Gordon Gee knows this would have never played at Ohio State.
"I'd be pumping gas, or worse," the Vanderbilt chancellor said of the revolution he has led in Nashville.
That is significant because Gee was once the CEO at Ohio State, the default key for those looking for a quick definition of "football factory."
|Vandy pitcher David Price went No. 1 overall in the MLB Draft. (AP)|
At the SEC's Ivy-tinged doormat? A lot of people grumbled, columnists wrote off the Commodores, the athletic director was dumped, but at the end of the carnage, Vandophiles realized Gee's move did mesh with the mission of the school.
"Instead of trying another athletic director," Gee said, "we decided to explode the whole thing. The tolerance level was probably higher than at other places."
Forty-five months after Gee blew up the department, Vanderbilt athletics are actually better -- if not better understood. In September 2003, Gee put all teams under the purview of Student Life and University Affairs. That's the same office that oversees intramurals.
The jokes about football fighting for funds with the Frisbee golf team have died down. Especially since Vanderbilt had the nation's No. 1 baseball team until it lost the regional championship to Michigan on Monday. That doesn't change the fact that pitcher David Price was the No. 1 overall pick by the Devil Rays in Thursday's amateur draft.
In the past few months, Kevin Stallings' basketball team reached the Sweet 16 in March. The women won the SEC Tournament. Seven spring teams have been nationally ranked.
Women's bowling won the school's first team national championship in April. At the least the first that included Pabst Blue Ribbon and cigarette haze.
That's a joke, something that Vanderbilt football increasingly isn't. The league's traditional cellar dweller is at least couple of shades removed from punch-line status. After the cutback, coach Bobby Johnson was able to develop Jay Cutler, the quarterback who looks like an heir to John Elway in Denver. Last year, the Commodores beat Georgia and took Florida to the wire. Receiver Earl Bennett is getting All-America mention this year.
Forget the feel-good story of the 7-10 split, the best measuring stick for Gee's weird science will be football. This could be Johnson's best team at Vandy (17 starters return) and still finish last in the SEC East.
"When you think about Vanderbilt University, you don't think about national championships," Gee said. "You think about an Ivy League university playing in the SEC, in the meanest, most demanding conference in the country."