With a number of afternoon and evening activities scheduled for the bowl game, Vanderbilt held its earliest practice of the week Saturday as the Commodores hit the practice field before noon.
For the second day in a row, the team practiced inside Vanderbilt Stadium in what was another chilly day in Nashville, as a wintry mix fell from the sky and temperatures hovered around freezing. Saturday also marked the team's final full practice of the 2012 season. The team will hold a walkthrough on Sunday leading up to Monday's Music City Bowl.
To have a little fun in the team's final practice, Vanderbilt's players decided to swap jerseys with teammates. Many of the jersey swapping took place with offensive players switching with defensive teammates and vice versa. For example, defensive tackle Rob Lohr somehow managed to squeeze, and I mean squeeze, into quarterback Jordan Rodgers' jersey.
At the end of practice, the players honored the team's seniors by carrying them off the field. The players recognized last year's seniors the same way in Memphis.
In addition to the seniors who were carried off the field, the lone staff member to get a lift was Joey Orck, who has completed his time as Vanderbilt's offensive graduate assistant. (Watch Video)
Once practice concluded, players returned to Gaylord Opryland Resort and Head Coach James Franklin attended the head coaches bowl press conference at LP Field. More to come on the highlights from the press conference later in this post.
The fan event of the day was the James Franklin Bowl Call-In Show held at Vanderbilt Student Life Center from 5-6 p.m. A large crowd of approximately 500 people attended the show, which aired on 1510 AM. When people entered the room, they were met by members of Vanderbilt's cheer and dance squads. Popcorn and refreshments were available, as were a variety of posters and gold shakers.
Franklin entered to room just as the show was beginning and was greeted by a standing ovation as he shook hands and slapped five with fans while making his way to join Joe Fisher, Voice of the Commodores, on the stage.
During commercial breaks, Franklin tossed t-shirts to fans, signed autographs and mingled with the crowd.
Early into the broadcast, Franklin made a point to surprise Athletic Director David Williams with a special gift. Standing up, Franklin held a personalized game ball from the Tennessee game in November. He proceeded to read what was inscribed on the football and then presented Williams with the gift. (Watch Game Ball Presentation)
A funny moment from the show occurred when Franklin took a question from a caller and praised "Vandy Pam" as the team's No. 1 fan. "Sorry (Vandy) Lance," Franklin said.
Once the call had ended, Fisher, without hesitation, pointed at his computer and said: "Up next, we go to 'Vandy Lance' on the line." Fisher was not joking and the room filled with laughter.
Lance was a good sport about Franklin's comments and moved directly into his question. After Franklin answered the question, he had a question for Lance. "I know we had a disagreement at a baseball game when I first got here, but I've got to ask, what kind of school are we?" Franklin asked. "A football school," proclaimed Lance as Franklin grinned with the crowd roaring in the background.
The show ended with Franklin thanking everyone for attending and encouraging them to purchase tickets for the Music City Bowl if they had not done so already. Fans in attendance exited the Student Life Center and walked across 25th Avenue to Memorial Gym where the Commodores were getting set to host Butler.
Uniform Combination Unveiled
Because of the vast number of uniform combinations Vanderbilt has worn this season, speculation has been running rampant as to what combination the Commodores would wear in Monday's bowl game. Well, the question was put to a rest Saturday night at Franklin's Call-In Show.
Franklin announced over the air and to the nearly 500 fans in attendance that Vanderbilt would be wearing black helmets with gold jerseys and black pants. It is the same combination Vanderbilt wore against Florida and Tennessee.
Head Coaches Press Press Conference
Vanderbilt's James Franklin and NC State's Dana Bible met with the media at LP Field - site of the 2012 Music City Bowl - Saturday afternoon.
Franklin tackled a number of topics, including the age-old battle of preparing a team after going a month between games.
"It's really not as long of a break for us as I think people would think it is. The season ends, you are right around the time of exams so it is a really good time to take a break. Then you are able to get them rested, take some time, get them in the weight room and then start to spread out your practices. It's not as long of a time as you could imagine.
"It's been really, really good for us. I think we spaced it out and planned it extremely well where we were able to get out on the road and recruit and do what we need to do. Later on, we had coordinator practices with me and the coordinators there and the rest of the coaches on the road recruiting. It's worked out really well for us.
"It has made me think about the coaches that are playing in the national championship game and how they handle that. So it's made me sit here and think how I would handle that and having a plan for that in the future because that is to me what seems like an amazing amount of time."
A hot topic of conversation this week has been regarding the impact inclement weather could have on the playing surface at LP Field come Monday. The last few days in Nashville has been a mix of rain, sleet and snow flurries, and with the Titans hosting the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday, there is a fear that the playing surface could be a bit torn up from wet conditions.
Franklin agreed Saturday that it is a conversation he has had.
"I do know the people at LP Field will do a great job getting the field ready," Franklin said. "But I've been in these situations before. Me and Dana (Bible) were talking about our time in a different league and a lot of fields just being dirt by midseason and they just paint the dirt green. I do think the field will be in pretty good shape. We will be prepared and we will be ready for it. That is a little bit of a concern and is something we've discussed. I know our equipment people have called over here and talked to (the Titans) equipment people to make sure we have the right kind of plan going into it, but that's an issue this time of year." (Watch)
Franklin Surprises Military Veteran and Family With Bowl Tickets
As Vanderbilt's players trotted off the practice field on Friday, Head Coach James Franklin had them huddle up in the tunnel near the locker rooms in Vanderbilt Stadium.
Once there, Franklin introduced his players and staff to former Marine Cpl. Zach Bell, his wife, Christy, and their two daughters. Franklin then proceeded to surprise the family with tickets to Monday's Music City Bowl.
Bell now works at Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt.
"Not only are we here to win games and graduate our players ultimately, but also about making an impact in the community as well," Franklin said. (Watch Video)