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Saturday Tailgate: When It Can’t Possibly Get Worse

Because it can’t... right? RIGHT?!?!

Optional Musical Accompaniment

This Week in AoG

Previewing Colorado State

Other Football Stuff

Other Stuff

It really can’t get worse than this. Can it?

A thing we’re fond of saying around here is: “Never say that things can’t get worse. Things can always get worse.”

Well... this time, I’m not actually sure that’s true. Because losing 23-3 to East Tennessee State, an FCS team, has to be rock bottom. Right?

There have certainly been plenty of low points for Vanderbilt football. Just in the time that I’ve been a fan (so, since 2006), there have been as many seasons with two or fewer wins as there have been winning seasons. And that’s been the relatively good era of Vanderbilt football. After all, between 1983 and 2007, Vanderbilt didn’t have a single winning season — and it had eleven seasons with one or two wins.

Still, prior to 2020, Vanderbilt had never gone winless in a season — and prior to last Saturday, Vanderbilt had never lost to an FCS team. If there’s a way for it to get lower than this, I’m not sure what it would be.

So that’s what Clark Lea is up against, and if some of our mailbag questions this week are any indication, a good chunk of the fan base has already given up on him. That’s never a good spot to be in. Granted, it’s the same spot that Derek Mason found himself in after his first game (a 37-7 loss to Temple, known in these parts as The Het Wettening.) Of course, I will never allow CDA to live down writing this a few days after that game:

The best move for Mason right now is to insert Stephen Rivers as the team’s starter

Narrator: That was not the best move for Mason right then.

See, I’ve said this a few times this week in various fora, but the problem with Mason wasn’t the Temple game; it was that he had about nine or ten more Temple games just in the 2014 season. Mason followed the Temple game by letting Rivers attempt 25 passes in a 41-3 loss to Ole Miss. A week later, Mason let a terrible UMass team jump out to a 14-0 lead and needed two fourth-quarter touchdowns and a missed field goal to prevail. (At least it was a win?)

What we saw in the Temple game was basically what we were going to see that entire season. It’s true that Mason got better after 2014, at least good enough to make bowl games in 2016 and 2018, though arguably in 2019 things were back to being where they were in 2014. That’s really the challenge for Clark Lea now: show us that things are getting fixed. This team isn’t very talented, and that much was obvious last Saturday; it still shouldn’t be doing shit like losing to ETSU. Luckily for Clark Lea, where Derek Mason had the #15 team in the country coming to town after the Temple game, Clark Lea has Colorado State. Colorado State lost to FCS South Dakota State by a 42-23 score in their opener.

In other words... we can beat this team. Right? Right? Tonight’s game might be the latest scheduled kickoff in Vanderbilt football history — 9:00 PM CT, on the CBS Sports Network. Get ready to be up late tonight, friends.