The Commodores used to open their seasons with Alabama.
And play hard. And courageously. And lose, of course, but be able to hold their heads high and feel good about their prospects for the season.
Remember Notre Dame in ’96? And Michigan in ’06? Same thing. Moral victories.
Last year, we played Richmond, a I-AA team. Won big. Felt a little bit too good about ourselves. And then something happened to Chris Nickson in the Alabama game and he wasn't the same for the rest of the season. And the Commodores weren't the same.
This opener is different. There will be no blowout. We're going on the road to face a team that played in the MAC championship game and sports a tough-nosed defense. Oh, and maybe you've heard that Vandy has a brand new offensive line.
A loss in this one wouldn't be a moral victory, that's for sure. The Commodores will either win and feel good about their season or lose and feel bad. Remember the Miami (O) season opener in Nashville in 2000? Jamie Winborn and Jimmy Williams were suspended, but were on the field taunting Mike Bath before the game. Bath had planned to play quarterback at Vanderbilt but didn't get a scholarship. So he had a big chip on his shoulder. Pudgy fellow. Didn't look much like a quarterback. Burned us for two touchdowns in three minutes and the RedHawks won 33-30.
That took the wind out of our sails. We'd done everything but send ourselves bowl invitations before the season, and we finished with three victories.
So this game is big.