My friend Vic and I are martyrs. If Vanderbilt University bestowed some type of special semi-saint status on followers of their football follies, we, along with a LOT of Vanderbilt bleeders would be enshrined.
I’ve been following the Vandy football team for more years than a lot of you have been strolling this mortal coil. I’ve been disappointed pretty much every one of those years. A person would think that after a few rug-pulled-out-from-under-you-Charlie-Browned seasons in the black-gold sun, a person would come to realize that no matter how good the team looks for a half or a game or a series of games, that exact same team will sneak up behind you and just bite you in your lower expectations.
Vic called me up yesterday and suggested we attend the Vandy-Duke game. Even though I continue to hope, my hope is not so pollyann-ish that I buy season tickets anymore. I didn’t have tickets for the game already, but I was pretty sure I could score some seats out on Natchez Trace before the game. No problem there.
We had high expectations. Many of you know that Vandy started out 5-0 this season, with some pretty good wins on the road and at home. Their defense had been stalwart, and their offense, although a bit erratic, had managed to outscore the other team for five straight games to open the season, which is kind of the point of playing. The previous two games had been losses, but they were on the road and they were SEC games, so I really didn’t think that the season had come to the usual stand-still after 4 or 5 wins.
HA. I wish I had a bitter key that could emblazon that HA over there to the left with a singe of bitter HA-NESS. It was a beautiful day for football yesterday, but it was also a deja vu for Vandy fans. There was the initial interception, the missed field goals, the key fumbles, the missed blocks, the missed tackles, the cornerback who managed to cover his assigned receiver but who had no clue to look up to see that the ball was literally passing within two feet over his head, and there was so much, so much more. Seasons in the setting sun passed before me, as I lay dying in my assigned seat.
Inept play calling, inept time management, blunders of seasons passed, blunders of seasons present. It was homecoming at Vandy yesterday, and sadly, I felt right at home. A team that had given me an early bouquet of expectations, a team that had actually been ranked and looked like a contender, was little more than my usual still-beloved Vandy pretender. If there is comfort and solace in the familiar, I should be as comfortable as a worn-in pair of house slippers.
Oh Vandy…why do I still love you…why do I still believe? At least basketball is coming and that manages to be fun pretty much all season long.