Optional Musical Accompaniment
There’s something about the first year under a new coach that can make every sin forgivable, every bad game explained away. Much as they say about Opening Day in baseball season, hope springs eternal. There are exceptions, of course: I can’t imagine that Arkansas State fans are feeling all that hopeful with Butch Jones off to a 1-5 start in his first year. And that new coach smell can go away pretty quickly, too; just look at second-year Missouri head coach Eli Drinkwitz, who just saw his team give up 62 points to Tennessee.
Still, there’s something about having a first-year head coach that often makes you focus on the positives. Instead of “oh shit, we needed a last-second field goal to beat UConn,” the feeling now is “well the last coach would have found a way to lose that one.” And it’s... true? There were Vanderbilt teams in the past, some in the very recent past, that would have seen UConn convert a 4th and 18 to set up the go-ahead touchdown and folded right there. There have been Vanderbilt teams in the past that would have seen Colorado State go up 14-0 in the first quarter and say “pack it up, boys, we’re done here.”
When it’s the first year, just about anything can be a sign of hope. We have all of our timeouts left when we take over possession with a minute and a half left in the first half? When’s the last time that happened? Well, I don’t know, but Clark Lea just always seems to have timeouts in his back pocket when we need them. Everything else can be explained by the fact that the new guy hasn’t gotten his recruits in here. And, of course, plenty of good coaches have done badly in their first year, especially taking over a rebuild. We only have to look at our neighbors to the north to find a highly-respected defensive coordinator who took over a bad SEC team, went 2-10 in his first year, and made a bowl game in his fourth year — and won ten games in his sixth year.
Oh, yeah, and last week he beat Vanderbilt’s opponent this week. This is the kind of game that can make you feel hopeless — Florida, after all, is usually much better than Vanderbilt — and particularly when, well, they’re probably pissed off that they just lost to Kentucky, the other SEC East team that most of their fans think they should absolutely never lose to. (Okay, they probably think this about South Carolina and Missouri too. Maybe even Tennessee.) But if you’ve already lost your hope, you’re doing this wrong.
Today’s Tailgate won’t last long with an 11 AM kickoff. We’ll have dueling threads today — the game thread will be up at 9:30, the open thread for everything else will go live at 11. Have fun, expect to win.
This Week in AoG
- Offense Preview
- Defense Preview
- Press Conference and Depth Chart
- Q&A with Alligator Army
- Saturday Predictions
Other Football Stuff
- The Statistical: UConn
- South Carolina game set for 3 PM CT kickoff
- Mail Bag
- Staff Pick’em
- Bad Gambling Advice
- Lessons in Vanderbilt Football
- Anchor Drop: Monday | Tuesday | Wednesday | Thursday | Friday
- Basketball Opponent Previews: Texas State | VCU | Winthrop
Sports on TV
All times Central. College football schedule will be its own post.
- 6:30 AM: European Tour: Open de Espana, Third Round (Golf Channel)
- 12:00 PM: LPGA: Cognizant Founders Cup, Third Round (Golf Channel)
- 4:00 PM: PGA Tour: Shriners Children’s Open, Third Round (Golf Channel)
- 4:07 PM: MLB: Braves at Brewers (TBS)
- 8:07 PM: MLB: Dodgers at Giants (TBS)
World Cup Qualifiers: Malawi 0-3 Ivory Coast ... Angola 3-1 Gabon ... Cameroon 3-1 Mozambique ... Algeria 6-1 Niger ... Djibouti 0-4 Burkina Faso ... Egypt 1-0 Libya ... Cyprus 0-3 Croatia ... Estonia 2-0 Belarus ... Germany 2-1 Romania ... Gibraltar 0-3 Montenegro ... Iceland 1-1 Armenia ... Latvia 0-1 Netherlands ... Liechtenstein 0-4 North Macedonia ... Malta 0-4 Slovenia ... Russia 1-0 Slovakia ... Turkey 1-1 Norway.