(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 BruleTemple Head Football Coach Matt Rhuleumm... 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.
(6) UNLV 34, Vanderbilt 10, October 10, 2019
This football game turned the person on this site known as the leader of the Sunshine Pumpers and pump ungunker into a raging mess. My optimism was so broken that I did not re-watch the game and devoted my entire “Lessons in Vanderbilt Football” article about the game to talking about the team quitting, which is an argument that I had doggedly fought against when others brought it up. I even said in a comment on Tom’s The Statistical for the game, “It’s worse as a standalone result than Temple. It is orders of magnitude worse than Temple as a marker of the program. Comparing it to Wake [in 2010] is really not sensible because that Wake game was with an interim (he was, no matter what the technicalities were) coach known to be gone.”
Look, you can talk about losing in the NCAA tournament to a 13-seed, but the 2019 Commodore football team got embarrassed at home to a team that fired their head coach at the end of the season for going 4-8 overall and 2-6 in the Mountain West Conference. The most WTF part may be what happened the next week. Vanderbilt would go from losing 34-10 to a bad UNLV team to beating the 5-1 (2-0) Missouri Tigers 21-14. Surely the change was getting back a bunch of newly-healthy starters, right?
No, Vanderbilt got way better by going to their previously 3rd string walk-on QB Mo Hasan. Of course, Hasan would get hurt near the end of the game and be lost for the season because the universe hates Vanderbilt athletics and its fans. How much more “WTF?” can you get than that? We suck, so the team decides to set aside the two QBs who had battled to be the starter for a player previously out of the picture. UNLV did not hold any one else they played to fewer than 20 points, but the Vanderbilt Commodores could only score 10 (TEN!) at home.
It was not just the offense though. Vanderbilt, with the exact same defensive players, would give up only 14 points to a Missourah offense that had not been held under 31 points and were averaging 38.8 points per game in their first 6 games. Why the f--- did the Commodores give up 34 to UNLV?! The Runnin’ Rebels only scored more than 27 4 times in 2019. They put up 56 on FCS Southern Utah, 34 that day against Vanderbilt, and finished the season with 38- and 33-point performances against San Jose State and Nevada.
The 2019 UNLV Runnin’ Rebels were BAD. They ranked 92nd in Total Offense, 88th in Passing Offense, 58th in Rushing Offense, 97th in Scoring Offense, 105th in Total Defense, 104th in Passing Defense, 92nd in Rushing Defense, and 108th in Scoring Defense. Again, the rest of their schedule was 6 MWC teams, Arkansas State, FCS Southern Utah, and Northwestern. To round out the “the f---?” questions, how the f--- did Vanderbilt manage to make UNLV look better than anyone other FBS team they played when THAT is their schedule?!
Vanderbilt managed to perform about 50 net points worse than they should have. A 24-point loss should have been a win of the same margin. What can be more miserably WTF than that?
Which moment advances?
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