Jan. 2, 2014
Practice Photos | Civil Rights Institute | Call-In Show | Day 2 Recap | Day 1
Seniors Carried off Field
Thursday proved to be another busy day for the Commodores in Birmingham. After morning meetings, Vanderbilt hit the field at Hoover High School for its second practice in Alabama leading up to Saturday's BBVA Compass Bowl (12 p.m., ESPN).
Thursday was Vanderbilt's final full-scale practice of the season. In sticking with tradition, the Commodores did their own senior salute at the end of practice when each senior was carried off the field by teammates, coaches and staff of their choice. The team will hold a walkthrough Friday.
One of the highlights came when wide receiver Trent Pruitt selected James Franklin to carry him off the field. Franklin obliged and ran as fast as he could with Pruitt hanging on to his back. Franklin blew past a series of players, who were having a difficult time carrying defensive tackle Jared Morse off the field.
"Everything I do, I do it full throttle," laughed Franklin at his call-in show Thursday evening. "My hamstrings are still burning from it though."
As with every bowl, there are always a number scheduled activities for the teams to participate in. On Wednesday, 20 members of the team visited patients at Children's of Alabama. Thursday after practice, Vanderbilt's entire team had an opportunity to learn more about the history of the city and state by visiting the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute.
The tour included historical documents, displays, videos and photos that educated the team on the segregation that once took place in the city. The Civil Rights Institute sits next to the 16th Street Baptist Church that was bombed on September 15, 1963, killing four girls.
Later Thursday night, James Franklin held his Commodore Call-In Show at Rogue Tavern downtown Birmingham. The venue was packed with approximately 200 Vanderbilt fans in attendance for the show hosted by Joe Fisher.
"It's great to see all the Commodore fans in Birmingham," said Franklin to the crowd.
While Franklin was on the air, his players and coaches were participating in the Bowling & BBQ Team Challenge with Houston at Vestavia Bowl.
Players had a chance to unwind with teammates for two hours at the lanes, but it wasn't all fun and games. Just like VU's previous bowl appearances, there was a friendly competition between squads before the big game (remember the rib-eating contests?). This year's activity didn't involve an eating challenge; it was strictly a clash of the titans in 10 frames of bowling action (although Dreamland BBQ catered the event, providing its famous ribs, pulled pork, and banana pudding).
Each team chose a six-man roster in advance and Vanderbilt's squad featured coaches George Barlow and Ricky Rahne, and players Jordan Matthews, Colby Cooke, Taurean Ferguson, and Barrett Gouger.
The Commodores posted a respectable overall score of 573. Houston showed no mercy, however, finishing with a team score of 791 to rout Vanderbilt by 218 pins and win the coveted bowling pin trophies as well as early bragging rights.
But even in defeat, there's always a silver lining: in the Commodores' last two bowl appearances, the loser of this activity went on to win the game.