John Adams: Vanderbilt recruiting impacts UT

John Adams

The recruitment of quarterback Gunner Kiel shouldn't go unnoticed by Tennessee football fans.

Don't get the wrong idea. The second-ranked quarterback in this recruiting class isn't considering the Vols. The impact is more subtle than that.

As of Monday afternoon, Kiel was trying to decide between three schools: Notre Dame, LSU and — hold onto your helmet — Vanderbilt.

LSU is the No. 1 team in the nation, so it's a fashionable choice. Notre Dame has a bit of football history behind it, and Kiehl is from Columbus, Ind. But Vanderbilt?

There are junior colleges with more football tradition than Vanderbilt. The Commodores' stadium isn't half the size of the elite SEC programs' and on any given Saturday is subject to a takeover by opposing fans. But Vanderbilt somehow made Kiel's shortlist.

Even in the unpredictable realm of recruiting, this qualifies as the strangest of twists. And it's apt to produce mixed reviews from those who cast their allegiance with the state's more recognizable program.

The recent decline of UT football understandably raises fan concerns about recruiting. A school that relies so heavily on national recruiting seemingly would benefit from winning at the highest level or at least to the extent that it could slip into a bowl game within an easy day's drive of its campus.

However, if Vanderbilt can get so much as a return phone call from a prominent quarterback recruit, that's a noteworthy sign UT's 5-7 record and recent history of mediocrity won't sabotage its recruiting.

The Vols have had three head coaches and two losing records in the last four seasons. They have been subjected to an NCAA investigation. They have endured as much turmoil as any BCS program in the country that didn't have a former coach accused of molesting children.

Yet they're working on another top-20 recruiting class. That tells you something about the program's appeal. In fact, I'm convinced that if UT athletic director Dave Hart announced the Vols would no longer field a football team, at least a three-star recruit still would commit to the Vols within a week.

The other side of this recruiting topic is less en

couraging for UT. If this were just about Kiel, you could characterize it as an aberration. But ESPN ranks Vanderbilt's current list of commitments as No. 22 nationally, just six places below UT and ahead of the likes of Virginia Tech and Oregon.

These are merely commitments, not signees. So you might assume some of the Commodores' 20 commitments will come to their senses between now and signing date and opt for a program with a college-size stadium and a fan base that wouldn't be hard-pressed to fill Thompson-Boling Arena,

But what if the commitments hold up? What if Vanderbilt signs a top-25 class? Then, you really would have to wonder about James Franklin.

Before the 2011 season if you asked hard-core college football fans "Who's James Franklin?" they would have been more likely to answer the "Missouri quarterback" than the "Vanderbilt coach."

It's impressive enough that in his first year as a head coach, Franklin led Vanderbilt to a bowl game. He's 1-for-1 in bowls at a school that's about to play in only its second bowl since 1982. But even before Franklin won his first game, he was winning over recruits. Since then, the Commodores have won six games, two more than they did the last two seasons combined.

They have proved — for at least one season — you can recruit effectively without winning at a high level. That should be reassuring for a UT program that has won only six more games than it has lost in the last seven seasons.

It should be less assuring for the Vols if it means Vanderbilt has become a recruiting threat.

John Adams is a senior columnist. He may be reached at 865-342-6284 or adamsj@knoxnews.com. Follow him at http://twitter.com/johnadamskns.

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Comments » 191

voloffaith writes:

Smoke and mirrors their sir......if the ink is on the paper and dry come next month then yippee for them. He is an enthisiastic,non-handshaking, coach that appeals to youngins that want thrills. They will occasionally snatch a good player or two. If Kiel hangs on sloopy he needs support staff to. So Sir John all is speculation and stoking the coals to fire up UT fanbase with 'The sky is falling' printed matter.

Witch_Doctors writes:

Witch Doctor say he would be a great catch for Vandy but a kid considering Vanderbilt probably isnt looking at Tennessee in the first place. Witch Doctor say Vandy kids look at academically differently. Witch Doctor say thats why we kick their butts in football and then work for them the rest of our lives. lol
Bones never lie.

Vols7Twins writes:

I thought all the recruiting news was suppose to go on the great pay site for the many thousand paying members.

Prostar writes:

Leave it to Sir John to keep stirring the pudding. How many head coaches has Vandy had in the last four years, John? What's their record over the last four years? Going to their SECOND bowl game in 30 years, even a blind hog will find an acorn every now and then, John. Instead of trying to tear us down with what we don't have or missed out on, try building us up with who we are in on. Let's emphasize the young men who are committed or are already here. Think positive, just because we're down doesn't mean we have to stay down.

Ayres_Hall writes:

Vandy is and will always be... Vandy.

Adams should be the next guest speaker at the monthly meeting of the Legion of the Miserable.

wallingdad writes:

in response to Witch_Doctors:

Witch Doctor say he would be a great catch for Vandy but a kid considering Vanderbilt probably isnt looking at Tennessee in the first place. Witch Doctor say Vandy kids look at academically differently. Witch Doctor say thats why we kick their butts in football and then work for them the rest of our lives. lol
Bones never lie.

bite your tongue!! working for them? Are you crazy? NEVER!!! (they do have a great hospital though which serves middle Tennessee very well)

VUSean writes:

That fact that UT fans are dedicating and worrying about an entire article about Vanderbilt recruiting says a lot. We're better than you in baseball, men's bball and now football and you can only blame your decline on past cheating...LOL!

These programs are headed in different directions, nice to hear some of you are finally recognizing it.

Rivals has Vanderbilt as a top 20 recruiting class without Kiel.

And the only reason why UT won this year's match-up was because of a blown call in OT and our QB had his worst game of the year. We are going to own UT for the foreseeable future!! Anchor Down!

dvols writes:

what if.........?

Vols7Twins writes:

in response to Prostar:

Leave it to Sir John to keep stirring the pudding. How many head coaches has Vandy had in the last four years, John? What's their record over the last four years? Going to their SECOND bowl game in 30 years, even a blind hog will find an acorn every now and then, John. Instead of trying to tear us down with what we don't have or missed out on, try building us up with who we are in on. Let's emphasize the young men who are committed or are already here. Think positive, just because we're down doesn't mean we have to stay down.

Getting John to write a positive read about Tennessee is about the same as trying to get me to buy a Knoxville newspaper. It ain't going to happen.

sidwalkvol writes:

Honestly, JA, have an eggnog and give it a rest. Feliz Navi-dumb.

Sovol writes:

Lets see.. we have one of our worst years in memory, they have one of their best and we still beat them. Just saying...

VolfanClinton writes:

Fire Dooley !! Hire Franklin.... The sky is falling !!

eVOLved writes:

Although I was insulted by Adams' recent commentary about Coach Summitt and snooping into her medical appointments, pointing out Vanderbilt's rise in recruiting and the implications is interesting. I don't think reading into a particular recruit and his choices of college is meaningful, because he may want to particapte in a particular program at Vandy: a true scholar/athlete. I went to UT, but I learned enough to know that is a logical fallacy. UT is great for acadmeics also!

wallingdad writes:

in response to VUSean:

That fact that UT fans are dedicating and worrying about an entire article about Vanderbilt recruiting says a lot. We're better than you in baseball, men's bball and now football and you can only blame your decline on past cheating...LOL!

These programs are headed in different directions, nice to hear some of you are finally recognizing it.

Rivals has Vanderbilt as a top 20 recruiting class without Kiel.

And the only reason why UT won this year's match-up was because of a blown call in OT and our QB had his worst game of the year. We are going to own UT for the foreseeable future!! Anchor Down!

better win one first before you start struttin' around like a game rooster. no matter how it happened the record books will state that Vandy lost to Tenn in 2011.

Titan writes:

in response to VUSean:

That fact that UT fans are dedicating and worrying about an entire article about Vanderbilt recruiting says a lot. We're better than you in baseball, men's bball and now football and you can only blame your decline on past cheating...LOL!

These programs are headed in different directions, nice to hear some of you are finally recognizing it.

Rivals has Vanderbilt as a top 20 recruiting class without Kiel.

And the only reason why UT won this year's match-up was because of a blown call in OT and our QB had his worst game of the year. We are going to own UT for the foreseeable future!! Anchor Down!

Glad you acknowledged the blown call - I'm sure you're talking about the OT call where the ref tried to rule Gordon down when he wasn't. Yep - THAT blown call. Thanks for your honesty and candor.

Your best team in years - our worst team in years. Yet we were still good enough to beat you. Makes you wonder.

RoadTrip writes:

It's still Vandy and a waste of ink for anybody in East TN but JA. Think about it JA - how many of these great athletes are going to enjoy playing before less than 25,000 of their own fans at a home game, with the rest being from other their opponents' fan bases? New kid on the block running the program - but it's still Vandy.

tulelakevol writes:

Franklin = Kiffin 2.0

dislikethemtrolls writes:

in response to VUSean:

That fact that UT fans are dedicating and worrying about an entire article about Vanderbilt recruiting says a lot. We're better than you in baseball, men's bball and now football and you can only blame your decline on past cheating...LOL!

These programs are headed in different directions, nice to hear some of you are finally recognizing it.

Rivals has Vanderbilt as a top 20 recruiting class without Kiel.

And the only reason why UT won this year's match-up was because of a blown call in OT and our QB had his worst game of the year. We are going to own UT for the foreseeable future!! Anchor Down!

BWAHHAAAAHAAAAHAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thanks for the humor. DORK!!

orange_eVOLution writes:

in response to VUSean:

That fact that UT fans are dedicating and worrying about an entire article about Vanderbilt recruiting says a lot. We're better than you in baseball, men's bball and now football and you can only blame your decline on past cheating...LOL!

These programs are headed in different directions, nice to hear some of you are finally recognizing it.

Rivals has Vanderbilt as a top 20 recruiting class without Kiel.

And the only reason why UT won this year's match-up was because of a blown call in OT and our QB had his worst game of the year. We are going to own UT for the foreseeable future!! Anchor Down!

You said the 'only' reason Vandy lost, but you gave TWO reasons. It wasn't a blown call... it was the right call. UT was gonna win that game anyway. Maybe next year you can come up with THREE reasons why you lost.

tennezz writes:

in response to VUSean:

That fact that UT fans are dedicating and worrying about an entire article about Vanderbilt recruiting says a lot. We're better than you in baseball, men's bball and now football and you can only blame your decline on past cheating...LOL!

These programs are headed in different directions, nice to hear some of you are finally recognizing it.

Rivals has Vanderbilt as a top 20 recruiting class without Kiel.

And the only reason why UT won this year's match-up was because of a blown call in OT and our QB had his worst game of the year. We are going to own UT for the foreseeable future!! Anchor Down!

Better hope you have a good class without Kiel because he will not sign with the Vandernerds!

OwensboroVol writes:

If Mr. Kiel wants to commit suicide I can suggest better ways of doing it besides playing football for Vandy. First, regardless of James Franklins miminal success at Vandy this year, I don't think you will find many people who believe this success will continue. Second, if the success does continue Mr. Franklins employment at Vandy will not as He will be coaching at another School who assigns much more importance to their athletic department than Vandy. Finally, Mr. Kiel's career at Vandy will involve spending a great deal of the time utilizing the world famous Vanderbilt Medical Center after the hits he will be taking. Tennessee will never see Mr. Kiel in that by that late in the season he will be injured too severely to play in the Tennessee game. My suggestion to Mr. Kiel is that instead of playing for Vandy, he just go down to I-65 and jump out in front of a Mack Truck.

orange_eVOLution writes:

By the way, we don't need another quarterback... we have Peterman coming in. 'Nuf said.

GO VOLS!!

tvol71 writes:

I like Franklin's positive enthusiasm, would like to see more of that from Dooley, but its not clear yet if he is just a flash in the pan, like other Vandy coaches. I don't like that he seems to promote, or at least accept, dirty play.

LJS1984 writes:

Small beans here. I don't agree with Adams on this one. Peterman is the 6A player of the year in Florida. Something tells me that Kiel doesn't see that kind of talent in rural Indiana. Recruiting is pretty much rocket science. The top player in this class will probably be some two star kid from the top private school division in Georgia or Texas. Recruiting rankings are like opinions and A****les everybody's got one.

orange_eVOLution writes:

in response to tvol71:

I like Franklin's positive enthusiasm, would like to see more of that from Dooley, but its not clear yet if he is just a flash in the pan, like other Vandy coaches. I don't like that he seems to promote, or at least accept, dirty play.

As much as I wish it wasn't happening... Franklin has done a great job at Vandy this year. Both Georgia and Arkansas were lucky to win against them. But Vandy nailed the top player in the state (Kimbrow) and will probably be sauced for when we come to Nashville.

SummerfieldVol writes:

If you are a player looking to go to the NFL, then you would probably go to Tennessee, but if you are the academic type and know you will not go to the NFL, I think that person would select Vanderbilt. They are a higher ranked school academically than UT is. If you just like to play, I think that player would want to go to a school where he could play instead of sit on the bench for 3 to 4 years. I don't understand why a player (a 5*****) would go to a top school and know that he will not get to start for at least 3 years would go to that school, and not to a school where he could play with in a year or maybe his first year as a freshman.

OwensboroVol writes:

in response to LJS1984:

Small beans here. I don't agree with Adams on this one. Peterman is the 6A player of the year in Florida. Something tells me that Kiel doesn't see that kind of talent in rural Indiana. Recruiting is pretty much rocket science. The top player in this class will probably be some two star kid from the top private school division in Georgia or Texas. Recruiting rankings are like opinions and A****les everybody's got one.

I seen him play in a losing effort this year on ESPN High School Football. I wasn't impressed. He had a strong arm but was intercepted 3 times one of which cost his team the game.

orange_eVOLution writes:

in response to LJS1984:

Small beans here. I don't agree with Adams on this one. Peterman is the 6A player of the year in Florida. Something tells me that Kiel doesn't see that kind of talent in rural Indiana. Recruiting is pretty much rocket science. The top player in this class will probably be some two star kid from the top private school division in Georgia or Texas. Recruiting rankings are like opinions and A****les everybody's got one.

Yep. Arkansas and Virginia Tech always figure out how to turn a bunch of their three-star recruits into five-star talent.

volmot writes:

Keep In mind that the kid decommitted from Indiana. In my mind he's a little of a flake and this flirtation with Vandy proves it. When little brother does it 2 or 3 years in a row I'll start getting concerned.

DERELICK_MY_VOLS writes:

It is still Vandy. Until the put together a string of victories over us....it is still Vandy. I assume it is how Florida fans feel about us too.

utjunkie writes:

Franklin will be gone to greener pastures in 3 to 4 years if not sooner. That's assuming he has another decent season next year. If you can go .500 or better at vanderbilt someone will come calling and with an open check book! I'm thinking ACC or Big Ten.

orange_eVOLution writes:

in response to utjunkie:

Franklin will be gone to greener pastures in 3 to 4 years if not sooner. That's assuming he has another decent season next year. If you can go .500 or better at vanderbilt someone will come calling and with an open check book! I'm thinking ACC or Big Ten.

Concur. I just hope he doesn't spank UT before he leaves.

orange_eVOLution writes:

I think Bray and company are gonna be pretty jacked up to stomp some Gator tail in K-town next year. If Dooley gets that one...

utjunkie writes:

in response to VUSean:

That fact that UT fans are dedicating and worrying about an entire article about Vanderbilt recruiting says a lot. We're better than you in baseball, men's bball and now football and you can only blame your decline on past cheating...LOL!

These programs are headed in different directions, nice to hear some of you are finally recognizing it.

Rivals has Vanderbilt as a top 20 recruiting class without Kiel.

And the only reason why UT won this year's match-up was because of a blown call in OT and our QB had his worst game of the year. We are going to own UT for the foreseeable future!! Anchor Down!

Dude seriously get off the drugs. I thought vandy fans were supposed to be smart.

topsman97 writes:

Vandy fan here. I'm not one to troll on another team's message boards. However, I received this link and decided to read the article.

What amazes me is how how arrogant some of you are towards Vandy. I'm serious, you should try looking at this from another fan's point of view for a minute.

We went from back to back 2-10 seasons to 6-6. We started the season with a QB (Larry Smith) that was meybe the least capable starting QB and argueably the worst o-line in the conference. Our rush defense was last in the league last year. The pass defense wasn't much better.

In one season, every phase of Vanderbilt's game improves. The recruiting in the Top 25 for the first time since Gerry Dinardo had a couple of nationally ranked classes in the early 90's. We played our second worst game of the season against UT and still took the Vols to OT (FWI, I have no problem with how that game ended. The official shouldn't have screwed up the call in the first place.).

Despite all of this, some of you still choose to dismiss Vandy as a team not to be taken seriously. Lack of a respect for an opponent that is improving, and has despised your existance for decades, is really dumb, foolish, and arrogant.

Look, I'm just saying it would be a big mistake to just assume we will simply "go away" just because we are Vandy. I'm sure USC assumed Stanford would simply go away a few years ago. They probably thought the same about Oregon 15 years ago. Most college football fans have thought TCU and Boise St would just go away after a couple of years. None of those teams have returned back to what they used to be.

Vandy can and will become a formidable rival. If you choose to ignore that possibility, then that will make our future victories in football over UT that much sweeter.

Titan writes:

I despise Vandy as much as (probably more than) anyone who wears the orange and white. I saved this gem of a poem posted by 98reax after we beat Vandy in 2008 (CPF's last year). It was true then and still true in 2011.

To all you doubters young and old,
Those who revel in the black & gold,
Here's the tale that I'm stickin' to;
We ain't got squat, but we beat you.

Yea, we gotcha on a real cold day,
A day when things didn't go your way.
It's all you Commies I'm talkin' to.
We ain't got squat, but we beat you.

Now I ain't braggin'; we ain't got much,
Very little runnin', passin' and such.
Our coach is leavin'. Some's feeling blue.
The rest is giddy 'cause we beat you!

We won't be bowlin'. We might watch you.
Maybe we'll join in a cheer or two.
Tennessee folks are fickle at best.
Just don't ask us to pass a test...

We gotta get a QB to pass the ball.
We gotta get a coach to make a call.
Heck, we done won us a game or two.
We couldn't beat Bama, but we beat you!

But we'll give props to the black & gold,
But the '08 season, a bitter tale told
Of the game we survived on 11/22
When we didn't have squat, but we beat you!

pcorange writes:

Look, folks. Fact of the matter is UT is not what it used to be. Hamilton fired one of the winningest coaches in modern history, and certainly the winningest coach UT has had since Neyland. Vanderbilt is moving programatically in the right direction, and we are living in the past. Hopefully things turn around next season, but we have a lot of indicators right now pointing to an inability by this coaching staff to win games. We'll see. As far as I can tell, there is nothing to suggest that Vanderbilt won't own UT for the next few years.

Bigger_Al writes:

in response to Witch_Doctors:

Witch Doctor say he would be a great catch for Vandy but a kid considering Vanderbilt probably isnt looking at Tennessee in the first place. Witch Doctor say Vandy kids look at academically differently. Witch Doctor say thats why we kick their butts in football and then work for them the rest of our lives. lol
Bones never lie.

You must be talking about your ETSU alumni, Witchie. You're not a true Vol if you would ever type that. Shove ur bones where your neighbors do.

Bigger_Al writes:

Witchie will come back with a Whiney Little Girl message, which is what he is. Save it.

tovolny writes:

WOW!...Do you not know who the "Witch_Doctors" really is? He makes more money in a day's work than most of us do in year. If you only knew...

ladybughw#268600 writes:

in response to VUSean:

That fact that UT fans are dedicating and worrying about an entire article about Vanderbilt recruiting says a lot. We're better than you in baseball, men's bball and now football and you can only blame your decline on past cheating...LOL!

These programs are headed in different directions, nice to hear some of you are finally recognizing it.

Rivals has Vanderbilt as a top 20 recruiting class without Kiel.

And the only reason why UT won this year's match-up was because of a blown call in OT and our QB had his worst game of the year. We are going to own UT for the foreseeable future!! Anchor Down!

anchor up yours

Voluvr writes:

We have more nat'l titles than they have winning seasons. This is typical Vandyland hysteria. Vandy beat NO ONE this year, but they go to a bowl and it's having an IMPACT on UT? lol.

This sounds like local radio in Mid. Tenn. When the Memphis RB committed to Vandy. It was some kind of coup vs. the Vols. What they didn't know was Tennessee cooled on him after seeing his personal behavior in knoxville when he came in to commit. He got mad and called Vandy.

...and....Vandy ranked just 6 spots behind UT in the rankings??? over a month before signing day and this is news?

I can tell you where this story ranks.

BamaVol writes:

in response to VUSean:

That fact that UT fans are dedicating and worrying about an entire article about Vanderbilt recruiting says a lot. We're better than you in baseball, men's bball and now football and you can only blame your decline on past cheating...LOL!

These programs are headed in different directions, nice to hear some of you are finally recognizing it.

Rivals has Vanderbilt as a top 20 recruiting class without Kiel.

And the only reason why UT won this year's match-up was because of a blown call in OT and our QB had his worst game of the year. We are going to own UT for the foreseeable future!! Anchor Down!

Vandys best can't beat Tennessee worst. Book it!

BamaVol writes:

in response to pcorange:

Look, folks. Fact of the matter is UT is not what it used to be. Hamilton fired one of the winningest coaches in modern history, and certainly the winningest coach UT has had since Neyland. Vanderbilt is moving programatically in the right direction, and we are living in the past. Hopefully things turn around next season, but we have a lot of indicators right now pointing to an inability by this coaching staff to win games. We'll see. As far as I can tell, there is nothing to suggest that Vanderbilt won't own UT for the next few years.

There is nothing to really suggest that Vandy will own UT, If the games Vandy won in 2011 other than Ole Miss had of play their best, Vandy wouldn't have won. Sounds like your talking out of the end of a south bound mule headed north.

Orange_Pants_Buy_One_Get_One_Free writes:

in response to OwensboroVol:

If Mr. Kiel wants to commit suicide I can suggest better ways of doing it besides playing football for Vandy. First, regardless of James Franklins miminal success at Vandy this year, I don't think you will find many people who believe this success will continue. Second, if the success does continue Mr. Franklins employment at Vandy will not as He will be coaching at another School who assigns much more importance to their athletic department than Vandy. Finally, Mr. Kiel's career at Vandy will involve spending a great deal of the time utilizing the world famous Vanderbilt Medical Center after the hits he will be taking. Tennessee will never see Mr. Kiel in that by that late in the season he will be injured too severely to play in the Tennessee game. My suggestion to Mr. Kiel is that instead of playing for Vandy, he just go down to I-65 and jump out in front of a Mack Truck.

Suicide?

Stay classy.

Vols4Ever writes:

I remember a coach at Candy who refused to acknowledge the existence of the Big Orange by never to use the name. Also remember 65 to 0 in his last game.

Vandy baseball excellent, basketball competitive and football winner in the Roaring '20s. The General buried them and until you establish a quarter century win streak, little sister needs to stay in their room and play with the fantasy dolls.

Orange_Pants_Buy_One_Get_One_Free writes:

in response to BamaVol:

There is nothing to really suggest that Vandy will own UT, If the games Vandy won in 2011 other than Ole Miss had of play their best, Vandy wouldn't have won. Sounds like your talking out of the end of a south bound mule headed north.

"...the end of a south bound mule headed north."

And some of you wonder why the rest of us laugh at ut fans. Keep up the good work and go vawls.

thevoice writes:

I guess even sports writers need a day off. Looks like JA did it while "writing" this one.

abnerPeabody writes:

in response to Witch_Doctors:

Witch Doctor say he would be a great catch for Vandy but a kid considering Vanderbilt probably isnt looking at Tennessee in the first place. Witch Doctor say Vandy kids look at academically differently. Witch Doctor say thats why we kick their butts in football and then work for them the rest of our lives. lol
Bones never lie.

Right on Doctor. Some Kids actually want an education.That is what we are suposed to go to College for in the first place.

If a player is good enough for a professional career,the pros will find him regardless of the team he plays for.
Being a Vandy grad will mean much more to an employer than a Tenn. grad. Not knocking Tennessee for their educational value.It is what it is.

I love Tennessee,but would rather have a Vandy degree any day. I would especially rather have a degree from either Tennessee or Vandy over the one I have from ETSU. However I am proud of what I have.

Adams is not putting down the University of Tennessee. He is telling the truth as he sees it. Truth seems to hurt a lot of people.

BolivrBob writes:

in response to Witch_Doctors:

Witch Doctor say he would be a great catch for Vandy but a kid considering Vanderbilt probably isnt looking at Tennessee in the first place. Witch Doctor say Vandy kids look at academically differently. Witch Doctor say thats why we kick their butts in football and then work for them the rest of our lives. lol
Bones never lie.

If this were FB, I would give you a LIKE. Scout and Rivals currently have us 13th and 14th, so we don't seem too damaged. I like Franklin and wish him and Vandy well.....well maybe not too well, but I would like to see them become "somewhat" relevant.

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