MUSIC City Bowl
NASHVILLE, TENN. — The Vanderbilt Commodores have made plenty of history this season, and now they can do something not seen at this private university in nearly a century: Win nine games.
Coach James Franklin isn’t talking about the opportunity his Commodores have Monday in the Music City Bowl against North Carolina State (75). Not yet, even though it would be their first ninewin season since 1915 and only their third all-time. Not when he’s been so busy coaching and trying to sell as many tickets to turn LP Field, home of the NFL’s Tennessee Titans, into a home field.
“This is a perfect situation for us,” Franklin said.
“We’re still trying to build our brand. We’re still trying to build our following. We’re still trying to claim our stake of being Nashville’s team and really establish it so this is a great opportunity to play in our city, to play LP Field, which is kind of like our other stadium. From what I understand, they used our stadium for a time period, and now we’re using theirs.”
This is a second straight bowl for Vanderbilt, something the Southeastern Conference’s smallest university had never done before. The Commodores also come in with an SECbest six straight victories and their best season since 1982. That helped Franklin earn a second straight contract extension a month ago.
Now they want to improve on a year ago when the Commodores lost the Liberty Bowl 31- 24 to Cincinnati. Franklin said he realized some of his players were just happy to be in a bowl.
Bowl games are nothing new for N.C. State with this the 27th in school history. But the Wolfpack (7-5) had to win two of their final three games to become bowl eligible, and it wasn’t enough to save coach Tom O’Brien’s job.
Offensive coordinator Dana Bible stuck around as interim head coach along with the rest of the staff to coach this game, while incoming coach Dave Doeren prepares to take over.
“There’s no way I’m going to try and replace him,” Bible said of O’Brien.
“I’m just doing the best job that I can to give us the best chance to succeed.”
The Wolfpack have won two straight bowls.