James Franklin advised his team to live in the moment in the days leading up to the Music City Bowl. He emphasized this at every opportunity. In team meetings. On the practice field. Everywhere. The message was consistent.
And as Vanderbilt held a 28-14 lead over NC State at halftime, one thing was evident: the remaining moments of a special season were coming to a close.
"We've got 30 minutes left as the 2012 football family," the head coach reminded the Commodores in the locker room at LP Field. "We'll never play together again. Let's go out and play for each other, let's go out and play for this program, and let's cherish every minute and take advantage of every minute we got. Thirty left, you understand me? Let's go finish."
The team started walking to the door until a loud voice echoed from the back of the room. It was Trey Wilson.
"We've got 30 minutes left," the senior defensive back shouted twice. "How do you want to be remembered? You want to be the team that gave it up? Let's walk out with a championship."
Hours later, Vanderbilt hoisted its bowl trophy to the delight of 50,000-plus Commodore fans. Confetti rained down on Nashville's team as chants of "V-U" vibrated from end zone to end zone.
The finality of this historic season was glorious, yet bittersweet. Nine wins for the first time in almost a century made it hard to say goodbye.