Lance was in a foul mood. He had just been listening to Vanderbilt and Gee get ripped on one of the local talk shows. I figured I better let him vent.
"You wouldn't believe how everybody in this city is CHOMPING on Vanderbilt," he said with a sigh. "Gordon Gee takes a stand for something good, and suddenly everybody pays attention."
Did you know in advance that any of this was going to happen?
"Well, Todd Turner and Gordon Gee have been telling me for several months that we were gonna shock the world," he said. "So I figured something was gonna go down. I don't think Todd Turner knew it was gonna happen for him like it happened. But I knew something was up.
"This is just Vandy Lance's opinion, but I think it's gonna help athletics. Nothing's really changed. All it's gonna do is give athletics more access to more money.
"See, this ain't about us. WE'RE not the ones that have academic problems. We don't have a problem. It's these other schools that've got problems.
"You had Linda Bensel-Meyers-- and I'm not picking on Tennessee, but about 80 percent of the schools are like this!-- who was just about run out of the state for trying to clean up the athletic department's act over there. They told her, 'Listen, lady, you take care of teaching English, and we'll take care of running football.'
"I mean, you've got athletic departments that are like SMALL MAFIAS," he shouts. "They say, we MADE all this money, it's OUR money. But listen here, before there was football, there was a SCHOOL, people!!! A SCHOOL!! And there wouldn't be NO FOOTBALL if there wasn't no University of Yada-Yada!!!
"And this is what really gets me... how on EARTH does a student-athlete, whether he's majoring in chemistry or badminton, go to school for FOUR or sometimes FIVE years, keep his athletic eligibility for all five years, and NOT GRADUATE???! Would you tell me how that happens?"
(Lance is sounding more and more like a Pentecostal preacher... the last thing you want to do is interrupt him when he's on a roll.)
"How is it that our Chancellor can speak up for something that's good and right, and these talk shows talk about it for DAYS and DAYS.... and meanwhile, over across the state, just 173 miles from here, you've got a university president who's been stealing MY money, who's been stealing from the taxpayers, who oughta be in the penitentiary... and that doesn't get 15 minutes of air time?!? It's just unbelievable!
"I think all this is doing is getting students more involved in the sports program. We might need need some help in marketing... hey, we've got kids majoring in marketing! Let THEM help!
"Vanderbilt hasn't cut any budgets. They're not talking de-emphasizing sports... why, one of them talk shows had us dropping football!
"All I think has happened is, Todd Turner's just lost his title [Director of Athletics]. I don't even think they're gonna be paying him any less. They're just moving him away from lookin' after sports.
"But you know what gets me... everybody always griped about [former Chancellor] Joe Wyatt, because he never said nothin' about sports, and nobody ever saw him at any sports events. OK, that's fine! But now, we've got a Chancellor who's tellin' everybody else to stick it, and they're STILL not happy!
"But that's all right... the only ones who need to be happy are us Vanderbilt fans.
"It's those two little words.... ACADEMIC REFORM... that just scare people to death. It just spooks people. We've got to get the STUDENT back in student-athlete. Something is WRONG here.
"And God forbid, GOD FORBID what would happen if Vanderbilt was ever to do good in FOOTBALL, or MEN'S BASKETBALL, because dang it, we're already good at everything else!"
At last, he takes a breath. At last, I have a chance to ask him about the Auburn game.
"Everybody's talking about how upset Auburn's gonna be, how they're gonna take it out on us," Lance says. "How about this... how about we take it out on THEM for a change?!
"Hey, put this in there, Bubba! I'm GLAD we've got a team full of sophomores. Maybe it's about time we handed this team down to our sons. This ain't my Daddy's Vanderbilt no more, and it ain't even my Vanderbilt. My Daddy's Vanderbilt didn't get it done, and MY Vanderbilt didn't get it done. Ain't it about time we handed this team down?
"I really think we can beat this Auburn team. Now, yeah, they may have some all-world players, that never go to class... but I know they ain't as well-coached as our players are. There ain't a thing I can do about all this stuff going on except what I'm already doin'. Coaches coach, players play, and dang it, I can be over there in Section F giving 'em hell like I always do.
"And that's exactly what I'm gonna do, except I'm gonna be a liquided up this time. Not 'liquored up', but 'liquided up' as in PROPERLY HYDRATED."
I hope so, Bubba. We're gonna need you for a full four quarters for this one.