But before the thought could turn into actual excitement, the old Duke returned. Running back Josh Snead fumbled, and the Bearcats went on to score not one but two touchdowns in 80 seconds. Of course.
Duke is still by no means a football school. But for about 58 minutes last December we were, and I have to say, I kind of liked it.
By Lee Jenkins, '99
I enrolled at Vanderbilt in 1995, and on the second play of the first game 5'7" tailback Jermaine Johnson pinballed 75 yards through the Alabama defense. Nearly 20 years later I have watched Vanderbilt at a Champps or a Buffalo Wild Wings in virtually every American metropolis. I've left weddings when I was a groomsman. I've postponed assignments on deadline. I once got temporarily ejected from Virginia Tech's Lane Stadium for flipping the press-box TV to Vanderbilt-Florida. In San Francisco, a city lacking sports bars, I persuaded The Condor to open at 9 a.m. for Vanderbilt--South Carolina. The Condor, it turned out, was a strip joint. A weary dancer and I watched alone. Vanderbilt lost that game, and most others. My wife stopped making Saturday-night plans. Grieving takes time.
Vanderbilt was to the SEC what Florida State would have been to the Ivy League, only the opposite, by far the smallest school with the smallest stadium and steepest academic requirements. But it's hard to take solace in APR rankings when you go 30 years without a winning regular season. I never laughed at the Weed-Eater Bowl. I fantasized about it (and almost got there in '05!).
Now, thanks to a visionary coach—who I won't name for fear that someone will throw $50 million at him—I've spent the past two New Year's Eves at bowls. Last season Vanderbilt won nine games for the first time since 1915, and over my computer hangs the final AP poll, which has an unfamiliar name at 23rd. That's AP, not APR.