The Vandy solution


Two of the biggest names in Southern journalism this week have made a statement I made back in 1998. Both Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel and Paul Finebaum of the Finebaum Network have written that it’s time for Vanderbilt to be kicked out of the SEC.

Back in ’98 as Florida was blowing out the Commodores, I sat on the 50-yard line at Dudley Field in Nashville and wrote a similar column. Not in the press box but in the stands. There was nobody within 15 yards of me.

But I also understand that when we write these kinds of columns it validates the opinions that people outside the South have, that we’re pulling up our jean shorts by our rope belts and saying, “We don’t need any of that book learnin’ in this conference.”

Vandy adds a lot to the league in several sports. You also have to realize that for athletic directors in this league, Vandy is a lot better than Arkansas. Nashville is not only a lot easier to get to, it’s a lot more fun when you get there.

However, Vanderbilt doesn’t feel like an SEC school, has rotten facilities and never seems to take football seriously.

I’m not pushing for their ouster. Instead, I’m asking the other 11 schools in the league to demand more of Vandy. They should tell the Commodores hierarchy that its next coach has to make a minimum of $2 million a year. Make Vanderbilt hire someone who players will want to play for. And force the Commodores to put some of that money that Alabama and Florida earn for them into their facility.

Vandy isn’t that much harder than Florida or Georgia to get into. That’s not the problem. The problem is nobody wants to go there. If Vandy is going to remain a viable member of this league, it has to spend some money to make it seem like an SEC team instead of the Kansas City Royals.

Otherwise, boot ’em.


  1. Dude, unless you are talking about student athletes you are wrong about the entrance requirements for Vandy vs. Florida. Vanderbilt is much more difficult to get into. Your statement is akin to saying that Yale is not much more difficult to get accepted to than Vanderbilt. BTW, I’m a gator grad, so I don’t have an axe to grind.

  2. My daughter was provisionally accepted to both Harvard and UF. The academic standards weren’t that far apart. The point is not that the SEC doesn’t have some –ahem–less rigorous academies of higher learning, but that if Florida and Georgia can compete athletically AND academically, then what exactly is Vandy’s excuse? By the way, I seriously doubt Yale has much higher academic standards than Vandy or UF. It’s real hard to get into because of the number of applicants.

  3. Dooley, you need to learn the lesson of the Totem Pole. One head is stacked upon another. Take out the bottom and it only makes a new bottom with a shorter pole. Do that enough and you no longer have a pole. Vandy is on that bottom in FB, by and large, but isn’t in other sports. Roundball sports they do pretty well with. Baseball and Basketball in the SEC can find them pretty competitive.

    Besides, you’re missing a GREAT Point. When they are generally known as the bottom of the SEC in football, isn’t it Incredibly fun and entertaining when they beat a Tennessee team? Wasn’t that fun? Bet you got some mileage out of that one, as all us Gators did. FWIW – moments like that can only be paid for over decades of suckitude. Do you really want to lose moments like that? 🙂

  4. As usual you hit the mark Pat. I wrote in the forums section under gatorwood, the day Coach Johnson resigned, that vandy is not relevant anymore in this conference. too many other universities would contribute much more financially instead of being on the dole like the commdedoores.
    U have my blessing in publishing these comments, BTW, my 2 daughters graduated from UF, one is now an MD as in medical doctor, so the boys in Nashville need to get their **** together.
    Thanks for letting me rant as usual.

  5. To those who disagree with you, Pat, I would ask, “Which 12th member of the SEC would you prefer, if you could get this alternative to Vandy: Vanderbilt or Georgia Tech?” I would take the Jackets over the Commodores, Tech’s academics as compared to VU’s, Atlanta over Nashville, Tech’s tradition over Vandy’s three bowl games since 1953. Wish it could be!

  6. Hey Gatormac…you realize that Georgia Tech USED to be a member of the old SEC…then bolted for the ACC! Check your history. As far as I am concerned they can stay gone…don’t want ’em, don’t need ’em, no use for ’em. As far as Vandy being a push over…no arguments here…BUT, they have given the Gators all we could handle on the gridiron on more than a few occasions!

  7. John,

    Congrats on having a very bright daughter, but you miss the point if you think that the only difference in Harvard and UF is the size of the applicant pool.

    Let me illustrate my point:
    # of Harvard or Yale accepted applicants that (if applied) were accepted into UF: 100%
    # of UF accepted applicants that (if applied) were accepted into Harvard or Yale: < 100%

    Harvard, Yale, and Vandy can be more selective than UF not only because of the size of their applicant pool vs. their entering Freshman class size, but because the quality of the pool of applicants they receive (obviously like your daughter).

  8. Snicker, snicker…

    You used the word “Finebaum” and “journalism” in the same paragraph.

    Just so you can tell the difference in the future:

    Paul Finebaun = Maury Povich
    Journalist = Shirley Povich

  9. I’m not sure it makes sense to talk about academics in this context. The SEC is an athletic conference, not an academic one. We play football and basketball. Last I checked, the SEC doesn’t sanction a spelling bee or a math bowl.
    BTW “Bianchi” and “journalism” do not belong in the same sentence. He is basically like a pro wrestling bad guy who says whatever will get people to boo. He shouldn’t be taken seriously.

  10. The pressure to build a better Vandy football program should come from within the instition itself, not from outside forces and sources. We have watched the rise and fall of many football programs over the decades and Vanderbilt can choose to rise if that’s their agenda. But what will happen is you scribes will start complaining about the ‘Dores’ success because you guys are never happy.

  11. Vandy basketball gets far too much credit. They seldom fall to the bottom of the SEC, but seldom hit the top either. In fact, ’09-’10 may have been Vandy’s greatest sports year ever and no other SEC program has such a low standard. Neither Mississippi schol is strong at all and both far excede Vandy. Vandy participates the fewest sports of any SEC program.

    Vandy is a very good academic college, but they’re no better than UF. As a state school, UF has a much stronger commitment to admit minority students with promising talent of all sorts, not just athletes. Vandy, on the other hand, is able to focus on students with promise in another area- daddy’s bank account. UF answers to the legislature and trustees for the manner that it serves the state. Vandy answers to a bottom line. They do admit a lot of very smart rich kids, but when daddy has $$$ and influence, exceptions can be made at Vandy that would generate Gvl Sun headlines for UF. (Check the Sun archives for evidence.) Vandy also owns Peabody College- also a very good college- where they can hide athletes with minimum grades.

    Vandy is far below every other SEC athletic program in every area except one. They do a great job of cashing that big check the SEC sends them.