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Friday, September 01, 2006

Know Your Foe - Vanderbilt

With the NCAA now allowing - actually encouraging - teams to play a 12th game this season, Michigan added Vanderbilt to the schedule for a season-opening contest in Ann Arbor this Saturday. It will have been almost 37 years since these schools met on the gridiron, so the M Zone thought it would be a good idea to debut the first of a recurring series today: KNOW YOUR FOE. After each category, we'll assess a running score, based on how Vanderbilt fares in that category against Michigan.

History - Founded by Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt who, according to the university's web site, "had a vision of a place that would 'contribute to strengthening the ties that should exist between all sections of our common country' when he gave a million dollars to create a university in 1873." If he were around today, that million bucks would likely go to hire a big-name football coach. He's also been quoted as saying "If I had learned education, I would not have had time to learn anything else." Let's hope that's not on the school's crest. By all accounts, he was a miserable, arrogant man who disowned all but one of his sons in his will. He often said that women bought his stock because his picture was on the stock certificate. Take a look at the picture of Vandy on the right. Aparently he was delusional as well. But, wait, there's more. His great-great-granddaughter is Gloria Vanderbilt, of the eponymous jeans from the 1980s. Some of you may be too young to remember, but some of the M Zone staff are still haunted by those commercials (and now disavowed purchases). That's not all. His great-great-great grandson (and Gloria's son) is Anderson Cooper of CNN.

Michigan connection - The Vanderbilt family owned land in Corwith Township, Michigan which was settled about 1875. When the Vanderbilt-owned Michigan Central Railroad came through in 1880, the village of Vanderbilt, Michigan was established. I'll bet all those who stopped by to gawk at the FSU Cowgirls or the Texas Pom Squad are surprised to find out how educational the M Zone is.

Location - Nashville, Tennessee. Home of a strange combination of things like the Grand Ole Opry, and a re-creation of the Parthenon. But the main thing the M Zone remembers from their travels there during the summer was the humidity. And the heat. But mostly the humidity.

Nickname - Commodores. Named for Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt, the founder. But what, exactly, is a Commodore, other than a '70s and '80s R&B band led by Lionel Ritchie (yep, he's her father)? It used to be a commissioned rank in the U.S. Navy that was abolished in 1899. So it'll be matchup of obsolete mascots on September 2 - no wolverines exist in Michigan and no Commodores exist anywhere.

Colors/Logo - Gold and Black. One of their logos is on the right. Does that look anything like old Cornelius above? I don't think so. Plus, they've changed their helmets TEN times since Michigan last played them.

Academics - Let's not fool ourselves. This is one of the few times Michigan plays a school that can compete academically. Vandy is ranked 18th by the 2006 U.S. News and World Report National Universities ranking. Michigan was 25th. Amazingly, there will be three schools ranked ahead of Michigan on their schedule in 2006. Since Lloyd's had trouble lately with highly ranked football teams, maybe he'll start a streak against top ranked academic schools.

Conference - SEC. They're the Northwestern of the SEC, though even the Wildcats have made a couple of bowls recently. Of course Vandy's a semi-regular in the NCAA hoops tournament while the Wildcats next appearance will be their first. Like Northwestern, Vandy uses their academic prowess as an excuse for their mostly crappy sports teams. As Michigan fans, we know how lame that argument is.

Athletics - Vanderbilt scrapped their athletic department two years ago and don't have an actual athletic director. This must be music to Wangs' ears. There's no way a small, private school can rank athletically with the University of Michigan. But their hoops team has had some success in the always tough SEC and has made the NCAA tournament six out of the last 18 years, including a Sweet 16 appearance in 2004. But the best thing about Vanderbilt hoops is their weird gym. It has this wide open space on each side of the court, and the benches are at the end of the court, the only gym with such a set up in the NCAA.

Famous alums - Inlcude former vice president Al Gore and his wife Tipper, newscaster David Brinkley, and singer Amy Grant. For such a prestigious university, this is a pretty sad list. Plus, no astronauts.

So there you have it, the first analysis and prediction for the 2006 season. Please note the score is subject to change based on injuries, coaching changes, or a new U.S. and World Report ranking.


St. Simons Island Nole said...

LMAO! Open the link to "her father" of Lionel Ritchie and it says, "I hope you didn't eat breakfast before looking at these pictures. Hey, speaking of eating, guess who hasn't been?"

Anonymous said...

Did you know Gloria's son is Anderson Cooper from CNN? http://www.cnn.com/CNN/Programs/anderson.cooper.360/



Benny Friedman said...

Anon (10:13 am), I guess I shouldn't be surprised that a tOSU fan can't handle basic reading comprehension, but check out the end of the "History" paragraph. I mention that Anderson Cooper is Gloria Vanderbilt's son, and I even include the very link you posted.

Anonymous said...

Great post guys

Two things 1) Nicole Richie is adopted and 2) you spelled "academic" wrong in the blogger section, which is an unfortunate word to have a typo on.

Anonymous said...

Argh, I meant the "conference" section. Talk about unfortunate times to make a typo.

Yost said...

Good catch, Anon. Thanks.

irishjihad said...

Ole' Vanderbilt wasn't even a Commodore. He just gave himself that name because he wanted to be called...well, Commodore.

Mac said...

Vandy's worst alum, however, is Skip Bayless, to whom they actually gave a scholarship.

Wolverine in Michigan said...

Noticed the second reference to the absence of wolverines in michigan...

Actually, there have been reports (one eyewitness was actually a Dept. of Natural Resources biologist) for the past 2 winters that at least one wolverine is living in the thumb area...

DNR wildlife biologist confirms sighting of wolverine in Huron County -- Wednesday, February 25, 2004


Riding on the back of a snowmobile in Huron County with coyote hunters who earlier reported spotting a wolverine, Arnie Karr snapped pictures of the animal as it ran out of the woods and across a field.

Tuesday's encounter by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources wildlife biologist, officials say, marks the state's first confirmed sighting of the forest predator in the wild since reports by fur traders dating to the late 1700s and early 1800s.

"I just had a very clear view of it," Karr said. "The markings were very clear. There's just no question."

freeman said...

I don't have a link handy, but I actually saw a couple of photos of that wolverine on the Detroit Free Press website a year or two ago.

So, techincally, the wolverine is not an obsolete mascot after all.

Anonymous said...

And while Commodore is not an official rank in the US Navy, the title "Commodore" is given to the officer in command of a group of ships, such as a destroyer squadron. So, its still used in the Navy today.