For the teams that started their seasons in 2011, it was a miracle year. Vandy baseball wins the SEC title, wins the super-regional in spectacular fashion, goes to the College World Series and finishes third in the nation. Vandy football gets six wins under a new coach for the first time since before television as James Franklin opens his account. And Vandy basketball, with the most heralded team ever, gets its first SEC tournament title in 61 years with a triumph over a Kentucky team starting five NBA draft picks.
Then the 2012 starts happened. Baseball began by getting thrashed up and down the West Coast in ignominious fashion; it would be May before they reached .500. Football opened 1-3, the only win against lowly Presbyterian College while getting pounded mercilessly in Athens. And basketball showed the loss of five scholarship seniors plus John Jenkins, with back-to-back losses to Davidson and Marist signaling that it was going to be a long year.
Baseball roared all the way back, made it into the SEC tournament, and finally dislodged Florida in heroic fashion to reach the title game. Football rattled off seven consecutive wins, decapitated Tennessee for the first home win against the Big Orange in thirty years, won the bowl game, reached 9 wins for the first time since radio became a thing. And basketball suffered through the worst snakebit luck - a missed winning layup against Tennessee, two losses to UK by a combined six points and one egregious clock error, Ole Miss catching the river card of a lifetime with a ridiculous 35-foot buzzer beater to get OT and the win - before things suddenly began to shift. One win. Then another. Then another. Then the first Saturday home Senior Day win for the 'Dores under Stallings to save the Wednesday bye. Then a 10-7 upset over Arkansas. And finally another tournament win over Kentucky, bringing them back to .500 for the year - and putting them over .500 against the Cats all-time in SEC tournament play. Five months ago, a Saturday game in the SEC tournament would have been a pipe dream - and yet there we were.
This is what Brand New Vanderbilt means. No longer do we have to cling to dear life, waiting to see how we'll blow it. No longer do we have to run out to a huge lead at the outset as insurance against the inevitable collapse. No longer does a painful start always guarantee a painful finish. If we've learned one thing from the youngest hoop team in the SEC - possibly the youngest team we've ever fielded - it's this: to the last ball, to the last man, to the last shot, to the last tick of the last second, we fight. No giving up. No giving in. Stand firm. Yield nothing. Here today, built to last. And that - you people in Knoxville and Lexington and Birmingham and Bristol - that is what it means to Anchor Down.
2013 and 2013/14 is here. Let's make it happen.
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