Now that the dust has settled on the 2011-12 season, we can take a step back and reflect on the year that was in Vanderbilt athletics. And what a year it was.
Vanderbilt has a long tradition of success, but there have been few years in school history, and by some criteria not a single year at all, that can compare to what Vanderbilt accomplished on the playing field during this past academic year.
Vanderbilt had a number of teams advance to NCAA postseason competition this past year, and for the first time in school history the list included the baseball team and men's and women's basketball team in the NCAA Tournament and the football team in a bowl game.
The feat of having all four programs reach posteason play puts Vanderbilt into a category with very few other schools. In fact, there are just five other schools that can claim the same accomplishment as Vanderbilt, and the only other school from the SEC is Florida. The entire list includes:
The success of Vanderbilt's programs during this past academic year is a continuation of one of the winningest periods in the school's athletic history. Additionally, Vanderbilt's women's bowling team, women's cross country team and women's golf team each placed in the top 11 nationally this past year.
In December, VUCommodores.com featured an article highlighting Vanderbilt's success in the 2011 calendar year. At that time, Vanderbilt was one of eight schools to have its baseball team and men's and women's basketball teams in the NCAA Tournament and its football team in a bowl game during the calendar year. Well, that success has continued through the first half of 2012 with baseball and men's and women's basketball each playing in the NCAA Tournament.
Vanderbilt would still need to qualify for a bowl game in the fall to repeat its accomplishment from 2011, but of the eight schools from a year ago, Vanderbilt is the only one remaining that has an opportunity to repeat in 2012.
The overall success also has Vanderbilt eyeing a top-50 finish in the Director's Cup, which annually measures the success of every Division I institution in an academic year. The final standings will not be announced until the end of this month, but Vanderbilt is destined for one of its best finishes since the Director's Cup was established before the 1993-94 academic year. As of May 31, Vanderbilt was ranked 44th in the standings with baseball, men's golf, softball and track and field still to be added to the final standings. Vanderbilt will receive an additional 50 points in baseball for reaching the championship game of the Raleigh Regional.
Vanderbilt has improved its final finish in the Director's Cup the last three years and it appears that this year could very well be another improvement after finishing 56th last year. The best finish in the Director's Cup came in 2004 when the Commodores finished 28th.