Vandy picked 74th by USA Today

It doesn't take a whole lot of investigative journalism to see that big changes have happened at Vanderbilt since the bowl in over Houston back in January. Thus it was always going to be interesting to see just where the national media was going to figure the ‘Dores into their yearly preseason rankings.

If the USA Today, a source whose college football rankings and coverage has gotten markedly better over the past few years, is anything to go by then the reading will not be pleasing to those in Nashville.

If we are being honest though it is easy to understand where the questions are coming from. Even if you discount the impact of James Franklin both in terms of preparation and sheer will for his team to win, then you are still left wondering exactly who will contribute for the ‘Dores this year. As the article points out, "the only thing Franklin didn't leave behind is experience. Vanderbilt returns only 10 starters, the second-fewest in the SEC, ahead of only Missouri. No team will have fewer senior contributors. No program in the SEC returns a smaller percentage of last season's total offense; no SEC team returns a smaller slice of last year's tackles."

Before everyone starts cancelling their newspaper subscriptions though (do people even have those anymore?) it is also worth pointing out that the article goes on to say that this is a short term problem. They praise the hiring of Derek Mason and talk about the strength of recent recruiting classes in addition to the decision to go outside the box again with the hiring of a hungry head coach who is an ideal fit. Of those recruits the articles says. "Today, these former recruits are redshirt freshmen and sophomores, redshirt sophomores and juniors. Tomorrow they'll be seasoned veterans, primed to continue the program's torrid run as an SEC contender."

That's right. Vanderbilt has suddenly reached the status, in the eyes of the national media no less, as being on a torrid run as an SEC contender.

USA Today, like all Vanderbilt fans, points out that quarterback is the position to watch in fall camp. They note that with the arrival of Stephen Rivers that it has become a three way contest with no clear front runner at this point. It is also interesting that their key game to the season is the one against Kentucky, noting that a huge part of the success Franklin built was based on the fact that under his watch the Commodores simply didn't lose to inferior opponents. Mason has to continue this trend if Vanderbilt are going to continue their upward trend.

Perhaps the best part of the article for ‘Dores fans though is that the paper sees no way in which Vanderbilt will not pick up six wins in 2014. We all know by now that six wins is the magic number needed to reach postseason play and take Vanderbilt to yet another bowl game. That also means an extra period of practice time at the end of the season which will be vital for the Commodores to kick on in 2015.

Look at it this way, if someone six, eight, or ten years ago had said that in a down (rebuilding) year the ‘Dores would still be a lock for postseason play then you would scarcely believed them. Top Stories