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Tuesday, November 22, 2011
An Open Letter to James Franklin and the Vanderbilt Nation,
Dear James,

May I call you Jim? 

I understand you're upset at the outcome of Saturday evening's game against the Tennessee Volunteers.  Having been in your shoes a couple of times in the past year and a half of Tennessee football, I completely understand the frustration, the disappointment, the gut churning and the "what if's?" of a moment like Saturday night.  The game was one of those that is a classic game to the side that won and one that the side that lost would rather forget ever happened (see also: Buffalo Bills' fans reaction to the Music City Miracle).

But here's the thing, Jim (and the rest of Vandy nation).  At the point your team turned the ball over, it was a matter of losing by three or six.   Does that really make all that big a difference to anyone besides the odds makers and those who wagered on the game (for recreational purposes only, of course?). 

Not so much.  The game was pretty much over and you guys had lost.  I hate to break that to you, but that's pretty much how it was going to go, Jim.

I understand your anger and frustration in the moment.  And I don't know whether or not you took the time to shake Derek Dooley's hand after the game or not.   I hear conflicting reports on the matter and, quite frankly, I'd like to believe that even in the wake of disheartening defeat, you'd be a big enough sport to at least do a drive-by hand-shake.

What I fail to comprehend is how you and the rest of Vandy nation seem to determined to take away any pleasure or happiness that I and other Vols fans rightfully feel in this win.   All day yesterday I heard sports callers in the Nashville market call in, saying how Tennessee fans and the team shouldn't enjoy the victory because we were having a terrible year and they don't understand why beating Vanderbilt is something to get that excited about.  I find this attitude extremely hypocritical since if you'd won the game, the Vanderbilt team would be dancing on the field (our field by the way) and telling everyone who would listen how great it was to beat the Vols for the second time in 26 years.   Double-standard, much?

And while I don't think the locker room comments getting posted to YouTube was the best thing in the world, I still don't see why you, Jim, take such offense to them.   First of all, those are things said in the heat of a moment by an emotional coach and a team that has had a pretty rough October.   It was senior night with emotions running high and they were coming off a huge win.  And there are times when things are said in a locker room and aren't supposed to get out.  I bet there have been some emotional moments in your team's locker room that you wouldn't want put out there on YouTube. 

You keep talking about wanting to change the culture at Vandy.  You complain that not enough fans show up to your games and those that do arrive early and leave late.  I understand part of this schtick you're pulling is an attempt to change that culture.  I won't get into the notion that part of this culture change involves playing dirty and trying to injure the other teams' players (the Vols coaching staff saw enough on film to ask the refs to watch for this Saturday night.  I'm all for your team having intensity and working hard, but let's do it the right way, Jim!).  You wanted your team to get up for this as a big rivalry game but yet when we treated it as such and the victory as such, you want to dismiss it. 

So, go ahead and file away all these alleged grievances for next year as motivation.  I hate to tell you this, Jim, but I really think this was Vandy's best chance to win a game against the Vols for the foreseeable future.  We're down but we're building.  We're young but we're gaining experience.  We've had injuries but our core should be back next year and hopefully even better than ever.  And this whole being motivated cuts both ways, Jim.  As a proud member of Volunteer nation, I plan to remember how you and some of your fan base have acted in the week leading up to this game and in the days following the game.  And I fully plan to savor this victory and to look forward to continuing to build our streak of dominance in football.

Sincerely,
Big Orange Michael

posted by Michael Hickerson at 11/22/2011 11:52:00 AM | |
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