ATLANTA – Vanderbilt coach Clark Lea hasn’t been deterred by a 2-10 record from last season or eight consecutive seasons that have finished below .500.
On Tuesday at SEC media days, Lea made a bold statement about the future of Commodores football.
“We know that over time, Vanderbilt football will be the best program in the country,” he said.
Never mind that the program has never won 10 games in a season or appeared in the SEC championship game. Lea, in his second season as a head coach after spending three seasons as defensive coordinator at Notre Dame, sees a path to prosperity.
But he made no secret of the fact that there are “no cheat codes” and getting there will require “going a long and hard way.”
“We are engaging in what has become a unique form of team building,” Lea said. “We are a relationship-focused, student-athlete-focused program that values the holistic development of our people above all else. For us, this is not an outdated concept. It still matters. When you do the right things, in the right way, with the right people, with respect and recognition you will not be denied.
“When you’re smart in your design and disciplined in your approach, you win early. That’s Vanderbilt football.”
Lea said he has learned from last season’s experience and wants to improve in handling the tactical aspects of games. Vanderbilt’s only conference wins came against Colorado State and UConn.
But when Vanderbilt begins fall camp in the coming weeks, Lea will have one advantage in knowing exactly who his starting quarterback is.
On Tuesday, Lea named Mike Wright the starter and called him one of the best QBs in the country when it comes to mobility.
In 10 games last season, Wright threw eight touchdowns and six interceptions. He rushed for 376 yards, averaging 4.1 yards per 91 carries.
“We want him to develop into a total quarterback, which he has,” Lea said. “He’s also shown leadership skills. We’re excited to have him enter the fall as our starting quarterback. He knows he has to earn it every day. That’s part of our contract.”
Vanderbilt opens the season Aug. 27 at Hawai’i.