Weekly Obsession: Metaphor down

Wednesday, July 18, 2012 at 2:04pm

Cornelius Vanderbilt must be rolling over in his very well-appointed Staten Island grave.

The Commodore made the first bit of what would become a very substantial fortune in the shipping industry — thus the nickname — and no doubt had a fundamental understanding of how ships work.

The university that bears his name and the athletic teams to which he lent his sobriquet could use a lesson.

Having run out of slogans hinging on various gold-themed clichés — and thankfully, not returning to the Woody Widenhofer-era rallying cry, “Have Fun, Expect To Win” — the powers-that-be on West End have settled on “Anchor Down!”

It shows up on Twitter in hashtags and 140-character pep talks from Coach James Franklin. Everyone’s really seemed to embrace it as an embodiment of the Franklin-era Commodores, full of promise and high expectations.

Not full of nautical knowledge, though.

When anchors go down, the ship stops. Progress halts. Momentum ceases. Stasis sets in. Beaten by the waves, the mighty ship settles in at 6-7.

Now, anchors also represent stability in the language of symbols, and maybe that’s not a bad message for a program on its sixth coach in 20 years. Maybe that’s what they are going for, but probably not.

There are plenty of nautical metaphors Vandy could have exploited for its new image:

“Full Sails.”

“Damn The Torpedoes!”

“Fire When Ready.”

“Here’s a Big Cannon and We Are Going To Shoot It at You and It’s Going To Really Hurt, Especially If You Are Ole Miss or Kentucky.”

The only way “Anchor Down” is acceptable in the hyper-aggressive ultraviolence of SEC football is if it is appended with “… On Top of Your Head.”

Maybe that didn’t fit on a T-shirt.

The Commodores don’t have the U.S. Naval Academy on the schedule anytime soon, but they should work that out.

The Midshipmen could teach the ’Dores a few things — how to string together winning seasons under stringent academic requirements, for one. Even the lowest 4th-class middy knows that to get the ship to go, the crew must weigh anchor, not drop it.

Unfortunately, “Anchor Down” doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere. Much like an anchored ship.

4 Comments on this post:

By: MarkNWhiteBluff on 7/18/12 at 4:37

Appreciate the VU love seen in your article. The way Nashville is rallying around CJF and the Vanderbilt football team, this stab at funny might leave a bad taste in a growing number of your readership. Hmmm

By: Oy Vey on 7/19/12 at 6:41

For offensive linemen and pretty much anyone on defense tackling someone, the immovability of an anchored object is a very desirable characteristic. Can we look forward to semiotic deconstructions of "War Damn Eagle" and "Rammer Jammer Yellowhammer" in future articles, or is the snark going to be restricted to the hometown's team?

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