NASHVILLE – While there’s often been a love affair between Vanderbilt coach James Franklin and the Commodores’ fans, there was a bit of friction this summer when Franklin publicly expressed he thought fans should have bought more tickets.
Vanderbilt, on a seven-game win streak, sold fewer season tickets than it did a year ago. The school had raised its prices in the off-season and increased donation fees for the “Commodore Club.”
That said, a Vanderbilt home game to open a promising season looked a lot like a game when times weren’t so good. There was a healthy turnout for Ole Miss, which sold its complete allotment of 7,000 tickets.
There were some tickets available on game day, not many, and the freelance ticket operatives were busy buying and selling on the streets around 40,330-seat Vanderbilt Stadium more than five hours before the game.
In the hours leading to kickoff the scene outside the stadium was one that will be replayed many times in many places this Saturday.
Where there was available green space on an urban campus there were people milling about with tables, lawn chairs and black and gold balloons nearby.
On the West End strip, the digital billboard saluted the Commodores and encouraged Vanderbilt to “Beat Ole Miss.”
As Commodores and Rebels fans made their way down city sidewalks, fraternity parties were loud and proud with music blaring from houses standing side by side.
Former Vanderbilt coach Bobby Johnson was on campus interacting with fans before the game. Many players he recruited play key roles on this Vanderbilt team.
While Vanderbilt sought to “black out” Vanderbilt Stadium, most Ole Miss fans responded by wearing red and filling the northeast side of the stadium behind the Ole Miss band.
Parrish Alford (parrish.alford@ journalinc.com) covers Ole Miss for the Daily Journal. He blogs at Djournal.com.