James Franklin swears this isn’t the Same Old Vanderbilt. I believe him, and I understand why it makes him angry to hear people say this, and why he wants to shelter his players from the idea that Vandy is forever cursed, and why he basically ordered the media not to write or report that this was the SOV.
(Word of advice to Coach Franklin: The best way to get the media to write something is to tell them not to write it.)
But Franklin hasn’t been around for all the pain and suffering. While he considers this a different team because he wasn’t affiliated with any of the other ones, it was impossible for a longtime Vandy fan to watch Zac Stacy’s fumble or Carey Spears' botched field goal attempt and not flash back to a thousand moments when a Commodore team snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.
Now Franklin has an incredible opportunity to prove that this isn’t the same old Vanderbilt.
He can beat Florida in the Swamp, something Vandy hasn’t done since 1949.
And he can win two SEC games in November, something Vandy hasn’t done since 1975.
Speaking of November, did you know:
• In the past 25 years, Vandy has won 31 percent of its games before November, but only 19 percent during November. It needs to win 50 percent this year to go bowling.
• In the past 25 years, Vandy has played 46 games in November against SEC teams not named Kentucky and has won only once, against Tennessee in 2005? This year in November, Vandy gets two shots, playing Florida and UT in addition to Kentucky.
• In the six times over the past 25 years that Vandy has entered November with four or more wins — including four straight years under Bobby Johnson – it has won only three times in 20 games, beating Tennessee in 2005 and Kentucky in 1994 and 2008.
• In the past 25 years, Vandy has won only seven times in 42 road games — once in Knoxville, once in Annapolis, once at West Point, and four time in Lexington — or 17 percent. (Thank God for Kentucky.) Three of Vandy’s four November games this year are on the road — against Florida in Gainesville, against Tennessee in Knoxville and against Wake Forest in Winston-Salem.
Since the advent of the 12-game season, Vandy has never won more than one game during November. I believe James Franklin will eventually convince everybody that this isn’t the same old Vanderbilt, but if he wants to do it this year, he’s got to win twice in November, win on the road, and beat somebody not named Kentucky.