Vanderbilt football could be hovering around .500 once again. Can the Commodores win in Kyle Shurmur‘s last season in Nashville?
The Commodores have a long tradition dating back to 1890. However, most of their success happened before the Vietnam War. Since 1960 the winning seasons have been few and far between while mediocrity has passed the Commodores through a litany of head coaches while riding the bottom tier of the Southeastern Conference.
One such miserable stretch of losing records lasted from 1983 through the 2007 season. In 2008, Bobby Johnson struck gold with a 7-6 season and Music City Bowl victory over Boston College. Johnson and longtime NFL quarterback Jay Cutler only won 11 games together. Cutler might lose his passing records this season if Kyle Shurmur stays healthy.
When James Franklin took over in 2011 Vandy was coming off of back-to-back two-win seasons and needed a fresh start. Franklin, who came to Nashville from his post as assistant head coach at Maryland, is a CEO type and recruiting ace that improved the roster while also dabbling in controversy on campus. Franklin won 24 games in only three seasons as the Vandy head football coach including back-to-back nine-win seasons on his way out of the door.
When Franklin tearfully took off for Penn State long-time Stanford assistant Derek Mason took over the program. Mason was no stranger to winning with an academics first approach up in Palo Alto but hasn’t shared the same success in Nashville. Mason’s academically inclined student-athletes have posted an 18-31 record.
Yet even though the Commodores finished the 2017 season the 80th ranked team per the S&P+ they managed to land the country’s 40th ranked recruiting class in 2018 per 247 Sports. That bodes well for improvement in Nashville under Coach Mason.