Deep down most of us long to be a part of something bigger than ourselves. We seek community, we relish fresh starts and we anticipate better tomorrows.
This explains why so many of us welcome the dawn of each new sports year and why we ignored 97 degree game time temperatures to be in Vandyville. Yes, we like our football but it’s deeper than that.
Stepping onto a college campus is a time honored tradition. For some, it means a return to a place and point in life where cramming for the next exam or finding a date for Saturday night mattered most. For others, it’s a wholesome family activity and then there are those who are crazy about football.
We have our differences but we hold in common the belief that cheering for the Vanderbilt Commodores is a worthy enterprise.
Certainly anyone that attended Friday night’s Hall of Fame Induction Dinner would need no further explanation. One of the most eagerly anticipated events of the sports year lived up to its billing once again. Another full house at the Student Life Center heard nine acceptance speeches from a Noah’s Ark array of inductees.
There was a current professional basketball star, a former pro basketball star, a United States Senator, a video message from Greece, a powerful United States Senator that once ran track for the Commodores and a Rhodes Scholar distance runner who is now a university physics professor among the Class of 2011.
Why is this so special?
Rooting for a program without awareness of its character is a bit like eating at a Five Star restaurant with a head cold. You suspect it must be good but you honestly can’t tell. Hearing the Hall of Famers share their feelings is fascinating but tricky to pass along.
We could write that the baseball great Scotti Madison, who led Vanderbilt to an SEC championship three decades ago, gave a passionate acceptance speech. We could even provide the transcript but unless you were in attendance, it is impossible to describe the electricity in the room when Scotti choked up during his conclusion.
We saw that Will Perdue’s feelings toward his alma mater run much deeper than his memories of basketball games. And judging from his huge entourage that included former coaches C.M. Newton and John Bostick, Barry Goheen, Barry Booker and Steve Reese along with former team managers and an assortment of other friends, the feeling is mutual.
This Hall of Fame Weekend rekindles memories of glory days but also signals the start of the James Franklin era in Commodore football.
It was a day of new beginnings: the Dore Alley Walk, the pre-game Anchor Presentation complete with bagpipes, the Coca-Cola Picnic Area, the Vandyville Too Kids Zone, the expanded tailgate opportunities, the new stadium sound system…the winds of change are blowing on West End.