Content provided by Vanderbilt Sports Line.
Apparently Joe Biddle doesn’t read his own sports section, as he writes a column in today’s Tennessean trashing Vanderbilt football and calling it a dead-end job. Biddle argues that Vanderbilt is “in the wrong league for football,” and comes back to the familiar sportswriter troupe that Vanderbilt’s real problem is not having an “athletics director’s experience and contacts” to get the job done. Not surprisingly, I couldn’t disagree with Biddle more. Despite the cosmetic “title,” Vanderbilt has an athletic department, it just so happens that athletics at Vanderbilt is integrated in, not set apart from, the rest of the student population (imagine that).
Despite the Commodores’ 2 disappointing football seasons in a row (which proceeded their first bowl win since the Eisenhower administration), it is impossible to argue that Vanderbilt sports is not as strong or stronger now than they’ve ever been. David Williams hasn’t had to do a major national coaching search, because he’s been able to keep his quality coaches in Nashville. Essentially, Biddle is criticizing Williams for being an effective administrator. When you think about it, Biddle’s take actually makes sense given his treatment (or lack thereof) of Tennessee’s Athletic Director Mike Hamilton. Here’s a guy who, despite his “athletic director’s experience and contacts” went through 3 football coaches in 3 years while being publicly rejected by almost every candidate they targeted to fill that vacancy. Make no mistake about it Tennessee fans, Derek Dooley was not Tennessee’ first, second, or third choice. Yet somehow, because of his title, Hamilton gets a pass, and Williams gets scorned. Unlike last year’s Volunteer coaching search, Vanderbilt’s efforts are being done in a professional, quiet and methodical manner. There haven’t been any leaks, and no embarrassing public rejections. Maybe more schools should get rid of their athletic directors.
For some reason, I let Biddle get under my skin. I don’t really know why. I guess what I continue to take exception to, both from Biddle and the other Tennessean columnist David Climer, is the glee they seem to take in criticizing Vanderbilt. The lengths (uninformed at they might be) these columnists will go to slam the Commodores is astonishing (especially as compared to their treatment of the Volunteers, who are always on the ascendancy according to these scribes). Nashville is Vanderbilt’s home, yet the home-town paper’s columnists appear to relish when the team struggles. Do us all a favor Joe, head east to Knoxville, I’ll even throw in 5 bucks for gas.