Monday, August 18, 2008


You can’t get moral victories without being a huge underdog.

Rocky Balboa was a huge underdog.

He didn’t even belong in the ring with Apollo Creed. But Rocky went 15 rounds with the champ. He didn’t win — at least not in the first “Rocky” — but he got himself a nice moral victory. And Adrian, too.

Yep, old Rock got to win a moral victory because everybody thought he was a bum.

Think about it. Florida isn’t allowed moral victories. Ever. Neither is Georgia, Auburn, LSU, Tennessee or Alabama. Their fans expect to win every game, even when their team isn’t favored to win. And if those teams don’t win, the fans talk about firing the coach — or at least the offensive coordinator. And revoking everybody’s scholarship and getting better players.

The Vanderbilt Commodores get to win moral victories because everybody thinks they’re bums. Don’t believe it? Consider this:

• You can buy Vanderbilt season tickets for less than $100. You can’t buy a season parking pass at the University of Georgia for less than $200.

• Since 2001, the Commodores have graciously put their neighbors, the Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders, on their schedule three times. And lost to them three times.

• The media guides at Alabama and Florida boast of national championships. This year’s Vanderbilt media guide boasts: "The competitive Commodores have captured 14 wins from 2005-2007, the most by Vanderbilt in a three-year period since 1992-1994."

• The Commodores have gone longer than any other BCS-conference team without getting a bowl bid. Last bowl: The 1982 Hall of Fame Bowl. Against Air Force. We lost.

• Tennessee fans want to fire Phil Fulmer because he only won 10 games last season. Vanderbilt’s Bobby Johnson has won 20 games… in six seasons.

• A past Vanderbilt team motto: “Have Fun and Expect to Win.”

• The player with the longest run in Vanderbilt history was ... drumroll, please ... a punter.

Best of all, we don’t even need to win to feel like we won.

Kind of like Rocky.

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