By Russell Lorentz, from Vandy Insider

In 2011, current Penn State Head Coach James Franklin was hired as Vandy’s head football coach which sparked three consecutive bowl trips. Franklin’s tenure produced 24 wins, pushing Commodore football to new heights.

Before Franklin patrolled the sidelines, Vanderbilt Chancellor Nicholas Zeppos promised “a rocket ship” in order to make the Commodores a force among the rest of the Southeastern Conference.

A new indoor practice facility was opened in 2013, carrying a 31 million-dollar price tag, along with McGugin Center facelifts in 2014 and 2016.

The rocket ship has since vanished – and many Vandy faithful is still in search of it in 2018.

The biggest dark cloud during Franklin’s tenure was the rape trial involving former Commodores’ Corey Batey and Brandon Vandenburg, three years ago. Both were sentenced to 15 and 17 years respectively for their actions.

Vanderbilt Stadium at Dudley Field has not received a major renovation since 1981 – but new field turf, lighting, berm seating, and video board were installed in 2012.

During the 2017 season, Vanderbilt was in talks of a shared stadium with a Major League Soccer franchise, located at the Fairgrounds in Nashville, away from the current on campus location.

However, the move was later renounced, but Derek Mason and his Commodores continue to fight a battle that seems never ending.

Vanderbilt University is undertaking a $600 million project to add four new residential colleges by 2023, billing the initiative as its largest capital project ever.

The 205,000-square-foot E. Bronson Ingram College will open this fall with living spaces, a communal dining hall, a conference room, a performing arts rehearsal studio, and four courtyards.

The next residential college will open in August 2020. Two more will follow in 2022 and 2023 and will require tearing down Carmichael Towers.

In 2016, the Duke Athletics Department launched a renovation project directed towards Blue Devil Tower in Wallace Wade Stadium, the home of Blue Devil football.

The five-story, 90,000-plus square foot tower will include six concession booths and restrooms on the main concourse level. The second floor contains a 300-plus seating dining room, exterior club accommodations and six luxury suites.

The third level houses 15 additional luxury suites as well as the President’s box. The fourth floor provides space for media, home and visiting coaches, broadcast and gameday operations with additional video filming space located on the roof.

In comparison, Northwestern opened a 270-million-dollar practice facility this year, overlooking Lake Michigan.

With Northwestern and Duke leading the charge as academic institutions, will Vanderbilt follow suit?

Tim Corbin and the baseball program have top flight facilities, thanks in large part to the generosity of former players.

Vandy received 40.9 million in 2017 from the SEC Network according USA Today.

Vanderbilt University released a statement Aug. 17 regarding Vanderbilt Stadium:

Vanderbilt University statement on athletics:

Aug. 17, 2018, 1:50 PM

Vanderbilt University is incredibly proud of the on-field and off-field accomplishments of our student athletes, and the coaches and staff who support them. Over the last 10 years, they have won four national championships, 14 conference championships and nine Coach of the Year awards. Our football team has played in five bowl games after a 26-year drought. Last year’s graduating seniors finished their Vanderbilt careers with more than 1,600 total wins, two national championships, eight Conference Championships, 31 postseason appearances, and included 17 All-Americans and 45 all-conference recipients. Academically, our student athletes have earned over a cumulative 3.0 GPA every year for the past 13 years. In the NCAA’s recently released Academic Progress Rates (APR) for the 2016-17 academic year, a total of 11 Commodore athletic programs finished with perfect 1000 APR scores and Vanderbilt football finished #2 in the nation.

All of this achievement is supported by a loyal and dedicated fan base that is critical to our overall success. We will continue to invest in our student athletes and as we contemplate a capital campaign for the university, athletics will be a significant part and will include efforts to raise funds for improvements to athletics programs and facilities, including the football stadium.

Contemplate is what Vanderbilt continues to do as the last major renovation to Dudley Field came 30 years ago.

Zeppos released the sentiment that “Homecoming is more than tailgates and Football” on Aug. 16.

Vandy was pushed by Franklin for a commitment to the football program, to further exemplify the importance of all branches of the university being top notch.

Derek Mason needs help – but how soon will it come? The waiting game continues as the 2018 season approaches.

Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. inside Vanderbilt Stadium on Sept. 1 against neighboring foe MTSU.

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