It might have flown below the radar, but USA Today writer Paul Myerberg picked Vanderbilt to finish last in the SEC in an article published on August 12.
The article didn’t give any particular reason for that ranking, but it did note that Vanderbilt was picked 113th (of 128 FBS teams) in the preseason. That puts the Commodores 28 spots behind Missouri, picked to finish sixth in the East, and 32 spots behind opening night opponent South Carolina.
Does 113th sound bad? Here’s a short list of some teams that were ranked higher than the Commodores by Myerberg:
- SMU, a 2-10 AAC team, ranked 112th.
- Central Florida, an 0-12 AAC team, ranked 110th.
- Boston College, 3-9 and winless in the ACC, ranked 102nd.
- Iowa State, 3-9 last year, ranked 105th.
- Texas-San Antonio, a 3-9 C-USA team, ranked 99th.
- Florida Atlantic, another 3-9 C-USA team, ranked 84th. (This is hilarious, because that also puts them ahead of Mizzou.)
- MAC also-ran Miami (Ohio), 3-9 last year, ranked 106th.
- Wyoming, a 2-10 Mountain West team, ranked 107th.
- Eight different Sun Belt teams, which I won’t bother to list.
Those are just a few examples of just how awful Myerberg is projecting Vanderbilt to be. And they probably serve as a stronger indication that the author doesn’t know what the hell he’s talking about than that Vanderbilt is actually going to be that bad, but in an interview with the Tennessean’s Adam Sparks after Saturday’s scrimmage, Mason played the “no respect” card:
We’ve been cautiously optimistic about Vanderbilt heading into the 2016 season; the Commodores still have a lot of question marks on the offensive side of the ball but do return seven starters (including All-SEC linebacker Zach Cunningham) from a defense that surrendered just 21.0 ppg in 2015.
None of that squares with Vanderbilt being 113th in the country. Vanderbilt wasn’t even that bad last year. Vanderbilt was that bad in 2014, so Myerberg is essentially suggesting that Vanderbilt will be as bad as they were in 2014. Since Myerberg doesn’t offer an explanation, I’m just gonna assume that he thinks we brought Karl Dorrell back to coach the offense.