Over at our LSU SBN sister site, And the Valley Shook, an article was posted Thursday morning chastising some of the more vocal fans furious with Les Miles. For those of you who don't pay very close attention to LSU, there have been people calling him a "clown" since he started there. Literally since the first game there have been fans vocally screaming for him to be fired. He can't recruit, he can't coach up talent, he can't make play calls, he's lost the lockerroom, the team has no spirit under him, he can't manage, our QBs are flaming garbage, etc. etc. Exacerbating the situation was these fans, while always present, felt the need to "marinate in their own misery" after losses, getting especially vocal about how "stupid" their fellow LSU fans were for not agreeing with them.
Les Miles is a good football coach. I do contend that he is a times a lucky lucky man, a contention I got a lot of crap for when I lived in Baton Rouge; but, he's a good football coach. Beyond that, LSU would be hard pressed to find a coach of his caliber that also understands and meshes so well with the LSU culture and fans. Beyond that, LSU has done very well under his coaching, delivering a top 5 winning percentage across the NCAA during LSU's so called "down period". Are there things Les could do better? Absolutely (please learn to manage the clock Les). Are there things that blow my mind in terms of his decision making? God yes (why haven't we fired Cam Cameron?).
The aggravation Poseur feels is completely understandable. LSU is, in Les's own words, a "damned strong football team". Yet, there's always a portion of the LSU fanbase that relishes in the teams failures. These fans are ready to give lectures to fans that "just don't get it'' and are "blind" to his inadequacies. After all, there's someone on the internet (or radio if you're old school) who's enjoying something! We must destroy it with a smug superiority to inform them of how wrong they are!
The permanently negative fan is not unique. At LSU, it's a special kind of bourbon and king cake coated mania. I guarantee there are fans calling into "the Eagle" 98.1 Friday afternoon to declare their game against Jacksonville State to be a "trap game". Les has lost the locker room after all and his luck has run out! He'll be exposed as the fraud he is! It's all the same song and dance about Les, and it's tiresome. To quote ATVS overlord Poseur,
We were this angry as a fanbase back in 2008, less than a year removed from a national title. Imagine how angry it is now. We’ve become humorless, enraged scolds, constantly flipping out at the barest sign of struggles. We’ve become Bama fans.
Actually, that’s not true. We’re openly yearning to be Bama fans, and will stomp our feet and hold our breath until we receive our birth right of as many wins as our heart’s desire. You know what we call wannabe Bama fans? That’s right, Auburn fans. That’s how low we’ve sunk as a fanbase. We’ve become the moral equivalent of Auburn fans.
To be fair about 2008, a small part of that anger came from an inexcusable Troy game in which I nearly froze in the stands alongside Shakin' the Southland legend Dr. B. There will always be fans that are unhappy with the team, no matter how successful your team is.
Vanderbilt certainly has its share of fans like this, though generally speaking they tend to stick to basketball. I also am sure there will be plenty of "fire (future coach)" posts after Corbin retires (hopefully no time soon). Vanderbilt football has few enough fans as it is, so the ones that seem to relish in our failures or demand too much can be all the more frustrating. We're already all CAT scan candidates for watching this team as it is.
Unfortunately, this time the "negaDores" (h/t commentariat) are correct in one thing - Derek Mason needs to go.
It's been harped on all week, so I'll try to keep this brief. It is clear at this point that it is NOT a talent issue (as it was year 1) or a player experience / system learning issue (as was a fair argument year 2). It is clear at this point that there's no solid direction for the offense at this point. The defense may very well be one of the best in the Conference, doesn't matter if you can't score.
The biggest indicator came in the home opener against USC where Shurmur was benched for Freebeck. Inexplicably, we changed QBs early in the game pinned back and in a game that we had no business playing a two QB system. While I do believe it killed our momentum, it most certainly shouldn't have killed it for the whole game. I hate to bring James Franklin into this, but he would have found a way to motivate after such a deflation and get the team to rally. Vanderbilt can ill afford momentum killing mistakes, but Coach Mason seems to have the team back in a sense of expecting to lose rather than believing they can win.
That's a mistake I would have forgiven year 1. Hell, I did forgive it because our QB situation was beyond horrendous year 1. I'm not even talking about the changing starters, I'm talking about a total lack of talent there. We have a QB that has the talent to lead a reasonable passing attack, we have a OL that actually was making time for him, we somehow don't have a passing attack. Mason is to blame for that. Not Andy Ludwig. What worries me is that even now the depth chart for MTSU is listing Freebeck as "situational". The lesson is not learned. He is simply not learning from his mistakes enough to risk another year of his tenure.
While I still contend it was correct to take a measured approach these last two+ seasons, the fact is that the fans who were angry from the beginning about Mason were correct - he didn't have the skills for this job. It does not change that constant negativity, even when well founded, does not often get full attention. Personally, what frustrated me the most was this "well Franklin did it" attitude that well Franklin brought us immediately to nine wins, therefore any coach can. It would take an entirely different article to (again) rebut, but it's just ignoring reality of the circumstances of what Franklin has to work with as opposed to BoJo and Mason.
Fans are often their own worst enemy in getting people to listen to them (Homer fans too). There have been great posts and articles from both the "fire him" and "wait and see" camps for years. We've even had a (tounge-in-cheek) delusional optimism series. The reality is that much of it has been ignored due to bad feelings and tension.
We've had a rough two years as Vanderbilt fans, and we're in for a long season. So let's try to get past all this. Most of this community is in agreement that there needs to be a change. It doesn't matter how we arrived at this conclusion, it doesn't matter what has been said or not said, it doesn't even matter what our past is as a team. What matters is fixing this. We're all here to have fun.
Oh and if we get another case of fans coming into our articles claiming we're ridiculous / "need to know our place" and shouldn't be talking firing Mason after one game? Report them.