HOOVER, AL (WBRC) - On paper, Vanderbilt's 2016 final record isn't what you would normally define as a successful season. The team ended the year with a 6-7 record, and a loss in the Independence Bowl. But when you really dive into what the Commodores did in 2016, you'll see a much different story.
"Vanderbilt football is on the rise," says Coach Derek Mason.
"As I look at our program and where we're at and what we've done, I thought in 2016, we took several steps forward to be a better program. You looked at how we finished the season, 4-2, got us to a Bowl game for the first time in my tenure. And that was an exciting time for us."
Vandy's bowl appearance was only the school's 8th in their history. They also ended the regular season beating Tennessee for the first time since Mason arrived in Nashville. But the 4th year coach says he isn't satisfied. He believes that there is much more on the horizon for the Commodores. "For the first time in my tenure, I look at depth on this football team, and I truly believe we have a chance to do something special."
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He says the team has worked hard to get where they are now, and they understand what is on the other side, "They finally got a chance to see what can happen if they play the right way, if we do the right things, if we don't beat ourselves. They are not planning on going back. That is what I will say to you. Once you taste it, the idea is to make sure you go forward, not backwards. That's where we are."
"Right now, we feel we're in the midst of a renaissance," says Mason.
The Commodore coach believes this is just the start of what the team can achieve. He says there is no ceiling for Vanderbilt. "For me, what it comes back to is this, there's only two types of people in this world, limited and limitless, and you got to figure out which one we are."
Vanderbilt opens the season against Middle Tennessee State University on September 2nd.