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WTF Vandy? Miserable Losses, Round 1: (4) 59-0 vs. Alabama vs. (5) 37-7 vs. Temple

Ah yes. That game. And that game.

NCAA Football: Alabama at Vanderbilt Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

(4) September 23, 2017: Alabama 59, Vanderbilt 0

I usually mock the phrase “bulletin board material,” because (a) it’s largely a blueblood way of saying “I can’t believe these peons are talking smack about us, and now I have my knickers in a twit,” and (b) who the hell uses bulletin board any more, anyway? In any case, “bulletin board material” gets talked about as motivation more than it actually is motivation, most of the time, because who the hell really cares about smack talk?

Alabama cares, that’s who.

Under normal circumstances, you could probably count on Alabama, ranked #1 in the nation but having gone through the motions the previous two weeks against Fresno State and Colorado State, to not be particularly concerned about a trip to Vanderbilt Stadium. Sure, Alabama had won 21 in a row against Vanderbilt going into the 2017 matchup, but most of those strangely weren’t blowouts — probably because Alabama rarely takes this game seriously. But 2017 wasn’t exactly a normal Alabama-Vanderbilt matchup. Vanderbilt was off to a 3-0 start, and the Commodores had beaten a purportedly solid Kansas State team the week before.

And then, defensive lineman Nifae Lealao, in the postgame scrum, said the words.

“Bama, you’re next.”

Oh, sure. Poke the bear. What could possibly go wrong?

Oh, yeah, and CBS picked up the game. So a national TV audience would witness this.

Mercifully, the game was put to bed quickly. Unmercifully, the game lasted sixty minutes. Vanderbilt was able to force a punt on Alabama’s first drive, but the Commodores gained just two first downs in the first half — one on a roughing the passer penalty — and Alabama scored touchdowns on its next four possessions. The Tide went into halftime up 31-0, and things were only getting started. Alabama had five offensive possessions in the second half and scored touchdowns on four of them, with three of the drives being directed by then-true freshman backup Tua Tagovailoa. As for the fifth offensive possession, Alabama held on to the ball for the final 11:45 of the game before taking a knee on 1st and goal at the Vanderbilt 3.

I can’t actually decide what would have been more embarrassing: scoring to make it 66-0, or that.

This was a complete and utter domination; Alabama outgained Vanderbilt 677 to 78, but what really stunk about this game was that it took the wind completely out of the team’s sails. It’s easy to forget now, but everybody was optimistic about the 2017 team three weeks into the season following beatdowns of Middle and Alabama A&M, and the defense-dominated Kansas State win. Vanderbilt would then proceed to lose its first seven SEC games, with a win in Knoxville the only thing salvaging a positive end to the season.

(5) August 28, 2014: Temple 37, Vanderbilt 7

Oh no, it’s the Hettening!!!

Yes, the game that has found its way into at least 4 entries in our WTF Bracket: The first game of the Derek Mason era. The game that, I dare say, continues to define the Derek Mason era. The game that ripped us from optimistic celebratory drinking to depressed gasoline drinking. The game that let us all know that the James “Old Bald Poach” Franklin era of Good Feelings was to be an outlier, rather than Vanderbilt’s new normal. And we learned it with the swiftness of a kick to the jimmies. And the person doing the kicking had the Murderleg of Carey Spear.

The game that launched the meter we use to determine the exact state of Vanderbilt sports—whether for how well, or how Lovecraftian horror story style terribly, our teams are currently performing. A “fan confidence meter” of sorts. The Het-o-Meter.

Well, by the end of this world-destroying season opener, the meter read as follows:

To fully appreciate just how WTF this game was, and the damage it has done to our collective psyches, ... see our collective Anchor of Gold writers’ preview and predictions for that 2014 season opener.

We were so damned optimistic. And justifiably so. Vanderbilt football had not known the success on the gridiron seen under The Old Bald Poach since Dan McGugin. Though the Poach left for Happy Valley’s State Penn, and took a sizable chunk of his last recruiting class with him, we still felt our football program would maintain at least a level of cromulence, and, I’ll say it, many of us thought we would improve! We hired a new Franklin, we all thought! We got Stanford’s Defensive Genius! We’re always going to go to bowl games, life will be nothing but beer and Skittles, and our children will all be apple cheeked and above average!

I mean, just look at our predictions for that game:

CDA’s Pick: Vanderbilt 33, Temple 20. Temple was good at losing close games in 2013, but Vandy - and Derek Mason - need to make a statement. It may not be the emphatic win that many fans are hoping for, but Temple may be overlooked in this one thanks to their emerging young quarterback.

VTPhD’s Pick: Vanderbilt 28, Temple 10. The new defense is able to cover the passing attack nicely. A 3-4 embiggens the smallest pass rush.

VandyImport’s Pick: Vanderbilt 37, Temple 13.

Beyond that, I was so confident, that instead of breaking down each team’s relative strengths and weaknesses, I put Nadia Harvin and #WetHet into the Vanderbilt lexicon:

Andrew VU ‘04: Derek Mason will attempt to drag the team coached by Dr. Steve Brule Temple Head Football Coach Matt Rhule umm... Administration Specialist, Head Football Coach Nadia Harvin, into “Deep Water,” thus getting their Het Wet. Temple’s been preparing for this all off-season, though, and have adopted #WetHet as their rallying cry. Will our deep water approach get their het wet? All but assuredly. Will we be ready for their wet het? We shall see.

Coach Harvin, apparently, is the first female Division I Head Football coach, and frankly, has done so with surprisingly little fanfare, which, while odd, is a positive development for female coaches working in men’s sports. Recently, when Greg Popovich named former WNBA star Becky Hammon as an assistant coach of the San Antonio Spurs, sports news agencies were tripping over themselves to cover this story, peppering the airwaves with nonsense like, “Can a woman really command the attention of a team of grown men” and “When they have to banish her to the woods five days monthly, how will the team fare down a member of its coaching staff?” Supporters of Hammon openly wondered if there ever would be a day when a woman would be given a coaching opportunity in a men’s sport and the news would not revolve around her being a woman.

In Administration Specialist, Head Coach Nadia Harvin, they appear to have gotten their wish. Truly, this is a banner moment for proponents of equality in the workforce.

She’s certainly qualified, as her resume indicates she’s paid her dues, working under seven head coaches while at Temple:

“She has worked with seven head coaches, beginning with Bruce Arians.”

Further, despite being named Head Coach, this football lifer has decided to adopt a dual role as her own Administrative Specialist. As most head coaches are perfectionists, it’s surprising Harvin is the first to take the “If you want anything done, you have to do it yourself” mindset to the duties of an administrative specialist. I support it, and will be rooting for Harvin and her boys when they’re not playing Vanderbilt.

The Pick: Vanderbilt 17, Temple 3. Though P.J. Walker is certainly a perfectly cromulent quarterback, his het will get far too wet to function against Mason’s gritty 3-4 defense. Both touchdowns will be scored by the defense. As will both field goals.

Then Thursday happened, it rained, we got curb stomped by an Atlantic 10 school, and we realized that maybe, just maybe, Mason and staff were not exactly at the same level of Franklin et al. Oh, and all of our hets got freaking soaked.

You don’t need anymore, do you? This should have been a damned #1 seed in this tournament. Think about how you felt before, during, and after that Temple game.

Vote accordingly.


What was the more WTF moment?

This poll is closed

  • 9%
    59-0 vs. Alabama (2017)
    (11 votes)
  • 90%
    37-7 vs. Temple (2014)—The Hettening
    (105 votes)
116 votes total Vote Now