The End of Bitterness
This is long overdue, but I owe my apologies to most of my friends, most of my family, and everyone in the Vanderbilt Athletic Department. Consider this my public atonement.
It isn't been easy to be a Vandy fan growing up elsewhere in the SEC. There are those that are, and have always been, true believers bleeding black and gold. That just isn't me - watching us lose, and usually in spectacular fashion, hurts and hurts badly.
I refused to be called a fair weather fan - because I've never really seen fair weather despite a few glimpses through the clouds in 1992 and 1993.
The problem is I was just flat out mean about the losses. I would storm out of the stadium/gym/house with a dark cloud around me. My family would either laugh or leave in general disgust. I hate losing.
I've been there over the years for some of the worst losses ever. As a photographer in college, I got to be one the field.
I found these pictures when moving this summer. The negatives, unfortunately, are gone. However I felt it my duty to scan these for all history.
Remember the 1991 LSU game (LSU 16, VU 14)? A picture of "The Fumble" is below. It truly captured a moment (and almost got picked up by the AP):
(Side story: Paul Youngdale, who had graduated a year earlier from VU, was in law school at LSU at the time. I ran into him at a tail gate party before the game and he indicated he would be "insulted" if I didn't drink Jim Beam with him. Therefore, I cannot even believe this picture was in focus. LSU tail gate parties are the best in the world.)
Here is one of a punt block by Alabama. I cannot remember the year or any details about the game. Someone please email and I will update the post and insert you as the credit:
The picture of Watson Brown with his hands over his eyes is my favorite. Against Auburn our second string quarterback got hurt and we had to put our third string in. Despite the humor of the picture (Watson is doing well now at UAB), I seem to remember something heroic about the third stringer performance after coming off a personal tragedy. Again, I cannot remember the details nor find anything on the web. I'd love to have the full story:
But I have to say, this football season and early hoops play has opened a new chapter. After the Arkansas victory I got to be a jerk at the home office for the first time ever. After the Tennessee victory I was just a plain jerk. I have no frame of reference to be a good winner. It was wonderful.
Sitting in the stands parallel to the MTSU kick, you just knew it was going to be blocked. It just sucked the spirit right out of you. Buy hey, we beat Arkansas.
You knew the Florida OT was likely going to result in a loss. Moral victories stink, but it made for wonderful drama.
I guess I've learned that winning, unfortunately, really is everything - but how you handle losing has a real impact on the people around you. My family, friends and alma mater deserver better than how I've handled the last decade.
Therefore, I promise to do better. It will take time. Losing still stinks. I've long argued we as a university could make more money with a giant parking deck than Dudley Field. Buy hey, at least I am not bitter any more...
That being said, we all need a bowl trip. The Weedwacker Bowl in Shreveport will one day be a wonderful thing!