I suppose some who may have read my earlier post about the Dores' chances against the Florida Alligators may have scoffed at my analysis (hopefully, they weren't so blind as to scoff at the statistics that I presented).
With that said, I am sure that many who heard me giving Vanderbilt a good chance to beat Florida probably thought I was being a homer (i.e., someone who always supports the home team).
I believe that the valiant Men in Black and Gold proved that I wasn't off my rocker with their brillant performance this past Saturday against a team that was, at the time, the fifth-ranked club in the nation.
WAY TO GO, DORES
I am so proud of our team. They played with determination, they played with heart, and they played with class -- certainly, despite the score on the massive jumbo-screens in Gainesville, those Vanderbilt Commodores came out ahead of those people living in that reptile-infested, malaria-trap known as the town of Gainesville.
Whoever Mr. Gaines was, he sure wasn't planning too well when he decided to start a town there. But I digress.
The Commodores played to a level that no one, certainly not the powers-that-be or the odds-makers in Las Vegas, thought they could play. Remember that Vanderbilt was a 19.5 point underdog to Urban Meyer's squad.
As I said in my earlier post, that just wasn't realistic. A more realistic line would have been 10 points, or maybe 14. But 19.5 was too much.
I am so proud of our team, our coaching staff, our students, and our administration -- the entire Vanderbilt family. My experience there, both the bad from Florida and the good from the Vandyfolks made me so happy that for the rest of my life, I can proudly say, "I wear the Ring."
HIGH TEMPERATURE, LOW CLASS
In a place where the temparture was ranging somewhere in low nineties, I joined my fiancee, Kat, for another classic SEC weekend. Coming to Gainesville was my seventh SEC stadium to visit as a Commodore fan (other SEC: Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi State, and Auburn; other non-SEC: Duke, Baylor, and Samford), and I was looking forward to the typical SEC experience.
What was I expecting, then? Nothing but Southern hospitality, good-natured ribbing about the upcoming game, and a collegiate atmosphere that is rivaled nowhere else in college sports: exactly what I have experienced at all six of the other SEC stadiums.
What did I actually experience? Choosing not to vary my plan from the other SEC towns that I have been to as a Vanderbilt fan, I wandered (with my fiancee) down the main strip of the town, through the tailgating areas, and into the stadium.
The entire time, I was being cussed and threatened. No one offered any good-natured ribbing; I felt as though I was going to have to (physically) defend my fiancee or myself the entire time.
Certainly, no one offered any food or hospitality; indeed, even adults -- 50 years old and older! -- joined in the loathsome, vulgar behavior.
Let people say what they will about Tennessee, but there ain't no lower class than Gainesville trash.
The Dores' hopes (and mine) of a bowl game (the first since 1982) are not dashed: with a win over Kentucky this week, Vanderbilt will move back to .500 on the season, and give itself a chance to decide its destiny in Knoxville.
But first, we have to beat Big Blue. And, as Vanderbilt has shown in the past, that is not going to be easy.
We are ripe for upset: we played a good team very well in an emotional atmosphere and situation. Our team was physically battling, and we are likely bruised and injured.
It will take all that we have to come away with a victory in Nashville this weekend.
But we must: it is senior week, and we must not let these heroic Commodores end their dreams of the Vanderbilt trifecta (the trifecta is: one, have a winning season; two, beat Tennessee; and three, go to a bowl game).
I do not care if we beat Kentucky by 1 point or by one hundred (certainly, it is more likely that we'll beat them by one if we beat them at all), but we must beat them.
And I believe that Vanderbilt can do it.