Vanderbilt Commodores football

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Vanderbilt Commodores football
2014 Vanderbilt Commodores football team
Vanderbilt Commodores.png
First season 1890
Athletic director David Williams II (as Vice-Chancellor for Student Life)
Head coach Derek Mason
1st year, 3–9 (.250)
Home stadium Vanderbilt Stadium
Field Dudley Field
Year built 1922
Stadium capacity 40,550
Stadium surface FieldTurf
Location Nashville, Tennessee
League NCAA Division I
Conference SEC
(1932–present)
Division SEC Eastern Division
(1992–present)
Past conferences SIAA
 (1895–1921)
Southern Conference
 (1922–1931)
All-time record 585–591–50 (.498)
Postseason bowl record 4–2–1 (.643)
Claimed national titles 0
Unclaimed national titles 2 (1921, 1922)
Conference titles 14 (0 SEC)
Division titles 0
Heisman winners 0
Consensus All-Americans 6[1]
Colors

Black and Gold

          
Fight song Dynamite!
Mascot Mr. C
Marching band Spirit of Gold Marching Band
Rivals Ole Miss Rebels
Tennessee Volunteers
Kentucky Wildcats
Website vucommodores.com

The Vanderbilt Commodores football team represents Vanderbilt University in the sport of American football. The Commode Doors compete in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) of the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) and the Eastern Division of the Southeastern Conference (SEC). They are currently coached by Derek Mason. Vanderbilt plays their home games at Vanderbilt Stadium, located on the university's Nashville, Tennessee campus.

Contents

History[edit]

Head coaching history[edit]

Adopting the nickname the Commodores after the 1897 season, the team has played in more than 1,150 games over 121 seasons. In that time, 5 coaches have led the Commodores to a postseason bowl appearance: Art Guepe, Steve Sloan, George MacIntyre, Bobby Johnson, and James Franklin. 4 have led them to a conference championship: R. G. Acton, W. H. Watkins, James H. Henry, and Dan McGugin. McGugin is the leader in seasons coached and games won, with 198 victories during his 30 years at Vanderbilt. He was awarded 2 National Championships retroactively by Clyde Berryman.

Of the 27 different head coaches who have led the Commodores, McGugin,[2] Ray Morrison,[3] Henry Russell Sanders,[4] and Bill Edwards[5] have been inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. The current head coach is Derek Mason.

Early history (1890-1903)[edit]

Vanderbilt's first football team.

Vanderbilt and the University of Nashville played the first college football game in the state of Tennessee in 1890.[6] In 1894 Vanderbilt was among the seven founding members of the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association (SIAA). Just after the turn of the century, the team enjoyed fairly substantial success, with a composite record of 20–3–2 from 19011903.[7]

Chemistry professor William Lofland Dudley was known as the "father of Vanderbilt football." Dudley was a member of the Vanderbilt Athletic Association, formed in 1886 with Dr. W. M. Baskerville as president. Most students at Vanderbilt were members. The early sports played on the Vanderbilt campus were baseball, bicycling, and track and field events.[8] Dudley was primarily responsible for the formation of the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association. The first advance in the direction of its formation was in March 1888 when the Vanderbilt Athletic Association endeavored to secure track and field meets at Vanderbilt from Southwestern Presbyterian University, Sewanee, and Tennessee. Sewanee's opposition stopped it from occurring.[9] On December 21, 1894, the SIAA was formed.[10]

Vanderbilt played its first football game in 1890 at Nashville Athletic Park, against Nashville (Peabody). Vanderbilt won 40 to 0. Captain and fullback of the 1890 Vanderbilt Commodores football team Elliott Jones recalled the meeting which beget the game. Dudley called for a meeting of the Athletic Association, after Peabody had issued a challenge to play a contest on Thanksgiving Day. He felt the challenge a serious matter; that the pride of the university was at stake.[8] In front of some 150 students in the gymnasium, Dudley explained that if the challenge were met, a new era of athletics would be created with the game of football. From his Kansas City law office many years later Jones remembered: "There followed a general discussion of the whole situation. The difficulties, particularly the shortness of time for preparation, and the fact that regular football had not been theretofore played at Vanderbilt at all, were dealt upon. Many thought that it would be unfair to ourselves to hazard a contest under the circumstances. We knew that Peabody Normal had been playing intramural football for several years. The predominating note, however, for discussion was that we had never taken anything off Peabody Normal and should not do now. Finally, P. M. (Pat) Estes, then of St. Louis, made a motion to the effect that the challenge be accepted and that E. H. Jones be authorized and directed to organize and captain a team for the occasion. The motion was unanimously carried."

Of Dudley, Elliott Jones said:

"Too much cannot be said about Dr. William L. Dudley in connection with early football at Vanderbilt. Since college days his picture has adored my office wall, and when asked by any one who the gentleman is, I always reply, 'The best friend of myself and every other student at Vanderbilt, in my college days.' He went with the team on every trip, and watched over us like a father. "He was our inspiration as well as our guardian. He was our true and loyal friend, under any and all circumstances, in adversity as well in prosperity. I have never known a more lovable, more genuine friend. I cherish the memory of his friendship above all else in my college experience."

Vanderbilt's football stadia have been named after Dudley for practically all of the program's existence. The first Dudley Field was christened on October 21, 1892 with the first instance of the Tennessee–Vanderbilt football rivalry. Vanderbilt won, 22 to 4. The Vanderbilt Law School presently occupies the old Dudley Field site. A second game against the Vols was played, this time in Knoxville, and Vanderbilt won 12 to 0. The quarterback for Vanderbilt that year, William E. Beard, dubbed the team the Commodores in the Nashville Banner in 1897.[11] "Commodore" was the sobriquet of the university's namesake, Cornelius Vanderbilt.

Vanderbilt's second ever game was the first instance of the Sewanee-Vanderbilt rivalry–at one time the south's oldest rivalry, on November 7, 1891. Vanderbilt won 22 to 0 in Sewanee, Tennessee at McGee Field. McGee Field is the oldest stadium in the south, and fourth oldest in the nation, still in use.[12]

In 1894, Vanderbilt began one of its oldest rivalries: the Vanderbilt-Ole Miss rivalry.[13] Vanderbilt won 40 to 0.

In 1895, the first year of the SIAA, John Heisman's Auburn Tigers scored a touchdown with Reynolds Tichenor on a "hidden ball trick" as the Tigers seemed to run a revolving wedge.[14] Vandy still won 9 to 6 in the first game in the south decided by a field goal.[15]

The 1897 team coached by R. G. Acton won the school's first conference championship, going 3–0 in SIAA play. Virginia had also not lost to a southern team, and faced Vanderbilt in a battle for the south to close the season. The game ended in a scoreless tie.

The 1899 team was led at quarterback by Frank Godchaux, Sr. Frank Godchaux, Jr. was the first to follow in his father's footsteps as a Vanderbilt football player.[16]

The 1903 team gave Sewanee its only loss, and had two All-Southerns and Rhodes Scholars in Bob Blake and John J. Tigert.

Dan McGugin era (1904-1934)[edit]

Coach McGugin

Dan McGugin's arrival as coach from his brother-in-law Fielding H. Yost's Michigan program in 1904 showed an immediate impact.[17] The 1904 squad outscored its opposition by 474 to four in winning all nine games.[18] McGugin's tenure spanned the years 1904-17 and 1919-34 with a record of 197–55–19.[19] He beat an Eastern school for the first time in school history when in 1906 the team defeated Carlisle, and a Western school for the first time in school history when in 1924 the team defeated Minnesota. Three times he tied a Northern school: Navy in 1907, Yale in 1910, and Michigan in 1922. McGugin managed 4 straight Southern titles from 1904 to 1907, and three straight in 1910-12 and 1921-23. From 1910 to 1912, McGugin's teams went 24–2–1 and outscored opponents by a combined 816 to 35 margin. Clyde Berryman retroactively selected the 1921 and 1922 teams national champions, which had Wallace Wade as line coach. The 1915 team was a legitimate "point-a-minute" team, scoring 514 points in 510 minutes.

In both 1905 and 1906, Vanderbilt played seven home games, winning all of them. The only loss in both cases came on the road at Michigan. The 1905 team beat Sewanee by the largest margin in school history, 68 to 4. Vanderbilt had its first player ever selected All-American in 1906 when Owsley Manier made Walter Camp's third team. The 1906 Vanderbilt team had one of the best seasons in school history. Seven of Vanderbilt's eight wins came by shutout. Only two teams scored on them all season. Vanderbilt outscored its opponents 278–16. Vanderbilt gave Texas, Sewanee, and Alabama their only loss, and defeated an Eastern school in Carlisle, "the crowning feat of the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association season."[20] The defeat of Alabama was 78 to 0.

The 1907 team tied Navy and again loss to Michigan, this time at home. This snapped a 26 game home winning streak, and set a southern football attendance record of approximately 9,000. The Sewanee game would decide the SIAA championship. It featured a catch by Vanderbilt center Stein Stone, on a double-pass play then thrown near the end zone by Bob Blake, that set up the Honus Craig touchdown to win at the very end. This play was cited by Grantland Rice as the greatest thrill he ever witnessed in his years of watching sports.[21] McGugin in Spalding's Football Guide's summation of the season in the SIAA wrote "The standing. First, Vanderbilt; second, Sewanee, a might good second;" and that Aubrey Lanier "came near winning the Vanderbilt game by his brilliant dashes after receiving punts."[22]

After 1908 and 1909 campaigns derailed by losses to Sewanee, the 1910 team was very strong. Led by All-Southerns W. E. Metzger, Bill Neely, Ewing Y. Freeland and Ray Morrison, it battled defending national champion Yale to a scoreless tie on Yale Field. The 1911 team lost Neely but gained former Auburn running back Lew Hardage. It shutout all its opponents except Michigan, a loss on the road by a single point. Edwin Pope's Football's Greatest Coaches on the 1911 team reads "A lightning-swift backfield of Lew Hardage, Wilson Collins, Ammie Sikes, and Ray Morrison pushed Vandy through 1911 with only a 9-8 loss to Michigan." The Atlanta Constitution voted it the best backfield in the South.[23] The 1912 team suffered its only loss at national champion Harvard.

The "point-a-minute" 1915 team was led by All-Southerns Rabbit Curry, Josh Cody, and Russ Cohen. In the backfield with Curry was Johnny "Red" Floyd. The 1916 team lost to SIAA champion Tennessee 10 to 6 despite outscoring the Vols on the season. For example, Kentucky managed to upset Tennessee with a scoreless tie to end the season. Vanderbilt beat Kentucky on the road 45 to 0. The 1917 season had the first national champion from the south, John Heisman's Georgia Tech. Despite a decent 1917 team, which for instance beat Alabama, the powerful Tech team gave Vanderbilt its worst loss in school history, 83 to 0.

The 1918 season was affected most by the First World War. In August, former star Curry died over French skies. Grailey Berryhill ran for six touchdowns in the largest margin of victory over Tennessee, 76 to 0. Cody was captain in 1919. Ties to Tennessee and Kentucky, and a loss to Georgia Tech, derailed the season early. Despite this the team closed pretty strong, including a victory over Virginia on Lambeth Field and handing the only losses to SIAA champion Auburn and Alabama. Fred Russell's Fifty Years of Vanderbilt Football gives the year of 1920 the title "One of Most Difficult Schedules." Georgia Tech led by Buck Flowers along with Red Barron ran up a 44 to 0 score on Vandy; and Auburn led by John Shirey along with Ed Sherling won by 56 to 6 in the "Frightful Fortnight" of Vanderbilt football.[24]

The team was back to form in 1921. Wallace Wade came over from Fitzgerald & Clarke School in Tullahoma, Tennessee where he won a state preparatory title. With Wade as assistant coach the Commodores went 15–0–2 in two seasons. Vandy upset Texas 20 to 0 at the Texas State Fair. Edwin Pope's Football's Greatest Coaches tells us "The Texas game, sparked by McGugin's unforgettable oratory, was the big one; and Vandy got out of the year without a loss."[25] "Instead of hammering detailed strategy into them,"[26] coach Dan McGugin had taken his team to the nearby grave of former Vanderbilt quarterback Irby "Rabbit" Curry in Marlin, Texas. In a noted speech just before the teams took the field, referring to this grave, McGugin tapped his fingers on the floor and told his boys:[24][25]

You are about to be put to an ordeal which will show the stuff that's in you! What a glorious chance you have! Every one of you is going to fix his status for all time in the minds and hearts of his teammates today. How you fight is what you will be remembered by. If any shirk, the Lord pity him. He will be degraded in the hearts of the rest as long as they live.

Man is a curious kind of a "critter." You will all doubtless eat and have comforts and "butt around" for a good many days, but during the next hour you must forget yourselves absolutely. You are to hurl yourselves like demons with the fury of hell on the crowd that has come here to humiliate us. The man worth while is the man who can rise away above and beyond in the face of a great task. You must transcend yourselves.

I am glad Mr. Curry is here. Some of you knew Rabbit. We felt toward him all the tenderness a mother feels toward her own little boy. He had a little slender body; he weighed only 128 pounds, but he had a heart as big as that loving cup over there on the mantel. He was modest; his life was absolutely clean; and what a fighter he was. His life was a great contribution to Vanderbilt—particularly to our athletic traditions. The influence of his spirit will always abide. He always wanted to play with Vanderbilt against Texas. His body is resting only a few miles south of here; but his spirit is hovering above us now. Some of these days i want to see his likeness looking down on your athletic fields. I am glad his father is here so that he can see face to face, how we regard his son.

There is one thing that makes me sick at heart. I heard repeatedly before we left Nashville that this Vanderbilt team, this crowd of men into whose faces I now look, might win from Texas if it would only fight. Has anybody the right to imply such an insult? And, if so, when before now could such a thing be said of men from Tennessee? How about Pickett's men who moved out of the wood and exposed their breasts and faces to be shattered and torn as they moved up that slope? And how about the Tennesseans of the Thirtieth Division, who broke the Hindenburg Line--a task even greater because it was accompanied by so much mud and misery. All but a few here are Tennesseans and the rest have elected to be educated here. You are a part of us and you must uphold the traditions of Vanderbilt and Tennessee.

Who the devil started all of this bunk about the Texas team? Who thinks they are unbeatable? They say that they have the greatest team in their history and, perhaps this is true. They say Vanderbilt never had a team which could defeat theirs of this year, and that is not true. Texas has no shield like ours. We have some scars on it, but there are a lot of stars there, too. Texas has no such athletic tradition and history.

They say the climate is against us. That is not true. The change should do us good. This light, pure air will help us.

Texas is overconfident. They say it will be a Texas landslide. If you will put every ounce of strength you have into the first fifteen minutes, they will ask themselves: 'What liars deceived us this way?'

Everything is in our favor.

You have seen what the papers have been saying . . .They are betting Texas will beat you 20 to 0, they say you are a bunch of cowards. "Rabbit" Curry, whose father is sitting here with you, is looking down on you from his Eternal Home.[26]... that you are only a shell of the old Vanderbilt teams. You don't deserve anything better unless you give the back of your hand to such an insult.

Now is there any man here who will not fight every inch of the way?

Will any man here disgrace himself and live in the contempt of his teammates the rest of his days?

Are you going to establish yourselves in your own self-respect and in the eyes of thousands who are watching you?

Are you going to make your own records and leave memories for others to live by?

The toughest Southern opponent left for either school, both with undefeated conference records, the Georgia-Vanderbilt game would decide the SIAA title. Georgia was the favorite to win this first meeting of the two schools since 1912, in part because the Bulldogs may have outplayed Harvard and defeated Auburn earlier in 1921.[27] Georgia had the greatest line in the South,[28] featuring four All-Southern linemen by the names of Puss Whelchel, Bum Day, Owen Reynolds, and Artie Pew.[29] Not one team all year scored on Georgia through its line.[30][31] Vanderbilt was 6-1 against Georgia all time, its only loss in 1898 by a score of 4 to 0. With all games in the series featuring shutouts, the score all time was 184 to 4 in the Commodores' favor.[32] Soon after the start of the fourth quarter,[33] Jess Neely intercepted a pass, weaving for a return of 25 yards to Georgia's 40-yard line before being brought down by Jim Reynolds.[34] Two long pass attempts failed, and Thomas Ryan lined up to punt. Rupert Smith snuck in behind Ryan, and rushed to recover the 25-yard onside kick, jumping up to get the ball off the bounce among a hoard of Bulldogs, after they had let it bounce,[35] including the outstretched arms of the Bulldogs' Hartley, and raced for a 15-yard touchdown.[36] Rupert added his own extra point and the game ended as a tie, 7-7. Georgia would go on to beat both Alabama and Clemson handily in the following weeks, while the next week Vanderbilt handled Sewanee in the "muddiest game" in its history, giving both Vanderbilt and Georgia an equal right to the claim of a 1921 SIAA title.[37][38]

In 1922, Vanderbilt hosted Michigan to inaugurate Dudley Field.[39] The game ended in a 0-0 tie and figures prominently in the program's history.[39] The game featured the season's top two defenses as measured by points against per game,[40] and included a goal line stand by Vanderbilt to sustain the tie. VU football historian Bill Traughber chronicles the event:

The game between Vanderbilt and Michigan had a carnival-like atmosphere.
Dignitaries and politicians were invited to participate at Dudley Field, the largest football-only stadium in the South at that time. The guest of honor for the dedication game was Cornelius Vanderbilt, the great-great grandson of the university's namesake.
Accompanied by his wife, Vanderbilt arrived at Nashville's Union Station on the morning of the game, his first trip to the city. The day's first event was a luncheon for the young Vanderbilt couple, which was held at the Hermitage Hotel and hosted by Vanderbilt University Board of Trust.
Thousands of Vanderbilt students and alumni met downtown for a parade with Tennessee Governor Alf Taylor riding in the lead automobile. Decorated in orange and black, their automobile began the parade at Twelfth and Broadway, weaving through the side streets to a reviewing stand at the foot of the Capitol Building.[41]

A young Earnest Albert Craft, born in 1898, employed with the construction team that built the Dudley Field wooden stands was in attendance completing final work on Dudley Field the day of the game vs. Michigan. Earnest was called on to raise the first American flag during the national anthem. Later, Rev. Earnest Albert Craft would become city councilman of the West Nashville area and 40 year pastor of Sylvan Park Free Will Baptist Church in Nashville's historical Sylvan Park area. Clippings of this event are documented in archives of the old Nashville Banner newspaper. A copy of this newspaper account is held today by grandson by adoption, Albert D. Mitchell. Albert, named after Rev. Earnest Albert Craft, lives on the west side of Nashville in Bellevue.

Albert D. Mitchell was a standout athlete at and graduated of Cohn High School and later return to teach and coach at Cohn High School, finally retiring from the Metro Nashville School system in 1898. Vanderbilt finished the year undefeated in one of the best seasons in Vanderbilt and Southern football history.[42][43]

1922 was also the year that Vanderbilt entered the Southern Conference as a charter member.[44] The Commodores tied for the conference championship in 1922 and 1923 and continued to finish in the upper half of the conference standings for the next decade.[45] Vanderbilt football has not won a conference championship since 1923; as of the 2014 season, it is one of the longest such droughts in FBS.

1924 saw Vanderbilt's first victory over a Western school, a 16 to 0 victory over Minnesota at Memorial Stadium. It also saw the first victory over Georgia Tech in Atlanta since 1906 when Hek Wakefield drop kicked a field goal. Wakefield was a consensus All American. Fred Russell dubs 1924 "the most eventful season in the history of Vanderbilt football."

The 1926 and 1927 teams were led by College Football Hall of Fame quarterback Bill Spears; and included Bill Hendrix leading the south in points scored in 1926, and Jimmy Armistead leading the nation in points scored in 1927. The 1926 team lost only to national champion Alabama.

In 1932, Vanderbilt—at the pinnacle of its athletics dominance in the South[46]—joined the other SoCon schools south and west of the Appalachians in founding the Southeastern Conference. The other charter members were Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Ole Miss, Tennessee, Auburn, LSU, Mississippi State, Sewanee, Georgia Tech, and Tulane.[47]

Coach McGugin retired after the 1934 season.[48] He remains the most successful Vanderbilt head football coach in the history of the program.[48] He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a coach in 1951.[48][49] McGugin selected Bull Brown, Josh Cody, Lew Hardage, Ray Morrison, Bill Spears, and Hek Wakefield as the six best players he ever coached.[50]

Ray Morrison era (1935-1939)[edit]

Coach Ray Morrison retook the reins of his alma mater following the retirement of his predecessor, Dan McGugin.[51] Morrison posted a 29–22–2 overall record[52] but his teams were inconsistent, with three winning seasons but two losing, failing to duplicate the success of his successful predecessor.[52] He won SEC Coach of the Year honors in 1937 before being replaced after five seasons.[52]

Sanders, Alley and Bartling (1940-1948)[edit]

Coach Sanders

Henry Sanders had a successful stint as head coach at Vanderbilt, compiling a 36–22–2 (.617) record there from 1940-1942 and 1946-1948.[53] His record is the best of any Vandy head football coach while the school has been a member of the SEC.[54] Highlights included

  • A stunning upset of #7 ranked Alabama on November 22, 1941, in a driving rainstorm in Nashville;[55] up to that time, only the second time in Commodore history where they defeated a ranked team.[54]
  • The first top-20 ranking in the school history in 1947, where the team was ranked #10 after opening the season with two wins. The team defended its ranking with a defeat of #18 Mississippi, the first time Vanderbilt played a ranked school while ranked.
  • An eight game winning string to end the 1948 season, including a ranking in the final poll and a defeat of arch rival Tennessee. This still stands as the second[56] longest single-season win streak in Vanderbilt football history.[54]

Sanders left the Commodores after the 1942 season to serve in World War II but returned to lead the Commodores for three more seasons before leaving to accept the head football coach position at UCLA.[54] He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a coach in 1996.

Ernest Alley led the Commodores for the 1943 season while Sanders was away at war. He posted a 5–0 record before departing to become an assistant at Auburn.

Doby Bartling led the Commodores for two seasons (1944-1945) until Sanders returned. Bartling posted a 6–6–1 overall record in those two seasons.[57]

Bill Edwards era (1949-1952)[edit]

Bill Edwards was hired as Vanderbilt's head football coach and athletic director in 1949, replacing Henry Russell Sanders when Sanders left to become head coach at UCLA.[58] Vanderbilt gave the 43-year-old coach a three-year contract paying a $12,500 salary ($123,899 in today's dollars).[58] "I don't like to leave the Cleveland Browns and Paul Brown in particular," he said at the time. "I'll never forget my experiences with the Browns over the past two years."[58] Edwards remained at Vanderbilt for four seasons, building up a 21–19–2 record.[59][60] He instituted a modern T formation offense to replace Sanders's more traditional single-wing formation.[61] He resigned in 1953 under pressure from Vanderbilt alumni following a 3–5–2 season.[62]

Arthur Guepe era (1953-1962)[edit]

Vanderbilt lured Arthur Guepe from Virginia in 1953 and he coached the Commodores for ten seasons (1953-1962).[63] Guepe's 1955 Vandy team, beat 8th-ranked Auburn in the Gator Bowl and finished 8–3.[63] His Vandy teams won more Southeastern Conference games (19) than any Commodore coach before or since.[63]

After retiring from coaching after the 1962 season, Guepe said matter-of-factly and without bitterness: "There is no way you can be Harvard Monday through Friday and try to be Alabama on Saturday."[64] His message to the Vanderbilt chancellor and trustees was unambiguous—to be competitive in the arena of big-time college football, Vanderbilt would have to ease some of its rigorous standards for admissions and academic eligibility. To their great credit, Vanderbilt officials refused to follow these suggestions, and Vanderbilt has maintained the integrity of its admissions and eligibility standards to this day.

John Green era (1963-1966)[edit]

John Green was hired away from his post as defensive coordinator at Florida as the new head football coach after Guepe's retirement.[65] Green's Commodores struggled mightily under his watch, failing to win more than three games in a single season under his watch and posting a dismal 7–29–4 record in Green's four seasons.[66][67] Green was fired after the 1966 season because of these miserable struggles and low attendance and fan support at home games.

Bill Pace era (1967-1972)[edit]

Bill Pace, previously an assistant at Arkansas, took over as the Commodores head coach after Green's firing.[68] He too, would find winning difficult at Vanderbilt, posting only one winning record (a 5–4–1 1968 season) en route to a 22–38–3 overall record in his six seasons at the helm.[69] Pace resigned after the 1972 season[70] but remained the school's athletics director for another year before resigning that position as well.[70]

Steve Sloan era (1973-1974)[edit]

In 1973, Steve Sloan took over as head coach.[71] In his first season, Vanderbilt finished at 5–6, including a 1–6 record in conference play.[72] During his second season, however, Vanderbilt finished at 7–3–1 and qualified for a post-season bowl game.[72] The team was placed in the Peach Bowl against Texas Tech.[73] The two teams played to a 6-6 tie in the game.[74] It was Vanderbilt's first bowl game since 1955 and only the second in school history. Sloan left Vanderbilt after two seasons to accept the head football coach position at Texas Tech.[75]

Fred Pancoast era (1975-1978)[edit]

Fred Pancoast arrived as head football coach at Vanderbilt from Memphis.[76] In Pancoast's first season at the helm of the Commodores, the team posted a 7–4 record.[76][77] That season, unfortunately, would be Pancoast's only winning season, as three consecutive 2–9 seasons followed.[76][77] Amid dissatisfaction and frustration among the athletics department and fan base, like several of his predecessors, Pancoast resigned after the 1978 season.[76] His final record in four years at VU is 13–31.[77][77]

George MacIntyre era (1979-1985)[edit]

George MacIntyre, previously Ole Miss' offensive coordinator, became the Commodores' head coach in 1979.[78] Following three losing seasons (1–10 in 1979, 2–9 in 1980, and 4–7 in 1981), Vanderbilt went 8–4 in 1982 and earned a berth in the Hall of Fame Classic Bowl, a game they lost.[79] This would be Vanderbilt's only winning season with MacIntyre as coach, and MacIntyre would have an overall 25–52–1 record in seven seasons as head coach.[79] After the 1985 season, MacIntyre resigned from Vanderbilt, and in doing so echoed the reasoning of his predecessors, blaming the "continuing rise in academic standards, both in admissions and in the retaining of student athletes" for Vanderbilt's losing seasons.[80]

Watson Brown era (1986-1990)[edit]

Watson Brown, older brother of former Texas head coach Mack Brown, came to Vanderbilt from Rice.[81] Brown could never get the Commodores pointed in the right direction or find success, failing to post a winning record or win more than four games in a single season in his five-year tenure as head coach.[82] After posting 1–10 records in 1989 and 1990,[82] Brown was fired.[83]

Gerry DiNardo era (1991-1994)[edit]

In December 1990, Gerry DiNardo took the head coach job at Vandy, starting in the 1991 season.[84] DiNardo went 5–6, 4–7, 5–6, and 5–6 in his four seasons at the helm.[85] DiNardo's two biggest wins were the Commodores victory over #17 Georgia on October 19, 1991 and #25 Ole Miss on September 19, 1992. These were the first times Vanderbilt defeated a ranked team in years, and there was hope that DiNardo would restore the glories of the past and recruit well despite high academic requirements for acceptance and enrollment.

Despite pleas from the fan base and administration to stay, DiNardo left the Commodores after the 1994 season to accept the head football coach position at LSU.[86]

Rod Dowhower era (1995-1996)[edit]

Rod Dowhower was brought to Vanderbilt from his position as an assistant coach for the NFL's Cleveland Browns amid high hopes that he would build on the momentum of his predecessor DiNardo's tenure.[87] However, this never came to pass, as things went downhill very quickly and steadily, as Dowhower's teams was only able to salvage two 2–9 seasons (that included only one conference victory),[88] after which Dowhower resigned under pressure.[89][90]

Woody Widenhofer era (1997-2001)[edit]

Long-time and well-respected NFL assistant coach Woody Widenhofer was brought to Vanderbilt amid hopes that he was the right hire and that he would resurrect the seemingly dead Commodores football program.[91] He, like his predecessors struggled to find success on the football field, and the high academic standards of the university limited his recruiting possibilities. Widenhofer's best season was a mediocre 5–6 1999 season.[92] Other than that, the Commodores were unable to win more than three games in a single season,[92]leading to Widenhofer's resignation after five seasons.[93] While his on-the-field results weren't very successful, the NCAA announced that Widenhofer graduated a perfect 100% of his players in 2001, the best in the entire country.

Bobby Johnson era (2002-2009)[edit]

2004 Vanderbilt-Navy Game

Bobby Johnson was hired in 2002 as the head football coach.[94] Johnson had previously coached at NCAA Division I-AA power Furman, leading the Paladins to the Division I-AA title game in 2001, his final year. However, at the time, some questioned the wisdom of hiring a I-AA coach to lead a program in what has widely been reckoned as the strongest football conference in the nation.[95]

Vanderbilt officials had pursued and offered the position initially to Gary Barnett and Tyrone Willingham, both of whom had steered small, private universities (Northwestern and Stanford, respectively) to football success. Both turned down the job for different reasons.[95]

The same critics that questioned Johnson's initial hiring also derided the loyalty given to Coach Johnson by the Vanderbilt administration after his first three seasons at the school led to three consecutive 2–9 records.[96] During this time, however, Johnson was continuing to recruit players that had been passed over by major-power schools, but whom Johnson and his staff believed could be molded into SEC-caliber players.

In 2005, Vanderbilt finished with a 5–6 record, the program's best finish since 1999.[96] This included a win in Knoxville against cross-state rival Tennessee.[97]

All-SEC Quarterback Jay Cutler, the team's offensive captain that season and the offensive player of the year in the SEC, was selected 11th overall in the 2006 NFL Draft by the Denver Broncos[98] and named starting quarterback for the last five games of his rookie season. Cutler currently starts at quarterback for the Chicago Bears.[99]

In the 2006 season, Vanderbilt finished with a 4–8 record with sophomore Chris Nickson at quarterback.[100] The 2006 team's peak performance came with a 24–22 defeat of conference rival #16 ranked Georgia at Sanford Stadium, the first time Vanderbilt had ever defeated a ranked opponent on the road.[100]The team came within seconds of defeating Arkansas and Alabama in consecutive weeks.[100]

Vanderbilt fans approached the 2007 season with considerable optimism, given the return of many experienced starters, including WR Earl Bennett and the closeness of the Arkansas and Alabama losses. Vanderbilt started the year strong with a decisive victory over Richmond, but hopes for a win against Nick Saban's Alabama squad fizzled in a 24-10 loss marked by several controversial penalties.[101] Vanderbilt rebounded with strong wins against Ole Miss and Eastern Michigan, but the Ole Miss victory came at a cost, as quarterback Chris Nickson suffered an injury that negatively impacted his future performance and led to his mid-season replacement by Mackenzi Adams. While Vanderbilt appeared to be en route to a convincing homecoming win against #21 Georgia, a late-game Bulldog rally coupled with a costly Vanderbilt fumble in the final minutes of the fourth quarter led to a disappointing 20-17 loss.[101] Vanderbilt rebounded with a stunning upset of #6 ranked South Carolina 17-6 at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia,[101] beating a top 10 team for the first time in 33 years and a Steve Spurrier-coached team for the first time ever. It was the highest ranked team Vanderbilt had beaten since defeating #6 LSU in 1937. In the following home game against Miami (Ohio), junior wide receiver Earl Bennett made history by breaking the SEC record for most career receptions. Vanderbilt would go on to win the game 24-13.[101] With a 5–3 record entering the last four games of the season, the Commodores seemed primed for bowl eligibility. After a lopsided defeat against Florida and a close loss to Kentucky, the Commodores went to Knoxville to play Tennessee at Neyland Stadium for the first time since their 2005 win. Despite entering as heavy underdogs, Vanderbilt jumped out to a 24–9 lead at the end of the third quarter, but the Volunteers scored 16 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to win the game by one point.[101] Vanderbilt went on to lose its final game of the series against Wake Forest 31-17.[101]

In 2008, Vanderbilt began the season winning their first five games, beating Miami (OH), South Carolina, Rice, Ole Miss, and Auburn.[102] Vanderbilt lost its next four games, however on November 15, 2008, Vanderbilt defeated Kentucky to become bowl eligible for the first time since 1982.[102] The Commodores finished the 2008 regular season with losses to Tennessee and Wake Forest, completing the regular season with a 6–6 record (4–4 in the SEC).[102]

Their 2008 finish was good enough for the Commodores to earn an invitation to play Boston College in the Music City Bowl on December 31, 2008.[102] In a come-from-behind win, Vanderbilt narrowly beat Boston College by a score of 16-14, to win its first bowl game in fifty-three years.[102]

The 2008 Vanderbilt Commodore football team is also noteworthy because it won the 2008 Academic Achievement Award from the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA). This award recognizes graduate rate successes on the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision level. Vanderbilt was recognized for graduating 95 percent of its 2001 freshman class, the highest graduation rate among all 119 FBS teams.[103]

Junior cornerback D.J. Moore received All-SEC first team honors for the second straight season and second team All-American honors following the 2008 season.[104] He was later drafted by the Chicago Bears in the fourth round of the 2009 NFL Draft.[105]

The upward trajectory of Vanderbilt football took a step back in 2009. Despite returning 18 starters from the 2008 bowl-championship season, the Commodores finished a disappointing 2–10.[106] Numerous injuries contributed to the team's troubles, as several starters were lost with season-ending injuries, including Ryan Hamilton (Safety), Jared Hawkins (RB), James Williams (OL), and Larry Smith (QB). In addition, transfer WR and projected starter Terrence Jeffers was not academically eligible to play the entire season.

2011 vs. Arkansas Razorbacks

On July 14, 2010, Bobby Johnson announced his retirement.[107] With less than two months until the season opener, the move was a shock to many players and fans. Said Johnson, "I’ve decided to retire, not resign".[108]

Robbie Caldwell (2010)[edit]

On August 2, 2010, Vanderbilt Vice-Chancellor of Student Life David Williams, who has overseen intercollegiate athletics since Vanderbilt dissolved its athletic department in 2003, announced that the "interim" tag would be dropped from Robbie Caldwell's title, and that they had agreed to a new contract to be the full-time head coach.[109] Vanderbilt did not release the terms of the contract, but it is known to have been a multiyear contract.[110]

Caldwell was popular in his first public appearance at SEC Media Days, and has been a sought-after guest among sports talk shows.[111] His first major coaching decision came on August 6, 2010, when he hired Herb Hand, former offensive co-coordinator at the Tulsa to be the offensive line coach at Vanderbilt.[112]

On September 18, 2010, after close home losses to Northwestern and LSU, Caldwell picked up his first win as a head coach, as Vandy defeated the Ole Miss Rebels 28-14 in Oxford, MS.[113] He became the first Vanderbilt coach since 1975 to win his road debut.[114] Caldwell won his second game 52-6 against Eastern Michigan. However, starting with a 43-0 loss to Georgia, the Commodores began a six-game losing streak going into the season ending game against Wake Forest.[115] On November 27, hours before kickoff against Wake Forest, Robbie Caldwell announced that he would resign as head coach effective that evening saying, “Having the opportunity to be Vanderbilt’s head football coach has been a dream come true and I greatly appreciated the chance to serve, and I gave it my best. However, after a lot of reflection, I’ve realized it is time for me to step aside and let someone else pick up the hard work and efforts of our staff.”[116]

James Franklin era (2011-2013)[edit]

James Franklin, formerly offensive coordinator at Maryland, took over the Vanderbilt football program as head coach.[117] Franklin started out the 2011 season bringing the Commodores to a 3–0 start with wins against Elon, Connecticut, and SEC rival Ole Miss.[118] This was the best start for a new Vanderbilt coach in 68 years. After losing three games including a close loss to Georgia, Vanderbilt improved to 4 wins with a homecoming victory against Army.[118] After losing a 31-28 game against SEC opponent Arkansas and Florida 26-21,[118] the Commodores under Franklin defeated conference opponent Kentucky at home in Nashville by an impressive 38-8, improving to 5 wins on the season.[118] After a close loss to in-state and SEC rival Tennessee, Vanderbilt capped the season with a 41-7 road win against Wake Forest, finishing the season 6–6,[118] with a 2–6 record in the SEC, and earning a trip to the Liberty Bowl in Memphis against the Cincinnati Bearcats; with a loss of 31-24, Vandy finished 6–7.[118]

Franklin became the first Vanderbilt head coach to lead a Commodore team to a bowl game as a first-year head coach. As Franklin is the first coach to bring a Vanderbilt team to a bowl game two years in a row, he also has the most bowl appearances as a Vanderbilt head coach. He has the most wins for consecutive years (15) since 1926–27.[119] "Anchor Down" was established as the team's motto during the 2012 season and carried over into the 2013 season.

Coach Franklin was on the radar for a number of teams looking for a new head coach. On January 9, 2014 coach Franklin was rumored to have accepted a job as head coach of Penn State Nittany Lions, though neither university had confirmed the report. Finally, on January 11, 2014, Penn State officially announced that James Franklin had become the 16th head coach of the Nittany Lions effectively ending his tenure as the Vanderbilt Commodores head coach.[120]

Derek Mason era (2014-present)[edit]

On January 17, 2014, Derek Mason, formerly Stanford associate head coach and co-defensive coordinator, was announced as the new Vanderbilt head coach.[121]

The Derek Mason era got off to a bad start when his mistake-prone Commodores were outscored in a 37-7 loss to visiting Temple at home. It was Vanderbilt's worst opening-season home loss in the school's history of football and the worst opening game loss since 1998 a 42-0 loss to Mississippi. The Commodores had seven turnovers, leading to 27 points for Temple.[122] After back to back home losses Coach Mason won his first game against the #120 ranked UMass in a hard fought game 34-31. Vanderbilt did not score an offensive TD for nine quarters. Vanderbilt was also the last team in the Division 1 FBS to score an offensive TD.[123] Vanderbilt had been out scored 10-78 in the two prior games before the win.[124] Vanderbilt would lose its next three games to South Carolina,Kentucky and Georgia, falling to 0-4 in conference play. On October 11, the Commodores would beat Charleston Southern by one point, an FCS school. The next week would see a ten point loss to the Missouri, dropping them to 0-5 in conference play. Following a 42-28 victory over Old Dominion, a school that is new to the FBS, Vanderbilt would lose to Florida, Mississippi State, and archrival Tennessee, by a combined score of 109-27. Vanderbilt would end the season 3-9 (0-8) in the SEC.[125]

Milestones[edit]

1890[edit]

  • First football game

1891[edit]

1892[edit]

1893[edit]

1894[edit]

1896[edit]

1897[edit]

  • First conference title (SIAA)

1899[edit]

  • First game against Texas.

1901[edit]

  • Largest margin of victory over rival Georgia, 47–0.
  • SIAA champions.

1902[edit]

1903[edit]

1904[edit]

  • Dan McGugin's first year, an undefeated 9–0.
  • Averaged 52.7 points per game, the most in college football, and allowed 4 points all year.
  • SIAA champions
  • Beat Centre 97–0

1905[edit]

  • First game against Michigan.
  • Outscored opponents 372–22 from 1903 to 1905
  • Record of 22–2–1 over this same span
  • SIAA champions
  • Largest margin of victory over rival Sewanee, 68–4.

1906[edit]

  • Beat Carlisle 4–0
  • Beat Alabama 78–0.
  • SIAA champions
  • Owsley Manier was first Commodore selected to an All-American team, Camp's third-team.

1907[edit]

  • Tied Navy 6–6.
  • Home win streak ended at 26 by Michigan.
  • SIAA champions for seventh straight year.
  • Bob Blake was selected first-team All-American by Michigan coach Fielding Yost

1910[edit]

  • Held Yale to a scoreless tie at Yale Field.
  • SIAA champions

1912[edit]

1915[edit]

  • A legitimate "point-a-minute" team, scoring 514 points in 510 minutes of play.
  • SIAA champions
  • Largest margin of victory over rival Ole Miss, 91–0.

1916[edit]

  • Largest margin of victory over rival Kentucky, 45–0

1918[edit]

  • Largest margin of victory over rival Tennessee, 76–0

1921[edit]

1922[edit]

  • Founding member of the Southern Conference
  • Shared Southern title at 8–0–1
  • Tied Michigan 0–0 at the dedication of Dudley Field, the first stadium built exclusively for college football in the South.
  • Nation's top ranked defense as measured by points against per game (1.8). Allowed no points at home.

1923[edit]

  • Last conference title in football
  • Lynn Bomar was one of the first Southern players to make first team on Walter Camp's list of All-Americans.
  • Beat Georgia and Tennessee by a combined 86 to 14.

1924[edit]

1926[edit]

1927[edit]

1930[edit]

  • Beat Minnesota at Memorial Stadium 33–7.

1932[edit]

1948[edit]

  • Finished #12 in final AP poll

1954[edit]

  • First night game at Dudley Field, against Baylor.

1955[edit]

1956[edit]

2012[edit]

  • The longest road winning streak (4) since 1950.
  • Longest win streak (7) since 1948.[119]
  • Most times scoring 40 (5) or more points since 1915.
  • First Vandy player (Zac Stacy) to rush for over 3000 yards in career (3,148)
  • First time since 1949–1951 that Vanderbilt beats Rival Ole Miss in consecutive years.
  • Jordan Matthews set a single-season record with 1,262 yards receiving.
  • Kicker Carey Spear school record 81 points.
  • Largest margin of victory over Rival Tennessee (23) 41–18 since 1954 (26-0)
  • Largest margin of victory against secondary rival Kentucky (40) since 1916 when Vanderbilt won 45-0
  • First time a Vanderbilt team to a bowl in back to back years
  • First win at home vs Tennessee in 30 years
  • First 8 win season since 1982
  • Longest rush from scrimmage 90 Zac Stacy.
  • First winning record in the regular season since 1982
  • Four straight wins in SEC play for the first time since 1949
  • The first time in Vanderbilt history a player (Zac Stacy) has rushed for over 1000 yards back to back years.
  • The first 9 win season since 1915[126]

2013[edit]

  • First back to back 9 win seasons in school history
  • Three years and three bowls games.
  • Jordan Matthews SEC record with 263 career receptions and 3,759 career yards.
  • Jordan Matthews single-season SEC reception record at 112.
  • Coach James Franklin improved his record at Vanderbilt to 24-15, equaling Dan McGugin’s school-record win total after the first three seasons by a Commodores coach. McGugin went 24-2 from 1904-06.
  • Carey Spear set Vanderbilt’s single-season scoring record with 99 points.
  • Jerron Seymour set the single-season Vanderbilt record for touchdown at 14.
  • Vanderbilt beat Florida, at "the Swamp" for the first time since 1945.
  • Vanderbilt beat Georgia, Florida, Kentucky, and Tennessee in the same season for the first time in school history.
  • The Commodores were 10-2 in November under James Franklin and 8-0 the last two years.

Rivals[edit]

Ole Miss[edit]

Ole Miss is Vanderbilt's cross-divisional rival in the SEC.

Vanderbilt and Ole Miss have played 87 times since 1894.[13] Ole Miss leads the series 48–37–2.[13] The largest margin of victory was by 91 points won by Vanderbilt in 1915. Vanderbilt also holds the longest win streaks in the series (18) from 1894 to 1938.

Georgia[edit]

Having started in 1893, the Georgia-Vanderbilt football series has been played annually since 1968. The two are divisional opponents in the SEC East. The series, which rotates between Nashville, Tennessee and Athens, Georgia, stands with Georgia leading 54–19–2[127]

Kentucky[edit]

Having started in 1896, the Kentucky-Vanderbilt football series has been played annually since 1953.[128] The two are divisional opponents in the SEC East. The series, which rotates between Nashville, Tennessee and Lexington, Kentucky, stands at 41–41–4 with the average score being Vanderbilt 17-Kentucky 15.6.[13]

Tennessee[edit]

Vanderbilt and Tennessee have played 107 times since 1892 , Tennessee leads the series 73–30–5.[129] When the rivalry first started Vanderbilt dominated by taking 19 of the first 24 with 3 ties. After 1928, UT has dominated the rivalry with a record of Vanderbilt 71–11–2. The largest margin of victory for Vanderbilt was by 76 points in 1918 at Old Dudley Field in Nashville. (Vanderbilt 76, Tennessee 0) The largest defeat was 65 points in 1994 at Vanderbilt Stadium (Tennessee 65, Vanderbilt 0). The longest win streaks for Vanderbilt is (9) from 1901 to 1913. The longest win streak for Tennessee is 22, from 1983 to 2004.[130]

Sewanee[edit]

Vanderbilt and the Sewanee Tigers were both founding members of the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association (SIAA), the Southern Conference, and the Southeastern Conference (SEC). It is the oldest of Vanderbilt's rivalries;[131] dating back to 1891 when Vanderbilt played its second football game. Vanderbilt leads the series 40–8–4.[132] The largest margin of victory was in 1905 when Vanderbilt won 68–4. Usually played towards the end of the season on Thanksgiving Day, the two teams have not met again since 1944.

Records[edit]

Bowl records[edit]

Vanderbilt has a record of 4–2–1 in bowl games.

Win Loss Tie
Result Date PF Opponent PA Bowl
W December 31, 1955 25 Auburn 13 Gator Bowl
T December 28, 1974 6 Texas Tech 6 Peach Bowl
L December 31, 1982 28 Air Force 36 Hall of Fame Bowl
W December 31, 2008 16 Boston College 14 Music City Bowl
L December 31, 2011 24 Cincinnati 31 Liberty Bowl
W December 31, 2012 38 NC State 24 Music City Bowl
W January 4, 2014 41 Houston 24 BBVA Compass Bowl

National championship selections[edit]

Season Coach Selector Record
1921 Dan McGugin Berryman 7-0-1
1922 Dan McGugin Berryman 8–0-1
National championship selections 2
Berryman is considered a 'major selector' in the NCAA Division I FBS Record Book.

Conference championships[edit]

Season Conference Coach Overall Record Conference Record
1897 SIAA R. G. Acton 6-0-1 3-0-1
1901 SIAA W. H. Watkins 6-1-1 6-0-1
1903 SIAA James H. Henry 6-1-1 5-1-1
1904 SIAA Dan McGugin 9-0 5-0
1905 SIAA Dan McGugin 7-1 6-0
1906 SIAA Dan McGugin 8-1 6–0
1907 SIAA Dan McGugin 5-1-1 4-0
1910 SIAA Dan McGugin 8-0-1 5-0
1911 SIAA Dan McGugin 8-1 6–0
1912 SIAA Dan McGugin 8-1-1 4-0-1
1915 SIAA Dan McGugin 9-1 5-0
1921 SIAA Dan McGugin 7-0-1 4-0-1
1922 Southern Dan McGugin 8–0-1 3-0
1923 Southern Dan McGugin 5-2-1 3-0-1
Conference Championships 14
† Denotes co-champions

Year-by-year results[edit]

Conference Champions Bowl Eligible

[133]

Year Conference Coach Conference Overall Notes
Win Loss Tie Pct. Win Loss Tie Pct.
1890 None Elliott H. Jones 1 0 0 1.000
1891 None Elliott H. Jones 3 1 0 .750
1892 None Elliott H. Jones 4 4 0 .500
1893 None W. J. Keller 6 1 0 .857
1894 SIAA Henry Thornton 2 0 0 1.000 7 1 0 .875
1895 SIAA C. L. Upton 3 1 0 .750 5 3 1 .611
1896 SIAA R. G. Acton 3 0 1 .875 3 2 2 .571
1897 SIAA R.G. Acton 3 0 0 1.000 6 0 1 .929 SIAA Champions
1898 SIAA R. G. Acton 1 2 0 .333 1 5 0 .167
1899 SIAA James L. Crane 4 0 0 1.000 7 2 0 .777
1900 SIAA James L. Crane 2 3 1 .417 4 4 1 .500
1901 SIAA W. H. Watkins 5 0 1 .917 6 1 1 .813 SIAA Champions
1902 SIAA W. H. Watkins 6 1 0 .857 8 1 0 .889
1903 SIAA James H. Henry 5 1 1 .786 6 1 1 .813 SIAA Co-Champions
1904 SIAA Dan McGugin 5 0 0 1.000 9 0 0 1.000 SIAA Champions
1905 SIAA Dan McGugin 6 0 0 1.000 7 1 0 .875 SIAA Champions
1906 SIAA Dan McGugin 6 0 0 1.000 8 1 0 .889 SIAA Champions
1907 SIAA Dan McGugin 4 0 0 1.000 5 1 1 .786 SIAA Champions
1908 SIAA Dan McGugin 3 0 1 .875 7 2 1 .750
1909 SIAA Dan McGugin 4 1 0 .800 7 3 0 .700
1910 SIAA Dan McGugin 5 0 0 1.000 8 0 1 .889 SIAA Champions
1911 SIAA Dan McGugin 5 0 0 1.000 8 1 0 .889 SIAA Champions
1912 SIAA Dan McGugin 4 0 1 .900 8 1 1 .850 SIAA Champions
1913 SIAA Dan McGugin 3 1 0 .750 5 3 0 .625
1914 SIAA Dan McGugin 1 4 0 .200 2 6 0 .250
1915 SIAA Dan McGugin 5 0 0 1.000 9 1 0 .900 SIAA Champions
1916 SIAA Dan McGugin 3 1 1 .700 7 1 1 .833
1917 SIAA Dan McGugin 3 2 0 .600 5 3 0 .625
1918 SIAA Ray Morrison 4 0 0 1.000 4 2 0 .667 Dan McGugin did not coach due to service in World War I.
1919 SIAA Dan McGugin 3 1 2 .667 5 1 2 .750
1920 SIAA Dan McGugin 3 3 0 .500 5 3 1 .611
1921 SIAA Dan McGugin 4 0 1 .900 7 0 1 .938 SIAA Co-Champions
1922 Southern Dan McGugin 3 0 0 1.000 8 0 1 .944 Southern Conference Co-Champions
1923 Southern Dan McGugin 3 0 1 .875 5 2 1 .688 Southern Conference Co-Champions
1924 Southern Dan McGugin 3 3 0 .500 6 3 1 .650
1925 Southern Dan McGugin 3 3 0 .500 6 3 0 .667
1926 Southern Dan McGugin 4 1 0 .800 8 1 0 .889
1927 Southern Dan McGugin 5 0 2 .857 8 1 2 .818
1928 Southern Dan McGugin 4 2 0 .666 8 2 0 .800
1929 Southern Dan McGugin 5 1 0 .833 7 2 0 .778
1930 Southern Dan McGugin 5 2 0 .714 8 2 0 .800
1931 Southern Dan McGugin 3 4 0 .428 5 4 0 .556
1932 Southern Dan McGugin 4 1 2 .625 6 1 2 .778
1933 SEC Dan McGugin 2 2 2 .500 4 3 3 .550
1934 SEC Dan McGugin 4 3 0 .571 6 3 0 .667
1935 SEC Ray Morrison 5 1 0 .833 7 3 0 .700
1936 SEC Ray Morrison 1 3 1 .300 3 5 1 .389
1937 SEC Ray Morrison 4 2 0 .667 7 2 0 .778
1938 SEC Ray Morrison 4 3 0 .571 6 3 0 .667
1939 SEC Ray Morrison 1 6 0 .143 2 7 1 .250
1940 SEC Red Sanders 1 5 1 .214 3 6 1 .350
1941 SEC Red Sanders 3 2 0 .600 8 2 0 .800
1942 SEC Red Sanders 2 4 0 .333 6 4 0 .600
1943 SEC E. H. Alley 0 0 0 .000 5 0 0 1.000 Red Sanders did not coach due to service in World War II.
1944 SEC Doby Bartling 0 0 0 .000 3 0 1 .875 Red Sanders did not coach due to service in World War II.
1945 SEC Doby Bartling 2 4 0 .333 3 6 0 .333 Red Sanders did not coach due to service in World War II.
1946 SEC Red Sanders 3 4 0 .429 5 4 0 .556
1947 SEC Red Sanders 3 3 0 .500 6 4 0 .600
1948 SEC Red Sanders 4 2 1 .643 8 2 1 .773 Finished #12 in final AP poll
1949 SEC Bill Edwards 4 4 0 .500 5 5 0 .500
1950 SEC Bill Edwards 3 4 0 .429 7 4 0 .636
1951 SEC Bill Edwards 3 5 0 .375 6 5 0 .545
1952 SEC Bill Edwards 1 4 1 .250 3 5 2 .400
1953 SEC Art Guepe 1 5 0 .167 3 7 0 .300
1954 SEC Art Guepe 1 5 0 .167 2 7 0 .222
1955 SEC Art Guepe 4 3 0 .571 8 3 0 .727 Defeated Auburn 25–13 in Gator Bowl
1956 SEC Art Guepe 2 5 0 .286 5 5 0 .500
1957 SEC Art Guepe 3 3 1 .583 5 3 2 .600
1958 SEC Art Guepe 2 1 3 .583 5 2 3 .650
1959 SEC Art Guepe 3 2 2 .571 5 3 2 .600
1960 SEC Art Guepe 1 6 0 .143 3 7 0 .300
1961 SEC Art Guepe 1 6 0 .143 2 8 0 .200
1962 SEC Art Guepe 1 6 0 .143 1 9 0 .100
1963 SEC Jack Green 0 5 2 .143 1 7 2 .250
1964 SEC Jack Green 1 4 0 .200 3 6 1 .350
1965 SEC Jack Green 1 5 0 .167 2 7 1 .200
1966 SEC Jack Green 0 6 0 .000 1 9 0 .100
1967 SEC Bill Pace 0 6 0 .000 2 7 1 .250
1968 SEC Bill Pace 2 3 1 .417 5 4 1 .550
1969 SEC Bill Pace 2 3 0 .400 4 6 0 .400
1970 SEC Bill Pace 1 5 0 .167 4 7 0 .364
1971 SEC Bill Pace 1 5 0 .167 4 6 1 .409
1972 SEC Bill Pace 1 5 0 .167 3 8 0 .273
1973 SEC Steve Sloan 1 5 0 .167 5 6 0 .455
1974 SEC Steve Sloan 2 3 1 .417 7 3 2 .667 Tied Texas Tech 6–6 in Peach Bowl
1975 SEC Fred Pancoast 2 4 0 .333 7 4 0 .636
1976 SEC Fred Pancoast 0 6 0 .000 2 9 0 .182
1977 SEC Fred Pancoast 0 6 0 .000 2 9 0 .182
1978 SEC Fred Pancoast 0 6 0 .000 2 9 0 .182
1979 SEC George MacIntyre 0 6 0 .000 1 10 0 .091
1980 SEC George MacIntyre 0 6 0 .000 2 9 0 .182
1981 SEC George MacIntyre 1 5 0 .167 4 7 0 .364
1982 SEC George MacIntyre 4 2 0 .667 8 4 0 .667 Lost to Air Force 28–36 in Hall of Fame Bowl
1983 SEC George MacIntyre 0 6 0 .000 2 9 0 .182
1984 SEC George MacIntyre 2 4 0 .333 5 6 0 .455
1985 SEC George MacIntyre 1 4 1 .250 3 7 1 .318
1986 SEC Watson Brown 0 6 0 .000 1 10 0 .091
1987 SEC Watson Brown 1 5 0 .167 4 7 0 .364
1988 SEC Watson Brown 2 5 0 .286 3 8 0 .273
1989 SEC Watson Brown 0 7 0 .000 1 10 0 .091
1990 SEC Watson Brown 1 6 0 .143 1 10 0 .091
1991 SEC Gerry DiNardo 3 4 0 .429 5 6 0 .455
1992 SEC Gerry DiNardo 2 6 0 .250 4 7 0 .364
1993 SEC Gerry DiNardo 2 6 0 .250 5 6 0 .455
1994 SEC Gerry DiNardo 2 6 0 .250 5 6 0 .455
1995 SEC Rod Dowhower 1 7 0 .125 2 9 0 .182
1996 SEC Rod Dowhower 0 8 0 .000 2 9 0 .182
1997 SEC Woody Widenhofer 0 8 0 .000 3 8 0 .273
1998 SEC Woody Widenhofer 1 7 0 .125 2 9 0 .182
1999 SEC Woody Widenhofer 2 6 0 .250 5 6 0 .455
2000 SEC Woody Widenhofer 1 7 0 .125 3 8 0 .272
2001 SEC Woody Widenhofer 0 8 0 .000 2 9 0 .182
2002 SEC Bobby Johnson 0 8 0 .000 2 10 0 .167
2003 SEC Bobby Johnson 1 7 0 .125 2 10 0 .167
2004 SEC Bobby Johnson 1 7 0 .125 2 9 0 .182
2005 SEC Bobby Johnson 3 5 0 .375 5 6 0 .455
2006 SEC Bobby Johnson 1 7 0 .125 4 8 0 .333
2007 SEC Bobby Johnson 2 6 0 .250 5 7 0 .417
2008 SEC Bobby Johnson 4 4 0 .500 7 6 0 .539 Defeated Boston College 16–14 in Music City Bowl
2009 SEC Bobby Johnson 0 8 0 .000 2 10 0 .167
2010 SEC Robbie Caldwell 1 7 0 .125 2 10 0 .166
2011 SEC James Franklin 2 6 0 .250 6 7 0 .462 Lost to Cincinnati 24–31 in Liberty Bowl
2012 SEC James Franklin 5 3 0 .625 9 4 0 .692 Defeated NC State 38–24 in Music City Bowl #20 C/# 23 AP
2013 SEC James Franklin 4 4 0 .500 9 4 0 .692 Defeated Houston 41–24 BBVA Compass Bowl #23 C/# 24 AP
2014 SEC Derek Mason 0 8 0 .000 3 9 0 .250
1890 2014 Totals 280 433 32 .398 585 591 50 .498 14 Conference Championships
1932 2014 SEC 133 395 17 .260 327 514 27 .393 7 Bowl Appearances
1922 1931 Southern 42 17 5 .695 75 21 7 .762 2 Southern Conference Championships
1894 1921 SIAA 107 26 10 .783 183 56 16 .749 12 SIAA Championships

[134] [135]

Recruiting[edit]

Vanderbilt Commodores Football Scout.com team recruiting rankings:

Class

Scout.com

Rank

Commits

Top Commit

2014

50 22 Nifae Lealao

2013

19 26 Zach Cunningham

2012

45 22 Brian Kimbrow

2011

50 21 Dillon van der Wal

2010

54 25 Blake Gowder

2009

72 18 Walker May

2008

74 21 Tristan Strong

2007

87 14 Ryan van Rensburg

2006

61 26 Jonathan Massey

2005

76 25 Mackenzi Adams

2004

62 20 Brad Allen

2003

61 22 Jonathan Loyte

2002

59 20 Grant Brigham

Commodores currently in the NFL[edit]

Player Years at VU NFL Team
Casey Hayward 2008–2012 Green Bay Packers
Reshard Langford 2004–2008 Kansas City Chiefs
D.J. Moore 2006–2008 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Earl Bennett 2005–2007 Cleveland Browns
Curtis Gatewood 2004–2007 Arizona Cardinals
Jonathan Goff 2004–2007 New York Giants
Chris Williams 2004–2007 St. Louis Rams
Jay Cutler 2002–2005 Chicago Bears
Jovan Haye 2002–2004 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Jamie Winborn 1999–2001 Tennessee Titans
Myron Lewis 2005–2009 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Thomas Welch 2005–2009 St. Louis Rams
Tim Fugger 2007–2011 New York Jets
Ryan Seymour 2008–2012 San Francisco 49ers
Zac Stacy 2009–2012 St. Louis Rams
Wesley Johnson 2009–2013 Pittsburgh Steelers
Jordan Matthews 2009–2013 Philadelphia Eagles

[1]

College Football Hall of Fame[edit]

Vanderbilt Commodore football personnel have been inducted into the National Football Foundation's National College Football Hall of Fame.[136]

Players[edit]

Name Position Years at VU
John J. Tigert Halfback 1901–1903
Josh Cody Tackle 1914–1916, 1919
Lynn Bomar End 1921–1924
William Spears Quarterback 1925–1927
Carl Hinkle Center 1935–1937

Coaches[edit]

Name Years at VU
Dan McGugin 1904–1917, 1919–1934
Ray Morrison 1918, 1935–1939
Jess Neely 1920–1922
Red Sanders 1940–1942, 1946–1948
Bill Edwards 1949–1952

Jess Neely never coached at Vanderbilt.

Commodores All-Americans[edit]

Player Year Pos
Jordan Matthews 2013 WR
Casey Hayward 2011 CB
D.J. Moore 2008 DB
Earl Bennett 2006 WR
Jamie Winborn 1999 LB
Jamie Duncan 1997 LB
Bill Marinangel 1996 P
Boo Mitchell 1988 WR
Chris Gaines 1987 LB
Ricky Anderson 1984 P
Leonard Coleman 1983 DB
Chuck Scott 1983 TE
Jim Arnold 1982 P
Allama Matthews 1982 TE
Preston Brown 1979 Back
Barry Burton 1974 TE
Bob Asher 1969 T
Chip Healy 1968 LB
George Diedrich 1958 G
Charley Horton 1955 RB
Bill Wade 1951 QB
Bob Werckle 1951 T
Bucky Curtis 1950 Receiver
Bob Gude 1941 C
Carl Hinkle 1937 C
Pete Gracey 1932 C
Bull Brown 1929 G
Dick Abernathy 1928 End
Bill Spears 1926, 1927 QB
Gil Reese 1923, 1924 Back
Henry Wakefield 1923, 1924 End
Oliver Kuhn 1922 QB
Lynn Bomar 1922, 1923 End
Josh Cody 1914, 1915, 1919 T
Irby Curry 1916 QB
Lewie Hardage 1912 Back
Ray Morrison 1911 QB
W. E. Metzger 1910 G
Bob Blake 1907 E
Owsley Manier 1906 Back

Captains[edit]

Year Captain
1890–1892 Elliott Jones
1893–1894 W. J. Keller
1895–1896 Phil Connell
1897 H. M. Boogher
1898 Joe Goodson
1899 Walter H. Simmons
1900 J. F. H. Barbee
1901 John Edgerton
1902 H. W. Davis
1903 Frank Kyle
1904 Thomas B. Graham
1905 Innis Brown
1906 Dan Blake
1907 Bob Blake
1908 Vaughn Blake
1909 H. H. Williams
1910 Bill Neely
1911 Ray Morrison
1912 Lew Hardage
1913 Enoch Brown
1914 Ammie Sikes
1915 Russ Cohen
1916 Irby Curry
1917 Alfred T. Adams
1918 Herman Daves
1919 Josh Cody
1920 Johnny "Red" Floyd
1921 Pink Wade
1922 Jess Neely
1923 Doc Kuhn
1924 Tuck Kelly
1925 Gil Reese
1926 Neil Cargile
1927 Vernon Sharpe
1928 Jimmy Armistead
1929 Bull Brown
1930 Joe Scheffer
1931 Amos Leonard
1932 Chosen by game
1933 Chosen By Game
1934 Eugene Beck
1935 Charles W. Geny
1936 Dick Plasman
1937 Carl Hinkle
1938 Marvin. A. Franklin
1939 Raymond Andrus
1940 John Ellis
1941 Joe Atkinson
1942 Fred Holder
1943 James & Bob Hamilton
1944 Lee Austin & Dick Bostick
1945 Dick Bostick & James Hamilton
1946 Alf Satterfield
1947 John North & Tex Robertson
1948 John Clark
1949 Carl Copp
1950 Russ Faulkinberry
1951 Bob Werckle
1952 John Cheadle & Don Wade
1953 Larry Stone
1954 Pete Williams & John Hall
1955 Larry Frank & Jim Cunningham
1956 Don Orr & Art Demmas
1957 Bob Laws & Phil King
1958 Billy Grover
1959 No permanent captain
1960 Fred Riggs
1961 Cody Brinkley & Ed Creagh
1962 Jule Crocker & Mike Reese
1963 Sam Sullins
1964 Dave Malone, Bill Juday, & Willard Fuqua
1965 Lane Wolbe
1966 Dave Maddux & Jim Thomas
1967 Bob Goodridge & Sid Ransom
1968 Mike Giltner & Rex Raines
1969 Bob Asher & Bill McDonald
1970 Steve Fritz, Mal Wall, & John Robinson
1971 John Carney & John Drake
1972 Jim Avery, Joe Cook, & Ken Stone
1973 Mark Ilgenfritz & Bo Patton
1974 David Lee
1975 Lonnie Sadler & Tom Galbierz
1976 Tom Ballman & David Hale
1977 Ed Parrish, Mike Birdsong, Reggie Calvin, & Mitch Lilly
1978 Randy Sittason & John Wooten
1979 Mike Ralston, Preston Brown, & Ronnie Myrick
1980 Phil Swindoll, Keith Phillips, & Rodney Gurley
1981 Rodney Gurley, Ken Hammond, & Andrew Coleman
1982 Whit Taylor, Allama Matthews, & Joe Staley
1983 Tom Moore, Steve Bearden, & Phil Roach
1984 Rob Monaco, Steve McCoy, Chuck Scott, & Manuel Young
1985 Steve Wade, Kermit Sykes, & Will Wolford
1986 Thanh Anderson, Mark Wracher, Mark Woehler, & Carl Woods
1987 Chris Gaines, Everett Crawford, Daryl Holt, & Carl Parker
1988 Eric Jones, Brent Turner, Joe Gentry, & Mike Johnson
1989 John Gromos, DeMond Winston, Andy McCarroll, & Greg Smith
1990 No permanent captains.
1991 Bobby Craycraft & Rod Keith
1992 Marcus Wilson & Marcus Young
1993 Gerald Collins, Tony Jackson, & Eric Dahlberg
1994 Gerald Collins & Eric Lewis
1995 No permanent captains.
1996 No permanent captains.
1997 Jamie Duncan, Corey Chavous, Jay Stallworth, Damian Allen, & John Bradley
1998 Rahim Batten, Clay Condrey, Jared McGrath, & Fred Vinson
1999 Jeff Barnett, Ainsley Battles, Lamont Turner, & Todd Yoder
2000 Ryan Aulds, Elliott Carson, John Markham; & Matt Stewart
2001 Jamie Byrum, Antuian Bradford, Nate Morrow, & Dan Stricker
2002 Jamie Byrum, Rushen Jones, & Dan Stricker
2003 Jay Cutler, Justin Geisinger, & Jovan Haye
2004 Jay Cutler, Justin Geisinger, Jovan Haye, & Chris Young
2005 Jay Cutler & Moses Osemwegie
2006 Brian Stamper & Jonathan Goff
2007 Jonathan Goff, Chris Williams, & Theo Horrocks
2008 Reshard Langford, Bradley Vierling, & George Smith
2009 Patrick Benoist, Ryan Hamilton, & Bradley Vierling
2010 Joey Bailey, T. J. Greenstone, Adam Smotherman, & Chris Marve
2011 Kyle Fischer, Casey Hayward, Chris Marve, Larry Smith, & Carey Spear
2012 Jordan Rodgers, Walker May, Archibald Barnes, Zac Stacy, Johnell Thomas, Javon Marshall, Wesley Johnson, & Carey Spear
2013 Austyn Carta-Samuels, Wesley Johnson, Jordan Matthews, Walker May, Chase Garnham, Andre Hal, Javon Marshall, Carey Spear, & Andrew East

Conference recognition[edit]

Vanderbilt Commodores personnel, including coaches and players, have received recognition from the Southeastern Conference for their performances on the football field.[136]

Most valuable player[edit]

Name Year
Bob Goodridge 1967
Bill Wade 1951
Jack Jenkins 1941
Carl Hinkle 1937
Willie Geny 1935

Offensive player of the year[edit]

Name Year
Jay Cutler 2005

Freshman of the year[edit]

Name Year
Kwane Doster 2002
Warren Norman 2009

Best blocker[edit]

Name Year
Jack Jenkins 1941, 1942

Best wide receiver[edit]

Name Year
Earl Bennett 2005–2007

Coach of the year[edit]

Name Year
Bobby Johnson 2008
George MacIntyre 1982
Art Guepe 1955
Red Sanders 1941
Ray Morrison 1937

Future opponents[edit]

Non-division opponents[edit]

Vanderbilt plays Ole Miss as a permanent non-division opponent annually and rotates around the West division among the other six schools.[137]

2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022 2023 2024 2025
at Ole Miss vs Ole Miss at Ole Miss vs Ole Miss at Ole Miss vs Ole Miss at Ole Miss vs Ole Miss at Ole Miss vs Ole Miss at Ole Miss
vs Texas A&M at Auburn vs Alabama at Arkansas vs LSU at Texas A&M vs Mississippi State at Alabama vs Auburn at LSU vs Arkansas

Non-conference opponents[edit]

Note: all the games subject to change.

2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022
at Middle Tennessee vs Middle Tennessee at Middle Tennessee vs Middle Tennessee vs Northern Illinois vs Houston at Northern Illinois
vs WKU at Georgia Tech vs WKU
at Houston at WKU
vs Austin Peay Power 5 opponent Power 5 opponent Power 5 opponent Power 5 opponent Power 5 opponent Power 5 opponent

[138]

References[edit]

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  2. ^ "Hall of Famers: Dan McGugin". National Football Foundation's College Football Hall of Fame. Retrieved March 8, 2011. 
  3. ^ "Hall of Famers: Ray Morrison". National Football Foundation's College Football Hall of Fame. Retrieved March 8, 2011. 
  4. ^ "Hall of Famers: Red Sanders". National Football Foundation's College Football Hall of Fame. Retrieved March 8, 2011. 
  5. ^ "Hall of Famers: Bill Edwards". National Football Foundation's College Football Hall of Fame. Retrieved March 8, 2011. 
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  12. ^ "2004 Sewanee football media guide". p. 43. 
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  102. ^ a b c d e http://www.sports-reference.com/cfb/schools/vanderbilt/2008-schedule.html
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  109. ^ http://vucommodores.cstv.com/sports/m-footbl/spec-rel/080310aaa.html Interim Removed from Caldwell's title
  110. ^ http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/news/story?id=5771254 Vanderbilt Commodores' Robbie Caldwell has multiyear deal
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  131. ^ William L. Traughber. "CHC- Sewanee Was Vandy's First Rival". 
  132. ^ cf. William L. Traughber. Vanderbilt Football: Tales of Commodore Gridiron History. p. 26. 
  133. ^ Source: Vanderbilt 2011 Football Media Guide and media reports (for 2011 records)
  134. ^ http://grfx.cstv.com/photos/schools/vand/sports/m-footbl/auto_pdf/2013-14/misc_non_event/2013_FB_Factbook_History.pdf
  135. ^ http://www.vucommodores.com/sports/m-footbl/media-guides.html
  136. ^ a b According to the Vanderbilt 2006 Football Media Guide.
  137. ^ "SEC Future Football Schedule Rotation Announced". fbschedules.com. Retrieved 2014-06-14. 
  138. ^ "Vanderbilt Commodores Football Schedules and Future Schedules". fbschedules.com. Retrieved 2012-02-25. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]