Four times this year, and, well, every year, NU plays an out-of-conference opponent. The question arises: who are these guys? Some people only want to know who they are in a football sense, but, to truly understand our opponents on the gridiron, you have to know where they come from, so football strategy can wait. I plan on getting to know these universities a little bit better with posts on each college, mainly with info gleaned from their wikipedia pages.
This week's victim: The Vanderbilt Commodores
Where: Nashville, Tennessee. You know Nashville. It's the capital of Tennessee. You know, Music City! Unfortunately, it's only one genre of music - country music, which is so dependent on the city that some refer to "Nashville" to mean the entire style of music. No jazz, hip-hop, funk, rock, blues, disco, soul, electronica, techno, house, no, not at all, really, none of those things - just the Grand Ole Opry and honky-tonk bars. This is what is meant by "music city." That being said, most of the music publishing and a good amount of the recording industry in the US is headquartered in Nashville, and many famous musicians have had to live/work there for some time. Bob Dylan wrote an album about it's skyline one time. Famous Nashvillians the three-headed monster of Miley Cyrus, Taylor Swift, and Kesha. Miley Cyrus, Taylor Swift, and Kesha. Conclusion: teenage girls from Nashville are taking over the world with their catchy tunes and mild sluttiness. BUILD A BOMB SHELTER AND HIDE, THE END IS NEAR. AND CATCHY.
Size: Vanderbilt has 6,796 undergrads, or .799 Northwesterns. This is the first time Northwestern has played a school with less undergrads since playing Duke in 2008 - 23 games ago. Context, punks.
Stadium: The creatively named Vanderbilt Stadium seats 39,970, meaning there are about 10,000 less seats than Ryan Field, meaning there are about 10,000 less empty seats per game there than there are at Ryan Field. (Man, we should've thought of that. It was named Dudley Field up until 1981, when the school pulled a reverse Ryan-izing and named it after the school instead of that Dudley guy. The stadium held the Tennessee Titans - then called the Oilers - for their first year in Nashville while their current stadium, LP Field, was under construction, after an ill-fated attempt at playing in Memphis. The stadium is currently undergoing a $50 million renovation that LTP is probably going to post about mighty soon.
Mascot: The Commodores. Commodore, of course, is a naval title - in the past, it used to be one of the highest positions in the Navy, equivalent to today's "Rear Admiral" , now it's mainly a honorary title, so far as I can tell - and also, the name of a band with Lionel Richie. So why Vanderbilt? Do they have some cool story behind the name. Oh, wait, they do?
You might have heard of Cornelius Vanderbilt - he's the guy the school is named after. He was an 1800's badass. He built railroads all over the Northeast, and owned a crapload of steamboats, and using those industries, became one of the richest people not just of the time, but in the history of the United States. He amassed a sum of $100 million (wow, he'd be pissed about that $50 million stadium renovation, huh) which, in today's money, is $173 billion.
Let's take a minute to think about how much cool stuff you could do with $173 billion. You could buy an Aston Martin every day, then buy a Lamborghini, and just crash them into each other at high speeds, every day. You could build a functional mansion out of $1 bills, or a smaller house out of twentys. You could kill a guy for fun, then purchase a small island nation such as Tuvalu and make your new nation's laws almost for extradition. You could sponsor $173 billion starving African children, which is preposterous, because there's only 8 billion people in the world and only some of us are starving African children. (I'm not one, for example, and polls indicate that very few of my readers are.)
But he never did all these cool things. And he never gave any of his money to charity. Until, before he died, he was like, "damn, what the hell am I going to do with all this damn money?" After all, there were no cars to buy - hence his ability to become the richest person in the world based off of steam-based transportation that traveled like eight miles an hour - no infomercials for starving kids, and no Pacific islands to purchase. Suffice it to say, he didn't figure out many good things to do with it. Of his $100 million fortune, he gave $95 million to his son and his grandkids. But his wife's cousin - a southern minister - convinced him to give a paltry $1 million to help fund a university in Nashville, then called Central University. Because he was such a badass, they named the University after him, even though he never visited Nashville once in his life. Hence, the teams are understandably titled "the Commodores".
Of course, their dumbass physical mascot is called "Mr. Commodore", which sort of makes up for having an interesting team name with a cool story behind it.
Mascot if I ran the school: I like Commodores. That being said, I'd like it if they spiced all their athletic crap up a bit with more Commodore-y stuff. Cannons. They need cannons. Right now, the most nautical things they do are anchor helmet stickers and have a random pirate-ass dude walk around the stadium, but I don't think that's enough. Maybe I'd call them the Killa Commodores, and they could get Killa Cam to show up to every home game. Alternately, I'd get Lionel Richie to show up at every game and play that one Commodores song that's actually good. Or they could make their fight song "Brick House". (Note: this is not the Commodores song that is actually good.)
Notable Alums: I thought Vandy was one-upping us in the alum game when their Wikipedia page had Al Gore and former Nobel Peace Prize winner Mohammed Yunus prominently featured under "notable people." But that's some BS, because both of them were grad students, neither of them were undergrads ever. Screw you, Wikipedia! However, Ross Perot did graduate from the school. They might not have had Gore, but they did have someone who was prominently involved in a presidential race, although, their guy came way, way, way, way less close to becoming president.. So there's that! Swimsuit model Molly Sims, who is hot, attended the school but dropped out. Skip Bayless, who is several million times less sexually attractive than Molly Sims, is one of the least likable people ever, and went to Vandy, not that those two things are connected. So did Buster Olney. (There's a scholarship at Vanderbilt for people interested in pursuing sports journalism, so they have a few scattered across the industry.)
Current NFL Players: 13. The obvious star of the bunch is Jay Cutler, who - oh, sorry, I was going to finish the sentence, but I just accidentally picked off a pass Jay Cutler threw and now have to run it back. Earl Bennett, who was very briefly simultaneously playing at Vandy with Cutler, is currently a wide receiver for the Bears, which would explain why he's trying to tackle me right now, having just intercepted a Jay Cutler pass by accident.
Difference between the amount of times Vanderbilt has been to the NCAA tournament and the amount of times Northwestern has: 11. While they've never been big in SEC football, the Commodores have won the SEC basketball title three times, and have been downright good recently, making the tournament three of the last four years., when they were led by SEC players of the year (in seperate years, though) Derrick Byars and Shan Foster. The '07 ship was followed by a Sweet 16 run - however, this past year, despite a No. 4 seed, they fell to Murray State, immediately screwing up my bracket (which had Vandy to the Elite 8 because I'm a complete and total idiot) while the Racers became America's sweethearts for about four hours before a trillion other upsets happened. The school was also basketball home to Will Perdue, who won three championships with the Chicago Bulls, and looked exactly like the guy from the Perdue chicken commercials, despite being like 80 years younger, and Perry Wallace, the first black athlete in the SEC. (In 1967 - you know, 20 years after black people started being allowed to play in the MLB. And they say the south is slow to pick up on things when it comes to race.) The Commodores play their home games at Memorial Gymnasium, which features benches behind the basket supports. Because it's an awesome stadium, they used to use it to host NCAA tournament games, but coaches complained about having to deal with the awkward bench setup - hard to call out plays on one end of the court if you're behind the basket on the other end.
Elsewhere in Vanderbilt sports: Vanderbilt has an overwhelmingly sick baseball team, having been ranked No. 1 for nearly the entire 2007 season and generally qualifying for every NCAA tournament. In 2007, they produced two top-10 picks - David Price, you know, the all-star really good pitcher guy for the Tampa Bay Rays, and Casey Weathers, who went eighth overall and is still toiling in the minors, and the next year, Pedro Alvarez, a third baseman, got drafted by Pittsburgh eighth overall, just recently having been called up to the big leagues. Like Northwestern, only one varsity team at Vanderbilt has ever brought home a championship, and like Northwestern, it's an embarrassing team: the 2007 women's bowling squad brought home one of those big ol' plaques. (And yes, women's bowling is an NCAA sport - it was introduced in 2004, and has been completely dominated by Nebraska, Central Missouri State, and Farleigh Dickinson. So now you know.)
NEEEEEEEEEEERDS!: For the first of two straight weeks, NU will play a school ranked No. 17 by the US News and World Report. (Rice is tied with Vanderbilt in the rankings.) I will take this point in time to note that Northwestern is still ranked No. 12. (Feel free to insult Vandy fans in the comments, because I heard students at schools ranked below No. 15 are widely illiterate.)
I'll be smoking trees in Belize when they find me: Vanderbilt's campus is filled with old, beautiful trees, which led the Association of Botanical Gardens to deem them a national arboretum, because some dude somewhere thinks that having a campus filled with beautiful trees is nice. Well, guess what, we have a beach. What, you don't want to go to the beach in February in Chicago? Oh, yeah, extreme hypothermia. I forgot about that.
I'm a hustler baby! I just want you to know: Northwestern's newspaper is called the Daily Northwestern. Vanderbilt's is called "The Vanderbilt Hustler." I AM TRANSFERRING THIS VERY SECOND. It's been in operation since 1888 - the oldest newspaper in Nashville.