If you’re not an alumnus – don’t wear the hoodie.

I’m never wearing my Vanderbilt hoodie again – ever! I have nothing against Vanderbilt. Some of my best friends – well, one – went to Vanderbilt. I worked with a terrific boss who went to Vanderbilt.

When we went to Nashville for a convention, we had a blast. The Johnny Cash Museum was fun but downtown Nashville was even more fun. Kind of a clean New Orleans, and Vanderbilt students were everywhere in downtown Nashville. Lots of fun to be around.

I’ll bet if I ever attended Vanderbilt, I’d love it. But that’s the whole point. I never went to Vanderbilt. If they didn’t have good teams, I probably wouldn’t know where Vanderbilt was.

So, you ask, what am I doing with a Vanderbilt hoodie? Good question. Many, many years ago, I got the hoodie as a gift. John had visited the school as part of his job with Sallie Mae (the student loan corporation) and he came back with the usual amount of swag, including a stylish, lined hoodie with “Vanderbilt” embroidered across the front.

That Vanderbilt hoodie was the absolute best in my hoodie collection when the Lake Houston temp drops below 50 the few days out of the year that it does. One chilly Houston day, I was on the down escalator wearing my newly acquired Vanderbilt hoodie when a guy on the up escalator yelled “Go Commodores!”

“Go Commodores?” I displayed that famous “Tom Broad Blank Stare” when I don’t have a clue.

“Up Escalator Guy” knew immediately that I didn’t have a clue.

“If you didn’t go to school there, you shouldn’t wear their jacket,” he yelled at me.

I’m convinced he would have jumped onto my escalator if they’d been moving slower. Right then and there I made the high-level decision to relegate that hoodie – as warm and comfy as it is – only for tasks around the neighborhood, like mail retrieval. Thank goodness we don’t seem to have any rabid Vanderbilt fans on our cul-de-sac.

And then, a couple weeks ago, I made a major faux pas. I seem to make a lot of these faux pas since I retired. I wore that Vanderbilt hoodie to our neighborhood Kroger. It was Houston chilly. I was rummaging around the coat closet looking for something suitably warm when I saw that Vanderbilt hoodie. It called my name, I swear.

“Wear me. I’ll make you feel so warm,” it told me.

Fool that I am, I listened; I wore it and, guess what? Walking down a Kroger aisle, one of Kingwood’s finest stopped me and asked, “Hey, how did the Commodores do last night?” No famous “Tom Broad Blank Stare” this time. I knew I’d been outed. He knew, too.

“Gosh, I don’t know,” I said pathetically. “Uh, OK,” he responded with that same look “Up Elevator Guy” had given me oh so many years ago. How did I not know that Vanderbilt had played the game of a lifetime the night before?

The only way you’ll ever see that Vanderbilt hoodie on me is when it’s Lake Houston chilly and I’m headed down the cul-de-sac to the mailbox. If you’re one of those “Vandebilters” and you happen to see me and I’m wearing it, give me fair warning. I’ll turn it inside out.


It’s not a Tall Tale. Tom will NEVER wear that Vanderbilt hoodie in public again. What team have you worn – and shouldn’t have? Tell Tom. He wants to know: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Tom Broad
Author: Tom BroadEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Besides being a proud graduate of The University of Nebraska-Lincoln and, therefore, a Cornhusker, I am retired from Memorial Hermann. I am a correspondent and columnist for Lake Houston's hometown paper, The Tribune, as well as a director of the Lake Houston Redevelopment Corporation, a member of the board of the Humble Area Assistance Ministries, and Volunteer Extraordinaire for the Lake Houston Area Chamber.