As a proud Vanderbilt alum, the last few football seasons have been nothing short of magical. Three bowl games in a row, back-to-back nine-win seasons and back-to-back bowl wins. Remember, this is Vanderbilt! In my four years there, I might have seen nine wins total. We played more Homecoming Games than we had wins each year. It was...well...sad.
So all the credit in the world has to go to Coach James Franklin. Under his guidance, the team has gone from a laughingstock to ending the last two years ranked in the top 25. Everybody associated with Vanderbilt knows his value, acknowledges it and appreciates it – especially those who have been a part of less glorious football times.
Of course, as you can imagine, other schools have noticed, too. His name is often floated as being recruited by a plethora of other "bigger name" schools. Recently, Texas, Penn State and even the NFL have been mentioned as possible next stops. It seems his days in Nashville might be numbered.
So much so that another proud alumnus, Brandt Snedeker, who still sports the Vandy logo or mascot as often as possible – and can often be seen roaming the sidelines – is taken a proactive approach in trying to keep him. Snedeker tweeted today an offer that there's no way Coach Franklin could turn down, right?
— Brandt Snedeker (@BrandtSnedeker) January 8, 2014
Here's hoping it works. If not, I'm sure Brandt will find a way to make the next coach feel at home – on the sideline and the golf course.
You can follow John Kim on Twitter at @johnkim
Jason Dufner loves passion fruit. That's one of the great takeaways from this video of Dufner and wife, Amanda, taking a hike through a Hawaiian rainforest in Maui last week.
Check out the clip here:
If you like all the photos of Dufnering, you'll love this video because it's literally "Dufnering" in motion.
Here's another gem: The tour guide brings the Dufner's to a plant. She finds a seed on the plant and says, "I'll give you a hint -- it's something that you have every morning."
Dufner's response: "Tea?"
The disappointed tour guide replies: "Well, I guess it's something I have every morning. Not tea, but coffee!"
Dufner couldn't look less excited about this hike if he tried. But I'm sure he had a great time.
Follow T.J. Auclair on Twitter, @tjauclair.
It's another week in paradise for the PGA Tour with this week's puddle jump from Maui to Oahu for the Sony Open in Hawaii.
Since 1965, Waialae Country Club has played host to the tournament. Several of the Tour's winners from 2013 who played in last week's Tournament of Champions at Kapalua will be in this week's field. What they'll find is a course that couldn't be more different than Kapalua's Plantation Course.
Unlike the rugged terrain at Kapalua with incredible elevation changes, Waialae is -- in a word -- flat.
Here are five players to keep an eye on this week at the always birdie-friendly Waialae:
5. Russell Henley
Best finish in 2013: Won the Sony Open in Hawaii
Reason to watch: He's the defending champ. That's why. Any time a player wins as a rookie on the PGA Tour, it's a fantastic year. So, that's what 2013 was for Henley. However, he's surely looking to find more consistency in 2014 after an otherwise so-so 2013. He doesn't miss a lot of cuts -- just seven in 24 starts a year ago -- but he'd like some higher finishes. Then again, who wouldn't? Waialae would be a great place to start seeing as he'll have some great vibes and memories to draw back on from a year ago.
4. Tim Clark.
Best finish in 2013: Second at the Sony Open in Hawaii
Reason to watch: I can't be the only person who finds it nearly impossible to believe that Clark has just one win on the PGA Tour -- the 2010 Players Championship -- right? Well, he's a guy who seemingly always shines at Waialae and, in fact, has been a runner up in his last two starts there (2013, 2011). I think he'll make another run in Oahu this week.
3. Jason Dufner
Best finish in 2013: Won the PGA Championship
Reason to watch: The reigning PGA Champion finished fifth a week ago at the Tournament of Champions. Nice little start to the year. He's also playing this week a little hurt (feelings, anyway) after watching his beloved Auburn Tigers go down in that epic BCS Championship game on Monday night to Florida State. Look for him to do well -- real well -- in Oahu to salvage an otherwise disappointing week.
2. Charles Howell III
Best finish in 2013: Second at the Humana Challenge
Reason to watch: You know that saying, "horses for courses?" Well, that adequately describes Howell and Waialae. Howell has seven top-5 finishes at Waialae in his career. Something about the course just fits his eye beautifully. The only thing Howell hasn't done at Waialae? Win. His last two starts have yielded a tie for third (2013) and a tie for second (2012). He's got to win there eventually, right?
1. Zach Johnson
Best finish in 2013: Won the BMW Championship
Reason to watch: Johnson is simply playing out of his mind right now. He's been victorious in each of his last two starts -- the unofficial Northwestern Mutual Challenge and last week's Tournament of Champions. He's not the longest hitter in the game, but Johnson has proven time and again on big tracks like Augusta National and Kapalua most recently, that doesn't matter. He's arguably the best game manager in golf. He plays to his strengths and avoids mistakes.
Follow T.J. Auclair on Twitter, @tjauclair.