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TO THE CLASS OF 2023: WE KNOW NOTHING. (YET)

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Start with this: we don’t know anything.

In the grand scheme of things, this is a fact, and it is indisputable. I have dealt with brain surgeons and rocket scientists alike who I would not trust to plug my iPhone in correctly or bring back my In N Out order accurately. And let’s face it, there are some things we have built up that are very esoteric and specific fields of knowledge. A surgeon is at root a mechanic of chitlins. A rocket scientist is a Lego builder with a bigger budget. In The Importance of Being Earnest, Aunt Augusta asks “A man should know everything, or he should know nothing. Which do you know?” And Jack promptly and correctly answers, “I know nothing.”

Clearly you know something, or you wouldn’t have been accepted and staked out a spot in Commons. (Especial greetings to those of you in Murray House, which sits on the ruins of my old apartment at Garrison.) You will know a lot more before you go, assuming the faculty does its job and you hold up your end of the bargain. But let’s face it: there is a lot of stuff you won’t know when you go. I left with a masters in political science (side note: there is no money in political science) and no idea how to find an apartment, live within my means or avoid finding an Internet girlfriend seven hours’ drive away.

Which is not to say I learned nothing. I learned a lot of things. I learned how to troubleshoot an Ethernet connection, why to order a Manhattan, and to never ever go out with a 1L. Point being: the things I was taught at Vanderbilt, while important, weren’t a patch on the things I learned at Vanderbilt, things I didn’t even know I needed to learn.

Which brings us around to football.

This is a strange time for Vanderbilt football. Two bowls in the last three years, three straight wins over Tennessee and five in the last seven years. Your predecessors in the class of 2013 were the last to graduate with a losing record to the Vols. There are generations of Dores since the Jazz Age who would have gladly killed to be able to say the same. And yet, predictably, we’re another pick to finish dead last. And that might be accurate!

Because we don’t know. We have the Three Horsemen - Lipscomb is a stud, Pinkney a likely All-American and Vaughn the most electrifying Commodore running back since - Warren Norman? Jermaine Johnson? Frank Mordica? But we also have to replace an all time Commodore great at QB and we don’t know who will take that first snap. We lost talent on defense and have no real idea who will step up and how that looks. And on special teams - but that’s unfair; anyone in college who says they know what to expect from special teams is a liar and a braggart.

This Commodore team could win eight or nine. This Commodore team could lose eight or nine. Depending on what the rest of the league looks like, who knows. If the SEC East returns to form, it could be brutal. If the Vols and Gators don’t have the future that’s predicted for them and the Bulldogs sleepwalk into this one like 1994 or 2006 or even more recently than that, it’s not unreasonable to think a run of luck could produce something historic. Or we could end up with a 2-win season of the sort that filled way too many autumns between the age of New Wave and the age of dubstep.

The point is, we stand here on the precipice, at the beginning of a new adventure, and we don’t know what will happen. We don’t even know all the things we don’t know yet. There may be another Earl Bennett waiting to get jobbed by a ref. There may be another Todd Yoder hauling in a touchdown pass on 3rd and 37 to take the lead on a ranked opponent. There may be another Zac Stacy dragging an entire defense into the end zone with the strength of the Hulk and the heart of a lion. There may be another Austyn Carta-Samuels gritting his teeth and driving downfield in hostile territory on one good knee. We don’t know the names, we don’t know the plays, we don’t know the moments.

Yet.

But don’t you want to be there to find out?

Line up. Make the dash. Show your gold. And let’s go on a trip together.

Anchor Down. Sink Georgia.