I've thought that for a long time. Seven seasons ago, I wrote the following:
The year 2000 was supposed to be Next Year for the endlessly-suffering Vanderbilt Commodores. After a long rebuilding process engineered by head coach Woody Widenhofer, Vandy was considered a better-than-even bet to have a winning season and finally make it back to a bowl game (as every Vanderbilt fan is sick of hearing, the Commodores haven't managed either of those feats since 1982).And they didn't. Nor did they do so in 2004, 2005, or 2006, and odds are, they won't in 2007, either. Continuing:
Just about everybody who looked at Vanderbilt before the season saw an experienced team, deep by Vanderbilt standards, that had come within an eyeblink of going 6-5 and earning a berth in the hometown Music City Bowl. Widenhofer was justifiably confident, and in August promised that his team would finally make it to the post-season this time around.
Flash forward one month. Vanderbilt is now 1-4, 0-3 in the SEC. On Saturday, they were utterly dominated by Auburn, losing 33-0. The Commodores didn't cross the fifty yard line in the first half, and never threatened to score. Still waiting on the schedule: Georgia (3-1), South Carolina (4-1), Florida (4-2) and Tennessee (2-2).
Vanderbilt will not have a winning season in 2000.
Vanderbilt will not go to a bowl game in 2000.
Vanderbilt probably will not have a winning season or go to a bowl in 2001, or 2002, or 2003.
I say this with no malice, no spite, and no hard feelings towards Vanderbilt University, its alumni, its fans, its players, or its coaches--but it's time somebody said it: Vanderbilt cannot compete with the rest of the Southeastern Conference in football, and it is time for VU to consider other options.Sadly, I see no reason to change any of that thinking today. Bobby Johnson is the best head coach Vanderbilt has had in decades. He's done an entirely admirable job of building Vandy up from a punch line to at least a respectable weak sister or better--and the Commodores still can't win six games.
Yes, Vanderbilt does play a lot of people very tough. Certainly, Vanderbilt pulls off one or two huge upsets almost every year, and I will be the least surprised person watching when they pull off one of those upsets sometime this very season.
But an occasional upset does not make a program, and eighteen [now twenty-four] consecutive losing seasons is as close to scientific proof of futility as you're liable to find.
The freshmen of this season's Vanderbilt team [and the entire squad in 2007] weren't even alive the last time their team finished above .500. Vanderbilt football should exist for some better purpose than to provide Alabama and Tennessee with an annual guaranteed win. It's not fair to those kids to continually put them in positions where they can't reasonably be expected to win, year after year.
God bless them for hanging in there, every week, every miserable year, but enough is finally enough.
It's time for Vanderbilt to take their pride and their traditions and their undying spirit to someplace where those kids can compete. The Commodores would be middle-of-the-pack in the Atlantic Coast Conference, or a top-three team in Conference USA, or one of the two best teams in the Mid-Atlantic Conference. No, those are not places where any self-respecting SEC fan wants to see their team--but aren't they better than last or next-to-last, one season after another?
Vandy is a lost cause. It's time enough for them to move on, and long past time for the rest of the conference to stop subsidizing a sister so weak she hasn't contributed a dime of football revenue in a quarter century. Yes, Vandy is strong in basketball and baseball and many other sports, and there's no reason why they shouldn't stay in the conference as a non-football member. But in football, Vanderbilt no longer has a place in the SEC.