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Vanderbilt Football Mail Bag #8

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You ask, we answer.

NCAA Football: Vanderbilt at Florida
I see you, baby...
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Question(s) from GoldenFlakes:

In terms of a potential coaching change, are there other key factors at play, besides the on-field results and buyout? A few other variables come to mind, and I’m curious how important they are: 1. Does Kirkland back any potential change with the football program while the search for a new chancellor is still ongoing?

2. There were no coaching changes in the SEC last year, but this year is going to be very different. Morris is already gone. The natives aren’t happy with Odom, Muschamp or Luke, and Stoops may show up on the radar in Tallahassee. Does that create or hinder opportunities for Vanderbilt?

3. Does anything happen before the athletic strategic plan is released? A plan and financial commitment would seem to be necessary to attract the sort of coach we presumably want.

4. The 2020 schedule isn’t terribly friendly. We play a hybrid SEC/Big 12 slate, with trips to Missouri, Texas A&M, and Kansas State. Four wins may be a ceiling no matter who is coach.

Answers from AoG:

Tom Stephenson: I think the days of Kirkland handcuffing athletics, to the extent that they ever did, are probably over, so if Malcolm Turner thinks that a change needs to be made and the money is there (big if on that second part), a change is probably getting made. I think the holdup on the strategic plan has to do with the Chancellor’s seat currently being empty.

I personally think Mason and Morris will be it as far as coaching changes in the SEC, barring something weird (like Auburn opening because Gus actually goes to Arkansas this time.) Muschamp and Luke have already seemingly been confirmed as coming back next season, and I kind of doubt Missouri is ready to move on from Odom just yet.

And yes, I posted earlier, with a trip to Kansas State and a visit from Louisiana Tech on tap next year, 2-10 is very much on the table regardless of who the coach is.

Shawn: As always, I think it comes down to the big donors. If they are willing to pony up the money for a buy out and then getting a new coach/staff, then they’ll do it. The question of a new chancellor is a good one. In general, I’d say a coach would be deterred from coming here if they didn’t know who the boss would be, but I see Vanderbilt’s dynamics differently. In the end, every coach knows that Kirkland and the University comes first, so it may be a moot point.

Ps. One point that has not been discussed much. Mason’s kids don’t get in trouble, and they graduate.

Andrew VU ‘04: To be honest, I think it has everything to do with the buyout. Everything else is just an excuse. The buyout, of course, is an excuse, as well, but at least it’s an expensive one.

p.p.s. Shawn, it has been discussed. You know that episode of Silicon Valley where Dinesh and Gilfoyle discuss removing Richard from power? They start off each point with “Richard is great, but yet...” and eventually, like the engineers they are, decide it would be more efficient to replace that with the acronym “Rigby.” Well... Migby.

DoreonthePlains: It may be wishful thinking, but I think Malcolm Turner has the freedom to run the athletics department as he sees fit. Of course, as has been pointed out, the money has to be there to pay a buyout, which is rumored to be enough to at least be problematic. Barring an unforseen sprint to the finish that gets us to 5-7, the money is probably going to be the only thing holding ADMT back.

It is, in a sense, still early on those other coaches. It depends on how those teams finish the season. 3 games is still a quarter of the regular season, and a bowl win can brighten a borderline fireable season.

The strategic plan should be a big part of the sales pitch to a new coach, but it does not necessarily have to be public for it to be used. These coaches know how processes like this work, and Vanderbilt not having a permanent Chancellor is going to be a sticking point for such a big ticket proposal being approved. Turner can still show potential coaches what the plans are, so, while it would be nice to have it finalized, I think it is less problematic that first though.

Yeah, next season could be rough, but it is probably about the same toughness as this year. We are replacing a home game against LSU with a road game at Texas A&M and a game at Purdue with a game at Kansas State. The permanent schedule flip is probably actually more conducive to success though.


Question from BarnDore1950:

QB play in 2014, the first half of 2015 and for most of 2019 has been a disaster. I believe the only reason Derek Mason still has a job is due to one factor, Kyle Shurmur. Agree or Disagree?

Answers from AoG:

Tom Stephenson: Yeah. Pretty much. Amazing how much of a difference cromulent quarterback play makes.

Shawn: Agree to agree.

Andrew VU ‘04: Your ideas are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter. I mean, even with the somewhat cromulent running QB play of Big Mo’s Hassan Chop, the team was a completely different animal. We got four years out of Shurms, and three of them were much better than cromulence. See LSU pre-Burrow vs. the present. It’s as if this QB position thingy—and a fitting scheme to capitalize on the QB’s talent—is important in the game of feetball.

DoreonthePlains: I would add Andy Ludwig to the list with Shurmur. Who it appears we completely lucked into by way of Gary Anderson being fired at Wisconsin and leaving a solid, proven P5 OC just hanging in the breeze. I think Ludwig would have found just enough offense to probably have beaten Purdue (remember, that game was 14-10 at halftime) and certainly UNLV. Now, that means we may not have gone to Hasan and lost to Missouri...or maybe Neal would be doing well enough under OCAL that it would not have been necessary.


Question from Dinard’oh:

Will Vandy vs UK be the worst SEC game of the year?

Answers from AoG:

Tom Stephenson: It depends on how you define “worst.” Watching Florida murder us on live television last Saturday was pretty awful.

Shawn: I’m holding out for Arky v Clanga.

Andrew VU ‘04: How could it be when Arky is about to lose by north of 100 to LSU?

DoreonthePlains: We still have to play THEM. And the UK-UT game was pretty ugly, too. Of course, it also depends on if you’re looking for “worst” in terms of combined incompetence or one team looking like it does not remotely belong on the same field as another team.


Question from DoreJam:

Last week, UK was able to get up on THEM early with some offensive creativity utilizing a running QB. Stopping that kind of attack has been a weakness of past CDM-led teams (see GT 38-VU 7 in 2016). Does this Vandy D have the smarts, discipline, and (most of all) scheme to make this a low-scoring winnable game?

Answers from AoG:

Tom Stephenson: I would quibble with the notion that Kentucky is utilizing a “running QB.” They are utilizing a wide receiver who is taking snaps at quarterback. And the answer is no.

Shawn: Nope.

Andrew VU ‘04: No, no, and no. Kentucky currently does not have a quarterback, though, and we’re getting one back. We could win this game, and it could very well be low scoring. Cripple fight’s gonna cripple fight.

DoreonthePlains: Yes, but only because it may not take much of any of those 3 things to keep this low scoring. If the defense can stop Kelly Bryant and Missouri, it can stop Kentucky. Whether they do or not, who knows?


Question from WestEndMayhem:

Realistically and truly, what steps can be taken to best use the remainder of the season to prep for next year?

Assuming Mason is still coach and all things relatively equal...

Answers from AoG:

Tom Stephenson: Stock up on alcohol.

Oh, you mean for the team? Have somebody else call the plays on offense.

Shawn: Youth movement. Play the underclassman, get the reps, and sell that to recruits.

Andrew VU ‘04: Shawn gave you the boilerplate answer, and it’s not wrong. It is also what I would do, save for Vaughn, Pinkney, and Lipscomb. (Exhales long and slow)... Migby, but would that really get any of us excited for another year of Masonball/drenched hets?

DoreonthePlains: Shawn and Tom nailed it. We need young guys getting game reps and a new playcaller on offense at the very least.


Question from ComestippleSacksoun:

How wet are our hets? Be precise to ten decimal places.

Answers from AoG:

Tom Stephenson: Our hets are at the bottom of the Mariana Trench.

Shawn: Remember when Kramer got the new shower head after his apartment made tenants switch to low flow shower heads?

Andrew VU ‘04: I got about halfway into typing in “unit of measure to determine optimum wetness” before I realized I was on my work computer.

DoreonthePlains: Look, the best way to quanlify the wetness of the collective hets is to point out that MINE is drowning.