Iowa State Cyclones

It's college football's season of hope _ unless you're Vandy

It's the season of hope in college football.

Then there's Vanderbilt.

The Commodores are the St. Louis Browns of the gridiron, a team that looks hopelessly overmatched and out of place in the mighty Southeastern Conference, with its conglomerate of de facto pro franchises stretching from Athens to Tuscaloosa to Baton Rouge.

Despite the bold optimism displayed Thursday by coach Derek Mason at SEC Media Days, there's little reason to believe Vandy is anywhere close to being on a level playing field with the Crimson Tides of the world.

"We know what other people think of us," senior safety LaDarius Wiley said with a telling shrug. "We know the...