as “most obnoxious” may be arguable (barely), their status as “most delusional” is further cemented daily.
And that’s whom the Dores (football) play this weekend. Kentucky fans are already counting it a “win,” which is fine with me. SEC football is full of popular-opinion upsets. Have I seen enough from Vandy to think we’ll get the win? Not really. After exceeding expectations (but losing) losing weeks in a row, it would be reasonable to expect a loss—but silly to assume one.
And if Vanderbilt does happen to find that elusive W on Saturday, they’ll hear plenty moans of, “wait for basketball season” from the UK fans. If this happens, Commodore fans should follow their basketball team’s lead, and smile quietly. Commodore fans are waiting. They’re waiting patiently; they’re waiting quietly. And they think it will be worth the wait.
Because Vanderbilt fans, the loyal, hopeful, tragic bunch that they are, now temper their disappointment in a football season that seemingly will not end with hope in a basketball season yet to begin.