John Adams: Trivia question: Who coaches Vanderbilt?

John Adams
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  • What: Tennessee vs. North Carolina at the Music City Bowl
  • When: Thursday, Dec. 30, 2010, 6:30 p.m.
  • Where: LP Field
  • Cost: Not available
  • Age limit: All ages
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NASHVILLE - There's nothing quite like the hiring of a new football coach to arouse the passionate fan base of an SEC school.

Tennessee fans saw that firsthand when Derek Dooley was hired last January. They also saw it firsthand a year earlier when Lane Kiffin was hired.

So you can imagine the electricity surging through Music City as Vanderbilt begins a new era of football.

Since I happened to be in town for Tennessee's bowl game with North Carolina, I had a chance to sample the excitement for myself.

As an icebreaker, I asked, "Who's the Vanderbilt football coach?"

The man behind the Opryland Hotel's information stand shook his head from side to side and said, "I don't even remember who the last one was. He was only there a short while."

That was Robbie Caldwell, whose short while as an interim head coach didn't last half a year.

Undeterred, I stepped inside Bushels and Baskets and asked a clerk, "Do you know who the Vanderbilt football coach is?"

"I'm afraid I don't," she said with a smile.

I liked her T-shirts, though. One read, "Many have eaten here; few have died."

I next asked a middle-aged man in the courtyard if he knew the name of Vanderbilt's football coach.

"I don't know his name," said the Alabama resident. "But he's from Maryland."

Moments later, as I passed through a corridor of the hotel, I overhead a skinny high school student from Georgetown, Ky., asking a maid, "Do you have a plunger?"

Judging from her expression, she didn't speak English. So I didn't bother her with a football question.

I asked the kid in search of a plunger, though.

"No," he said before asking an English-speaking maid for a plunger.

Another out-of-towner: What do you expect?

Thirty minutes later, I checked into the Marriott about 50 yards away from Vanderbilt's football stadium. The prospect of talking Commodores football with someone well versed in local goings-on was encouraging.

I repeated my question.

"No, I don't know his name," he said. "They just changed coaches. Who was that last guy?"

When I maintained a blank expression, he explained, "I follow Tennessee football."

At the registration desk, I asked the same question, and got the same answer.

"No, I don't know his name," she said.

"What about the last coach?" I asked, desperate for progress.

"I should know his name," she said. "The team stayed here during the season (the night before home games)."

But there was no hint of recognition.

I moved on to a bartender on the periphery of the lobby.

She smiled when I asked, as though the question would be followed by a punch line.

When she realized the seriousness of my question, she was apologetic.

"That's something I should know," she said.

"It's no big deal," I said.

"But I know someone who would know," she said before making a beeline for a bellman.

"I thought he would know," she said upon her return.

Failed by humans, she resorted to technology. Blackberry in hand, she said hopefully, "Bobby Johnson?"

"No, but he used to be the coach," I said.

Second later, she asked, "James Franklin?"

He has been on the job only a few weeks and he's practically a household name.

That's just the way it is in SEC country.

John Adams is a senior columnist. He may be reached at 865-342-6284 or adamsj@knoxnews.com.

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Comments » 32

wazzya69vol writes:

I started to be a wise azz and say "who cares". But after reading the article, that was actually rather humorous, or even funny! John, not bad! I agree with p13, "sums it up".

ClarksvilleVols42 writes:

Even JA is trying to tick off vandygrad!!

dvhill100 writes:

Pretty funny. People just don't realize the difference between SEC football (not Ivy League SEC football) and everyone else.

CoverOrange writes:

When I maintained a blank expression, he explained, "I follow Tennessee football."

I think John wrote that backwards. The guy said he was a UT fan and then John had a blank expression.

Hrockytop writes:

JA is like Gilbert Gottfried.......How in the heck does this guy keep getting work?

vol_chaz writes:

haha.. Franklin was days away from getting fired anyways, with Friedgen on his way out. Of course he'll take that Vandy job.

Lostvolinhighweeds writes:

CantstandVandyGrad......
This ones for YOU.

TommyJack writes:

You're killin me, Adams. You're killin me.

Futurecoach16 writes:

in response to AF1A4:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Obviously, someone has to explain it yet again for you: John Adams is a columnist, not a reporter. Reporters report the news (hence the name) while columnists just write stories with mostly opinions in them. Sheesh.

Regarding the actual COLUMN, that was funny. An entertaining read.

dvols writes:

and to think TN almost fell to the bottom.......

VolinCalif writes:

in response to Futurecoach16:

Obviously, someone has to explain it yet again for you: John Adams is a columnist, not a reporter. Reporters report the news (hence the name) while columnists just write stories with mostly opinions in them. Sheesh.

Regarding the actual COLUMN, that was funny. An entertaining read.

Good for you FC. I get a kick out of the things JA writes about. I don't think there is any need to sugar coat things and John sure doesn't do that. However I read the LA Times and the SF and Sacramento papers and once in a great while one of the eastern papers I pick up at the News stand. Of course I read the KNS. KNS has a very good sports section, They have very good reporters and I like all of them. John is an Icon and I hope he stays with KNS. Just who would the Fans beat-up on if they didn't have John?

tovolny writes:

John, that was funny. But not as funny as KNS starting a pay site. And, not as funny as Steven Pearl and Brian Williams trying to play offense.

CrankE writes:

Who's laughing? Adams was dead serious. Besides, who needs to waste valuable seconds trying to write humor about the turkey injectors when it writes itself?

Now if only there was a plunger big enough to unstop the pipeline and move John Adams downstream.

feathersax writes:

Truly funny...take it from a Vol fan living in Nashville! The 1st words outta Franklin's mouth: "I have a plan". Didn't they all when hired at vandie, the ultimate coaches' graveyard?

hallsguy writes:

You mean Vanderbilt got a football coach? Fer sure? I thought they were still discussing contracts. Hard to find anyone to take that job.
They don't even have an athletic director.But they are welcome to ours-more than welcome.
Only reason Vandy stays in SEC is for that distribution of the bowl checks everybody else brings in.

ThePhan writes:

This is just very lazy journalism. When a columnist doesn't have anything else to write about, why not drag out that tired old subject, taking potshots at Vanderbilt. You'd think with Tennessee playing a big game, he could come up with something else. Not very original or thought-provoking, John, and downright boring.

ThePhan writes:

Oh, and John, the new coach at Vandy hasn't been "on the job only a few weeks." At least bother to get the facts right.

ThePhan writes:

in response to vol_chaz:

haha.. Franklin was days away from getting fired anyways, with Friedgen on his way out. Of course he'll take that Vandy job.

Kinda like UT helped out Dooley by saving him from eventually being fired at La Tech, eh?

garrthom writes:

Yeah you can always rely on Vandy football for a good laugh. I guess there's nothing good to write about UT.

NashvillePreds writes:

By my estimation, VU has a core fan base of about 20,000 fans. They are mostly congregated in West Meade, Belle Meade, etc. Beyond that group, the city doesn't really follow Vandy at all.

GO VOLS! Beat the Tar Heels!

DRORANGELOVE writes:

As a very long time UT Fan I have heard many jokes and cutdowns about ALL the football teams and programs in the SEC. One in particular that I remember is: Do you know what a UT football player calls a Vanderbilt football player after graduation ??? Answer: BOSS !!! There is something to be said about getting a degree from Vanderbilt, or Duke, or Stanford, as well as the Ivy League schools where more importance is stressed on academic excellence instead of football prowess. You can't blame Vandy for staying in the SEC and getting a large paycheck every year from the SEC Bowl and TV packages.
They could possibly join the Ivy League if it ever expanded or possibly get involved with a new conference that stressed education as its first priority over sports, but why give up all the revenue they are getting from the SEC just to be competetive in sports?? If you made up a Super conference of Texas, Florida, So Cal, Ohio St, Okla, Michigan, Fla St, Nebraska, Auburn, Tennessee, Georgia, and West Va, at the end of the season, SOMEBODY has to finish on the bottom in the standings.
So Vanderbilt finishes on the bottom each year, So What???? Somebody has to and look at all the $$$$$ they collect just from being a member of the SEC and letting all the other member schools spend millions of dollars on their athletic programs so that Vanderbilt can get its equal share and split the millions of $$$$ that is divvied up.Pretty smart of Vandy if you ask me.

gnm53108 writes:

Thanks John....Now I know that nobady cares about vandy football.

skm writes:

good stuff john. i like your parody.

ThePhan writes:

I wonder how many people across the state of Tennessee know the name of the Vols' current coach. Probably fewer than we think.

arkyvol writes:

unless and until vanderbilt makes the decision to make a serious attempt to have a serious football program, the dores will be as relevant to the s.e.c. as the weather in timbuctu.

ThePhan writes:

in response to arkyvol:

unless and until vanderbilt makes the decision to make a serious attempt to have a serious football program, the dores will be as relevant to the s.e.c. as the weather in timbuctu.

The same could be said about the University of Tennessee as an academic institution.

NashvillePreds writes:

in response to ThePhan:

The same could be said about the University of Tennessee as an academic institution.

Really? Is that why the MBA program is ranked ahead of Vandy? Is that why the undergraduate business school is a top 30 public institution?

I'd say, judging by the amount of posts you've put on this story, your feelings must have been hurt by Mr. Adams.

Answer this. There's a UT grad, and a vandy grad going for the same position at a large financial institution in Nashville. They're both roughly the same age, and are respected in the industry. Whom gets the job? The UT guy. Now he is the boss of 3 vandy grads. True story, I work for him as well.

Goes to show you that even a $40,000/yr. tuition can't beat the BIG ORANGE.

Colliervol writes:

in response to DRORANGELOVE:

As a very long time UT Fan I have heard many jokes and cutdowns about ALL the football teams and programs in the SEC. One in particular that I remember is: Do you know what a UT football player calls a Vanderbilt football player after graduation ??? Answer: BOSS !!! There is something to be said about getting a degree from Vanderbilt, or Duke, or Stanford, as well as the Ivy League schools where more importance is stressed on academic excellence instead of football prowess. You can't blame Vandy for staying in the SEC and getting a large paycheck every year from the SEC Bowl and TV packages.
They could possibly join the Ivy League if it ever expanded or possibly get involved with a new conference that stressed education as its first priority over sports, but why give up all the revenue they are getting from the SEC just to be competetive in sports?? If you made up a Super conference of Texas, Florida, So Cal, Ohio St, Okla, Michigan, Fla St, Nebraska, Auburn, Tennessee, Georgia, and West Va, at the end of the season, SOMEBODY has to finish on the bottom in the standings.
So Vanderbilt finishes on the bottom each year, So What???? Somebody has to and look at all the $$$$$ they collect just from being a member of the SEC and letting all the other member schools spend millions of dollars on their athletic programs so that Vanderbilt can get its equal share and split the millions of $$$$ that is divvied up.Pretty smart of Vandy if you ask me.

Yep. And pretty dumb on the part of the rest of the SEC schools to allow them to take our welfare checks and NEVER reinvesting in their program to make it better. Where in heck is all that money going?

Their program is on a milk carton and they hired a coach off of a milk carton. That pretty much sums up the situation.

ThePhan writes:

A better poll would have been to name the latest Vol athlete arrested.

ThePhan writes:

in response to NashvillePreds:

Really? Is that why the MBA program is ranked ahead of Vandy? Is that why the undergraduate business school is a top 30 public institution?

I'd say, judging by the amount of posts you've put on this story, your feelings must have been hurt by Mr. Adams.

Answer this. There's a UT grad, and a vandy grad going for the same position at a large financial institution in Nashville. They're both roughly the same age, and are respected in the industry. Whom gets the job? The UT guy. Now he is the boss of 3 vandy grads. True story, I work for him as well.

Goes to show you that even a $40,000/yr. tuition can't beat the BIG ORANGE.

Yes, I too can rattle off a hundred anecdotes of why I believe my educational experience was superior to that of the typical Tennessee graduate. So can you.

But the truth is, I harbor no ill feelings towards my friends and coworkers who are graduates from Knoxville. In fact, some of them are my best friends. And I would have no problem with my children attending UT. That doesn't change the fact that the athletic program is often an embarrassment, and this column should be embarrassing to John Adams.

orangecountyvols writes:

Vols,

Has the Vandygrad now been booted, and come back as a new troll? ThePhan? Sounds terribly familiar doesn't he?

Perhaps the proposed new paying site would weed out a few of the trolls.........but don't bet on it.

kyletrktr writes:

sure makes us tennessee fans feel better about our program... no really, it does.

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