Sure, Vanderbilt football once enjoyed a run of dominance. Harken back to 1904, as between halftime breaks of fresh buttermilk and a smooth, unfiltered Piedmont, the 'Dores outscored their opponents 474-4, en route to a 9-0 record over teams like Missouri Mines and something called "Centre" (century-old statistics are fun in that totally irrelevant way, or so MLB fans tell us).
But since the game evolved to feature helmets, minorities and polio vaccinations, Vandy has served dutifully as the league's academic swimmy. But as South Carolina fights to understand their SEC identity while celebrating their ascension to the class of college baseball, along comes Vanderbilt. The 'Dores swept Oregon State over the weekend to earn their first-ever bid to the College World Series and might be poised to deliver the single best season in a major sport for the Commodores in the modern era.
Just like the Cocks, Vandy baseball has been thriving for some time, and, entering Omaha with a 52-10 record and ranked sixth nationally, Tim Corbin's team hasn't snuck up on anyone. But in the eyes of national sports fans, it's still hapless old Vanderbilt; officials even had to shoot down the possibility that somehow Hawkins Field and the city of Nashville would be unable to host the Super Regional round because of two nearby music festivals. Seriously.
But a few more wins, another choreographed dogpile and this might be the best season for any Commodore team, ever, with Corbin the school's favorite skipper over hoops coach Kevin Stallings. His basketball squads have enjoyed success - the local fabric of Commodore fans reads like a basketball school, especially with an iconic shed like Memorial Gym. But as if this school needed more disrespect, Stallings, the school's best coach in any sport in decades, will be cheering for the 'Dores CWS opponent North Carolina (he has a decent excuse).
There's no football success to confuse an outsider's perception of the 'Dores - if Corbin's team could take home the national title, Vanderbilt would instantly become a "baseball school" akin to Cal State Fullerton or Rice, a role that would finally fit comfortably for a nerd school routinely beat up on in the premiere jock conference.
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