Falling to Temple, 37-7, to start the Derek Mason era was a big enough loss for the Vanderbilt Commodores on Thursday night. They weren't about to lose their timeouts, too.
Game officials ruled that the slogan "Anchor Down" on the backs of Vanderbilt jerseys constituted an NCAA uniform violation, and charged the team with a timeout for each quarter of the game. That is, until Vanderbilt produced an email showing it had special permission to do so from SEC Coordinator of Officials Steve Shaw.
Officials restored Vanderbilt's timeouts, which turned out to be of little use anyway as the Owls spoiled the Commodores' home opener in every way possible. As it turned out, however, the officials were right to have penalized Vanderbilt. The SEC issued a statement on Friday saying that the Commodores would not be allowed to wear the slogan on jerseys in the future, and that the game officials misinterpreted the email Vanderbilt provided.
The full statement:
"A miscommunication resulted in Vanderbilt wearing jerseys during its football game Thursday night that are not permissible under the NCAA football uniform regulations. Before production of the jerseys, Vanderbilt sought approval of the jersey design from the NCAA, which included the words "Anchor Down" on the back panel. The NCAA responded with written approval of the design as presented and Vanderbilt proceeded with the jersey production, assuming the approval was applicable to the slogan as well as the colors and overall design in the submitted layout. NCAA football regulations do not permit the use of slogans on jerseys. Vanderbilt was originally penalized for the jerseys during the game and after being shown the written correspondence, the head referee also interpreted the correspondence to mean the slogan had been approved. Vanderbilt has been notified it cannot wear the slogan on its jersey for future games and has agreed to comply."
The "Anchor Down" slogan looked like the only thing to carry over from former coach James Franklin's historically successful run as head coach. Other than that, Vanderbilt immediately went back to being Vanderbilt, looking haplessly ill-prepared for SEC play, which begins next Saturday against Ole Miss.
Mother Nature didn't cooperate, either: The game was delayed by lightning for 98 minutes as heavy rains puddled Dudley Field.
Anchor down, indeed.