Ultimate Underdog (via Sports Illustrated)

For Vanderbilt, playing in the nation’s toughest conference is a losing proposition. But the only team in the SEC that everyone can love is 2–0, thanks to a new coach who has turned a blind eye to the past.

For fans, Saban is like a fiftysomething Justin Bieber. It does not seem to bother anybody that he is a reluctant guest of honor. “I think you all know that this is one of my favorite days of the year,” Saban tells reporters sarcastically.

Appearing before the media alongside Saban and the three Tide players, almost for bookkeeping purposes, are the representatives for the Vanderbilt Commodores. They have a new coach, 39-year-old James Franklin, but the same old story. They have finished with a losing record in 27 of the last 28 years. They have not had a winning conference mark since 1982.

Even at a gathering of its conference brothers, Vanderbilt football is an orphan. Forget luring fans to Media Days. Vanderbilt barely draws any media to Media Days. Of the 1,050 credentialed reporters, fewer than 10 are there to cover Vanderbilt.

And yet: This appears to be Franklin’s favorite day of the year. He says, “I believe whoever I meet, they’re a Vanderbilt fan. And if they’re not, by the time we get done talking, they are.” He looks out at a ballroom of skeptical media members and sees opportunity in every seat. … Read More

(via Sports Illustrated)

(HT: @rmccost)

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