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WTF Vandy? Baffling Decisions, Round 2: (2) “Anchor Down” on the Nameplates vs. (3) Karl Dorrell

Ah, the 2014 football season.

LOS ANGELES - DECEMBER 1: Head coach Karl Dorrell of the UCLA Bruins looks on during the college football game against the USC Trojans at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum December 1, 2007 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images

(2) “Anchor Down” on the nameplates

Aside from the part where the “Anchor Down” is barely visible, there was another problem: The uniforms were against the rules.

The controversy Thursday night began at the start of the second quarter, when the officiating crew announced that the Commodores were being penalized one timeout for wearing the “Anchor Down” jerseys and would continue to be charged an additional timeout per quarter for the duration of the game.

But Vanderbilt officials then showed referee Ken Williamson an email printout, which apparently indicated that the Commodores had sought and received permission to wear the jerseys. Williamson then restored the lost timeout and announced that there were no further problems with the jerseys.

Ah, yes. That moment.

So Vanderbilt won the battle but lost the war. After the game, the SEC ruled that actually, the uniforms were in violation of NCAA rules, which do not allow slogans on the nameplate of player jerseys. Evidently the SEC office thought that “Anchor Down” was simply a placeholder for where the player names would go. In short, though, Vanderbilt had intentionally worn an illegal uniform and gone to the trouble of getting approval from the SEC office for an illegal uniform.

If only the SEC would rule that gray uniforms were illegal.

(3) Derek Mason Hires Karl Dorrell as his Offensive Coordinator, 2014

Not counting the time he made himself the defensive coordinator, Derek Mason is, effectively, 1-for-5 in hiring coordinators. But the circumstances that led to Gerry Gdowski’s elevation to offensive coordinator prior to the 2019 season perhaps deserve some slack, and while defensive coordinator hires Dave Kotulski (2014) and Jason Tarver (2018-19) didn’t really work... well, Mason’s fingerprints were all over the defense, anyway.

And then there was Karl Dorrell.

Mason’s first offensive coordinator came to Vanderbilt having been an FBS offensive coordinator for five years in the 1990s. Since leaving Washington after the 1999 season, he’d spent most of his time as an NFL wide receivers coach, with a five-year tenure as UCLA’s head coach from 2003-07. So from the jump, Mason had hired as his offensive coordinator a man who was basically a career NFL position coach.

I understand that the timetable — Mason was hiring an offensive coordinator after getting the job in January 2014 — was a little weird. But still, you couldn’t find someone who had been an offensive coordinator at any level in the previous fourteen years?

Anyway, Dorrell’s offense looked like something straight out of the 1990s, and not in a good way. The best thing I can say about Karl Dorrell’s deep-ball heavy offense is that it’s the kind of offense that can look good when your quarterback is someone like Koy Detmer or Marques Tuiasosopo — two quarterbacks he’d had at his disposal the last time he was a college offensive coordinator. When your quarterback room is a revolving door of Patton Robinette, Stephen Rivers (guh), Wade Freebeck, and Johnny McCrary, well... let’s just say there’s a reason why college offenses shifted away from a reliance on throwing it deep.

But this did not stop Karl, of course. Vanderbilt’s quarterback room in 2014 combined to complete barely 50 percent of their passes with an average of 6 yards per attempt. The run game did unearth a hidden gem in redshirt freshman Ralph Webb, but there was very little to write home about in the 2014 offense. The end result was an offense that averaged a paltry 17.2 points per game — and an even worse 12.8 ppg when you limit it to SEC opponents.

There was, in short, a reason why college football programs had largely evolved away from “pro-style” offenses by 2014, and Karl Dorrell gave everyone a reminder as to why.


Which moment advances?

This poll is closed

  • 41%
    "Anchor Down" on the nameplates
    (55 votes)
  • 58%
    Karl Dorrell
    (77 votes)
132 votes total Vote Now