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.