Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Photos from Star Walk

Head coach Bobby Johnson and the Vanderbilt football team officially arrived at LP Field around 12:10 p.m. to a boisterous contingent of Commodore fans.

Check out my photos from Star Walk - CLICK HERE

Less than an hour until kickoff!

(By the way, the Commodores just took the field wearing all black.)

Notes on Boston College

Here are some tidbits from Boston College's game notes:

*Boston College owns the nation’s longest winning streak in bowl games with eight straight victories.

*Vanderbilt and Boston College have met twice, in 1962 and 1963, with BC taking both games.

*Head Coach Jeff Jagodzinski has an impressive 20-7 record in two season with the Eagles.

*BC scored a non-offensive touchdown (defense of special teams) in seven-straight games, which is the longest streak in the country this season. The Eagles accomplished this feat a total of eight times on the year, tied for the most in the nation.

*BC is among the least penalized teams in the country. BC’s 4.38 penalties per game ranks ninth in the nation and its 36.92 yards penalized per game is 10th.

*Boston College ranks sixth in the country in total defense (273.38) and red zone defense (.71) and seventh in rushing defense (92.2) and pass efficiency defense (98.71).

*Boston College has recorded an FBS-best three shutouts this year (tied with USC).

*BC also leads the nation with 36 turnovers gained.

*The Eagles have recorded 26 interceptions on the season, which leads the nation. It's also the third highest total in ACC history. Senior SS Paul Anderson and junior LB Mark Herzlich lead BC with six picks apiece.

*Herzlich was a finalist for the 2008 Butkus Award, given annually to the nation’s top linebacker. The Wayne, PA native leads the team with 105 tackles, 79 solo stops, seven pass break-ups, six interceptions, and a pair of forced fumbles.

*Seniors Ron Brace and B.J. Raji combine to form one of the top defensive tackle duos in the country. Brace has racked up 25 tackles on the year and has nine TFLs and three sacks. Raji has 37 tackles on the season and leads the team with 13 tackles for a loss for 69 yards and seven sacks. He also has four pass break-ups and three QB hurries.

*Redshirt freshman QB Dominique Davis is coming off of his first loss (to Virginia Tech in the ACC Championship) and will lead the BC offense in his third-career start. Davis replaced senior QB Chris Crane after Crane fractured his right collarbone at Wake Forest on November 22. Davis went 17-for-43 for 263 yards with two interceptions and a touchdown against Virginia Tech.

*The Eagles starting offensive line averages out at 6-5, 307 pounds.

*BC features two true freshmen at tailback. Montel Harris has recorded five 100-yard games and broke the freshman rushing record at Boston College vs. Maryland. Harris and Josh Haden are the second-most prolific true freshman running back pair in the country with an average of 105.9 yards per game.

* Senior WR Brandon Robinson leads the team with 606 receiving yards, a 46.6 per game average, and a 15.5 per catch average. He ranks fourth all-time in program history with 138 receptions.

Langford excited about final game

Twenty-one Commodores will suit up for the final time in today’s Music City Bowl matchup with Boston College (2:30 p.m. CT).

One of them will be fifth-year safety and co-captain Reshard Langford.

The Tanner, Ala., native has been a staple in the Commodores' lineup throughout his career, starting every game since he redshirted in 2004. Langford leads all active Vanderbilt position players with 47 consecutive starts and 237 career tackles. He was also named to the SEC Community Service team this year for his work as a mentor for inner city youth at the Martha O’Bryan Center.

Emotions were high for Langford after his final walk-through practice yesterday, knowing Wednesday would be his last game wearing the black and gold.

“I have a lot of excitement built up,” admitted Langford, “and I'm trying to keep my nerves together right now.”

Through all of the ups and downs, Langford will be a part of a Vanderbilt team that earned its first postseason appearance in 26 years. What better way to end a career than with a bowl victory, an accomplishment only one other Vanderbilt team (1955) can claim.

“We're trying to come out with a win, of course, to start something, start a tradition and get something going and keep building on this program that we've been turning around for years.

“It's my last time with these guys who've I've spent so much time with and working five years straight, just grinding it out with some great quality guys. I'm just excited to really go out and play this game.”

Wednesday's Bowl Events

It's gameday! So, if you're in Nashville for the game, check out the list of events leading up to kickoff at 2:30 p.m. CT inside LP Field.

Limelight Tailgate at 201 Woodland St.
11 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Tailgate with fellow Commodore fans before the game. Live music, catered lunch by Monell's, cash bar. SOUL INCISION will be playing at the tailgate! Tickets are $16. More Info

Star Walk
Approximately 12 p.m.
Join friends, fans and the Vanderbilt band and cheerleaders at the northeast corner of LP Field to cheer the Commodores as they arrive for the game.

Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl
2:30 p.m.

Vanderbilt has sold out of its bowl ticket allotment. All will call tickets will be available at 12:30 p.m. CT Wednesday at LP Field's Gate #9. If you'd still like to reserve your seats, contact the Music City Bowl.

For more information on today's events, click here.

Wednesday's Bowl Articles

Get ready for the bowl game by reading Wednesday's news articles from around the web.

The Tennessean
VU hunts for historic finish
Coaches enjoy Music City bowl buildup
BC quarterback is a quick study
Bowl win would be a just reward
Music City Bowl at a glance

Nashville City Paper
BC’s defense scares ’Dores
Music City Bowl: What to watch for
VU almost overwhelmed with preparation

The Boston Globe
Eagles will be grounded

Macon Telegraph
Middle Georgia duo ready for bowl

The Daily News Tribune
Eagles gunning for bowl win

Another Battle of the Bands Picture

Here you go.. an overhead photo by Steve Green as Vanderbilt and Boston College square off on the corner of 2nd Avenue and Commerce. (see blog below for more on the event)

Band and Cheer take over downtown

(Picture courtesy of Steve Green)

Several thousand people converged on 2nd Avenue Tuesday night to see the annual Battle of the Bands between the spirit squads from Vanderbilt and Boston College.

And bowl fever filled the air from the get-go.

"Vanderbilt fans were rowdy,” said cheer coach Pam Pearson. “It was crazy from the moment we got off the bus.”

With spectators lined up on both sides of the street, each school began marching from opposite directions before meeting at the intersection of 2nd Avenue and Commerce for a pep showdown. Each band belted out six songs in a back-and-forth format with interactive cheers mixed in. Both teams were awarded a special guitar for their efforts (although no winner was announced).

And the night wasn't over just yet.

Vanderbilt then took its parade to an alumni gathering at B.B. King's Blues Club highlighted by the crowd rising from their seats to sing the Alma mater.

Follow that up with more impromptu stops at a few downtown establishments and it was a special evening for Commodore fans still soaking in the excitement of the football team’s first bowl appearance since 1982.

"The whole night was amazing,” Pearson said. “I've been here seven years and it was the best pep rally we've ever had. It was just outstanding."

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Photos: Tuesday's Practice at LP Field

Vanderbilt got its first look at LP Field earlier today with an hour and fifteen minute walk-through practice.

With less than 24 hours to kickoff, the Commodores spent the time going over final preparations for Wednesday's Music City Bowl clash with Boston College.

I was able to grab some pictures of the session... enjoy!

VIEW TUESDAY'S PHOTO GALLERY

Bowl Ticket Update

Vanderbilt has sold out of its bowl ticket allotment.

All will call tickets will be available at 12:30 p.m. CT at LP Field's Gate #9 on Wednesday. If you'd still like to reserve your seats, please contact the Music City Bowl.

Also, due to coverage of the men's basketball game versus St. Francis tomorrow (11 a.m. CT) and the Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl, the McGugin Center Ticket Office at Vanderbilt will be closed.

First Play?

I just returned from the Coaches Luncheon at the Wildhorse Saloon in downtown Nashville.

The fan-friendly event was the last function featuring players and coaches from both bowl teams before tomorrow's game.

The highlight of the luncheon came during the Q&A session with the crowd (which was hosted by ESPN's Mark Jones). One of Boston College's defensive lineman secretly submitted a question to find out what Johnson's first play call of the game would be.

Coach Johnson responded without hesitation (and to the delight of the crowd):

"Either a kickoff or kickoff return."

Stallings comments on bowl team

Men's Basketball head coach Kevin Stallings commented on the Vanderbilt football team during his interview with the 104.5 Wake Up Zone this morning.

Q: How excited are you for Bobby Johnson and the bowl game?

"Very, very excited for Bobby and his football team and his coaching staff, because you watch them work and how well they've done their jobs and how hard they've gone about it, and you just can't be anything but excited and happy for them. Obviously, I'm hoping that they have a great day on Wednesday afternoon and play a great football game."

Q: What do you admire about Bobby's coaching style?

"I think what I admire about Bobby the most is that obviously they've suffered some tough years and some tough seasons, and I think that his conviction to stick with his plan, his conviction to stay with what they do, and continue to believe in what they do and continue to believe in their plan is the thing that's impressed me the most. It's easy to doubt yourself when things don't go the way that you want them to go, and it's easy to say, 'Okay, well let's try this or let's try that or let's modify this or that,' and to me, they've had a plan. they've stuck with it, and because they've stuck with it they've had success with it. "

The Vanderbilt men's basketball team will return to the court Wednesday to host St. Francis (Pa.) at 11 a.m. CT inside Memorial Gym.

Tuesday's Bowl Articles

Get ready for the bowl game by reading Tuesday's news articles from around the web.

The Tennessean
Bowl leads Moore to a crossroad
Music City Bowl bands to battle
Bowl traffic likely to snarl downtown
B.C. looks to extend bowl streak
Good luck charm visits practice
Bowl preview: Vanderbilt Commodores

Nashville City Paper
Commodores have options at QB
Barden a good catch

Tuesday's Bowl Events

We're only one day away from the Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl.... So, if you're in Nashville for the game, check out the list of events in downtown Tuesday.

Activities include:

*11:30 a.m. - The Coaches Luncheon at the Wildhorse Saloon featuring players, coaches, administrators, and fans in town for Bowl Week (11:30 a.m. RSVP’s required)

*6 p.m. - The popular Battle of the Bands outdoor party featuring SEC & ACC pep bands and cheerleaders on 2nd Avenue (Free Admision)

*8 p.m. -The Commodore Bowl Bash at B.B. King's Blues Club on 152 2nd Avenue. Join Vice Chancellor David Williams and Student Athletics for live music, heavy hors d'oeuvres, and a cash bar. (Tickets $26 in advance)

For more information on these events, click here.

And if you haven't purchased your tickets to the game yet, then what are you waiting for? Go to Bowl Central to reserve your seats or call 615.322.GOLD.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Tidbits from Monday's Practice

Coach Johnson spoke with the local media following Monday afternoon's practice on campus. Here are a couple of tidbits as we get closer to the Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl on New Year's Eve.

Quarterback Situation

One of the main questions heading into Wednesday's game has been which quarterback will start for the Commodores against Boston College. Johnson didn't reveal his plans but did make the following comments:

"We have several options on what we can do and we'll try to do it by the situation that's at hand. We've got three capable guys, so anything can happen."

Familiar Face

Former Vanderbilt head coach Fred Pancoast (1975-78) was one of several visitors to the practice complex Monday. Johnson elaborated on how their relationship started.

"Coach Pancoast reached out when I got here. He'd write notes and come over here every once in awhile. Before the Tennessee game in 2005 he came over and had breakfast. He brought me a mug that had his picture on it as the last Vanderbilt coach to beat Tennessee in Knoxville (1975). We beat them the next day, so he's been back to visit several times. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. It worked some this year before the Auburn game. Just like all those superstitions, if it were that easy, we'd be undefeated because I'm pretty good at noticing those things."

Pancoast still lives in Nashville and serves as the founder of Pancoast Benefits.

More to Come?

Johnson was asked if this year's success would be a springboard into next season.

"It should because we've got a bunch of these guys coming back. I hope they like the taste of winning some games because I think they know what it takes now. We've got to keep working at it and we've got to get better than we are right now. We've got a chance to do that with the guys we have coming back."

Location, Location, Location

The Commodores will have their team walk-through at LP Field Tuesday morning. Like most road games, the coaching staff will spend some time during the visit assessing the lay of the land including the dressing rooms, the warm-up area, and the sidelines.

"I've been in the stadium several times and it's a great facility," Johnson said. "We're looking forward to playing there."

Vanderbilt has played one time previously at LP Field under Johnson. In 2002, the Commodores were shutout by Tennessee, 24-0, to close the season.

Hawkins shares his faith

I had the pleasure of attending the Fellowship of Christian Athletes Breakfast early Monday morning.

In front of a packed ballroom inside Gaylord Opryland Hotel, junior tailback Jared Hawkins shared how he found his faith in Christ just before coming to Vanderbilt.

"I decided to dedicate everything I was going to do from that point on to Christ whether it be football or school or just living daily. I wanted to make sure that everything was about Him. I am so thankful for everything He's blessed me with."

The event was hosted by WSMV's Rudy Kalis and also featured a testimonial from Boston College offensive guard Thomas Claiborne as well as a talk from former Tennessee Titans wide receiver Kevin Dyson.

I give Jared credit for having the courage to open up a personal chapter of his life in front of his peers. That's never an easy thing to do.

And the next time you see Jared score a touchdown, you won't see any showboating or gloating in the end zone. You'll see him thanking God for giving him the ability to live through Him.

Monday's Bowl Articles

Get ready for the bowl game by reading Monday's news articles from around the web.

The Tennessean
Ticket sales off pace
BC tackle begs VU to run ball
Hahnfeldt's Music City Bowl diary
Bowl preview: BC offense
Bowl preview: BC defense
Bowl preview: BC special teams

Nashville City Paper
'Dores get a chance to start early
VU shares similarities with past teams

The Boston Globe
Control experiment for BC

Boston Herald
Eagles seniors prep for final snaps

Interview with Bradley Vierling

I had a chance to catch up with junior center Bradley Vierling for a quick Q&A after Sunday's practice.

First, talk about the mood of the team right now as you prepare for the bowl game.

“Oh, we’re just excited. It’s a new experience for us. A lot of us haven’t been to the Opryland Hotel. It’s a big, nice place. There is a good feel to it because we’re not in class. Just strictly concentrating on football is fun for us.”

How refreshing was the time off during the holidays, especially with how much of a grind the SEC regular season schedule is?

“It’s always good to get away from football for a little bit. Obviously we were all watching other games. But the grind of the season really takes a toll on you. I know especially for guys like myself who don’t really ever come out. It’s good to get the rest and have your knees save up and regenerate everything. Your body kind of gets back to how it used to be.”

Does this almost feel like a new season?

“Yeah, it does have a different feel. We’ve never been here before. Obviously, practice is the same for us. But it’s December, and coming back and having breaks in between practices makes it different.

“We definitely still have a chip on our shoulder from losing that last game (at Wake Forest). We’re 0-2 against the ACC this year, so we’ve got to get 1-2. That’s our goal.”

Is this a statement game for Vanderbilt?

“Yeah, I’ve seen in a poll that over 90% of America has picked Boston College to win. We’re always the underdog anyway, so that’s nothing new for us. And that’s the position we like. Count us out every time. Go ahead.”

What will this win do for the program?

“This is huge. This is make or break. The bowl game will make us 7-6 or 6-7 which means a winning season versus a losing season. That means everything to this program from recruiting to the morale of the team. This is an enormous game and we know that. And I know the fans know that, too. I just want to make sure that we understand that, and we do.”

You also have the chance to do something only one other Vanderbilt team has done… win a bowl game.

“Just the fact that we’re at a bowl game is pretty special. But to win the game would be unbelievable. This team was counted out from the get go. We were picked to win maybe two games this year. We fought through a lot of adversity even with several guys injured. We had the four-game losing streak, and came back to get that sixth victory (at Kentucky). We’re going to fight through anything.

“We’re just excited to be here, and we are going to try to do everything we can to win the game.”

How much for one rib?

You might remember the title to this blog... It was a line by Chris Rock in a popular Wayans' film from the 80's (I'm Gonna Get You...).

Well, there were more than enough ribs to go around the main dining area of the General Jackson Showboat Sunday night for the Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl's official Welcome Party.

The event featured a couple of friendly competitions between Vanderbilt and Boston College (including a Rib Eating Contest) to get the juices flowing before kickoff on Wednesday.

Unfortunately for us, the Eagles opened the night by taking the sports trivia challenge and the 4-man Rib Eating Contest.

There was only one hope left to keep the enemy from sweeping the night. His name? Eric Hensley.

Watch what happens by clicking here.

And in honor of Hensley winning the individual strap (a wrestling term for "title belt"), here's a clip of the day courtesy of Johnny Drama. I think you know what's coming.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

What's on Tap for Sunday?

So, you might be thinking to yourself, "The Commodores finally arrived at Gaylord Opryland Hotel. What will they be doing today?"

Well, here's the answer.

The coaches were up at the crack of dawn this morning for staff meetings. The managers and trainers were also up early to get ready for player treatments in the training room. The team will have breakfast at 9 a.m. followed by chapel. Then it's off to McGugin for position meetings and practice.

The Commodores will return to the hotel later in the afternoon for a little down time before departing in the evening for the main event of the night -- The Official Welcome Party Onboard the General Jackson Showboat. The 300-foot paddlewheel riverboat, which boasts four massive decks with a beautiful two-story Victorian Theater, will take student-athletes, coaches and staff from both Music City Bowl teams down the Cumberland River for a night full of activities. Festivities will include a Rib Eating Contest (word is offensive lineman Joey Bailey will represent the 'Dores), a sports trivia challenge, and a top flight musical act. This event is invitation only, but we'll be sure to post everything that happened late tonight/early tomorrow.

Sunday's Bowl Articles

Get ready for the bowl game by reading Sunday's news articles from around the web.

The Tennessean

Hawkins practices, but status remains in air -- By Maurice Patton
"Vanderbilt junior tailback Jared Hawkins went through Saturday's drills as he continues to recover from a foot injury suffered against Tennessee." Read More

Offense defined 1982 team -- By Maurice Patton
"Quarterback Whit Taylor figured Vanderbilt football finally had turned the corner when his team snapped a seven-year postseason drought to end up in the 1982 Hall of Fame bowl." Read More

B.C. finds motivation as guest -- By Mike Organ
"One of the first things Boston College quarterback Dominique Davis learned in his preparation for the Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl didn't come from the scouting report his coaches provided."
Read More

Nashville City Paper

Hawkins practices with VU -- By David Boclair
"Jared Hawkins needed a pit stop Saturday. Still, the junior running back went the distance in Vanderbilt’s latest workout in preparation for the Music City Bowl." Read More

The Boston Globe

For BC, future is now -- By Mark Blaudschun
"It is his team now. Or soon will be. But Dominique Davis doesn't see it that way - yet. Officially, the 2008 college football season will not be over for Boston College until Wednesday against Vanderbilt in the Music City Bowl, when the Eagles go after their ninth straight bowl victory." Read More

Becoming Brandon’s Assistant

(Pictured: The Assistant and Larry)

Being a part of Vanderbilt’s history definitely has its perks. Thanks to the Commodores going to the Music City Bowl, I got to be Brandon Barca’s “Assistant” during the team’s check-in to the Opryland Hotel last night. My fiancĂ© is usually as hardcore about his job as they come, but during a moment of weakness (or maybe niceness), Brandon handed me a camera and said, “Here—hold this. Follow me and don’t say a word.” I was suddenly thrust into the world of being the “web-guy’s” assistant. And I enjoyed every minute of it! I got to see Larry Leathers (Football Media Relations Director) in his interviewing splendor talk to Jamie Graham and Brian Reese. (See Brandon’s blog post below for the actual interviews.)

I was also charged with the task of finding out more about Gaylord’s Opryland Hotel. During my research, I discovered that it is actually the 17th largest hotel in the world. The hotel and convention center is housed within 600,000 square feet and contains over 2800 guest rooms. It’s most impressive feature is the nine acres of indoor gardens, including waterfalls and a river. It is a definite “must-see” in Nashville, and the perfect location for the Commodores’ stay.

As an avid vucommodores.com reader, it was interesting to see all the excitement that takes place behind the scenes. Thanks, Brandon and Larry, for letting me tag along. Please let me know when I can help in the future. But don’t worry—I won’t quit my day job yet.

Yours truly,
The Assistant

Just around the corner

The Commodores might not be leaving town for a bowl game, but for most of the team, staying at Gaylord Opryland Hotel will be a new experience.

"I took a quick survey in our team meeting to find out how many of our players had been to this hotel before," Brian Reese, Associate Director of Student Athletics, said, "and I think only 15 people raised their hand."

With less than four days until kickoff at the Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl, Vanderbilt got its first taste of bowl week as it checked-in to its postseason headquarters Saturday night at 8 p.m. CT.

Wide receiver/tailback Jamie Graham, a native of Nashville, vaguely remembers one childhood trip to Opryland. Other than that, the atmosphere already has a road-trip feel to it.

"I probably haven't been here since the amusement park was here and that was a long time ago," Graham recalled. "I feel like I'm out of town right now, just like going to Georgia. I live five minutes away and I've never really been here."

Reese, along with the coaching staff, stayed at the hotel Friday night to make sure everything would be ready for the team upon arrival. So far, so good.

"Check-in went great", added Reese. "The hotel has been fantastic at making sure all of our needs are taken care of. I've been here two days and it's been tremendous. Everything has been very smooth."

Graham, who will get to play in front of a large number of family members, is looking forward to the festivities scheduled for bowl week.

"We're just going to soak all this stuff in because you might not get to do it again."

To watch video interviews with Jamie and Brian, Click Here.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Official Bowl Game Notes

Read Vanderbilt's and Boston College's official football game notes for the Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl on December 31 at LP Field. CLICK HERE

Former 'Dores look to make NFL Playoffs

I hope everyone is having a great holiday season.

The final games of the NFL regular season are this weekend and the stakes are high for several Commodores trying to reach the playoffs. So, if you're sitting around the living room, pull out some leftovers and turn on the tube to watch these two crucial matchups.

Chicago (9-6) at Houston (7-8) - Sunday, Noon CT on Fox
Chicago: Linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer, Wide Receiver Earl Bennett, Offensive Tackle Chris Williams
The red-hot Chicago Bears are coming off their second-straight overtime win with a 20-17 victory over Green Bay last week. The Bears needed some help to get to this point, but can still clinch the NFC North with a win and Minnesota loss or tie, or a tie and Minnesota loss. The Bears clinch a wild-card spot with a win and Dallas loss or tie, and Tampa Bay loss or tie, or tie and Dallas loss and Tampa Bay loss.

Oakland (4-11) at Tampa Bay (9-6) - Sunday, Noon CT on CBS
Tampa Bay: Defensive Tackle Jovan Haye
Tampa Bay comes into the game with three straight losses and needs some assistance to earn their second consecutive postseason berth. The Buccaneers can clinch a wild-card spot with a win and Dallas loss or tie, or a tie and Dallas loss and Minnesota loss or tie, or a tie and Dallas loss and Chicago loss or tie, or a tie and Dallas tie and Minnesota tie and Chicago win or tie, or a tie and Dallas tie and Chicago tie and Minnesota win or tie.

Denver (8-7) at San Diego (7-8) - Sunday, 7:15 p.m. CT on NBC
Denver: Quarterback Jay Cutler, Linebacker Jamie Winborn
The Denver Broncos have a nationally-televised showdown with AFC West rival San Diego with a playoff bid on the line. You don't have to turn on ESPN to know there is no love lost between these two teams. The Broncos have dropped their last two games but can clinch the AFC West title with a win or tie against San Diego.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Holidays have a tragic tone

While you're spending the holiday season with friends and family... make sure you take a minute to read a great article on two-sport star Jamie Graham by Maurice Patton in today's Tennessean.

With the Vanderbilt football team virtually building an offense around him and the Commodore basketball team anxiously awaiting his arrival, it would seem that these are the best of times for Jamie Graham.

But even as the former Whites Creek star has played a key role in ending Vanderbilt's 26-year bowl drought, December is by far Graham's toughest month and Christmas his toughest
holiday season.

Click Here to read the rest of Patton's story.

(Also, Commodore Nation magazine had another piece on Jamie from last April that's always worth a second look.)

My Top 5 Christmas Videos

For all of you that celebrate Christmas, here's my top 5 list for best music videos EVER. No explanations needed.

5. Last Christmas (Wham!)



4. Jingle Bell Rock (Hall & Oates)



3. Christmas In Hollis (Run-D.M.C.)



2. Little Drummer Boy (David Bowie & Bing Crosby)



1. Wonderful Christmas Time (Paul McCartney)

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Happy Holidays from...

No, that's not the Vanderbilt basketball team at Memorial Gym...

It's our hard-working ticket office staff.
(pictured: Eric, Jessica, Mr. C, Debbie, Jon and Corey)

Every December, they invite me to take photos for their holiday greetings card. Last year, they dressed up as Vanderbilt baseball players at Hawkins Field, and the year before they put on some helmets and shoulder pads at the 50-yard line of Dudley Field.

What's next? Who really knows with "wild man" Eric Jones at the helm (click for picture). Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Bowl Call-In Show Saturday

There will be a Bowl Preview Call-in Show with head coach Bobby Johnson this Saturday, December 27 from 11 a.m. - noon CT. The special show, hosted by Joe Fisher, will be broadcast from 104.5 the Zone's main studio (and not the Commodore Grille). Fans can either listen locally on 104.5 or online at vucommodores.com.

104.5 the Zone - Live Telethon Blog

A blog of 104.5 the Zone's Tuesday radio telethon to sell tickets to the Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl on December 31 at LP Field.

6:00 p.m. CT: The phone lines will be open for a few more minutes. You can still order your tickets by calling 615.322.GOLD or visiting Bowl Central between now and next Wednesday. A big thanks to George Plaster and the 104.5 Sports Zone for doing the telethon today.

5: 59 p.m. CT: Vice Chancellor Williams closes the show with the following remarks: "We just want to thank everybody for their support. Come on out and root on our SEC Coach of the Year and show your appreciation by coming to the game."

5:58 p.m. CT: Johnson remarks: "The bowl game's special for the town, and special for Vanderbilt."

5:57 p.m. CT: And if you're a Titans fan, we need you to come out as well, especially since it's in the stadium you're already familiar with. Please support the Commodores and the city of Nashville.

5:56 p.m. CT: Three more UT fans call in to order tickets. Keep it coming SEC fans!

5:52 p.m. CT: Loyal Commodore fan John Boy just told Johnson on the air that he is "tickled to death" to see the first Vanderbilt bowl game in his lifetime. Be a part of history!

5:40 p.m. CT: Lucy Jones from the NCC just said... "I've been to two of Vanderbilt's three bowl games. Getting to a bowl game was on my "bucket list". The amazing thing for me is to see people like the Rich family that have been there all along for us, and all the other people that have stuck with us."

5:35 p.m. CT: Johnson said... "I am very proud of what our team and coaches accomplished. I hope you'll come out and support us!"

VIEW PICTURE OF COACH JOHNSON

5:24 p.m. CT:
Coach Johnson will be taking your calls next on air.

5:20 p.m. CT: Coach Johnson just asked listeners to "forget about that yellow towel" and buy some tickets. I couldn't agree more Coach! (The rest of the group quips that the yellow/gold towels may work at LP Field for this game)

5:16 p.m. CT: Not only Commodore fans are clogging the phone lines... Britt from Whites Creek just called in and challenged his fellow Florida Gators fans to match his donation of four tickets to the Charles Davis Foundation.

5:11 p.m. CT: Coach Johnson predicts that there will be perfect weather at the bowl game, so get your tickets today!

5:04 p.m. CT: Have you thought about calling but just haven't dialed the numbers? It's easy. You can do it. No waiting in line to reserve your seats. Make your order now while the phone lines are open. Tickets to the game are the perfect gift this holiday season.

4:53 p.m. CT: Bobby Johnson has arrived in the press box.

4:40 p.m. CT: Don't go away... Bobby Johnson is scheduled to be on the show during the 5 p.m. hour.

VIEW PICTURE OF GEORGE PLASTER AND WORKERS

4:23 p.m. CT: The phones are quiet, so George Plaster reminds fans to pick up the phone and call 615.329.8590.. and poof... eight rings come in simultaneously!

4:18 p.m. CT: When you call in during the telethon, you may recognize some of the people on the other side of the phone... Lucy Jones from the NCC... Women's Golf head coach Greg Allen... Bowling head coach John Williamson... Vanderbilt's Associate Vice Chancellor Patricia Marett... Director of Marketing Reggie Garrett... Recent Hall of Fame inductee June Stewart... and Associate Director of Student Athletics Brock Williams.

4:10 p.m. CT: David Climer from The Tennessean is on the air.

4:03 p.m. CT: Bill from Nashville just bought 10 bowl tickets and challenged his competitors to match his donation to the Charles Davis Foundation. Phone lines are open - call 615.329.8590.

3:56 p.m. CT: Commissioner Slive just said, "I hope Commodore fans will come (to the bowl game). It's a tremendous contribution to a great university. I would hope everyone will climb the mountain with them. Come out and enjoy a great moment in the history of Vanderbilt football."

3:50 p.m. CT: SEC Commissioner Mike Slive is now on the air.

3:47 p.m. CT: VC Williams also said they've passed the original allotment of 11,500 tickets and are now working on the additional 2,500 that VU agreed to sell. Phone lines are open - call 615.329.8590.

VIEW PICTURE OF GEORGE PLASTER AND CHARLES DAVIS

3:40 p.m. CT:
Vice Chancellor Williams just announced that Athletics has purchased 1,000 bowl tickets at a cost of $50,000 to go to inner city children in the Nashville area. The Charles Davis Foundation will receive over 600 of the tickets.

3:25 p.m. CT: David Williams, Vanderbilt's Vice Chancellor for University Affairs and Athletics, will be on air next!

3:20 p.m. CT: Chancellor Zeppos concludes his interview by telling fans to make their New Year's memorable by going to the bowl game. I agree with his sentiments... There are too many New Year's Eve's where the day just didn't live up to the billing. So ring in 2009 at LP Field. Also, former basketball star Charles Davis just entered the press box.

3:05 p.m. CT: George Plaster and the 104.5 Sports Zone have set up their popular radio talk show inside the Hawkins Field Press Box on campus. Vanderbilt Chancellor Nicholas Zeppos is currently on air... click here to listen live. Operators are standing by to take your Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl ticket orders. Call 615.329.8590 from 3-6 p.m. CT today!

Helpful Tip: Get Will Call Tickets Monday & Tuesday

Ticket Manager Eric Jones reports a large number of Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl tickets are currently being held in the Vanderbilt will call file.

The ticket office will close for the holidays (and a much deserved rest for a weary ticket staff) and will open next Monday (29th) at 8:30 a.m. For those fans that have purchased bowl tickets and have them on will call, it would probably make life easier for you to drop by McGugin Center between 8:30 and 5:00 p.m. Monday and Tuesday rather than find yourself in a potentially longer line two hours before kickoff at LP Field.

For those of you that can't get by McGugin Center, the Vanderbilt ticket operation at LP Field will be centered at Gate 9 starting at 12:30 p.m.

BC quarterback puts loss behind him

Redshirt freshman quarterback Dominique Davis will get his third career start next Wednesday when Boston College (9-4) comes to Nashville for the Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl.

Davis will be coming off a sub par performance in the ACC Championship game where he only completed 17-of-43 passes and was intercepted twice in a 30-12 defeat to Virginia Tech. He'll need to rebound from that loss (which knocked Boston College out of a BCS bowl game) if the Eagles wish to extend their bowl winning-streak to nine games.

"It was disappointing - I can't backtalk that,'' Davis told The Milford Daily News. "That was a great team, but that next week you have to put it behind you and focus on the next game. ... It took until the first day we practiced after the ACC Championship, that's when I put it behind me.''

"When you lose a game it always takes a little while to get over it, but you've got to move on,'' added Boston College Head Coach Jeff Jagodzinski. "Our next quest is to go ahead and beat Vanderbilt down there.''

Davis replaced fifth-year senior Chris Crane in the first half of the Eagles win over Wake Forest on November 22 after Crane suffered a season-ending fractured right collarbone. Although two of Davis' fumbles were returned for scores in that game, he was able to bounce back with the winning touchdown, a one-yard sneak, with 1:12 remaining. He had some success in his first start the next week in a 28-21 victory over Maryland, going 12-for-24 for 144 yards and two touchdowns.

Bowl Media Guide on Sale

Vanderbilt's 92-page Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl media guide is on sale at the Vanderbilt Bookstore for $15. To check store hours or order long-distance, telephone 615-322-2994 or 1-800-288-2665.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Bealin' It

Junior point guard Jermaine Beal showcased his outside shooting ability once again in the Commodores 68-49 victory over Furman Monday night at Memorial Gym.

The DeSoto, Texas, native connected on three more treys and finished with 15 points, making it his ninth double-figure performance this year.

"He's obviously improved dramatically as a shooter," Coach Stallings remarked, "and again you look at the stat sheet and he has 15 points on six shots. That's a pretty good return per shot."


In his last three outings, Beal has drained 9-of-14 from long range, and for the first time in his career he's made at least three shots from downtown in three consecutive games.

Beal's also hitting a personal-best 49 percent from behind the arc through 12 games, well above his 30 percent average coming into the season. That's a remarkable improvement considering the line was moved back a foot to 20'9.


"Shooting 3's wasn't really my thing two years ago," said Beal. "I've been working hard in the off-season, and now I just have to get open and I can usually get it in there.

"I'm just trying to get it going so when conference play comes hopefully I can make some plays because it's going to be crunch time with a lot of close games."

Danger Zone

Coach Stallings wasn't satisfied with the way his offense handled the Paladins' zone defense. Outside of Beal, the rest of the Commodores had a cold shooting night from 3-point range going 2-for-12. Stallings addressed the issue at halftime and reminded his team to take advantage of their inside presence rather than just throwing up shots.

"We didn't attack their zone very well," Stallings said. "In the second half we did a little better, and we started getting the ball into A.J. and getting to the foul line.

"We just didn't run a good offense. We've been good against zones all but one or two times this year but this was one of them.

"It wasn't the kind of performance we wanted, but we'll take it and move on."

Festus Update

Center Festus Ezeli had five points and one rebound in four minutes of action, but left the game with 11:18 remaining in the first half due to a back injury. The redshirt freshman did not return to the game.


"It's unfortunate that Festus' back has really been bothering him," Stallings told reporters after the game. "He had a very big stretch there in the first half when he went in and then his back just spurred up on him and he couldn't go anymore tonight, so that was the biggest disappointment of the night. He really played well for the time that he was in the game."

The Zone on Campus Tuesday

Tune in to 104.5 The Zone tomorrow afternoon as it originates from our Hawkins Field pressbox. During the 3-4 p.m. hour, George Plaster's guests will include Chancellor Nicholas Zeppos, Vice Chancellor David Williams and SEC Commissioner Mike Slive.

From 5-6 p.m. we expect Denver Broncos quarterback Jay Cutler to check in at the top of the hour and Bobby Johnson to follow.

The main theme is the Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl, of course. It will be interesting and informative.

Click Here to read more.

WBB Quick Notes

Jessica Mooney will start her third consecutive game this season today against Liberty. The junior guard replaced Jence Rhoads in Coach Balcomb's starting lineup last Friday against Tennessee State. Mooney joins Jennifer Risper (guard), Hannah Tuomi (forward), Merideth Marsh (guard) and Christina Wirth (forward) for tip-off. The latter four have started every game this season.

Christina Wirth moved closer to the No. 19 position on VU's all-time scoring chart with 13 points last night against UT-Martin. The senior forward has netted 1,209 points thus far, 31 behind Carolyn Peck.

Chanel Chisholm continues to contribute solid minutes from the bench. The sophomore forward tallied 12 points, eight rebounds and four steals against UT-Martin -- her fourth double-digit scoring effort this season. Chisholm averages 8.0 points and 3.9 boards in 14.6 minutes per contest.

Vanderbilt concludes its second set of back-to-back games against Liberty this afternoon. The 'Dores defeated Davidson and Virginia Tech on Nov. 28 and 29 to win the VU Thanksgiving Tournament earlier this year. Balcomb's squad challenges the Liberty Flames for only the second time in school history. The previous meeting ended in a Commodore victory, 54-44 in the East Region First Round of the NCAA Tourney in the 2002-03 season.

Balcomb's crew looks to win its third consecutive game today, after hosting three tilts in four days.

Remember Furman?

You might remember November 28, 2006.

(or choose to forget it for that matter)

The men's basketball team had just dropped to 1-3 on the young season after a disappointing 70-62 loss to Furman.

Vanderbilt couldn't buy a shot all game long. The entire team finished a dismal 2-for-17 from behind the arc. Even Shan Foster and Derrick Byars had an off night, combining to go just 5-for-25 from the field. Nothing seemed right.

With the Paladins (still coached by former Vanderbilt assistant Jeff Jackson) returning to Memorial Gym tonight for the first time since that game, Coach Stallings reflected on how that loss impacted the 2006-07 squad in this morning's article by Maurice Patton.

"I think what happened that season was a turning point of sorts, but not 'the' turning point," Stallings told The Tennessean. "I think the aftermath, what happened that season, was a turning point. The resolve and the character that team showed, to come back from that loss ... and be a Sweet 16 team, was nothing short of spectacular. That's probably the one team I've coached that came the closest to reaching its absolute potential of any team I've ever coached."

I'll always remember November 28, 2006. Not because of the agony we all felt leaving Memorial Gym that night, but because of the way the team responded to its adversity to give us a season full of special memories that we still talk about two years later (and probably will talk about for a lifetime).

So, after reading Patton's story, I had to go back and watch these two videos. Enjoy!

Part 1




Part 2


Basketball Doubleheader Today

Looking for a holiday bargain? You came to the right place... Act now and you can get two basketball games for the price of one today at Memorial Gym!

WBB vs. Liberty at 2 p.m. CT
MBB vs. Furman at 8 p.m. CT


First, the women's basketball team looks for its third win in four days as they host Liberty at 2 p.m. CT. Tickets are only $6 for adults, and $5 for youth 17 and under. Bring your Liberty ticket stub back tonight and get free admission to watch the men's basketball team take on Furman at 8 p.m. CT.

If you can't make the women's game, you can still purchase tickets to the men's game for $15. The seats are located in sections G-K on the lower level sideline since the students are on winter break.

Go Commodores!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Johnson honored at Titans game Sunday

Head Coach Bobby Johnson received an honorary game ball from Titans' Executive Vice President of Administration Don MacLachlan during the first quarter of Tennessee's 31-14 victory over Pittsburgh Sunday at LP Field.

"I'm very appreciative that the Titans organization would take the time to recognize the accomplishments of our football team in this way," Johnson said. "I heard from many well-wishers and I know there were many Vanderbilt fans in attendance cheering for the Titans. I hope they enjoyed it as much as I did."

Click Here to read the entire article on vucommodores.com.

Stallings' Call-In Show Sunday night

Don't miss Kevin Stallings' basketball call-in show Sunday night from 6:30 - 7:30 p.m. CT at the Commodore Sports Bar and Grille on West End Avenue.

If you can't make it to the event, then tune in locally to 104.5 the Zone or listen online on vucommodores.com. And there's still time to submit your question for Coach to answer on-air.

The show was moved to Sunday because the Commodores (8-3) will take on Furman Monday night at Memorial Gym at 8 p.m. CT. Tickets are still available for $15.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Back in business

Freshman Lance Goulbourne provided an early spark on both sides of the floor to help Vanderbilt roll past Tennessee Tech, 83-63, Saturday evening at Memorial Gym.

In the first half, Goulbourne scored seven points in the span of four minutes to help the Commodores build an early 17-9 lead. The 6'8 guard/forward also pulled down five of his team-high seven rebounds in the opening 20 minutes.

"Lance's seven rebounds are significant," said head coach Kevin Stallings. "For a guy to come in for 15 minutes and get seven rebounds is a good night's work. As he continues to condition, he'll continue to play well and play better."

Goulbourne missed eight games earlier in the year due to mononucleosis before returning to action last Tuesday against South Florida. Even though he's still not fully recovered, tonight's extended performance was another step in the right direction.

"I'm working out almost every day," Goulbourne said, "trying to get my stamina and conditioning back to where I was before I got sick.

"It's going to be a long process, and I'm definitely not 100%, but I think I'm getting better and stronger every day.

The Commodores (8-3) will next host Furman on Monday at 8 p.m. CT. Tickets are still available for $15 and are located in the student section (G-K on the lower level sideline).

MBB hosts Tennessee Tech Saturday

Vanderbilt begins a three-game homestand at Memorial Gym when Tennessee Tech comes to Nashville for a 5 p.m. CT tip-off Saturday.

With the students gone for the holiday break, tickets are available for $15 and are located in the student section (G-K on the lower level sideline). If you can't make it to the game, you can watch it live on CSS or listen locally on 104.5 the Zone or online on vucommodores.com.

Here are some tidbits on Tennessee Tech (6-3, 0-1 OVC) from their game notes:

Last Game
Ryan Reid’s three-point play broke open a tie game with four minutes remaining as Florida State (10-1) held off Tennessee Tech 69-59 Tuesday night in Tallahassee.

Northern Exposure
Senior center Daniel Northern (6'9, 210), named to the all-OVC preseason team, leads Tennessee Tech in scoring (11.9 ppg), rebounds (5.7 rpg) and blocked shots (21). He also ranks second all-time at Tech in blocked shots, coming into the game with 130.

Play That Song
Junior guard/forward DJ Lindsay (6'4, 205) ranks second on the team in scoring (11.3 ppg) and rebounds (5.4 rpg), and is third in steals. He is tied for the best field goal percentage among regulars, hitting 56.5 percent of his attempts (39-for-69). He scored in double figures in five straight games, including a career-high 19 points in the second win over Lipscomb.

Three's Away
Tech has yet to be out-shot from behind the arc this season, topping all but two opponents. Twice the Golden Eagles have made eight more than their opponent when Tech defeated Louisiana-Monroe (12 to 4 threes) and Union (10 to 2 threes).

So Close
Junior guard Frank Davis (6'2, 185) tied a school record when he drained six consecutive 3-pointers in the win over UL-Monroe on November 29. He is third on the team in scoring with 10.0 points per game, reaching double digits in four contests. For his career, Davis is 105-for-280 from long range for 37.5 percent accuracy.

Double-Edged
The Golden Eagles have two point guards who have been sharing time this season. Junior Will Barnes (6'1, 190) is fourth on the team in scoring with 9.5 points per game and leads the team with 27 assists. Junior Elijah Cunningham-Muhammad (6'0, 170) is averaging 5.8 points and ranks second in assists with 25.

Check the Book
Tech has used four different starting lineups already this season, and that number could grow. Two different players have started at four position, and three different players have gotten the starting nod at the No. 4 spot.

Stellar Class
Tennessee Tech’s incoming freshmen were listed as the top freshman group in the OVC by Rivals.com. It said: "Florida point guard Zach Bailey could develop into one of the league’s top guards. He will pay quite a bit as a freshman and should be able to bounce between both guard positions with little trouble. Georgians Kevin Murphy, a 6-5 wing, and Tyler McDaniels, a 6-7 power forward, also should be factors early. Murphy could emerge as the top scorer in time."

Pick 6
Prior to the season, TTU was picked to finish sixth in the OVC.

Watch Mayor Karl Dean's Bowl Message

Mayor Karl Dean delivered a video bowl message to the Nashville community Friday afternoon.

"It doesn't get much better for Middle Tennessee," said Mayor Dean. "Whether you're a hardcore football fan, new to the game, or somewhere in-between, come on out to LP Field to cheer the 'Dores to a win over Boston College.

"It's time to catch the spirit, wear Black and Gold, and show some Nashville pride on New Year's Eve. Happy Holidays everyone and lets help the Commodores make hometown history!"

To reserve your seats to the Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl, call 615.322.GOLD or click here.

Watch Mayor Dean's entire video message below:

Saturday morning football notes

Maurice Patton reports on the Commodores return to the practice field in Saturday's edition of The Tennessean.

Article 1: Patton gives an update on the tailback situation for the bowl game. With junior Jared Hawkins' status uncertain due to an ankle injury suffered against Tennessee on November 22, redshirt freshman wide receiver Jamie Graham could see time at tailback again after switching to the position during the Wake Forest game November 29.

"He'll (Jaime) play tailback right now, until we find out if Jared can play," Coach Johnson told The Tennessean. "I still think he'll play tailback. I think he's tough. He's got a little knack that he never gets hit hard. Hopefully he'll be able to hang in there, but we've got some other people to use also. He won't be in there every play."

Article 2: Team enjoys warm weather, D.J. Moore seeks an NFL evaluation, Broderick Stewart injury update, and a report on Boston College's ticket allotment.

To order tickets to the Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl on December 31 at LP Field, click here or call 615.322.GOLD.

WBB holds off TSU

Game 1 of 3 in a four-day span is complete as the women's basketball team outlasted Tennessee State 98-82 Friday night at Memorial Gym.

Taking the floor for the first time in 13 days, Vanderbilt (9-2) raced out to a 51-24 lead at the half but TSU roared back to outscore the Commodores 58-47 in the closing 20 minutes.

"TSU did a great job at halftime," said head coach Melanie Balcomb. "We just didn't play well in the second half at all. We have three games in four days and we've been practicing that way and we did not come out and play like that at all. They kept pressing harder and we couldn't respond. We subbed more so our starters could get a break for the number of games we have in the next few days and it obviously did not work well, so we're going to have to work on that for our next two games. We have to play better off the bench. We didn't make adjustments."

Sophomore forward Hannah Tuomi recorded a double-double on the night with a career-high 23 points and 10 rebounds. Senior guard/forward Christina Wirth also scored 22 points on 9-13 shooting. It was Wirth's fourth 20-plus outing of the season and 12th of her career.

The Commodores return to the court to host Tennessee-Martin on Sunday (2 p.m.) and Liberty on Monday (2 p.m.). Tickets are only $6 for adults, and $5 for youth 17 and under.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Turkey tradition with a football flavor

Vanderbilt University conducted its annual employee turkey giveaway today at Langford Auditorium and a few familiar faces were on hand to join in on the festivities.

Head coach Bobby Johnson and team captains (pictured) Bradley Vierling, Reshard Langford, and George Smith spent the morning greeting campus employees and signing autographs to promote the Gaylord Hotels Music Bowl on December 31.

A ticket office representative was also on site to take immediate orders (the good news is that several people took advantage of it!).

To top it off, I ran into Chancellor Nicholas Zeppos and David Williams II, Vice Chancellor for University Affairs and Athletics, who were giving out turkeys and holiday wishes to staff.

If you haven't ordered your bowl tickets, click here of call 615.322.GOLD.

NCAA.com previews the bowl game

Kevin Scheitrum and Adam Caparell from NCAA.com give their brief preview of the Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl - Podcast

Do you agree with them? Let us know in the comments section.

Upcoming WBB promotions

It's been over two weeks since the Vanderbilt women's basketball team took the floor at Memorial Gym. But you're in for a holiday treat... The Commodores will host three games over the next four days starting tonight vs. Tennessee State, so if you have guests in from out-of-town, then bring them out to the hardwood for some exciting college basketball action.

Tickets are only $6 for adults, and $5 for youth 17 and under.

Here are some of the promotions scheduled for the games --

Friday, December 19 vs. Tennessee State at 7 p.m. CT: "The Year of the Uniform" promotion continues with part 2 (of 4) tonight as the first 1,000 fans will receive Vanderbilt replica basketball shorts. Future uniform giveaways include a headband (Jan. 29 vs. Arkansas) and a replica jersey (Feb. 19 vs. Auburn).. so come to all of these games to build your uniform!

Sunday, December 21 vs. Tennessee-Martin at 2 p.m. CT: Halftime act by the Jumpin' Jaguars Jump rope team from Bowling Green, Ky.

Monday, December 22 vs. Liberty at 2 p.m. CT: Doubleheader Deal - Buy a ticket to the WBB game vs. Liberty and receive FREE admission to the men's game vs. Furman later that night (8 p.m.)

Football practice resumes Friday

The Commodores will return to practice later today on campus. The team will practice daily through Dec. 23, take off for the holidays, then return to work Dec. 27 in preparation for the Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl on Dec. 31 at LP Field.

“Our emphasis is to try to prepare for the bowl and win the bowl,” Coach Johnson told the Nashville City Paper. “If we get those (young) guys extra work that will be fantastic."

Click Here to read David Boclair's article.

Joe Fisher also talked about the latest in Commodore football with the 104.5 Wake Up Zone earlier today... Listen

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Music City Bowl Seat Locations

We've had a few calls from Commodore fans surprised or disappointed in the location of their seats in LP Field for the Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl. Let me take a quick stab at explaining how seating works at all bowl games and major championship events.

In the case of the Music City Bowl, the Nashville Sports Council heavily depends upon ticket sales to the local community. This year, before invitations were even extended, bowl officials reported sales of 27,000, up significantly from recent years. These fans are generally issued prime tickets because it's hoped they will return year after year.

Our lower level seats mirror Boston College's - the locations determined by bowl officials. It works this way at all of the bowls - Rose, Sugar, Outback, Liberty, etc. Since its been 26 years since we've had the chance to go bowling, this is part of the learning curve for some of us.

Two weeks ago I worked at the Southeastern Conference Championship Game in the wonderful Georgia Dome. Tide fans began behind the goal posts and wrapped around to the sideline, ditto for Gator fans. Since the Bama fans are many and devoted, they no doubt picked up other seats on the open market.

When we said we have the best tickets available, we meant our seats were lower level and in our section. What fun would it be to sit in the upper deck on the 35 yard line by yourself?

Speaking of the upper deck, good seats are in the eyes of the beholder. A few years ago we played Tennessee twice downtown. We had more leeway in where to put our fans and based on advice from the home field Titans, put most of our donors in the lower level corners rather than assigning them upstairs, assuming they'd appreciate the lower proximity to the action. While most fans did, we heard from some of the more vocal ones that they'd rather be upstairs. Had we put our donors in the upper deck, some would have been disappointed they weren't down lower. It is difficult if not impractical to contact each buyer on a preference, especially on one-shot games. As most fans know, our ticket office tries very hard to honor our fans' requests in Vanderbilt Stadium or Memorial Gymnasium.

Video: The Chancellor's Bowl Message

We posted our Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl commercial in yesterday's blog. Now we have another spot... this time from Chancellor Nicholas Zeppos.

Before the season, Zeppos himself predicted that the Commodores would make their first bowl appearance in 26 years.

And you can tell from the following video that he shares the excitement that the rest of us have about being able to be a part of postseason football.

"Coach Bobby Johnson knew we'd make it," Zeppos remarked, "our football players knew they'd make it, and as Chancellor, I knew we would make it.

"We have a special group of student-athletes who are not only winners on the field, but in our classroom and in our community as well.

"Now it's time we step up and do our part. Join me at LP Field to cheer on America's feel good team. What better way to end 2008 and ring in the New Year than cheering on the 'Dores to a win over Boston College."

Watch the video below and click here to buy your tickets.

When is early way too early?

Bowl season is yet to get underway, but is it ever too early to look ahead to next season? The people at NationalChamps.net don’t think so. The site has already released its 2009 preseason top 25 and projected conference champions.

Vanderbilt is ranked 23rd in the poll. The other ranked SEC teams are Florida (No. 1), Alabama (No. 2), Georgia (No. 9), Ole Miss (No. 11) and LSU (No. 16).

Rounding out the top five were Texas, Oklahoma and Southern California.

Click here to view the entire poll.

Promoting the Bowl Behind the Scenes...

It's 13 days until the Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl. Do you know where your tickets are?

We've got the most intensive push I've seen here to promote our appearance to the point where we literally could not list all the marketing activities in motion. Here are a few:

* Coach Johnson sent an automated phone message to 33,000 alumni living within 3+ hours of Nashville.
* 1,190 calls made to season tickets holders Wednesday night
* George Plaster's "The Zone" coming on campus next Tuesday (23rd)for an afternoon of Commodore football talk.
* Great videos by our campus experts - check them out on the bowl central page if you haven't seen them. New one coming Friday late afternoon from His Honor, the Mayor of Nashville!
* Look for Coach Johnson to be honored during the Titans-Steelers game Sunday.
* Outreach into all corners of the Nashville citizentry. Thanks to Tennessee State for its neighborly assistance!
* Look for a full page letter from Chancellor Zeppos and Mayor Dean in the front section of Sunday's Tennessean along with the Tennessee Tribune and Nashville Pride papers.
* There are some neat Vandy special events in concert with the regular bowl activities - particularly the Tuesday night "Bash" at BB King's after the Battle of the Bands and the tailgate and Starwalk before the big game. All information found on bowl central.

Help us paint Nashville Black and Gold!

Mr. Smith Goes to...

Maurice Patton wrote an article on redshirt freshman quarterback Larry Smith in Thursday's edition of The Tennessean.

Although Coach Johnson hasn't officially named a starter for the bowl game, Smith should get some extra work in the practices leading up to the Commodores matchup with Boston College on December 31 at LP Field.

In the regular season finale at Wake Forest on November 29, Smith saw his first action as a Commodore when he entered the game in the third quarter after Chris Nickson and Mackenzi Adams both suffered injuries. The Prattville, Ala., native completed 9 of 17 passes for 46 yards and a touchdown and almost connected on a deep pass to receiver Sean Walker that could have resulted in a 91-yard scoring play to tie the game late in the fourth quarter.

"We know he's very talented — just inexperienced," Vanderbilt quarterbacks coach Jimmy Kiser told The Tennessean. "It's remarkable what he did (against Wake Forest). He did a great job, didn't make very many mistakes. He handled the pressure situation very well.

Click Here to read Patton's entire story.

Tickets available to upcoming MBB games

More News from the Ticket Office....

With the students gone for the holiday break, tickets are available for the Men’s Basketball games on Dec. 20th vs. Tennessee Tech, Dec. 22nd vs. Furman, and Dec. 31st vs. St. Francis. All of these tickets are $15 and are located in the student section (G-K on the lower level sideline). There are approx. 1,500 tickets remaining and they can be ordered through vucommodores.com or purchased at the Southeast entrance to the gym on game day (while supplies last).

These games are your last chance to see our Commodores at Memorial Gym if you have not purchased season tickets!

Click Here to reserve your seats online or call 615.322.GOLD.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Looking Back: 1982 Hall of Fame Bowl

Over the past three weeks, Vanderbilt sports historian Bill Traughber has taken a look back at the Commodores previous three bowl appearances.

Traughber dissected Vanderbilt's last postseason game, the 1982 Hall of Fame Bowl, in his entry earlier today on vucommodores.com.

If you don't remember the game, Vanderbilt's high-powered passing attack propelled the 'Dores to a 28-17 lead over Air Force going into the final quarter. But it wasn't meant to be as the Falcons took advantage of some late Commodore miscues to rally and defeat Vanderbilt, 36-28.

In postgame interviews, quarterback Whit Taylor (who was named the game's Most Valuable Player) reflected on the letdown:

"The loss hurts," said Taylor. "Because I get the credit for winning, and I have learned to accept the blame when we lose. The interception in the end zone, and the one in the fourth quarter leading to their winning touchdown, were just mistakes. I wish I could get them back.

"The last interception came on a special play designed for Air Force and not previously called. The receiver (Phil Roach) was clear. I just threw the ball short. It was very hard for me to accept the trophy (MVP). Right now I'm just trying to get over the hurt. We should have won. That's what we wanted."

Make sure you read Traughber's entire article by clicking here.

And if you missed his recaps of the other two bowls, then visit the following links: 1955 Gator Bowl | 1974 Peach Bowl

More Ticket News

Another message from the Vanderbilt Ticket Office about the Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl tickets:

Regrettably, the Nashville Sports Council imprinted the incorrect prices on all Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl tickets. As a result, all $50 Lower Level tickets have a $45 price and the $70 Club Level have a price of $65 imprinted on the actual tickets.

Just dial the numbers... 615.322.GOLD

Vanderbilt News Service Video Productions (especially Pat, Princine and Amy) put together a cool new commercial promoting the Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl on December 31.

Junior center Bradley Vierling is featured in the spot as well as two twirlers from the Spirit of Gold, a danceline member, an intern from Video Productions, and a student from Vandy Fanatics. (oh, and a partridge in a pear tree)

We're only 14 days away from our first bowl game in 26 years, so reserve your tickets today!

And make sure you stay updated on everything related to the game by visiting our new and improved Bowl Central page. The site features a detailed bowl events schedule, the latest videos, and even a place for you to tell us why you're excited about the big game.

I'd like to give a big thanks to Vanderbilt Creative Services, Development and Alumni Relations Communications, and News Service for creating the page.

Here's the commercial:

You're the best... around

With baseball season just around the corner, Kendall Rogers (the college baseball editor for Rivals.com) has a good preview up on the 2009 Commodores.

Fans can expect to see a lot of new faces on the diamond in February including freshman shortstop Jason Esposito. Esposito will have big shoes to fill after All-American Ryan Flaherty was drafted by the Chicago Cubs in June.

Coach Corbin likes what he's seen out of the Bethany, Conn., native so far.

"I think you have to put him in a similar makeup as Pedro," Corbin told Rogers. "He moves very well, is strong, has a strong arm and he just seems to play the game with total control.

"We'll see if what he accomplished this fall translates to the spring, but I like what I've seen from him so far. He plays the shortstop position quite well."

Esposito is one of 13 players in this year's recruiting class which was ranked second by Baseball America. He was a seventh round pick by the Kansas City Royals out of high school but opted to come to West End instead.

Click Here
to read the rest of Rogers' story.

Speaking of Esposito, We've been wondering around the office if he is related in any way to Joe Esposito. You know... the guy that sung "You're the Best" from The Karate Kid.

Even if Jason isn't related to him, this would be a great batter intro song for him this spring at Hawkins Field (that's my vote, at least).

If you don't remember the song, watch the video below.

Bowl Parking and more

Here's an update from our ticket office concerning the Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl:

Vanderbilt is sold out of parking passes, but the Music City Bowl still has some availability. These can be purchased by calling (615) 743-3130.

Also, from this point on, all Music City Bowl ticket orders will be held at will call in the McGugin Center Ticket Office until gameday. Those can be picked up during our normal business hours.

Ticket orders may also be picked up on gameday at LP Field (will call location TBA).

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Three-Double-O

We've had a bunch of congratulations in the blog today, and we've got one more to close out the night.

In a successful career spanning 16 years as a head coach, Kevin Stallings added one more milestone to the list when he notched his 300th career victory as the Commodores defeated South Florida Tuesday night.

During the postgame press conference, Stallings was asked to reflect on what number 300 meant to him. This was his response:
When I was a high school kid, my coach (Vergil Fletcher) had won over 700 games. You would go in his basement and it was very intimidating because I played for his last year and he coached 32 years. I said today that I've kind of always held the distinction as being the guy that ran him out of coaching.

He's in the National High School Basketball Hall of Fame and he's my idol to this day. He's 93 years old. He's that kind of coach and that kind of human being.

When I'd go into his basement you'd see victory 100 on a ball, victory 200, victory 300, victory 400, victory 500, victory 600. I got to play in a lot of those late victories.

I used to think how cool it was that he had those basketballs that had those numbers on them. And now I realize that all that made him was old. I've only got 300 but all that makes me is old. Other than having those balls somewhere in a office or basement, that's about the only significance to it really.
After his press conference concluded and A.J. Ogilvy and Jermaine Beal were getting ready to answer questions, Stallings pointed to his players and said, "Guys like this are the reason I have 300."

Half Full, Half Empty

Just a list of some of the positives and negatives of Vanderbilt's 71-52 victory over South Florida.

Positives...

-Kept South Florida from getting transition baskets; Forced them to play against a set defense; USF ended up with zero fast break points.

-Held the Bulls to 34 percent shooting

- More aggressive rebounding; Limited USF to one shot per possession; A.J.'s and Darshawn's best rebounding efforts of the season; The Commodores are now 7-0 when outrebounding their opponent.

- Looked better offensively in the second half; Made jump shots to open up the inside game; A.J. and Jermaine were exceptional... Jermaine had a career-high 20 points while A.J. collected his sixth career double-double (20 points, 13 boards)

- Darshawn showed some range from downtown by knocking down two treys. He had only made four 3-pointers in his career coming into the contest.

- Lance returned to action for the first time since the season opener with Morehead State. He contributed one rebound in seven minutes of action.

- Coach picked up victory 300

- The crowd chanted "S-E-C" after Vanderbilt and Tennessee swept their Big East opponents

- The Sommet Center played Motley Crue's "Dr. Feelgood" as the last song of the night over the loudspeakers. Nice original choice... two thumbs up!

Negatives...

- Turned the ball over 21 times

- Only converted 19 of 29 free throws

- Not a pretty win (but still a win)

- Joe Duffy just missed a thunderous dunk at the buzzer (that almost made me jump out of my seat)

Did I miss anything? If so, let me know.

Grabbing the "Bulls" by its horns...

Vanderbilt opened the Southeastern Conference/Big East Invitational by beating South Florida 71-52 Tuesday night at the Sommet Center.

For complete coverage including postgame interviews and John Russell's photos, click here.

Moore Honors

From our football communications office...

Vanderbilt cornerback D.J. Moore became the first Commodore standout in 11 years to receive All-America recognition from the Associated Press when the organization named him to its second team defense Tuesday.

Moore, a junior from Spartanburg, S.C., also was named to SI.com's First Team All-America squad on Tuesday. SI.com became the second key Web site to pick Moore, following a similar decision published last week by Rivals.com. A third highly regarded college football Web site, PhilSteele.com, also recognized Moore as a second team All-American on Tuesday.

"I'm real happy to hear that," Moore said. "I want to thank my teammates and our coaching staff. The coaches really gave me an opportunity to get on the field early in my career and did a great job getting me prepared to play."

Click Here to read the full release.