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WTF Vandy? Bad Luck, Round 1: (1) JEFF GREEN TRAVELED vs. (9) Houston Nutt Changes the Wind

You knew this was coming, didn’t you? Don’t lie.

Towson Tigers v Georgetown Hoyas


You knew this one was coming, didn’t you?

The 2006-07 basketball season was a fun one. After starting 1-3, including a season-opening loss to Georgetown (they’ll come up again) and also a home loss to Furman, but then things got rolling: Vanderbilt would go 17-5 over its next 22 games capped by an 83-70 win over #1 Florida, the eventual national champs, a game in which this happened:

Like I said, a fun season. Of course, after that game, Vanderbilt did its stereotypical late-season fade, going 2-3 and losing its first game of the SEC Tournament to Arkansas (which immediately followed a 15-point home loss to the Razorbacks to end the regular season.) At this point, I recall some national sports radio jock predicting that Vanderbilt would be out of the tournament, a prediction that ended up looking very dumb when the 20-11 Commodores not only got in, but were given a 6-seed.

Vanderbilt rolled past George Washington in the first round, then conquered Washington State (coached by first-year head coach Tony Bennett) in double overtime in the second round. That set up a rematch with Georgetown, the 2-seed that Vanderbilt had met in the season opener. That first game had ended up being a fairly easy 86-70 win for the Hoyas; this would not be so easy, with Vanderbilt seeking its first Elite Eight trip since 1965 (and only its second ever.)

Vanderbilt got out to an 18-6 lead early on, and led 32-24 at halftime. The Hoyas battled back, though, and led 64-61 with a minute left. Derrick Byars cut the lead to one with a pair of free throws, and then, after Patrick Ewing Jr. missed at the other end, Dan Cage got fouled on the rebound and sank two free throws to give Vanderbilt the lead with 19 seconds left.

And then, well...


13 years later, my blood still boils when I watch that clip. Yours should, too.

(9) September 16, 2006: Arkansas 21, Vanderbilt 19

Back story here: I enrolled at Vanderbilt University Law School in the fall of 2006. This was the first home game of the 2006 season, and the day before, my contracts professor was encouraging all the students to go to the football game. Somebody (clearly not familiar with the SEC) had the nerve to ask the professor if we were good.

The professor’s response: “I’ve been teaching here since 1988. Do you know how many winning seasons we’ve had? Zero.”

So, the stage was set properly. In 2006, Arkansas featured a dynamic running back duo of Darren McFadden and Felix Jones, and also sported true freshman Mitch Mustain, the nation’s top quarterback recruit in the 2006 class. (Mustain, of course, would go on to be a key player in the drama that would engulf Houston Nutt in the offseason.) Vanderbilt was off to an 0-2 start, albeit with losses coming to Michigan and Alabama, both on the road, and the latter was by three points.

The game itself was back and forth. Vanderbilt took the opening drive 87 yards for a Chris Nickson TD run, then Arkansas evened the score on a Marcus Monk touchdown later in the first quarter. Cassen Jackson-Garrison put the Commodores back ahead with a touchdown in the second quarter, but then botched the snap on the extra point attempt (which in Vanderbilt tradition would end up mattering later in the game.) Mustain then threw touchdown passes in the second and third quarter, giving the Razorbacks a 21-13 lead. Nickson scored his second rushing touchdown early in the fourth quarter, but a failed two-point conversion made the score 21-19.

But Vanderbilt managed to keep McFadden in check (he ended the game with 71 yards on 19 carries) and had a chance to kick the winning field goal on 4th-and-2 with 55 seconds left. Houston Nutt called timeout to ice the kicker — and, also, apparently to summon the wind gods.

“There was no doubt in my mind (it was good),” (Hahnfeldt) said. “It was one of the better kicks I had all day. I got up, and even started celebrating, me and Mackenzi (Adams), the holder, and all of a sudden, the wind just killed it.”

“Believe it or not, actually, the wind picked up just a littlebit right before he kicked it,” Vandy coach Bobby Johnson said.”I swear, it picked up. You can’t plan on that. You can’t controlthat. I wish I could. I’d be undefeated.”

Yep. You can’t plan on that. On the other hand, I can’t think of a better introduction to being a Vanderbilt fan than... that.


Which moment advances?

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