Not many people know it, but my cover was blown after the Derek Mason hire: I am in fact a triple agent and have been embedded inside a certain institution of higher learning in Northern California for some time now. Long enough that I got to see Will Clinard's parents his freshman AND senior year (and you couldn't meet nicer folks), long enough to get done wrong by a malformed URL trying to tweet out tailgating pictures, long enough that nobody asks me what the V on the hat is for, because people are vaguely aware that there is this thing called sports, and in those sports they play games. But in all that time, I have compiled the definitive dossier on what it will take to win this series. Let's see how the 19th Century's greatest attempts at posthumous redemption stack up at...THE TALE OF THE TAPE!!
HERO WORSHIP OF ETHICALLY FLEXIBLE FOUNDERS:
STANFORD UNIVERSITY: founded 1891, the year after Vanderbilt started playing football, by Leland Stanford, erstwhile governor of California who made stupid money with what is now known as Southern Pacific Railroad. In his honor, the football team blows a train whistle for touchdowns.
VANDERBILT UNIVERSITY: founded 1873, through the benefaction of Cornelius Vanderbilt, the Kanye West of the 1800s, who made his money in the New York Central Railroad when he wasn't leveraging a steam ferry monopoly to finance revolution in Nicaragua to launch his own canal project. In his honor, the team wears the color of filthy lucre, calls itself after his nickname, blows a foghorn after touchdowns and carries an anchor to midfield every football game.
MOST EMBARRASSING AND HUMILIATING ALUMNI:
STANFORD UNIVERSITY: in fairness, graduated Chelsea Clinton, Jack Palance, Rachel Maddow, Scott Turow, Ken Kesey, bell hooks, and Ray Dolby....but also Michael Arrington, Carly Fiorina, Phil Knight, Herbert Hoover, and the founders of Yahoo, Altavista and Google, plus any number of vermin currently cluttering the Mission and riding their bikes on the Caltrain platform.
VANDERBILT UNIVERSITY: in fairness, graduated John Crowe Ransome, Robert Penn Warren, Muhammed Yunus, Dinah Shore, Amy Grant, Brandt Snedeker, Grantland Rice, David Brinkley, Bettie Page, several Ingrams, and Dr. Norman Shumway, for whom the chair in cardiothoracic surgery at Stanford Medical School is named....but also Hans von Spakovsky, James Eastland, Jack Thompson (the anti-Grand Theft Auto lawyer), and...Skip Bayless.
Advantage: VANDERBILT, in a runaway.
LELAND STANFORD: "Labor can and will become its own employer through co-operative association."
CORNELIUS VANDERBILT: "You have undertaken to cheat me. I won't sue you, for the law is too slow. I'll ruin you."
Advantage: (drops mic)
STEREOTYPICAL TELEVISION DEPICTION:
STANFORD: Silicon Valley, in which a handful of pasty white neckbeards (and the obligatory South Asian programmer) somehow collaborate to pass up $10 million while instead building a non-consumer-facing tool that is only perfected after hours of contemplating an expiditious means to large-scale manual self-gratification.
VANDERBILT: Nashville, in which two leggy chanteuses orbit each other in a country music industry fraught with gossip, backstabbing, political wrangling, and the most hackneyed stereotypical Southern Gothic chicanery and shenanigans.
CHEAP MEXICAN FOOD:
STANFORD: take your pick, although La Costeña in Mountain View serves a burrito the size of a human infant stuffed with amazing carne asada and plenty of Jarritos to wash it down with.
VANDERBILT: SATCO, which has a deck and sells Rolling Rock by the bucket.
Advantage: STANFORD. I mean, who over the age of 23 is still drinking Rolling Rock? Take this back and put some beer in it.
STANFORD: Pier 39, aka "the Pigeon Forge of the West", conveniently hidden 30 miles away.
VANDERBILT: Second Avenue.
Advantage: STANFORD. Unless you really REALLY need Planet Hollywood in your life.
MECHANICAL BULL ACCESS:
STANFORD: the Old Pro, a sports bar on Ramona Street in Palo Alto, offers a mechanical bull for all your faux cowboy needs.
VANDERBILT: Gilley's. (picks up mic, drops again.)
CAN'T MISS BREAKFAST:
STANFORD: Baji's Down-the-Street Cafe, ideal breakfast diner with amazing potato skillets.
VANDERBILT: You want Pancake Pantry or the Loveless?
Advantage: (picks up mic again, drops mic, mic plummets to the center of the earth)
STANFORD: Stanford Shopping Center, built on campus because the University is legally barred from divesting itself of any of its 8800 acres, is a single-level open-air luxury mall of the sort Mike Brady might have designed so that he could afford to pay Alice. RIP, Ann B. Davis.
VANDERBILT: The Mall at Green Hills, which in my absence apparently grew to the size of one of those alien ships from Independence Day.
Advantage: Stanford, just because SSC was where the very first Victoria's Secret open, thus putting men everywhere at a disadvantage not knowing where to look when passing by. Psychological warfare FTW!!
PARKING OPTIONS ON CAMPUS:
Advantage: NOT YOU, CAR OWNER.
HARDEST THROWING ALUM:
STANFORD: Black Jack McDowell, who always looked like he was ready to climb a bell tower with a high-powered rifle.
VANDERBILT: David Price, who warms up in a full Vanderbilt football uniform.
Advantage: TAMPA BAY RAYS.
VANDERBILT: Every nightly news broadcast for decades.
Advantage: THE NSA.
DRIVE THEM INTO A RAGE:
VANDERBILT: Bring up Earl Bennett, Jeff Green, John Clougherty, or just assert that Candy will always be little brother because the Vols have ANOTHER top-10 recruiting class!!!!
STANFORD: Tell them Apple's already bundled their app's functionality into the beta release of iOS 8, and by the way, there's only one bike car on the PM bullet to 4th and King.
Advantage: VANDERBILT. Seriously, fuck Jeff Green, who traveled like Nellie Bly and Phineas T. Fogg combined.
IF THEY DON'T WIN:
VANDERBILT: fans will rage, gnash teeth, curse the Vanderbunt, debate whether Vandy Lance has placed a hex on the team somehow, cringe until the major league draft and the signing deadlines pass, and seek solace in not a little bit of sour mash while staring into space asking why you would EVER sacrifice-squeeze with your number-3 hitter.
STANFORD: fans will wonder why the hell TechCrunch is claiming that Uber's valuation is $17 billion when Flywheel could easily leverage their hailing/billing technology to existing taxi providers and bypass the regulatory and legal hurdles associated with late-entry livery services under state and municipal law.
So there you have it. It's so simple when broken down scientifically and given the proper analysis. The only plausible conclusion is that Vanderbilt will win in a manner that takes years off our lives, wreaks havoc on our souls, and causes us to curse Loki and damn the day that we ever decided we cared so much about this team and this athletic program and this university...and we will promptly report for the next game. Or as it's called in Vandy-world...Saturday.