HOOVER, Ala. -- Bobby Johnson made history Wednesday afternoon, becoming the first Vanderbilt football coach coming off a bowl game to speak at Southeastern Conference media days.
Media days was created in 1985, three years after the Commodores last qualified for a bowl. Vanderbilt had optimistic coaches and players in the years that followed, and last season the dream finally was realized.
The Commodores attained the six wins necessary for Holiday cheer and then stunned ACC runner-up Boston College, 16-14, in the Music City Bowl.
"I think it was satisfying, but it was also necessary for our program to move forward," Johnson said. "We probably had some chances the two previous years to make that step and didn't quite get it done, but I was really proud of the team last year. They stepped up when we had a lull in the middle of the season and came back to become bowl-eligible.
"It's satisfying, but not satisfying enough."
Vanderbilt's 7-6 season included a victory at Ole Miss, which won the following week at eventual national champion Florida, and a first downing of Auburn since 1955. The Commodores wound up 4-4 in SEC games, their most league triumphs since '82, and their bowl triumph was a first since '55.
It took Johnson seven seasons, and he expressed appreciation Wednesday for the university's patience.
"I'm really proud of our administration for hanging in there with us," he said. "We had three horrible years my first three years. We were 2-10, 2-10 and 2-9, and then they gave me a 10-year contract extension. I think it's great that they weren't impatient."
For an encore, the Commodores want to reach consecutive bowls for the first time in program history. They have the personnel to give it another run, returning nine starters on both sides of the ball, but the schedule offers few favors.
Vandy doesn't play Nov. 28, so the Commodores are the only league team that must play 12 straight weeks without an open date. Matching last season's 5-0 start will be a gargantuan challenge considering the second game is at LSU, but nobody is backing down.
"Our older players want to show everybody that last year was not a fluke," senior center Bradley Vierling said. "Our younger guys who didn't get to play but got all the bowl gifts, we give them a hard time because we've been here for so long and they just get it. Now they want to show that they can earn it, too.
"Everybody wants to get into the action. Everybody wants to go to another bowl game, and that's what we're going to do."
Vanderbilt finished a dismal 117th in total offense last season (256.2 yards per game) and will try to bounce back with a no-huddle attack. Senior Mackenzi Adams has the most experience at quarterback, but sophomore Larry Smith provided some spark in the Music City Bowl.
Johnson didn't rule out junior Jared Funk, and freshman Charlie Goro will enter camp as Vandy's first Parade All-American in more than two decades.
"We're not going to decide anything early," Johnson said of the quarterback hunt. "I think it would be crazy to tell a guy he couldn't have a chance to compete for a starting position when you start practice."