Last week the Tennessean's Jeff Lockridge wrote an article stating that Larry Smith starting at quarterback was the "most likely scenario" for the Commodores, which led Vandy fans to comment on the Tennessean site and on fan boards that we're going to win only one game. Oh, and Bobby Johnson should be fired.
Does anybody remember that we are and will always be underdogs? Sure, we could have gained some momentum with another winning season last year but by the second game of the season we'd lost this:
• A starting wide receiver
• A projected all-conference caliber wide receiver
• Our top offensive lineman
• A starting defensive end
• A starting safety
• Our starting tailback
Oklahoma, a preseason top three team, lost two starters in the season opener and lost a total of five games in the regular season, five more than its fans expected. Vandy lost six starters and about five more games than its fans expected.
Remember what Bobby Johnson says about Vandy having a zero percent margin for error? Well, it's true, and it will always be true, regardless of who's the coach. Oklahoma — and at least half of the SEC — has linemen and receivers and quarterbacks on its third team that we'd love to have in our starting lineup. Our fourth receiver last year, Collin Ashley, has transferred to Arkansas... as a walk-on. Have fun on the scout team, Collin.
Still, Vandy fans maintain that Johnson should be getting better players and doing a better job of developing them. This is evidenced by these popular myths:
MYTH NO. 1: Larry Smith was horrible last season and should never see the field again.
TRUTH: It's not Larry Smith's fault that nearly every SEC team that faced us last season had that week's conference defensive lineman of the week. I'm not kidding. Smith was on the run. His receivers couldn't catch. And he made bad decisions? You bet he did. Remember Jay Cutler's first season as a full-time starter? He threw for fewer yards/game and more interceptions than Smith. And Cutler didn't win more than two games a season until his senior year, when an overlooked, future NFL receiver named Earl Bennett arrived on campus and a lanky left tackle named Chris Williams miraculously developed into a first round draft pick. Larry Smith needs and will get another chance, though his supporting cast still isn't up to SEC standards. Meanwhile, all those Vandy fans continuing to delude themselves can't wait to boo Smith and Johnson.
MYTH NO. 2: Jared Funk is a better quarterback than Larry Smith.
TRUTH: Funk hasn't thrown a pass in nearly five years on the Vandy campus. In 2008, Johnson chose Smith over Funk when Nickson and Adams both went down against Wake Forest, and he chose Smith as his starter in the bowl game. In 2009, he chose Smith as his starter, Adams as his backup, and he moved Funk to the punt coverage team. Why are we still talking about Jared Funk? Remember the last Vandy quarterback to start his first game in the season opener of his senior season? It was Hi Lewis, and against Mississippi State he threw six passes, had two of them intercepted, one for a touchdown, and he never played again.
MYTH NO. 3: Jordan Rodgers should be the starter right now because he's Aaron's brother.
TRUTH: Rodgers looked promising in the spring, but not like a guy who can lead us to victory with bad wide receivers and a makeshift offensive line. Who could do that? Maybe his brother, Aaron, who's playing for the Green Bay Packers. Fans are acting like Jordan was recruited by every team in the nation. He wasn't, and unlike his brother Aaron, he couldn't get a scholarship offer from anybody in the pass-happy Pac-10.
MYTH NO. 4: Charlie Goro should be the starter right now because he was a Parade All-American.
TRUTH: Anybody who uses this argument doesn't understand anything about recruiting. Yes, Goro was a great high school player and an impressive leader and winner, and he was recognized by Parade for his prep achievements, but as a recruit he wasn't as highly regarded as Larry Smith or even Jared Funk, who both got three stars apiece from Scouts and Rivals. Maybe Goro will turn out to be a great SEC quarterback, but not because he was a Parade All-American.
Many Vandy fans are desperate, they want a savior, and Larry Smith couldn't save them last year so they want temporary relief by hearing that the new starter is:
• Aaron Rodger's little brother.
• A fifth-year senior who hasn't played yet because Bobby Johnson's an idiot.
• A redshirt freshman who was once named one of the top seven prep quarterbacks in America by a magazine specializing in celebrity interviews.
Larry Smith's got more experience and at least as much talent as any of the other guys, and he's going to get a chance to lead this team in 2010.
He's got the weight of the world on his shoulders and so-called Vandy fans, at least the ones who don't realize that football teams even have offensive lines, aren't going to make it any easier for him.
And keep practicing, Jordan and Jared and Charlie. When Larry gets either carried or booed off the field, we're going to need you.