That was true at Vanderbilt for generations, a football program found more ways to lose football games than seemed humanly possible. It was southern gothic brought to the gridiron, so painful it hurt for Commodore fans to watch. Every Vanderbilt football game was a choose your own adventure book that ended in dreadful defeat, death or dismemberment.
Sometimes all three.
Vanderbilt's football past was inescapable, bleak, and dark.
It was not a place anyone ever wanted to go.
But then James Franklin arrived at Vanderbilt.
And James Franklin did something interesting and cocky as hell, he didn't give a damn about the past.
What's more he flat out didn't care about the past at Vanderbilt and he said so in public. In fact, he refused to talk about Vandy's past at all. Ask Franklin about anything that happened before his arrival in Nashville and he immediately brushed it off, "That was before I was here," he'd say, "I can't control any of that."
Which is the exact same mantra espoused by one of the most underrated athletic directors in the country, Vanderbilt's David Williams, who when asked about past futility that he wasn't in charge of, shrugged his shoulders and said, simply, "What am I supposed to do about that?"
It's a simple mantra, but an effective one.
Control what you can control.
So for nearly two years Franklin's said the same thing in response to any question about the past, giving William Faulkner's Southern ghost a stiff arm, tossing the old demons of Vanderbilt's past into the dustbins of history, he said the past flat out didn't matter.
And on Saturday he was right, the past didn't matter at all.
Vanderbilt dominated the Vols.
But more impressive than that, Vanderbilt expected to dominate the Vols.