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Vanderbilt 2020 Football Mail Bag #6: Answers to Your Questions

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Letters... we get letters... we get sacks and sacks of letters...

Mail-in ballots at the processing center at the LA County Registrar temporary building at the Fairplex in Pomona. Photo by Keith Birmingham/MediaNews Group/Pasadena Star-News via Getty Images

Due to the recent bye and the SEC-Big XII match-up of Vanderbilt versus Missourah’s postponement, this is an unprecedented fourth mail bag between games. Huzzah?

Question from JMLongVU98:

While it was fun to see IU win a big game as Franklin Franklined himself, I still couldn’t help but miss him, his salesmanship, attitude and frankly some of the best times for Vanderbilt football. As much as I like Mason as a person, enjoy his raspy preacher voice and how his sideline dances during a number of victories over UT also showed off some fine gear, he’s just not the guy. I guess I’m almost proud that someone who can go 3-3 vs THEM, isn’t quite enough now. Do other people agree and just how bad is the buyout? I’m almost resigned to the fact that he will be back next year, but the year after that?

Answers from AoG:

Andrew VU ‘04: Jimmy Franks was exactly what we needed in the late aughts and early 2010s, and an Ol’ Bald Poach type motivator and success-obsessive borderline narcissist is exactly what we need to do the jerb at Vandy going forward. Let’s shave Jamey Chadwell’s head, tell him to get the Chancellor to publicly claim he will buy a rocket ship if necessary for crootin’, and see what he can do.

As for the resignation that Mason will be kept around no matter what for 2021, stop it. Just stop it, everyone. While we don’t know the exact nature of the buyout, the athletic department was pretty direct that his buyout was the reason he’s still here this year. I have yet to see them speak to this directly regarding next year. Buyout clauses are very particular, and sometimes buyouts are onerous one year and doable the next. I think we’ll find out by winter break what their intentions are. Regardless, being resigned to our doom helps no one—pandemic or not. Let’s make them know we all have decided Mason has been given more than a fair chance and it’s time to move on. Make them directly make a decision they know will have consequences, rather than letting them win with apathy.

Hell, I’d take a Turkey Inseminator year (one in which they elevate a coordinator or position coach currently on staff) in 2021 over more Mason at this point if they need to spread the buyout cost around. At the very least, that would give them a full year to woo Jamey Chadwell (or pry the next Jimmy Franks out of the neck rolls of whichever Ralph Friedgen he’s currently under).

Tom Stephenson: Man, I go back and forth on this one. Because I’m honestly not sure how Franklin would have played out if he had stayed on after 2013. Would he have been better than Mason? Yeah, probably, but I’m not convinced that he would have continued winning nine games a year. His recruits seemed to not pan out at an alarming rate. He probably would have done better than Mason, I guess, but that might have just meant three or four minor bowl appearances over the last six years instead of the two we actually got.

Anyway, whatever the buyout is, it’s quite likely something that one or two Vanderbilt boosters could cover with the stroke of a pen, so that’s not it. Whether they will do that or not is, I guess, an open question, but really, what more evidence do you need?

DoreonthePlains: The downside (for fans) of being a private university is that Vanderbilt can hide the details of Mason’s contract. Obviously, if he is retained again because of the buyout, the school cannot come out and say it. The inside sources may be reporting it, but it will not and should not ever come through official channels.

With that said, I really like both of the coordinators. If the team can win two games, I can grit my teeth and accept another year of Mason with some hope. One win makes that very painful. Retaining him after a winless campaign seems like it would lose enough money in terms of ticket sales and other fan-interest revenues that it should get the plug pulled.

To circle back to Franklin, I tend to agree with Tom on this one. Frnaklin was trying to get splash commitments that did not tend to pan out. He wanted to make as much noise as possible. I’m not sure whether he was doing that to market Vanderbilt or himself, but I think after the rape case and reported accompanying tightening on him from the university at large that Franklin saw it as his best chance to jump. My guess is around 2 more wins per season under Franklin if he stays.

Question from JAinTX:

I have enjoyed the past two Saturdays very much for two reasons. 1) Tennessee has been thoroughly dominated and 2) I haven’t had to watch Vanderbilt play. Is it worrisome that these two factors are currently giving me equal pleasure? Need to take a knee while I contemplate this pettiness.

Answers from AoG:

Andrew VU ‘04: Not worrisome; just practical at this point. I’ve been right there with you, buddy. The craziness of trying to do this all during a pandemic, with the lamest of lame ducks at HC, and with the amount of roster turnover we have had... well... it’s just no fun. Watching the Chuggers get kicked in their Franzia holes? (*Chef’s kiss.)

Tom Stephenson: It’s worrisome that this is the current state of the Vanderbilt football program.

DoreonthePlains: I think watching the failures of a bitter rival is a more stress-free enjoyment for most people. Watching Tennessee get embarrassed, especially by Kentucky, cannot really go badly. If THEY come back, the Vanderbilt fan can roll their eyes and laugh at Tennessee fans getting HYPED about beating Kentucky. Obviously, not watching Vanderbilt football is the less stressful option there.

Question from VU1970:

If if if if... If it turns out that Vandy made good use of the downtime and shows up much-improved against Ole Missmash, perhaps even beating them, would that constitute “reason to get excited”? And if not, what would it constitute?

Answers from AoG:

Andrew VU ‘04: Rec’d for “Ole Missmash.” I’d say beating the Ackbars is always a reason to get excited, but only for that week. As it’s basically Halloween, let me make a candy analogy (though for the love of Jebus, don’t host or go to any Halloween parties during this pandemic year, people, nor take your kids out to a “Let’s touch everything in the neighborhood and then shove the things everyone touched into our mouths” Trick or Treating night, either. I want you all alive until Josh Henderson runs out of eligibility and/or the sun collapses into a black hole—whichever comes first). Beating Ole Kiffin is a fun sized Snickers. Tasty, but the joy is over almost immediately.

Tom Stephenson: I’d say there’s more reason to get excited if Vanderbilt’s defense is able to slow down Ole Miss than if the offense puts up points — because, really, 11 Anchor of Gold commenters pulled at random could probably score on Ole Miss.

DoreonthePlains: If our offense can either pass with Ole Miss OR our defense can shut them down (yes, some middle ground could exist), I would definitely be interested to see more. You guys know I like positives. I do think Andrew’s hypothetical excitement should extend for at least 2 weeks though. Vanderbilt’s game after Ole Miss is at Mississippi State. The Pirate Bulldogs have 3 offensive touchdowns in the 3 games since opening up a can on LSU. They have averaged exactly 4 yards per play. For reference, Vanderbilt is at 3.8 yards per play on the season. If we beat Ole Miss, the improvement will almost certainly be enough that we should also beat Mississippi State, especially with State assuredly coming off a beatdown by Alabama.

*Editor’s note: If Andrew’s excitement extends for more than four hours, consult a physician.

Question from Texas VU:

Since HCDM arrived, he has hired 5 coordinators. He has fired 3 after one year, 1 after 2 years and the fifth left after 4 years, at best for a lateral (he is still an OC) and likely a demotion (SEC v PAC12). So how is VU ever going to develop a consistently competitive football program (like 6-6) given this turnover?

Answers from AoG:

Andrew VU ‘04: They can’t. The Mason era has run its course. Hire Nadia Harvin.

Tom Stephenson: Well, the reason there’s been so much turnover in the coordinator spots is that the coordinator hires, with the exception of Andy Ludwig, have sucked. I mean, I certainly would not have argued it would have been a good thing for either Karl Dorrell or Gerry Gdowski to not get fired after a year, would you?

DoreonthePlains: The coordinator hires are absolutely the worst part of Mason’s skillset as a coach. When you are typically going to be overmatched in talent and athleticism, a team has to be excellent at executing. It is damned near impossible to do that with such high coordinator turnover.

Question from OtherAndrew:

How do you guys keep coming up with questions about the feetsballing team? The only questions I can think of are “when will it stop?” and [...] stuff like this:

Do you think we’ll ever have a winning season again? Like ever?

Answers from AoG:

Andrew VU ‘04: Technically, it’s you guys who come up with the questions. We come up with the answers. And yes, but not this year, and likely not next year, either, no matter who the coach is.

Tom Stephenson: Yeah, but probably not under the current coaching staff.

DoreonthePlains: I would put my eye on 2022 and 2023. Seals as a 3rd year starter (2022) should be very good. I think it will be interesting to see who is still on the roster then with some guys like Cam Johnson, Amir Abdur-Rahman, and many others who will technically have eligibility left due to everyone getting this season not counted. Of course, it depends heavily on the coaching.

Question from WestEndMayhem:

What’s the point?

Answers from AoG:

Andrew VU ‘04: According to the dictionary, the point is “the tapered, sharp end of a tool, weapon, or other object.” Other than that, I don’t know, man. This is supposed to be fun, isn’t it? Or at least some gallows humor while we hunt for the “moral victory.” It’s not supposed to be dread-inducing. I’ll answer your impossible question with a more specific nonsense question: What’s the frequency, Kenneth?

Tom Stephenson: Like of the Mailbag? The point is to answer your questions. Do you have one?

DoreonthePlains: Why not?