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Clark Lea, YOU ARE FIRED!!!!

Dawg Hot Take On Why Clark Lea Must Be Fired

For the first time since 2018, the Vanderbilt fans and community were excited about the 2023 season. It was approaching with great optimism after Clark Lea and his black and gold-clad footballers finished the 2022 season with a 5-7 record, their best since 2018, when they finished 6-7. Since that time there had been little to cheer about.

Following the 2020 season, a winless campaign for the Commodores, Vanderbilt University parted ways with Derek Mason. Hired in his place was a former player named Clark Lea, who by all accounts had a bright future in college football. His first season on West End did not provide anything to write home about with his team finishing 2-10. What happened in 2022, though, was quite different. The team won their first SEC game since that 2018 season, breaking a 29-game losing streak in such games. The squad also won their first SEC road game since the 2018 season. Vanderbilt fans typically don't have much to look forward to, so those results provided great optimism for a success-starved fan base.

Enter the 2023 football season. Despite the optimism, the program began to regress in stunning fashion. After two come-from-behind wins to start the season at 2-0, the wheels didn't just fall off, the entire axle came out from under the vehicle. On a current 8-game losing streak, the Nashville-based school has sunk to a level that is not even competitive. Their most recent game was a 47-6 trouncing at the hands of South Carolina in a game that was just 13-0 at halftime. The team has not scored more than 20 points in a single game since a September 30th loss to Missouri. The closest game in the current streak was a 31-15 loss to Auburn in Nashville.

The current situation at Vanderbilt is one that must be addressed. The university is spending $300 million on facility upgrades, which will tie two brand-new facilities into the football stadium that offer premium seating. Fan apathy has sunk to such a level that in a current ongoing poll, 70% of the fan base that is left will not attend a single game in 2024. Another 17.1% say that they might attend one or two games. That is an astounding 87.1% of your fans saying they will attend 2 or fewer games if changes are not made. With new facilities being opened in less than one year, this is not an ideal situation.

Two weeks in a row, after their most recent games, head coach Clark Lea has made statements to the press that should be immediate cause for termination. Following the Auburn game, when asked about a specific play when they were at midfield facing a 3rd down and 20 yards to go while trailing in the game 14-0, the coach had this to say "It is not uncommon that on 3rd and extra long that you are going to run the ball to secure possession and put your punt team out there. If you force that ball down the field and throw an interception, you are having a totally different conversation." My God, coach, have you ever heard of an arm punt? Have you ever heard of trying to make a play to win a game? Running on 3rd-and-20 in order to play for the punt rather than try to force the ball downfield and potentially turn the ball over is a loser mentality, especially when you are behind 14-0. Following the South Carolina debacle, he had this to say about his quarterback, Ken Seals, "I appreciate the fact that when he was in there, he took care of the ball and gave us a chance to punt." Is the object in football not to score points and to keep your opponent from scoring? Playing for a punt is not trying to score by any stretch of the imagination. This is clearly not working out, coach.

In regards to fan apathy, take a look at some recent tweets from long-time fans of the program:

As you can see from the small sampling provided, fans are fed up. They want change. This fan base deserves to taste success. Whatever they are calling the Clark Lea regime, it is far from success. This is not even competitive. You are committing business fraud by touting brand-new facilities while offering a subpar product of which to watch. Vanderbilt Chancellor, Daniel Diermeier once stated “Vanderbilt Athletics is such an integral part of Vanderbilt University.” He also stated “The key piece is that we’re committed to excellence and that we’re committed to building a program that supports our student-athletes, that attracts the best coaches, and puts them in an environment where they can succeed.” Well, sir, I respectfully have to tell you that Clark Lea is not among "the best coaches". I submit that you, as the person in charge, make the call to your athletics director, Candace Storey Lee, and give the orders to part ways with Clark Lea and go hire a REAL college football coach, one that can take Vanderbilt to be the successful front porch of the university and something to be proud of. You cannot be proud of the current mess you call a football program.


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