To say it was a weird night for Vanderbilt in Nashville is putting it very, very mildly. A rain delay pushed kickoff back until 9:50 local time. The Commodores' only points in a 37-7 loss came on a botched Temple punt. And the team was temporarily charged a timeout over their jerseys.
Yes: the Commodores were temporarily charged a timeout over their jerseys. The issue? Vandy has printed "Anchor Down" in the nameplates, albeit in a semi-subtle shade of gray-on-black:
As we learned earlier this month when USF announced it would be wearing jerseys with "THE TEAM" across the nameplate (then announced it wouldn't), teams other than service academies are forbidden by NCAA rule from using words other than last names on those nameplates. The penalty for violating that rule: the loss of one timeout per quarter until the jerseys are removed.
And sure enough, at the start of the second quarter in Nashville, the officials announced that Vandy had lost a timeout. That's when things got truly bizarre: ESPN reported that Vanderbilt had received an e-mail from Steve Shaw, the SEC's coordinator of officials, approving the uniforms -- and that Commodore officials were rushing to get a printout of the email onto the field and into the hands of Ken Williamson, the referee.
A few minutes later ...
Yes, that's Williamson reviewing the e-mail. And yes, a moment later, Williamson announced that the uniforms had been approved by the NCAA's secretary-rules editor -- that would be national officiating coordinator Rogers Redding -- and that Vanderbilt would have the lost timeout restored.
It's true: there is always something to see in college football you have never seen before. Commodore AD David Williams confirmed to the Tennesseean in the wee hours of Friday morning that Shaw had given the OK, but didn't offer an explanation as to why he had done so.
"I don't know if it's wrong or not," Williams said, "but they had approved it."
NCAA rules state a jersey may contain only a player's name, the school name, the NCAA logo, sleeve stripes, an American flag, a state flag or logo for a school, conference, mascot, postseason game, memorial or the military.
Attempts by CBSSports.com to have national officiating coordinator Rogers Redding or SEC officials comment on the issue have thus far been unsuccessful.