We continue our series on Tennessee's 2015 opponents. Today: Show your gold.
Two summers ago I picked Vanderbilt as the most important game of Tennessee's season. Last year the closest Vanderbilt came to winning an SEC game was against Tennessee, a 24-17 loss that ended the Commodores' season at 3-9 (0-8). The last two years under James Franklin Vanderbilt went 9-4 and finished in the Top 25. In 2014 Vanderbilt's nine losses came by an average of 23 points.
We, like all Tennessee fans, are not big on Franklin. I'm openly rooting for a Tennessee-Penn State bowl match-up in the near future. But last year was clearly a return to the proverbial, "Same old Vandy." Any school facing a coaching transition in a major conference is going to be in for a bumpy ride, we know this. But most of them don't end with both coordinators getting fired after the first year.
So the question for Derek Mason right now isn't how quickly he can get Vanderbilt back to Franklin's level, but if he can get Vanderbilt back above their same old place at the bottom of the league.
To do that, Vanderbilt will need better players. Rocket science, I know. Here's Vandy's recruiting under Franklin in the 247 Consensus:
- 2011: 52nd overall, one four-star
- 2012: 48th overall, one four-star
- 2013: 26th overall, four four-stars
- 2010: 52nd overall
- 2009: 69th overall
- 2008: 82nd overall
- 2007: 74th overall
- 2006: 60th overall, one four-star
- 2005: 86th overall
- 2004: 67th overall
- 2003: 65th overall, one four-star
- 2002: 69th overall
- Average in nine years before Franklin: 69.3