Vanderbilt Football: Is another bowl game on the horizon?
After making a bowl game in 2016, can Vanderbilt football reach another postseason contest in 2017?
For several months now, there’s a word floating around Nashville that isn’t normally used when speaking of their football program. That word is “expectations”. Former head coach James Franklin elevated the Vanderbilt Commodores as best he could. In life, however, there are stepping stone jobs and there are destination jobs.
Coaching at Penn State, in the eyes of many, is the latter. When Franklin was given the opportunity to move on, he took that opportunity, and it appears things have worked out for him as a result.
That left the head coaching door wide open at Vandy, and the Commodores settled on Derek Mason. His first two years produced a 7-17 record. Year three would see the Commodores increase their win total in the SEC from two games in 2015 to three in 2016. Picking up two late-season conference victories to close the season out assured Vandy would reach a bowl game. They’d lose to N.C. State, but even in that, the entire 2016 season has to be seen as a success.
Can they repeat bowl success in 2017?
The 2017 schedule
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With a non-conference game against the Kansas State Wildcats on the schedule and with an improving SEC East, things won’t be any easier for the Commodores in 2017.
Five straight games against SEC opponents that stretch from the end of September to the end of October may tell the tale. In that stretch, there are home games against the Georgia Bulldogs and the Alabama Crimson Tide. There are road games against the Florida Gators and the Ole Miss Rebels. The season concludes on the road in their annual meeting with the Tennessee Volunteers.
No one’s going to be jealous of their schedule.
Vanderbilt will probably never have a top-ten recruiting class. The Commodores may never be given a high preseason ranking. What they are is a football program that represents one of the great institutions for higher learning in this country. If they win six games, their supporters will be ecstatic. If they don’t, no one will lose any sleep.
Truthfully, none of us should be surprised either way.