Commodore Notebook - An Encouraging Beginning

Sept. 2, 2007


An Encouraging Beginning

The Richmond season opener brought lots of things for Commodore fans to feel good about on and off the field.

Vandyville is now three years old and considerably bigger. For many it is the area to see and been seen, a fun place for a stroll and find like-minded football fans. Rumor is there might be some Crimson colored folks stopping by next Saturday; let's get there early and wear gold.

Did you notice those two nifty new boards on the south and north side of Vanderbilt Stadium? They are mostly due to the good work of our outstanding marketing partner, International Sports Properties (ISP).

There was a time not so long ago when a visiting team bringing a few hundred fans meant either a mostly empty stadium or a massive internal promotion. 32,215 locals were significant as our football program continues to gain momentum. It further shows our marketing efforts are on-target.

Corbin a Popular Choice

Baseball's Tim Corbin was presented as our 2006-07 "Coach of the Year" and judging from the tremendous ovation, he was the people's choice for this competitive internal honor. He was also the choice of the athletics administrative team, which cast the ballots.

In a year that saw 10 Commodore teams earn post-season play, Corbin had his `Dores rated No. 1 for 15 weeks, won the regular and post-season SEC titles and developed David Price into the national player of the year and No. 1 draft pick. He is one of the most popular coaches ever to wear Black and Gold.

As strong as Corbin's season was, a good case could have been made for several other coaches. Certainly it would have been tough to argue against Kevin Stallings, whose over-achieving squad was within a controversial two seconds of reaching the Elite Eight. Or Melanie Balcomb and her women's basketball team that won the SEC Tournament and 28 games.

And then there was John Williamson. His bowlers happened to win the first and only team NCAA championship in school history while going 74-14, earning him national coach of the year honors. Judging from some overheard sarcasm, there are still those that apparently think only a revenue sport coach can or should be our top coach. That's just nuts.

Fans are entitled to their opinions but I don't get this sarcasm from a few. These Olympic sport teams are successfully representing Vanderbilt, too. A sport's relative popularity is not and should not be a factor in this selection.

Last fall after Williamson was announced as winner of this award (with key recruits sitting in the crowd), he found himself explaining to the parents of one top recruit why some fans near them seemed to mock the announcement. Talk about counter-productive!

We have many top Olympic coaches; former winners include Geoff Macdonald of women's tennis (twice), Cathy Swezey from lacrosse and former men's tennis boss Ken Flach.

If you desire to see Vanderbilt athletics advance on ALL fronts, get with the times. At least take the advice of Abraham Lincoln, who said "it is better to remain silent and thought a fool than open your mouth and remove all doubt."

Protecting the No. 1 Turf

After last football season's conclusion, pundits near and far crowned the Southeastern Conference as the nation's finest. But in a universe of "what have you done lately?" each new game seems to demand additional proof of that claim.

SEC Associate Commissioner Charles Bloom attended the Richmond game and the league veteran was glued to his Blackberry, following conference team scores around the country.

He sighed relief as Auburn pulled out the victory over Kansas State, nodded when Georgia blasted the Big 12's Oklahoma State and winced at Cal-Tennessee updates.

Inside the conference office, the dream is to win every non-conference game every year - nearly impossible but most helpful when sitting down for long-term contract negotiations with the major television networks. Clearly LSU's crushing of Notre Dame and Florida's romp over Ohio State in January's bowls were cash cows for this Lexus league.



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