Vanderbilt football will be ‘best program in the country’ in time, according to head coach Clark Lea

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When it comes to college football, the Southeastern Conference is the cream of the crop.

While the Big Ten certainly has a say in who will be vying for the national championship each season, the SEC dominates the headlines and attracts the best recruits in the country. Since 2006, the SEC has won 12 of 16 national championships in college football, including the last three. 

The Vanderbilt Commodores run on to the field before their game against the Ole Miss Rebels on Nov. 20, 2021, in Oxford, Mississippi.

The Vanderbilt Commodores run on to the field before their game against the Ole Miss Rebels on Nov. 20, 2021, in Oxford, Mississippi. (Chris McDill/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The conference will add Oklahoma and Texas by 2025, adding two more powers to a conference filled with historically great programs. 

And then there’s Vanderbilt University.

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The Commodores have not had a winning season since 2013, never have won 10 games in a season, or appeared in the SEC Championship Game. 

“We know in time Vanderbilt football will be the best program in the country,” second-year head coach Clark Lea said at SEC Media Days on Tuesday. 

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It’s a bold statement from Lea. 

Vanderbilt Commodores quarterback Mike Wright looks downfield during the Ole Miss Rebels game on Nov. 20, 2021, at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium in Oxford, Mississippi.

Vanderbilt Commodores quarterback Mike Wright looks downfield during the Ole Miss Rebels game on Nov. 20, 2021, at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium in Oxford, Mississippi. (Chris McDill/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

In Lea’s first year in Nashville, the Commodores went 2-10, including losing to FCS school East Tennessee State 23-3 in week one. Vanderbilt’s two wins in 2021 came outside the SEC in wins over Colorado State and UConn. 

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“We are engaged in what has become a unique form of team building,” Lea said, according to ESPN. “We are a relationship-driven, student-athlete-focused program that values the holistic development of our people over all else. To us, this isn’t an antiquated concept. It still matters. When you do the right things, the right way, with the right people, with respect and appreciation, you will not be denied.

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“When you’re smart in design and disciplined in your approach, you win out in time. That’s Vanderbilt football.”

Vanderbilt opens its season on Aug. 27 in Honolulu against the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors. 

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