As I’ve been taking my paternity-imposed break away from blogging, I still was able to watch the Kentucky game yesterday, which Vanderbilt lost by a 38-35 score.
In some years past, I would have been feeling positive about the direction of the football program after the last couple of games. With a true freshman quarterback and a patchwork offensive line, Vanderbilt managed to put up 478 yards of total offense at Mississippi State, followed by 407 at Kentucky on Saturday. But that’s not the feeling in the Vanderbilt fan base right now and it won’t be as the team heads to a likely 0-10 season, with assistance from the SEC office in removing the nonconference schedule and forcing Vanderbilt to play ten in a row against SEC teams; but, had the nonconference schedule played out, Vanderbilt would be looking at 3-9 at best and possibly even 2-10 what with Louisiana Tech and Colorado State not being gimmes.
And the problem now is exactly the problem created when Vanderbilt made the decision to retain a coach coming off a 3-9 season in his sixth year, and who had a 27-47 career record with a best record of 6-7. This is the same coach who said, in so many words, that Vanderbilt fans just have to accept that the program will go in “waves and cycles” — when the team was 2-8. Somehow, he still has his job after that.
This is why the better offensive play of the last two weeks just doesn’t matter. Aside from the fact that the unit that is not the head coach’s area of expertise, and that features a true freshman quarterback and an offensive line hammered by opt-outs and the transfer of its best player, is somehow not the problem unit — just what the hell should we expect any more? Imagine, if you will, that the 2019-20 season had played out exactly the same way as it did, but with fourth-year coach Bryce Drew — not fired after going 0-18 in the SEC — instead of first-year coach Jerry Stackhouse. That is, effectively, what we are dealing with here.
And, meanwhile, the wave has extended into its second year, with Vanderbilt having lost now ten SEC games in a row. Is the cycle going to bring an Independence Bowl trip next year if we stick with it?