clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Week Ten Football Mail Bag: Answers to your Questions

You ask, we answer.

Auburn v Vanderbilt
“Has anyone seen my son?” -Clark Lea (left)
Photo by Johnnie Izquierdo/Getty Images

Question from JesseCuster44:

If you explained “playing for the punt” to someone who knows nothing about football, and had to use an idiom/meme/analogy to do so, what would you use?

Answers from AoG:

Tom Stephenson: As a lawyer, I can tell you there are some lawyers who basically aren’t trying to win at trial. They won’t come out and say that, and I wouldn’t say they’re intentionally tanking the trial, but they know they’re not getting their guy off so they’re just trying to set up an appeal — which means, raise ten billion objections throughout the trial to “preserve error.”

It’s that. Playing for the punt is like that. You’re not playing to win, but you are playing in the hopes that the other team screws up. (That said, it sort of worked because of the pick six that followed. But Clark Lea couldn’t have known that.)

PatrickSawyer: It's like having sugar free dessert. Granted, you're not getting fat, but it is also generally not enjoyable.

Andrew VU ‘04: Probably this one, though you would have to imagine Clark Lea with hair:

Question from DynamiteToOmaha:

How hot is CL’s seat right now, if we’re even in that position?

If you can, put it into Celcius or Farenheit, I won’t mind

Answers from AoG:

Tom Stephenson: About 308 Kelvin, which is 95 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s above “seat warmers in the car” warm, it’s getting a little uncomfortable, but it’s not ON FIRE.

So let’s be realistic: this season is bad. However, Clark Lea has yet to play the “fire a coordinator (or both)” card, technically, which Derek Mason played after his first season on both sides of the ball. (For the record, I’m not counting David Raih here. If you want to, then sure, go ahead. All indications are that he was demoted prior to coaching a game. I tend to think of Lynch as the “real” offensive coordinator hire while Raih was a glorified wide receivers coach who may have been given the title of offensive coordinator for contractual reasons. The point is, Lynch has been calling the plays for all three years.) We also know that Vanderbilt absolutely drags its feet on firing a coach, to the point that I can’t see Lea getting fired this year unless he gets told to clean house on his coaching staff and he straight up refuses. Next year? Oh, yeah. That’s why the seat is a bit uncomfortably warm: if next year looks like this one, then he’s gone. And he should be.

PatrickSawyer: Gonna go with 108 F. It's hot enough that you do not want to touch it barehanded but is not going to burn him through his pants. He has to make moves in the offseason, or the heat will turn up some more by January.

Andrew VU ‘04: Let’s go with Celsius, so only the rest of the world understands the analogy. Well, if 0 is freezing and 100 would be where his butt is literally boiling, I’ll go with 50. In Fahrenheit terms, that’s 122 degrees, which is basically what Phoenix hit this summer, and people were falling on asphalt and having to go to the hospital with severe burns.

For us, the fanbase, he’s likely even higher on this scale, but we all suspect Kirkland will give him one more year. If it’s another year of this, that ass will boil.

Question from VandyFan1!:

If y’all were the head coach, which coordinators/ position coaches are u getting rid of after the year?

Answers from AoG:

Tom Stephenson: I’m going to preface this by saying I don’t know who the recruiters on the staff are — Dan Jackson for all I know is a hell of a recruiter and that’s why he still has a job, because there doesn’t seem to be any other explanation. Assuming he’s not, though, he’s gone. So, too, are both coordinators, and I actually have a stronger argument for getting rid of Lynch than I do Howell — the issues on defense seem to be much more of a talent problem whereas the issues on offense are more directly related to scheme.

After that? Opinions vary on the offensive line; it’s not good, but how much of that is AJ Blazek’s fault versus still having a bunch of Derek Mason recruiting misses on the line is something that somebody who really knows offensive line play would have to tell me. (Here’s probably the place where you wouldn’t see recruiting improvements show up; Lea’s recruits aren’t playing yet and mostly aren’t ready to play yet because it takes a year or two in the weight room to play offensive line in the SEC.)

PatrickSawyer: Lynch being retained should get Lea fired. Howell staying is a step below that but would get a very critical view. Horrible PR at the least.

The only position coach I would want gone is Jackson, and maybe he is a dynamite recruiter. I guess we should look into that on 247, which lists recruiters for each player.

I do not have a great grasp on anyone else needing to go. Schemes and one position group on defense (CBs) seem to be the biggest problems right now.

Andrew VU ‘04: It might be easier to ask who I’m keeping. At the very least, I’m getting rid of Lynch, Howell, and Jackson. I’d at least consider upgrading on Blazek and Everett, as both position groups—o-line and RB—have been anywhere from ass to subcromulent. Seeing as NoHo Clark didn’t even get rid of Jackson last year, though, there is at least a non-zero chance he does one of those “loyalty to my guys” lines in the sand thing when ADCSL does the obvious end of year “get rid of the coordinators” demand. This is, honestly, the only way Clark gets canned. Like 1% likely.

Question from Jeturn:

Hypothetically who are some potential OC candidates just in case there might possibly be an opening for one at Vandy….hypothetically speaking

Answers from AoG:

Tom Stephenson: I don’t know which direction Clark Lea will go, but I’d probably look at any successful G5 offensive coordinator and go from there — Brennan Marion at UNLV and Mack Leftwich at Texas State are a couple of guys I’d probably strongly consider. You’re probably not getting Sean Lewis, but maybe consider his former OC at Kent State, Andrew Sowder (now the tight ends coach at Minnesota)?

PatrickSawyer: In lieu of actual research, just find me the next version of Todd Fitch. G5 OC who runs a very open passing attack.

Andrew VU ‘04: I’ll let the other two handle this one, as I mostly just want to bring back Andy Ludwig and/or try to pry some young upstart position coach from The Miami Dolphins or San Francisco 49ers.

Oh, and just to throw a molotov cocktail into the comments and run away... Bob Stitt is technically still available, as his last coaching gig was as OC/QB Coach for Texas State in 2019.

Oh, and to throw a second molotov cocktail... Texas State’s current Head Coach G.J. Kinne would make a much better head coach than NoHo Clark... you know... just in case any prominent female Athletic Director might be reading this.

We’re in the Molotov Cocktail Lounge, people:

Question from Aspen VU:

Is this the least competitive VU football has ever been versus SEC teams?

Answers from AoG:

Tom Stephenson: No. Not even close. Did you know that we once lost 33 SEC games in a row? That was the last three years of Pancoast and two and a half years of MacIntyre. Oh yeah, and there was Watson Brown, Dowhower, Woodyball (things were hideous after a bunch of defensive talent graduated following the 1999 season), the first couple of years of Bobby Johnson, Derek Mason’s first year... I mean, we’ve been here before. We’ve been worse than this.

PatrickSawyer: Not even close. It might be the most disappointing in my lifetime though. And not in a "oh, these guys are not as good as advertised" like in 2014. The players have flashed enough talent to reach their goals. They're being held back though.

Andrew VU ‘04: Hahahahahahaha [breathes]. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA [Breathes]. No. Just no. Hahahahahahaha.

Question from VU1970:

Would we beat the two teams we beat if we played them again? Was Will S. sending signals that he’d like to be off the special teams unit, please?

Answers from AoG:

Tom Stephenson: Yeah, probably. Hawaii’s arguably worse now than they were when we saw them. (Yes, they just beat Nevada. Nevada is terrible.) Meanwhile, Alabama A&M is a 4-5 FCS team that we beat easily.

PatrickSawyer: Pretty confident they would still win. Probably by more. The Walter Taylor offense would probably be tougher for eith

Andrew VU ‘04: I mean, as long as we’re not doing the yo-yo-ing of QBs between Seals and Taylor, yes. So... I’m not 100% confident the answer is yes with Hawaii. Sweet Jebus, that’s sad.

Question from SadFootballFan19:

If Lea forced Lynch to never call a run up the middle on first down, would our offense be decent?

Answers from AoG:

Tom Stephenson: No, because we look at 3rd and 20 at the other team’s 45 and say “yeah, we’re just gonna punt here.”

PatrickSawyer: Maybe? But now I am just trying to figure what braindead thing he would do to replace them.

Andrew VU ‘04: He’d just call them on 2nd then.

Question from WestEndMayhem:

Is there any silver lining?

Answers from AoG:

Tom Stephenson: God, that’s the worst part of this season. Yeah, there are some young guys who are showing some potential and that’s something nice, but like... we don’t even know who’s going to play quarterback next year. At least give us something to point to and say “this is going in the right direction.”

PatrickSawyer: The silver lining is definitely improved talent. The incoming tarnish is the transfer portal.

Andrew VU ‘04: This, too, shall pass?

Question from Parlagi:

We’re not getting to 82 eligible bowl teams this year, probably closer to 76. Which do you prefer?

James Madison and Jacksonville St. exemptions (moving up from I-AA, but with enough wins)

Two more 5-win teams in D-level bowls

“Hurr durr, there are too many bowls” is the wrong answer.

Also: Last week, ESPN announced this year’s Bahamas Bowl is being played in Charlotte, with a new name TBA. Please suggest the 2023 name for this game.

I know these are stupid, but at least they’re not about 2023 Vanderbilt football.

Answers from AoG:

Tom Stephenson: Give me the 5-win teams, because much like how people started screaming once the NCAA started denying waivers for two-time transfers (as, you know, they said they would), it’s stupid that people want the rules to arbitrarily change if enough people say the NCAA is wrong. James Madison could have kept winning national championships in FCS, but they decided they’d rather play in the Sun Belt knowing they’d have to sit out bowl games for a couple of years.

As for the Bahamas Bowl, just call it the Bahamas Bowl. Fuck it, if they could play the Rose Bowl in Arlington, Texas, then they can play the Bahamas Bowl in Charlotte.

PatrickSawyer: JMU and JSU should get a waiver with the extra announcement the idiotic rule is being removed.

Call the bowls whatever you want. Preferably something without a corporate name.

Bowl talk is definitely not about Vanderbilt football.

Andrew VU ‘04: Oh I’m all-in on getting rid of that damned “when you move up, you can’t play in a bowl game or the playoffs right away” dumb-ass rule. If you’re in, you should be all the way in, and immediately. JMU and Jax St. should be bowl teams this year. Without question.