Boclair: Music City Bowl not a bad spot for Vandy faithful

Tuesday, December 11, 2012 at 10:05pm

In the week that has followed the announcement of this year’s college football bowl lineup, lots of teeth have been gnashed, much hair has been pulled and disappointment has been expressed in regard to Vanderbilt’s inclusion in the Music City Bowl.

The prevailing perception is that the Commodores and their fans are somehow cheated or that their bowl experience is somewhat diminished by the fact that they will play in their hometown — and for the second time in five years, no less.

Nothing could be farther from reality.

What’s funny about the whole thing is that any other time, in any other situation Vanderbilt and its fans revel in the ways the university and its student-athletes are different from the larger state schools that comprise the rest of the SEC and make up the vast majority of bowl teams. However, the notion that the Music City Bowl is some sort of disappointment presumes that the Commodores are just like everyone else.

Unlike a lot of other schools, the bulk of Vanderbilt graduates do not stay in this area. They spread out across the country and even the world. So it’s not as if they all attend games at Vanderbilt Stadium regularly throughout the fall.

We all know what a great city this is in general, not to mention what it has to offer from a hospitality standpoint. The opportunity to come back and spend New Year’s Eve in Nashville has to be appealing for many. Add to that the fact that a bowl appearance was not a surprise this year and chances are more alumni than ever have saved the time to make a trip to Nashville from whatever their current location.

In short, the Music City Bowl offers Vanderbilt the opportunity for a sort of ad hoc homecoming — one that actually is better than the real thing.

Seriously, what provides more motivation for a Vanderbilt grad living in New York or Chicago or Seattle to come to town — an October game against UMass or a Dec. 31 bowl game against North Carolina State? It’s no contest, which is why Vanderbilt will be well-represented at this year’s game (as it was in 2008) and why area hotels won’t look like ghost towns in the days surrounding the contest.

In addition to all of that, the idea that a virtual home game somehow is unique simply is not true. Just look at this season’s bowl lineup and how much “travel” other schools and their fans have to do.

San Diego State faces Brigham Young in the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl in San Diego. There’s a whopping five miles between San Diego State’s campus and Qualcomm Stadium, where the game will be played.

Texas gets to go all the way to San Antonio to play Oregon State in the Valero Alamo Bowl. That’s a journey of 80 miles straight down an interstate, and the way Texans drive, they can cover that distance in no time.

Central Florida gets Ball State in the Beef O’Brady’s St. Petersburg Bowl, which is slightly more than 100 miles from campus.

Louisiana-Lafayette meets East Carolina in the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl, a two-hour drive from campus.

Western Kentucky’s first bowl opponent is Central Michigan at the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl in Detroit. That game takes place roughly 150 miles from Central Michigan’s campus. That’s about the same distance Duke travels to Charlotte, where it will face Cincinnati in the Belk Bowl.

There are 35 bowl games this year and seven (20 percent) feature a team that won’t have to travel far. Vanderbilt is not alone in that regard, and it certainly is not in a bad spot.

6 Comments on this post:

By: rldavenport@com... on 12/12/12 at 10:39

We'll definitely fill LP Field, Mr. Boclair, but we also want to prove to some of the "high and mighty" directors of other bowl games that we WILL travel to other destinations to support the Vanderbilt program in a bowl game!

Interesting argument about other teams having nearby bowl games, but do you really think that Texas, San Diego State, and even Duke are that excited about having games so close to their campuses?

This program will continue to build momentum, despite what any naysayers think.

By: brenthurst on 12/12/12 at 11:30

To back up the idea of Vandy fans being spread around the country, a poll on a Vandy message board indicates that supporters will be traveling to Nashville for the MCB from at least 22 different states, roughly in a box drawn connecting California, Maine, Florida, and Texas. Even those from Middle Tennessee are spread out, coming from 30 different cities.

By: 4gold on 12/13/12 at 6:38

Maybe so but fact is Vandy finished ahead of MS. ST. in the standings and got the lower rated bowl due to the fact Gator Bowl officials wanted States larger fan base to fill their pockets. Bowls are a lot more about money grab than rewarding a team for good season these days. Vandy did get shafted.

Go Dores, Preds, Titans! Go Nashville a great place to live!

By: 4gold on 12/13/12 at 6:40

Also will VU fans spend any time on lower broad or just go to game and leave?
Go Dores, Preds, Titans! Go Nashville a great place to live!

By: topsman97 on 12/13/12 at 10:50

Boclair,

I'm sure you meant well with your article, but you're assuming that all Vandy fans are Vandy grads. Well, I'm not.

Vandy does have "sidewalk" fans and we are mostly from the middle Tennessee area. Crossing the Cumberland River for a bowl game is not my idea of the bowl experience, yet this will be the second time in five years that we've had this experience. In addition, I have Titans season tickets. I've seen LP Field about 75 times the last 12 years. The only thing different for me will be the club seats, which I also purchased for the MCB in 2008.

Now, I'll be there because I'm a fan, but I'd rather be in J'ville, Atlanta, Orlando...some place besides Tennessee and B'ham. Nashville has a better than average chance for crappy weather that day of the year (like we had in 2008) plus 11 am kickoff (at least the Gator Bowl will kick offs one hour later). The game time will make for a quick tailgate party if we have one at all.

It's just difficult to get excited about the bowl game when I have to keep hoping that we'll get a good day for weather and not some 22 degree kind of crap day with a 20 MPH wind from the northwest. My girlfriend won't even go in if the stadium that happens...and she loves football. She grew up in Florida and hasn't been able to adjust to the cold weather even after living here for 5 years. She doesn't want to sit there freezing and I completely understand.

So, forgive me if I choose to grumble a little. I'd like to leave the state of TN for a bowl game at some point and no....I don't want to go to B'ham.

By: topsman97 on 12/13/12 at 11:01

One other thing about the bowl game, but has nothing to do with this article. I've heard the Music City Bowl committee get excited about every time slot that they've played since the bowl has existed.

When I heard them get excited about 11am this season, I knew they were so full crap. What bowl committee would actually WANT to play their game at 11am on day that a lot of people actually work. New Year's Eve Day is not a holiday, so a lot of people won't even see the game live because they working at least a half day.

Just once, I'd like to a see a bowl committee chairman say, "This is the worst possible time to play a bowl game. The ratings for this time slot will suck. We hope that somehow we can avoid this kickoff time next season and will do everything within our power to move to another day/time for next year."