Vanderbilt head coach Clark Lea speaks during NCAA college football Southeastern Conference Media Days, Tuesday, July 18, 2023, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/George Walker IV)

Vanderbilt Coach Clark Lea Optimistic at SEC Media Days

For the first time in what must feel like ages for fans of Vanderbilt football, there is optimism surrounding the Commodores.

Vandy went 5-7 in 2022 under second-year head coach Clark Lea. While this isn’t much for the Southeastern Conference powerhouses, the Commodores took huge strides last season. Five wins marks their most in a season since 2018. Vanderbilt also recorded consecutive conference wins for the first time in four years with wins over Kentucky and Florida. The black and gold has some semblance of direction for the first time in many regimes.

Vanderbilt athletic director Candice Storey Lee chose to secure this foundation for years to come. The athletic department announced July 17 that Lea had been extended through the 2029 season, giving the Vandy locker room its head coach, and providing Lea some wiggle room to establish a winning culture in Nashville.

Lea took the podium for SEC Media Days Tuesday to discuss the extension and more.

Staff Locked in Through 2029

Lea has three more seasons to build on the progress he made after a 7-17 start at Vandy. Despite the record, Lea has gained the confidence of his athletic department after earning the first SEC and Power 5 wins for the school in five years. The terms of the deal beyond length are not yet public.

Right away, Lea stressed the importance of aligning the athletic department and the coaching staff to build a foundation for the future.

Aspiring to Bigger Goals

Yes, improvement goes a long way, but conference success is the end-all-be-all of a coach’s tenure. Lea fielded plenty of questions on the podium on how the Commodores plan to make an impact at the SEC level.

Lea made it clear that his team aspires towards these goals. However, he recognizes the process Vanderbilt must make its way through in order to reach those lofty expectations.

2023 Outlook

Ultimately, Vanderbilt has a vision to become a leader in the SEC. But this vision is realized one game and one season at a time. Lea and the Commodores remain focused in on 2023. The Commodores’ skipper is confident in the culture he’s built and looks forward to this season’s challenges.

Vanderbilt kicks off its 2023 campaign at home versus Hawaii Aug. 26 at 7:30 p.m. The Commodores are currently projected last among all SEC teams according to the ESPN Football Power Index.

About Jackson Castellano

Jackson Castellano is a third-year Sports Media Journalism student at the University of Florida.

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