SI.com: VU's Johnson is nation's most underrated coach

Thursday, August 7, 2008 at 1:06am
Sports Illustrated.com named VU's Bobby Johnson the nation's most underrated coach. Mike Strasinger for The City Paper

Vanderbilt’s Bobby Johnson all but laughed off a Wednesday article on SportsIllustrated.com that listed him as the nation’s most underrated football coach.

Writer Stewart Mandel, citing VU’s newfound competitiveness in the Southeastern Conference, ranked Johnson ahead of Florida Atlantic’s Howard Schnellenberger, Connecticut’s Randy Edsall, Cincinnati’s Brian Kelly and TCU’s Gary Patterson.

“It’s a nice compliment, but it’s for the players and the program,” Johnson said.

Since 2005, Johnson has guided the Commodores to 14 victories, tying for the most wins at the school in a three-year span since 1982-84.

Included in those 14 wins have been road victories at Tennessee, Georgia, South Carolina and Arkansas and a near-miss, double-overtime loss at Florida in 2005.

In 2007, the Commodores finished 5-7 and lost a 25-24 decision to Tennessee and fell to Georgia, 20-17, on a last-second field goal.

Wrote Mandel: “Record be damned, Vandy is no longer your father’s Vandy. The Commodores, for the first time in a quarter-century, are a legitimately competitive SEC team (and this at a time when the conference has never been tougher).”

Johnson expressed satisfaction that national media are noticing Vanderbilt’s improvement.

“I agree with him on that point but it doesn’t have anything to do with me,” he said. “The players and the assistant coaches are working hard, and we’re trying to get more competitive in the SEC. It’s an extremely tough conference right now.”

GOING STRONG: Sales for Vanderbilt football season tickets exceeded 2007 totals this week, school officials said.

With more than a month remaining before the Commodores’ home opener against South Carolina, 15,385 season tickets have been sold through Monday, Athletic Ticket Manager Eric Jones said. Last year, 15,171 season tickets were sold, the most since 1996.

At the current sales pace, there might be limited availability of single-game tickets for Vanderbilt home games against Florida and Auburn. Single-game tickets available for the Tennessee game will not go on sale until Sept. 1.

VU season-ticket packages begin at $99. Call 322-GOLD or visit VUCommodores.com for more information.

GOLD NUGGETS: Junior reserve defensive tackle Derrius Dowell will miss the entire 2008 season after suffering a torn ACL in his right knee during Tuesday night’s practice. …Starting defensive tackle Adam Smotherman missed Wednesday’s practice due to a death in his family. …Punter Brett Upson missed practice Wednesday for the six straight night due to an undisclosed stomach illness. …Vanderbilt is scheduled to practice Thursday night and Friday night before conducting a team scrimmage at 2:30 p.m. Saturday at Vanderbilt Stadium. The team will be off Sunday. ...Wide receiver Terence Jeffers, who transferred from Connecticut to Vanderbilt this summer, practiced with his new team Wednesday for the first time after completing summer-school work earlier in the day. He will have two seasons of eligibility remaining beginning in 2009.

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By: JohnnyLaw on 12/31/69 at 6:00

As usual, SI doesn't have a clue. There is NO way Vandy wins 6 games this year, even with their cupcake non-conference schedule. Doubt they'll win 1 SEC game. Johnson is a mediocre coach whose mediocre record speaks for itself. Wish it weren't true, but it is.

By: frank brown on 12/31/69 at 6:00

I am not sure if Johnson is underated or not. I do know that he is the perfect coach for a school like Vanderbilt. (where winning football games are secondary to banana bread made by your grandmother)

By: JC on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Neither of you is very intelligent. Wish it weren't true, but it is.

By: wallycheckers on 12/31/69 at 6:00

For anyone that's really kept up with Vanderbilt football during the past 25 years, you'll agree that Johnson has done more than any other coach at the school.I'd like to see Phil Fulmer or Mark Richt do what Johnson has done at Vanderbilt. Steve Spurrier can't even finish in one of the top two slots in the Eastern division. And frankbrown, if banana bread is code for academic integrity and doing things the right way, winning games IS second to banana bread.

By: TITAN1 on 12/31/69 at 6:00

JohnnyLaw must be a fan of that team to the east. Coach Johnson is a very good coach and I think Vandy's defense will keep them in a lot of games and I think winning six is a real possibility.

By: jmoconn on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Of course the SI guy is correct: Johnson has done an excellent job recruiting better talent, considering that VU does not have an alternate-track academic program for athletes. But these hostile commenters are correct in that the only thing that matters is the final score, and Vandy has to get to the point where they can get 3-4 conference wins. Success will be much sweeter for Johnson/Vandy in this blast furnace of a conference.

By: Bennyhaha on 12/31/69 at 6:00

"winning are secondary to banana bread"...huh?

By: VUGuy on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Vandy could compete at a higher level if they would allow kids who take 3 years to get eligible into school. 3 years to get eligible...that's a joke right?! Not in Knoxville it isn't.

By: OneTimer on 12/31/69 at 6:00

SI doesn't have a clue when you disagree with them. They do have a clue when they look favorable on the Big Orange. Wish it weren't true, but it is.

By: breathofdeath on 12/31/69 at 6:00

I believe the banana bread reference was in regard to Bryant Hahnfeldt's grandmother baking him some banana bread after Hahnfeldt blew any chances VU had of beating UT and UK last year due to missed kicks off of his lead foot.

By: Bennyhaha on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Thanks breathofdeath, so The Brown Frank's comment is a jab at Vandy using incorrect grammar. Funny stuff.

By: excon on 12/31/69 at 6:00

I agree that he is most underrated coach.

By: skin on 12/31/69 at 6:00

coach Johnson,do not have to say a word His work will speak for him,This is a new day and a new year,Things are getting better for vu football,You do not have to belive it Just write it down.and see it come to pass,As long as you're green you're growing:as soon as you're ripe,you start to rot.(old saying)Blesed is the man who perseveres under trial,because when he has stood the test,he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him,and coach johnson is just beginning to live.Live on Coach Johnson Play on!!!!!!!