I am sure that I'm not the only Vanderbilt fan who dreaded going through the news coverage of Bobby Johnson's abrupt retirement announcement. And, as I read the Tennessean's website, I realized that Joe Biddle did not disappoint:
As I was walking to my car after the press conference, I could see the scaffolds and construction under way on the football offices at McGugin Center. A sign let you know it was a renovation project. It seems Vanderbilt football has been undergoing renovation for the last 30 years. Bobby Johnson stepped aside to let someone else give it a go. Vanderbilt's latest football victim got out before it buried him alive.
This is the kind of nonsense that plagues our football program. As the
sharks reporters were circling around Bobby Johnson yesterday, they kept asking him if he'd "improved the program." They wouldn't shut up until Vice Chancellor David Williams literally brought out the Music City Bowl trophy and set it next to the podium.
To be fair, the reality that Coach Johnson has raised the level of our program is sometimes acknowledged with an update of the classic Vanderbilt stereotype: no more are we the "Commode-dores," now we're "the plucky underdogs who are usually doomed to utter failure but sometimes, occasionally, when the planets align just right, when there's a blue moon, when the cows are home, whilst the pigs are in the air, and an angel flies over the stadium humming 'Dynamite,' actually beat a football-factory 'university' from around the SEC."
Biddle and his ilk can keep recycling the columns they publish every time Vanderbilt does a coaching search, pontificating and moaning about how difficult it is to compete as a college athlete when you actually have to be a college student-athlete.
Meanwhile, new interim head coach Robbie Caldwell would do well to take a page from David Williams' book: just show them the Music City Bowl trophy—not to mention the newly renovated stadium (and the plans to continue renovating it) and the new, multi-million dollar football office renovations that Biddle so blithely dismisses—and challenge them the way Bobby did: to compete with the best football players in the country on Saturdays and the best students in the country on weekdays.
There'll be plenty of takers.