I didn’t grow up truly “hating” Vanderbilt. Since our family lived in North Carolina, we only took 3-4 trips a year to see the Dawgs. If you’re gonna drive 6 hours to Athens on Friday and 6 more back on Sunday you’re going to do it for a big game against a good team. Vanderbilt was not sexy enough for that. Vanderbilt beat us in 2006 for the first time in 11 years. Being a high-school Senior at the time, it was the first Georgia loss to the Commode Doors that I could remember. As 2006 was a transition year with true frosh Matt Stafford getting broken in under center, there wasn’t much to be mad about. I mean Vandy was due to fluke into one eventually. Hell, even a broken clock is right twice a day.
There’s nothing quite like piling a half-dozen fellow Dawg fans into a car and heading to an away game. Few things create camaraderie as quickly as a road trip into hostile territory in the SEC. My friends and I had made these trips before to places across the Southeast. Places that teach you that the only strength is in numbers, and that one stupid response can create danger for the whole herd. Places like Columbia, Tuscaloosa, Knoxville and Baton Rouge. This was the mindset we carried to Nashville in mid-October of my Junior year in 2009.
We arrived Friday night and went to a “Vanderbilt Bar.” I was skeptical of this label because we wore Power G’s and called the Dawgs but not a soul spoke up in protest. The lack of attractive women and the prevalence of hair gel only added to my confusion. However the next day’s kickoff was at 11:20 local time. Perhaps they were lying in wait, saving their energy and liver enzymes for an early tailgate. There they would spring upon us the same type of animosity I had come to expect from an SEC opponent.
6:00 AM Saturday came all too quick, but there was no time for the snooze button. We came here to give our all for Georgia, and at that moment giving our all meant walking across the street to Qdoba and eating bad breakfast burritos to prime our stomachs for the bourbon that lie ahead. (Being 21 is amazing because you can do a lot of really stupid things and for the most part your body is just like, “Oh yes, fine, we can make that work.”) We began tailgating no more that a well-hit 5-iron away from the stadium as the day crept towards kickoff. What I saw that fair October morning still haunts me to this day.
As we walked the campus I saw tailgates that featured dozens of different types of wine and cheese. I heard thick northern accents. The place smelled like a middle-school locker room- tons of AXE body spray. To make it worse there was no charcoal wafting through the air. I saw no pimento cheese or deviled eggs. Fraternity and sorority rows weren’t buzzing with pregame energy, but instead hovered just above silence. All my life I had been told that Vanderbilt is in the SEC East. In a literal sense this is true, but spiritually one couldn’t have been further from the SEC.
I’m all for some good smack talk before and after a game. Tell me our quarterback sucks, that our program is overrated and call the head coach an idiot if you want, but keep it to football. That day in Nashville nobody did that.
Instead, the students and alums of Vanderbilt who did come to their decently sized high-school stadium that afternoon decided to insult our intelligence. I will not share some of the specific slurs involving mental retardation because they don’t belong in print. Buy why the hell are you better than a plumber, Vanderbilt Fan? (Honestly, I’d love to be making plumber money right now.) I’m intellectually inferior but you’re the once racking up 280k in debt for a degree that’s main function is to make you feel secure about something for the first time? Therapists are a lot cheaper than 70k a year.
Vanderbilt is a much lauded academic institution that has contributed a great deal to the fields of science and medicine. Maybe someday they will breakthrough and find out how to keep their alumni from wearing their asses as hats.
The Dawgs gave those elitists a 34-10 whipping that afternoon. As we drove home the next day I recapped the weekend’s events, and thought back on the blatant pomposity of the Vanderbilt fans. Then the irony hit me. Those same Vandy fans rush to claim the SEC whenever a conference team accomplishes something on the national stage.
...And that’s when I knew I hated Vanderbilt
Why do you hate Vanderbilt? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.
As always, GO DAWGS!