Tempered Excitement for Football

Nobody has been more excited about Vanderbilt Football's recent run of success than I have. Now that the Franklin era is over, it's a good time to look back and evaluate just how good the team was without the adrenaline rush of winning back-to-back bowl games.

24 wins in 3 years. Back-to-back wins against Tennessee. A win at The Swamp. Bowl games in three straight seasons. Taken at face value these are incredible accomplishments, and they beat the alternative, but let's face it -- the SEC was way, way down in 2013, especially the East, and out-of-conference opponents were generally horrible. On the upside, "old" Vanderbilt may not have done well against the competition good, bad, or otherwise.

Statistically speaking, 2013 Vanderbilt was in the middle of the conference -- overall, around 8th or 9th of 14 teams. Being #3 in turnover margin concealed a lot of weakness, and it's what won the game against Florida despite an overall poor offensive performance. Vandy was #1 in Red Zone Offense (thanks to great field position against UF)... but dead-last in Red Zone Defense.

The excitement and enthusiasm around the program is infectious -- just ask my wife about the high I've been riding -- and I hope to get season tickets. New coach Derek Mason needs to tap into that fever and keep the program moving forward.

I want the program to continue rising, but I also see the SEC getting a lot better in the very near future and three games in 2014 -- Tennessee, Georgia, and Florida -- may not translate into the wins Vandy had in 2013.

I could use some help in understanding the new staff. I'm no expert on college coaches, but for all the hype about Vandy attracting the best candidates across the country, from all levels of football, I'm underwhelmed by the staff Mason has assembled.

It seems like they're mostly from mid-tier programs without a lot of success at even that level, and those who rose to the NFL didn't impress. Dorrell had little success with Matt Schaub, and Hughan was fired by the Jets for an "inordinate" number of injuries.

Just as in the 2-10 years, I'll "Anchor Down" with Vandy through it all. Mason is promising an SEC East Championship. I'm rooting for him, but holding my breath, too.

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