1922 Vanderbilt Commodores football team
|1922 Vanderbilt Commodores football|
Southern Conference Co-Champions
|1922 record||8–0–1 (5–0 SoCon/SIAA)|
|Head coach||Dan McGugin (18th year)|
|Home stadium||Dudley Field|
|1922 Southern Conference football standings|
|North Carolina §||5||–||0||–||0||9||–||1||–||0|
|Georgia Tech §||4||–||0||–||0||7||–||2||–||0|
|Washington & Lee||1||–||2||–||0||5||–||3||–||1|
|* – co-member of SIAA||–||–|
|§ – Conference co-champions
The 1922 Vanderbilt Commodores football team represented Vanderbilt University during the 1922 college football season. In Dan McGugin's 18th season as head coach, Vanderbilt compiled a record of 8-0-1 (5-0 in conference games) and outscored opponents 177 to 16. The Commodores' defense was unrivaled in the South, leading the nation in scoring by giving up just 1.8 points per game, none of them at home.
In what was immediately dubbed one of the best seasons in Vanderbilt and Southern football history, the Commodores' first year in the newly formed Southern Conference saw them tie with North Carolina and Georgia Tech for the conference championship. This was Vanderbilt's second year in a row atop its conference, having tied with Georgia, Centre, and Georgia Tech for the SIAA title in 1921. Sportswriters often recognized the undefeated Commodores as the greatest Southern team, leading some to consider them among the best teams in the nation along with: Princeton, Cornell, California, Michigan, and Iowa. Both Clyde Berryman and James Howell named Vanderbilt as a retroactive national champion for the second year in a row. The season included a tie with Michigan at the dedication of the new Dudley Field, the first stadium in the South to be used exclusively for college football.
Several Vanderbilt players received post-season honors. Walter Camp selected Lynn Bomar for his All-America team, a rarity for a player in the South. Walter Eckersall and Frank G. Menke also gave Bomar All-America honors. Bomar was a unanimous All-Southern selection, receiving votes at both end and tackle. Camp gave honorable mention to end and punter Scotty Neill, quarterback Doc Kuhn and halfback Jess Neely. Bomar and Kuhn also appear on Billy Evans "National Honor Roll". Bomar, Neill, Kuhn, and three other Commodores were selected for Billy Evans' "Southern Honor Roll." Neely was one of Vanderbilt's greatest ever team captains and was also the team's best passer. Neely to Bomar is considered among the best pass-receiver tandems in Vanderbilt history.
- 1 Schedule
- 2 Roster
- 3 Season summary
- 4 Players
- 5 Awards and honors
- 6 Coaching staff
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- 9 External links
|September 30, 1922||3:00 p.m.||Middle Tennessee State Normal*||Curry Field • Nashville, TN||W 38–0|
|October 6, 1922||Henderson Brown*||Curry Field • Nashville, TN||W 33–0|
|October 14, 1922||2:15 p.m.||Michigan*||Dudley Field • Nashville, TN||T 0–0||16,000|
|October 21, 1922||3:00 p.m.||at Texas*||Fair Park Stadium • Dallas, TX||W 20–10||11,000|
|October 28, 1922||Mercer*||Dudley Field • Nashville, TN||W 25–0|
|November 4, 1922||at Tennessee||Shields-Watkins Field • Knoxville, TN (Rivalry)||W 14–6||7,000|
|November 11, 1922||Kentucky||Dudley Field • Nashville, TN (Rivalry)||W 9–0||12,000|
|November 18, 1922||3:00 p.m.||at Georgia||Sanford Field • Athens, GA (Rivalry)||W 12–0|
|November 30, 1922||2:00 p.m.||Sewanee||Dudley Field • Nashville, TN (Rivalry)||W 26–0||20,000|
1922 Vanderbilt Commodores roster
In the first season to bar freshmen from play, Vanderbilt coaches were preparing to pick the occupants of 23 roster spots from its pool of veteran players. Some notable players from the 1921 squad left the team, such as the previous year's captain 'Pink' Wade, though Dan McGugin was "moving heaven and earth" to get him to return for another year. Leading scorer Rupert Smith was gone. Thomas Ryan, end and punter the year before, also did not return for the 1922 season, preferring to stay an adjunct of the oil industry in Tampico, Mexico. The team also lost tackle Pos Elam, who decided to attend the Middle Tennessee State Normal School.
Yet for some Vanderbilt's prospects seemed bright; Georgia coach Herman Stegeman had predicted a fine season for Vanderbilt in 1922. Fifteen starters returned from the previous season. Included among these were Jess Neely, Doc Kuhn, Percy Conyers, Alf Sharpe, Tot McCullough, Hugh Mixon, Hek Wakefield, Red Rountree, Freddie Meiers, Tex Bradford, and Fatty Lawrence. Lynn Bomar, who played fullback in 1921, and replacement quarterback Alvin Bell were also coming back for their sophomore campaigns. Newcomers included halfback Gil Reese, given particular attention from first-year backfield coach Lewie Hardage, and guard Garland Morrow.
Going into the season, the team was notable as heavy with people from Nashville and the middle of Tennessee. Among those with Tennessee roots was Vanderbilt captain Jess Neely, his older brother Bill Neely having starred for the Commodores when they held Yale to a scoreless tie in 1910. Jess had come to Vandy from the Middle Tennessee State Normal School. Tuck Kelly was also a transfer, formerly playing center for Kentucky. Tom Zerfoss was the new varsity assistant and head coach of the freshman team. Zerfoss was in his day a transfer from Kentucky to Vanderbilt; an All-Southern end for the Commodores from 1915-1917 and 1919.
The Centre Praying Colonels and Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets were the favorites to continue their success from the previous season and be crowned best team of the South. However, those two had lost more players in the offseason than some other teams. Vanderbilt, along with Auburn, Georgia, and Sewanee, returned enough players to be considered contenders. Nationally, traditional Eastern powers Yale, Harvard, and Princeton, as well as Cornell and Navy were all expected to have a chance at the title. Michigan was also to have a strong squad, favored to win the West.
The 1922 season included the new "try for a point" rule. Teams were allowed to either kick an extra point after a touchdown as usual, or to place the ball anywhere beyond the 5-yard line and try to score, either by touchdown or by a kick, and receive the one point if successful. On the "try for a point," any foul by the defense awarded the offense the point, and any foul by the offense made the try no good.
Week 1: Middle Tennessee State Normal School
Vanderbilt's season opened at 3:00 p.m. on September 30, 1922 with a 38–0 victory over the Middle Tennessee State Normal School. The game was played at the old Dudley Field, later to be called Curry Field, after former Vanderbilt quarterback Irby "Rabbit" Curry, who died in aerial combat during the First World War. This was to distinguish it from the larger, new Dudley Field used later in the season, as the Commodores had outgrown their old stadium. The Middle Tennessee State Normal School was led by Alfred B. Miles, in his eighth season as head coach.
"The game being featured by the brilliant running of Gil Reese," Vanderbilt scored all its touchdowns via end runs and forward passes, said to attest to the underwhelming play of the Commodores' line by The Normalite. "The Vandy line frequently wavered and gave way." The Normal school may have deserved some credit, it would go on, for it had "corralled a squad of big, stalwart, husk fellows, with proper training in the fundamentals of the game." Before the game writers noted the great size of the Normal line players, who averaged 185 pounds (84 kg). Vanderbilt coaches expected more from their attempted line plunges, and were concerned by the weak showing of the line. More was needed if Vanderbilt was to have confidence going into the meat of the schedule, and in particular against Michigan. The highlight of the game for the Normal school was its only first down, a 12-yard end run from its halfback Delay. As well as Reese, game accounts praise quarterback Doc Kuhn and halfback Freddie "Froggy" Meiers for displaying skill whilst sprinting around broken fields.
Week 2: Henderson-Brown
In the second game of the year, Vanderbilt beat Henderson-Brown by a score of 33 to 0.
Vanderbilt came out sluggish in the first half. Doc Kuhn, Alvin Bell, and Freddie Meiers, all played at quarterback in the first half, each apparently failing to find a rhythm. Vanderbilt was limited to three first downs in the first half, while Henderson-Brown was limited to two. The only points of the half came on a 70-yard touchdown run in the first quarter as Commodore halfback Gil Reese darted through the entire Henderson-Brown defense. Hek Wakefield kicked goal. Reese's long run was an anomaly in the first half, as Vanderbilt's running backs came out slow and its line was arguably outplayed by the weaker line of Henderson-Brown. Adding to their troubles, the Commodores did not complete a single pass at any point during the game, though many were tried. Henderson-Brown also had no luck with the passing game, its one attempt broken up by Vanderbilt's defense.
Vanderbilt found its stride in the second half, scoring 26 points, including touchdowns on defense and a blocked punt. Halfback Red Rountree took over at quarterback in the second half and provided a spark to the offense. Two drives resulted in nine first downs and two touchdowns, one by Jess Neely and the other by Rountree, the latter drive ending soon after the fourth quarter had started. Fatty Lawrence recovered a fumble in the end zone for Vanderbilt's fourth touchdown. Later in the fourth quarter, Garland Morrow broke through the line and jumped to block a punt which bounded across the goal line, recovered by Scotty Neill for the final touchdown. Hugh Mixon accounted for two extra points.
The starting lineup for Vanderbilt against Henderson-Brown was the following: McCullough (left end), Bradford (left tackle), Morrow (left guard), Sharpe (center), Kelly (right guard), Walker (right tackle), Conyers (right end), Kuhn (quarterback), Neely (right halfback), Reese (left halfback), Wakefield (fullback).
Week 3: Michigan
The third game brought the high point of the season, a scoreless tie with the Michigan Wolverines at the dedication of Dudley Field. The game matched Michigan head coach Fielding H. Yost against his former player and brother-in-law Dan McGugin. Owing to the relationship between Yost and McGugin, the two teams played nine times between 1905 and 1923, with Michigan winning eight times. This meeting between the schools was the first since 1913. McGugin learned what he knew of the game of football while playing under Yost as a guard on Michigan's "point-a-minute" offense, and it was Yost who recommended McGugin for the Vanderbilt job.
The Wolverines were a national power, and the heavy favorite to win the game. Michigan had beaten Vanderbilt in all prior meetings, and were to have the much healthier lineup. Michigan captain Paul Goebel rested his hurt knee by not playing against Case Scientific School. Only one spot in the lineup could be said to give Michigan trouble, guard Eddie Johns was forced to sit out due to academic probation. Harold Steele was to replace him.
Vanderbilt, however, felt its lineup was not at full strength. Vanderbilt end Percy Conyers had a rather badly hurt knee, and center Alf Sharpe had just hurt his shoulder. End Lynn Bomar was fighting through a pulled tendon, and end Tot McCullough had some kind of strain in his arm leading to noticeable swelling. Quarterback Doc Kuhn was trying to overcome a sickness, including fevers which kept him from practice. Captain Jess Neely also had an injured left arm. Conyers and Sharpe were expected to start the game on the sidelines. Last year's starting end Thomas Ryan not returning for the Michigan game was also taken bitterly by Vanderbilt's fans. Vanderbilt was also working to remedy problems seen in earlier weeks with its line.
This was Vanderbilt's first game in its new steel and concrete stadium, Dudley Field. The field was named after William Lofland Dudley, once Chair of Chemistry at Vanderbilt University, and an instrumental figure in the organization of the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association; as well as a member of the Executive Committee of the National Collegiate Athletic Association and the Football Rules Committee. He was known as the 'father of Vanderbilt football.' The eponymous stadium cost some $200,000 and could seat up to 22,600 people. The first of its kind in the South, the dedication of Dudley Field saw much fanfare. A parade of floats and bands marched through the streets, and Cornelius Vanderbilt IV, the great-great grandson of the university's namesake, made an appearance. Three airplanes flew over the stadium as the Vanderbilt band played 'America.' Governor Alf Taylor welcomed the visiting Wolverines, with a response in turn from Michigan coach Fielding H. Yost. The dedication of the stadium followed:
To William Lofland Dudley, Dean of Southern Athletics, scholar, gentleman, and friend, this ground is dedicated, and, as Dudley Field, is consecrated to the use of Vanderbilt and her sons forever.
Lt. Herbert Fox of the 136th Air Squadron circled back, flying over the northern goal posts, and dropped a decorated football onto the field which Coach McGugin caught off a single bounce. He then handed the ball to Yost. This was just the second time Vanderbilt played Michigan at home.
The more optimistic Vanderbilt faithful were excited at the prospect of end Scotty Neill reporting after a year's layoff. His ability at punting the ball was especially noted. The Commodores' lone advantage going into the game was their speed, perhaps not unlike today when teams play Southern schools. During the pregame talk in his dressing room, Coach McGugin famously said "You are going against Yankees, some of whose grandfathers killed your grandfathers in the Civil War." Also reported, probably more accurately, as "Out there lie the bones of your grandfathers;" referring to a nearby military cemetery, "And down on that field are the grandsons of the Yankee soldiers who put them there." One may add the often cited, humorous addendum that McGugin's father was an officer in the Union Army.
The game saw little offense, featuring the season's top two defenses as measured by points against per game. Vanderbilt punted 17 times, and Michigan punted 10 times. Some were surprised with Michigan's lack of an offense, citing it as Michigan's best feature. For the entire game, Michigan made only six first downs, with two off of penalties, while Vanderbilt made just one. Michigan's consensus All-American halfback Harry Kipke, had been rendered moot for most of the game. Kipke once later said about this game, "I picked myself up very, very painfully from every blade of grass in the place." Fullback Franklin Cappon seemed the only Michigan player able to gain much for his offense.
Michigan captain Paul Goebel won the toss and chose the south goal. Vanderbilt decided to kick. Kipke made a first down on the first drive, which started from his own 30-yard line, but Michigan punted the ball away soon after. Vanderbilt kicked back and Michigan punted again after three unsuccessful pass attempts. The best chance to break the tie came early in the first quarter when Vanderbilt was forced to punt from its own 7-yard line. The Wolverines completed their first pass, Doug Roby to Goebel, setting in motion the change in field position which led to their being poised to score inside the 5-yard line. The Commodore punt was partially blocked, giving Michigan the ball at Vanderbilt's 25-yard line. Two end runs, two line bucks, and a forward pass brought them there, first and goal. Some six minutes had gone by at this point. The Commodores' defense stiffened and repelled four attempts at a touchdown. Three runs straight up the middle were stopped before the goal line. Cappon made a yard, Kipke lost one, and Cappon then drove to within a foot of the goal. Vanderbilt captain Jess Neely was heard shouting 'Stop em!' On fourth down, Michigan faked a field goal and ran with Harry Kipke off tackle to the right. Kipke was stood up just inches from the end zone. One Vanderbilt player even pushed himself off of the goal post, in an attempt to generate a greater backwards push, as the crowd cheered.
Vanderbilt's only noteworthy offensive play came soon after. Vanderbilt punted out of the shadow of its goal post after the goal line stand, and Jess Neely tackled Kipke, or Irwin Uteritz, hard on the punt return, causing a fumble which Neely recovered. Neely then connected on a 20 or 25-yard pass to Tot McCullough. This gave Vanderbilt the ball at Michigan's 20-yard line, but the subsequent plays for Vanderbilt saw runs stopped for little gain and a pass intercepted by Uteritz.
An exchange of punts opened the second quarter. Vanderbilt's defense controlled the quarter after this, forcing two more punts from the Wolverines. On the second of these Gil Reese "side stepped his way through half the Michigan team for eight yards." This seems the only substantial gain for this drive, as Neely kicked it away to Kipke. When the ball was on Michigan's own 40-yard line, its captain Goebel limped off the field. Michigan was forced to punt again by the Vanderbilt defense. The half ended, "with both teams completely baffled in their efforts to score;" as the Commodores had possession of the ball inside their own 30-yard line. Vanderbilt fans cheered wildly, having held the Michigan offense scoreless.
Jack Blott kicked off to Kuhn to open the half. Neely quickly punted the ball back and Michigan's offense took the field at its own 25-yard line. Franklin Cappon dashed for a gain on the first play, but nothing followed and the Wolverines punted. Reese was tackled immediately, and the Commodores punted the ball away on first down. Uteritz completed a short pass to Kipke, which along with an offside penalty netted a first down. The Commodores showed more defensive prowess when it held the Wolverines for downs at the 25-yard line. Later, Reese rattled off 24 yards on a punt return, breaking two tackles. Blott missed a field goal on the ensuing Wolverines possession, from about the 25-yard line. Vanderbilt cheering sections were "frantic" as the third quarter ended and still Michigan had not scored.
Herb Steger replaced Roby to start the fourth. Steger fumbled, making the Wolverines punt from their own 25-yard line. Reese again showed skill in his sidestepping, but was injured. Red Rountree replaced him. Goebel eventually came back in and hurled a pass, which if complete may have got 25 yards, but Rountree broke up the pass, forcing a punt. In desperation, Goebel was now often passing; and the Commodores were often deflecting the passes. A 15-yard penalty made it 3rd down and 33 for the Wolverines. On fourth down, Goebel attempted a 45-yard place kick which fell short of the cross bar. The last try for Michigan involved two incomplete passes, an attempted end run by Steger, and an interception by Commodore guard Fatty Lawrence. Vanderbilt had the ball at Michigan's 48-yard line as the game ended. It is said the tie was preserved when Neely recovered a fumble near the Commodore goal.
The tie was the greatest of achievements for the underdog Commodores. The game's result was "a great surprise to the sporting world." It features prominently in the school's history. "The Commodores surprising even to their followers, fought the Michigan eleven, headed by Coach Yost, to a standstill." Commodore fans celebrated by throwing some 3,000 seat cushions onto the field. Many publications called it "one of the big moments of the gridiron season." The Vanderbilt Alumnus wrote "That 0 to 0 finish meant night shirt parades and a sleepless night of jollification. And so it was." Vanderbilt's yearbook The Commodore remarked, "Whence came that irresistible spirit that shattered the Michigan plays no one knows. Every man on the squad possessed it. It was the re-enactment of more than one chapter in the record of Vanderbilt's past. There never was a greater reversal in the history of athletics than that day. The dwarf stood like a Titan foot to foot and breast to breast with the grim Michigan giant, and disarmed him." It was said one Detroit reporter wrote "Michigan was lucky to escape with their lives." Sam S. Greene remarked, "The defensive showing of Vanderbilt against the touted attack of the Western conference moleskin wearers was a revelation even to the ardent followers of the gold and black, who had expected a defeat by at least three touchdowns." Captain Neely had tears of joy streaming down his face by game's end. "They were lucky to tie us," Neely later said of Michigan.
Lynn Bomar and Jess Neely are often acknowledged as the players of the game for Vanderbilt. Lynn Bomar spent much of his day tackling Michigan's runners for a loss, and "tore through the Wolverine line constantly, and always emerged after a play on the far side of the defense." while Jess Neely was a battered and bruised captain playing so hard despite his injured frame. Cappon said after the game: "What sort of a crazy man is this Neely? He played like a fiend and when he tackled me I thought I was broken in two. When I got up he was crying and cussed me out. I was the one who should have been crying." Other plays of note for the Commodores included the shifty moves of Gil Reese—Reese made 105 yards on punt returns. The yearbook spoke of Reese's play, "Time after time Gil Reece caught punts, and shifting from side to side in a most elusive fashion, would run almost through the Michigan team, by a hair's breadth, escaping each hand outstretched to seize him. He resembled old Lewis Hardage, who taught him that shifty trick." Scotty Neill's punting matching that of Kipke, with an average of 42 yards per punt, was also of note. The defense of Tex Bradford and Tot McCullough received praise. Walter Camp noted the strong showing of Vanderbilt, particularly impressed with Reese's punt returns and McCullough's run defense. He credited McGugin with having developed a well-trained line, and a secondary that was not far behind.
The New York Times reported that, five days before the Vanderbilt game, Coach Yost had already begun "pointing the Wolverines for their tussle two weeks hence with the Buckeyes." In response to the claim that Michigan could not manage a win because of undue confidence, Coach Yost had said "We have no alibi to offer over the showing made at Vanderbilt. We did not score because we encountered one of the best defenses which I have ever seen in action." Another account reads "Thousands of cheering Vanderbilt fans inspired the surge of center Alf Sharp, guard Gus Morrow, tackle Tex Bradford, and end Lynn Bomar, who stopped Michigan cold in four attempts."
The Michigan Wolverines went on to have one of the best records in the nation and receive many postseason accolades. The only blemish on their record was this tie. Michigan and Iowa finished the year tied atop the Western Conference, and Michigan won status as the team with the most All-Americans as cataloged by the Romelke Press Clipping Bureau. Included on this list was Harry Kipke, Paul Goebel, Bernard Kirk, Stanley Muirhead, Irwin Uteritz, Oliver Aas, and Franklin Cappon. Harry Kipke was also named best all-around player in the nation by Norman E. Brown. The next week Michigan played at the dedication of another new stadium – Ohio Stadium. Michigan went on to beat Ohio State by a score of 19 to 0.
The starting lineup for Vanderbilt against Michigan was the following: McCullough (left end), Bomar (left tackle), Morrow (left guard), Sharpe (center), Kelly (right guard), Bradford (right tackle), Sc. Neill (right end), Kuhn (quarterback), Neely (left halfback), Reese (right halfback), Wakefield (fullback).
Week 4: at Texas
The fourth game of the year saw Vanderbilt travel to Dallas, Texas, to play the Texas Longhorns for the second year in a row at the Texas State Fair. Vanderbilt went on to win by a score of 20 to 10. Last year, the Commodores won the game, and it was figured Texas would surely rout them. The year before, Texas was an experienced powerhouse, while Vanderbilt the team of fresh faces. This year, the game featured just the opposite, with Vanderbilt a fourteen-point favorite.
Along with the Michigan game, the match up between Vanderbilt and Texas had been billed as one of the more important intersectional games since the beginning of the season, and among the best of them in the South. Dallas radio station WFAA was to broadcast the game back to Austin for Texas students. The Texas Cowboys made their first public appearance at this game.
The teams were also relatively even in their weight, the big backfield of the Longhorns meeting the experienced and heavy line of the Commodores. A rough match had been expected – an ambulance was kept at the ready near the stadium's entrance.
Prior to this year's match, Vanderbilt had several key players injured. Jess Neely, Garland Morrow, and Tot McCullough all had their issues, seeing significantly shortened playing time. Coach McGugin had said "We are crippled beyond all repair, but we are going out to Texas to win." Texas was strong between the tackles, and it came upon Gil Reese, called names such as "the Tupelo flash" and "the son of Mercury," to show his ability at running around the edge.
The first score of the game came from Texas. After the initial kickoff to Vanderbilt, Scotty Neill quickly punted back to Texas, for Vanderbilt had much faith in its defense. A 22-yard run around the edge by Texas quarterback Franklin Stacy was the highlight of the ensuing drive. A few plays after this long run, Texas found itself on Vanderbilt's 18-yard line. Vanderbilt committed an offsides penalty, moving Texas to the 13-yard line. Seeking a spark, McGugin sent in his injured captain Jess Neely. It worked to an extent, with Texas losing yards and ending up at the 17-yard line. It was from there that Stacy kicked a field goal.
A bit later, Vanderbilt kicked to Stacy, who after a few yards was hit and fumbled the ball, which was recovered by the Commodores' Hek Wakefield at the 25-yard line. Vandy's Gil Reese ran twice around the edge, giving the Commodores the ball at the 13-yard line. Vanderbilt ran for a few more using Neely and Doc Kuhn, and then an end run from Reese got the Commodores to the 1-yard line. Reese punched it in for the score on the next series with a run off-tackle. The try was good, and Vanderbilt led 7 to 3.
A series of punts back and forth followed, with Neill booming rather deep punts. Captain Neely broke the streak of lethargic offense, running back a 30-yard punt return. Starting from the 40-yard line, this drive was credited to Reese. After two Vandy runs, one of about ten yards around end from Neill and another of about four yards through the middle from Kuhn, Reese jetted around the end, "slipping here, twirling there," for a 46-yard touchdown. The try was missed, and thus the score was 13 to 3. The punting duel then resumed, with Neill again getting the upper hand.
After a short Texas punt and a decent return from Reese, Vanderbilt found itself in good field position at the 45-yard line of Texas. On the first play of the drive, the Longhorns' Edwin Bluestein blew through Vanderbilt's line and stopped Reese for a loss. A fifteen-yard penalty afterwards did not help the Commodores. The penalty was on Neill for slugging, who was going to be ejected had it not been for the Texas victim, center and captain 'Swede' Swenson, telling the referees to allow him to stay. The next play saw a clumsy pass to Neill, who was forced to try and make a play instead of punting the ball as intended, resulting in a fumble recovered by Texas at the 29-yard line.
Texas then got a big play from James Marley, who made a 21-yard run. As the first quarter ended Texas was on Vanderbilt's 5-yard line. A short run by Marley set up a touchdown from Yancy Culp. Texas thus closed the gap, 13 to 10. The punting then continued, but this time Neill was not as sharp as before, and Texas saw two field goal attempts near the end of the first half. The first drive was going well until Marley tripped on a run, and the field goal was missed from an uneasy angle. The second field goal attempt was blocked by Hek Wakefield, and recovered by Tex Bradford.
The punting resumed at the start of the second half. Reese recovered his own fumble at the 18-yard line, making it so Texas had the edge in field position during these series of punts. Texas eventually got a chance to score out of this, with a drive starting at Vanderbilt's 43-yard line. Three runs and a pass got Texas to the 20-yard line, but then a pass from halfback Ivan Robertson was intercepted by Lynn Bomar. The plight of Vanderbilt's field position changed after this, with Neill netting a punt of about 60 yards. The next punt from Texas gave Vandy the ball at the 45-yard line. Kuhn made five yards in two plays, on a 3-yard run around the left end and a 2-yard run up the middle. Then Kuhn rushed around the edge for nine or ten on a 'criss cross', and Wakefield powered his way through the middle for the rest of the first down. Kuhn went around the edge again, this time for 20+ yards as he was downed inside of the Longhorns' 10-yard line. An unsuccessful dive ended the third quarter.
The drive was to stall here, with two runs up the middle by Reese having been stopped; and a fourth down pass attempt from Kuhn to Bomar apparently being blown up. Texas punted again after the next series, the ball rolling to Vanderbilt's 45-yard line. Neill faked a kick and ran for five yards, with the other five needed for the first down made on the next play by either Kuhn or Neely. Reese then lost yards, and a pass attempt from Neely to Bomar was incomplete. On the next play, Neely hit Bomar on a long pass that went twenty-three yards in the air, with Bomar running for some twenty more and down close to the goal. Reese ran it in on the next play, and the try was good. Vanderbilt 20, Texas 10.
On the next drive of Vanderbilt's, Wakefield fumbled on a run off tackle and the Longhorns' Robertson recovered on Vanderbilt's 20-yard line. A few runs and a pass gave the Longhorns the ball at the 8-yard line, but they failed to convert on the next series of downs, as Marley fell short of the goal line. Neill then had to punt from his own end zone, and did well with a 52-yard punt. The two teams traded interceptions, Reese intercepting for Vanderbilt and Eckhardt doing the same for Texas, and Texas got the ball back where they had started. A 17-yard pass from Robertson gave this drive promise; but again he was intercepted, this time by Alf Sharpe, just two plays later. Neill punted some 55 yards, and Texas was back at their own 40-yard line.
Robertson completed a 22-yard pass to center Weaver Moore, and then another 15-yard pass to tackle Richard Burns. The last play of this vigorous drive saw a Texas run downed at about the 12-yard line as the game ended. Gil Reese was the widely accepted player of the game, scoring all three of Vanderbilt's touchdowns while breaking tackles and sprinting past the Texas defense. Praise was also given to Doc Kuhn for his contributions to the run game and his generalship at the quarterback position, as well as to Scotty Neill for his fine punting.
Texas felt validated after having played better than expected. This year's game was much closer than the last, as shown by the score. In fact, the number of first downs seemed to favor Texas. The Longhorns had fifteen first downs to the Commodores' eight. A. M. Venne, the referee of the game, suggested Vandy won because of its crafty play, saying the defeat of Texas was due to Vandy's 'head work.' Texas turned out to be one of the best teams Vanderbilt played this season. The next week the Longhorns beat a solid Alabama team which finished first in the South in scoring with 300 points, upset John Heisman's undefeated Penn on the road, and beat Georgia. Texas's only other loss was an upset by Texas A&M late in the season; and though Texas A&M had a weak record, it was felt they would field a decent squad by the end of the year.
The starting lineup for Vanderbilt against Texas was the following: Bomar (left end), Bradford (left tackle), Walker (left guard), Sharpe (center), Kelly (right guard), Lawrence (right tackle), Sc. Neill (right end), Kuhn (quarterback), Wakefield (left halfback), Reese (right halfback), S. Porter (fullback).
Week 5: Mercer
For the fifth game, Vanderbilt beat the Mercer Baptists by a score of 25 to 0. Mercer was coached by former All-Southern tackle and Vanderbilt football star Josh Cody. Mercer's team was crippled, having many star players out with the dengue fever. Included on the sick list was Ed Irwin, Mercer's do-it-all end who was also their best punter and a good passer, right guard 'Judge' Dasher, and left guard and team captain Carl Lancaster. George Harmon, halfback and Beverly Gaines, tackle, were also unable to perform due to sickness or injuries, George Harmon apparently having hurt his ankle. The Baptists' back up center W. M. Barron also had the mumps. It was at least noted that 'Coot' Lynch, replacement for Ed Irwin, was as good an end just without Irwin's passing and punting ability. One Glenn Carthron was to replace captain Lancaster, and though a large fellow this replacement was not as comparable as Lynch, for he had just healed from his own illness. Injuries aside, the Baptists still outweighed the Commodores by more than twenty pounds per man.
For all of the 1922 season, Mercer had been unable to play a full lineup of regulars. Scoring at all would have been quite the achievement for the Mercer Baptists. Vanderbilt therefore used this game to rest its hurt players, featuring mostly substitutes. Replacement quarterback Red Rountree was the star of the game, paving the way for all four of the Commodores' scores with his punt returns and end runs. The star for the Baptists was their fullback Dave Rice, who got the majority of their yardage on the ground.
The Commodores were held scoreless in the first quarter. The first score came early in the second when sub quarterback Red Rountree ran for 43 yards around end. In the same period Lynn Bomar hit Rountree on a 28-yard pass, but Vanderbilt was unable to use this to score. The second touchdown came after a short punt from Mercer and a good return from Rountree set up a line buck into the end zone from Bomar.
In the fourth quarter the Commodores saw two more touchdowns. A pass to Bomar and a strong line plunge from S. T. Porter accounted for the scores. Mercer's only chance to score came in the fourth quarter. After Vanderbilt had fumbled Mercer completed a pass down to the 10-yard line, but that's where Mercer was still when the game ended. Red Rountree finished the game with 132 yards rushing, as well as 109 yards on punt returns. The Vanderbilt team gained some 241 yards of offense.
The starting lineup for Vanderbilt against Mercer was the following: Brown (left end), Bomar (left tackle), Orr (left guard), W. Porter (center), Lawrence (right guard), Walker (right tackle), Sc. Neill (right end), Rountree (quarterback), Meiers (right halfback), Mixon (left halfback), S. Porter (fullback).
Week 6: at Tennessee
In the sixth game of the year, Vanderbilt beat the Tennessee Volunteers at Knoxville by a score of 14 to 6. The eighteenth meeting between Vanderbilt and Tennessee saw a packed stadium, the largest crowd of the season for Shields-Watkins Field. It was Vanderbilt's first game at the new stadium, which opened September 24, 1921.
The Tennessee Volunteers were out for revenge, as they had only beaten the Commodores twice, and Vanderbilt was ahead in points scored in the series by a vast margin, 347 to 53.
Tennessee also hoped to better its Southern Conference record after having lost to Georgia. Both teams had last week rested their starters, Vanderbilt winning over Mercer, and Tennessee beating Mississippi by a score of 49 to 0. It was therefore thought the game should be a closer one than in years past, with Vanderbilt only slight favorites. The game turned out to be hotly contested, so much so that many felt Vanderbilt was outplayed but not outfought. Perhaps the week off for many Commodore starters had hindered Vanderbilt's ability to play its best.
Tennessee drove down to the 7-yard line in the first quarter, but was held on downs. The first score came from Vanderbilt in the second quarter on a 31-yard touchdown pass from Jess Neely to Doc Kuhn. Wakefield kicked goal.
In the fourth quarter, Tennessee got to the 1-yard line after a series of long passes. Tennessee fullback Roe Campbell charged over the line for the touchdown. The Volunteers' Clayton failed to kick goal. Later in the fourth, Vanderbilt intercepted a Tennessee pass in Volunteer territory, leading to a chance to score. After runs at the line failed, a 5-yard pass from Neely to Lynn Bomar got the touchdown. Hek Wakefield's try was successful.
Lynn Bomar, Scotty Neill, Gil Reese, and Fatty Lawrence were mentioned as the players of the game for the Commodores, and Campbell was cited as the star for the Volunteers. It was said Neill out-punted the Volunteers on nearly every occasion. The Nashville Banner said Lawrence had been "in there doing a man's job blocking a kick and tackling with the deadliness of a tiger unleashed in a cave of lions." This week saw Tulane lose to North Carolina, leaving Vanderbilt as the only undefeated member of the Southern Conference.
The starting lineup for Vanderbilt against Tennessee was the following: McCullough (left end), Bradford (left tackle), Morrow (left guard), Sharpe (center), Kelly (right guard), Walker (right tackle), Sc. Neill (right end), Kuhn (quarterback), Neely (left halfback), Rountree (right halfback), Wakefield (fullback).
Week 7: Kentucky
In the seventh week of play, Vanderbilt beat the Kentucky Wildcats by a score of 9 to 0. Though the Wildcats were not expected to win, they had a bit of confidence going into the game against Vanderbilt. This was because last week the Wildcats had played Centre, and though they were beaten pretty badly, they managed to hold Centre on the goal line at the end of the game. Kentucky was also feeling bitter about last year's loss to the Commodores at home, and motivated to have a signature win against Vanderbilt. The Wildcats scored on Vanderbilt for the first time in its history in the prior year's match, and felt they were well prepared going into the crowd at Dudley Field.
Lynn Bomar's kickoff was fielded by Turner Gregg, returned to the 16-yard line. Three runs from Kentucky gained 9 yards, and on fourth down the Wildcats punted the ball out of bounds at midfield. After the punt, Vanderbilt ran itself deeper into Kentucky territory on the backs of Doc Kuhn, Freddie Meiers, and Hek Wakefield. The drive did not start well, with Kuhn losing yards as a run around the end was snuffed out by the Kentucky defense.
The next play was the beginning of Vanderbilt's success, with Meiers getting an 8-yard run. Kuhn then went up the middle twice for a total of 7 yards. The next series of downs had a short run by Meiers, and a 4-yard run for a first down from Wakefield. After a 1-yard end run from Kuhn, Meiers went for 5 yards. Kuhn then went up the middle for six more and a first down. Vanderbilt jumped offsides after a 2-yard run from Wakefield. Kuhn was stopped for no gain, and on a fake kick play Bomar ran around the end for 5 yards. On the next play, from the 18-yard line, a drop kick by Wakefield split the uprights. On the next possession, Kentucky drove down to Vanderbilt's 20-yard line. Any attempt to move further was stopped by Vanderbilt's defense, and a 35-yard dropkick from Turner Gregg was missed.
The first drive of the second quarter for the Commodores centered around Kuhn, Meiers, and Jess Neely; but after reaching Kentucky's 35-yard line the ball was turned over on downs. Kentucky did not gain much on the next possession, and punted away. The next series saw a 70+ yard drive from Vanderbilt. With fourth down on the 1-yard line, Meiers punched it in for the touchdown. Wakefield's try was missed. A later punt by the Wildcats saw Kuhn return the ball 43 yards, tackled by the last man before the end zone, Kentucky's punter Gregg. The half ended before Vandy could use this to score.
Vanderbilt's play in the third quarter was hampered by fumbles. The ball was kicked off to Kuhn for a 12-yard return. Meiers then fumbled the ball, which was recovered by Kentucky. During the ensuing possession Vanderbilt jumped offsides. Vanderbilt's defense made up for the Commodores' rather poor situation. Kentucky tried an end run which resulted in a loss of 3 yards, and on the next play a pass was intercepted by Bomar. The next Vanderbilt drive seemed promising with an average of a bit more than five yards per play, until Vandy had again fumbled the ball away. The Vanderbilt defense once more came to the rescue, as Kentucky could not get 10 yards and therefore the ball went over on downs.
The final quarter saw Kentucky attempt a hurried comeback led by forward passes. Only one was completed, a 30-yard pass from Fuller to Hollowell. Vanderbilt sent in a fresh Gil Reese for Meiers, and Reese thus closed out the game. One play was a 35-yard run, Reese only failing to score because of Kentucky's Brewer just getting his feet from behind. At Kentucky's 35-yard line the drive was stalled with a turnover on downs.
The Vanderbilt-Kentucky game was called a 'hard fought battle.' Once the week had finished, Vanderbilt was the only undefeated team left in the South, since VMI had lost to North Carolina. The following week, Kentucky hosted the high scoring Alabama squad, and was the only team of the season to hold the Crimson Tide scoreless. The Wildcats had also beaten Sewanee earlier this year.
The starting lineup for Vanderbilt against Kentucky was the following: Bomar (left end), Bradford (left tackle), Lawrence (left guard), Sharpe (center), Kelly (right guard), Morrow (right tackle), Sc. Neill (right end), Kuhn (quarterback), Meiers (left halfback), Neely (right halfback), Wakefield (fullback)
Week 8: at Georgia
In the eighth week of play, the Herman Stegeman led Georgia Bulldogs played Vanderbilt for their homecoming. It was the last game in Athens for Georgia greats such as captain and All-Southern guard Hugh 'Puss' Whelchel, running back 'Goat' Tanner, end Dave Collings, and the other guard 'Nemo' Vandiver. Along with Whelchel, tackle Joe Bennett and fullback John Fletcher were named to All-Southern teams at the end of the year, with Fletcher getting the most votes of any Georgia representative. Among the notables in the large crowd at Sanford Field was recent Governor-elect Clifford Walker. Georgia was without its quarterback Richard Mulvehill.
A report of Vanderbilt's arrival in Athens reads: "The Commodores arrived here at one o'clock Friday afternoon, and were whisked directly to the Georgian Hotel. Curious hundreds of Bulldog supporters shuddered at the procession of Vandy giants as they strolled down the sidewalks, led by Huge Tot McCullough, with spry Froggy Miers and clever Doc Kuhn bringing up the rear." Vanderbilt entered the Georgia game as slight favorites. Vanderbilt usually beat Georgia, but last year had to fight back just to bring the game to a tie, dashing either teams' hopes of an unblemished record and an undisputed SIAA title. This year, Vanderbilt was acknowledged as back in full form. Since they held Yost's machine scoreless, it was figured Georgia could have a rough time with the Commodores' defense. The game was also seen as the last hurdle for the Commodores before they could be considered champions of the South.
Georgia did not have a bad run defense either, and in fact failed to have anyone score through its line through the 1920 and 1921 seasons, but had poorly defended the forward pass in weeks prior. Therefore it was thought Vanderbilt should seek to expose Georgia's defense by utilizing its passing game. Georgia was hungry to finally beat Vanderbilt, having this game at the top of its list of desirable victories. The Commodores were as eager to silence the hungry Bulldogs and continue their quest towards a Southern championship.
Vanderbilt's passing attack was indeed ready to expose the wrinkle in Georgia's defense. Though the Commodores were only 3 for 9 on pass plays, they made those three count, for a total of somewhere around ninety yards. These passes showed the mark of 'ceaseless drill' and seemed to come once Vandy had worked Georgia's defense into playing the run just a bit too much. Vanderbilt also found itself in another game where punts may have decided the victor, with Vanderbilt registering the better punts. Scotty Neill punted 14 times, with an average distance of 47 yards. Georgia punted 15 times with an average of 34 yards. Georgia fans were amazed to see Vanderbilt try a rather odd play with its punter twice during the game. After a fair catch, the Commodores lined up as if they were prepared to kick the ball away, and then tried a high hanging onside punt. Both times it was tried it failed, luckily for Georgia as they certainly seemed caught off guard by the display. Perhaps the reason for the Commodores trying such a play was because an onside kick saved them from losing to Georgia the year before.
The opening kickoff went to Georgia. The first few series saw little gains by either teams' running game, and punts were traded back and forth. During one of these series, Whelchel was hurt on a short gain through the middle by the Commodores' Gil Reese, but he stayed in the game. Jess Neely also tried a long pass to Bomar, which fell incomplete. The first scoring drive of the game started when Reese returned a punt fourteen yards to the 46-yard line. On the first play of this series, Kuhn ran behind the left tackle for a yard, putting the ball in the middle of the field. Neely then hit Bomar on a long pass thrown from yards behind the line of scrimmage. Bomar caught it on about the 7-yard line, and was downed by Georgia halfback Loren Chester 'Teany' Randall after having run for five more, down to about the 3-yard line. The next series of downs saw a touchdown from Reese, on his second run at the left tackle. Wakefield missed the kick.
The first play after the ensuing kickoff to Georgia was a 17-yard run off right tackle by Randall, who was snuffed out for a 4-yard loss on the next play. Tanner then lost a yard on the play after. Whelchel was injured again and this time sat out. Georgia then kicked to Reese, who signaled for a fair catch but was hit anyway, and so Georgia was penalized the fifteen yards. Vanderbilt used the good field position to try and pin Georgia back, with Neill kicking the ball out of bounds at the 20-yard line. Georgia punted after the next series to give the Commodores the ball at Georgia's 40-yard line. Kuhn ran around left end for five yards before going out of bounds. A pass was tried, Kuhn to Tex Bradford, but was grounded. Kuhn got another yard through center before Neill punted the ball into the end zone for a touchback, as the quarter ended.
The second quarter began much like the first, a trading of punts. This time it was Vanderbilt's captain, Jess Neely, who got hurt on the first series. He then sat out. After a few series for both teams, a punt to Reese was fumbled after a Georgia player tackled him hard. Georgia's Randall came out of the pile of players with the ball. Georgia now had the ball on Vandy's 40-yard line, and the crowd could be heard chanting "Tie it up!" Fletcher made nine yards on a double pass play, and Tanner ran for a few more. Fletcher made another short gain for Georgia, off left tackle. Randall hit Paul Anderson on a pass play to get Georgia inside the 20-yard line. Two more runs by Fletcher for a net gain of nine yards, and Tanner then barely getting the yard needed for a first down, gave the Bulldogs the ball at the 5-yard line. Fletcher ran into Vandy's line on the next play for a yard. Randall went at center but the Vanderbilt defense swarmed and turned him back. Fletcher then went off left tackle for two more. Georgia tried to throw for a touchdown on its final down, but the pass was knocked down at the 2-yard line. The half ended shortly after.
To start the second half, Collings kicked off to Freddie Meiers. Meiers got the best run of the day with a return of 40 yards, giving Vanderbilt the ball at the 45-yard line. Neill punted to Randall who fell on his own fumble at the 17-yard line. Vanderbilt held Georgia to a 4th and 1, but jumped offsides during the punt, giving Georgia a first down. Luckily for Vanderbilt, the next few plays failed and Georgia again punted. Reese returned the punt twenty yards, to Georgia's 44-yard line. Meiers gained two yards with a run up the middle on the next play. On a play not unlike the touchdown in the first quarter, Doc Kuhn dropped back and hit Bomar for a 40+ yard touchdown pass. The pass went twenty eight yards in the air, with Bomar running the rest of the way. Collings tackled Bomar just as he was crossing the goal line, hurting himself in the process. Wakefield missed the kick.
Again punts were traded between teams. At the end of the third quarter Georgia was trying to pass, but just one was completed and that was for five yards. A few plays after Neill had just punted back to Georgia was when the quarter ended. Georgia punted back to Vanderbilt at the start of the fourth quarter, who soon punted it back again. Bomar intercepted a pass from Randall on this next drive. After only small gains from the Commodores, the ball was punted back to Georgia. Georgia fumbled the punt but managed to come up with the recovery. Georgia then lost yards and ended up with a bad punt, out of bounds at their own 22-yard line.
The Commodores advanced to within just a few yards of the goal, and it looked as if they would score again. A pass from Reese to Bradford got a few, and Meiers had the best run from scrimmage the Commodores had seen all day for a bit more than ten yards. Kuhn ran for two more through center. Vanderbilt was then caught offside, and after Meiers got one more yard, Reese lost yards trying to go around the end. A pass into the end zone was knocked down, and the Commodores failed to score. Both teams tried to pass from this point until the game ended, especially Georgia in an attempt to net a comeback. Neither team had much success, and so the game ended with a final score of 12 to 0.
Vanderbilt left the game as intended, as favorites to be crowned champions of the South. The 1922 game between Georgia and Vanderbilt marked the last time Georgia had lost two in a row at home to Vanderbilt, for they also lost 46 to 0 at Athens in 1912. The next week saw Georgia finish its season with a loss to the aforementioned Alabama. Georgia posted a respectable record, given its schedule, of 5-4-1. Georgia's best win was against Tennessee. Along with the blemishes of Vanderbilt and Alabama, Georgia lost to a strong Auburn team which upset Centre, as well as to a Chicago team which was officially Western Conference co-champion and played a close game with national champion Princeton. The Bulldogs' one tie was against Virginia, another team which had a close match with Princeton.
The starting lineup for Vanderbilt against Georgia was the following: Bomar (left end), Bradford (left tackle), Morrow (left guard), Sharpe (center), Kelly (right guard), Walker (right tackle), Sc. Neill (right end), Kuhn (quarterback), Reese (left halfback), Neely (right halfback), Wakefield (fullback).
Week 9: Sewanee
Vanderbilt finished the season against its oldest rival, the Sewanee Tigers, at Dudley Field on Thanksgiving Day. Vanderbilt beat Sewanee worse than had been expected, by a score of 26 to 0. Clinching an undefeated season, the Commodores achieved nineteen first downs to the Tigers' two. The crowd of 20,000 people was the largest ever to see a football game in Nashville.
Sewanee got the ball first and rushed to within a yard of a first down, but decided to kick the ball away. The Tigers went for an onside kick, which was recovered by the Commodores on the 40-yard line. Scotty Neill then muffed a pass from center and was tackled for a 10-yard loss. The ensuing punt by Neill went 43 yards. Sewanee failed to gain much, and had a short punt out of bounds at the 43-yard line. This led to Vanderbilt's first scoring drive, marked by dashes around end from Gil Reese and powerful runs off tackle by Freddie Meiers. Reese went around the right end for 13 yards. Meiers then ran all the way down to Sewanee's 14-yard line, and Reese skirted around left end for ten more. After Meiers failed to gain on the next play, Reese carried the ball for a score on a flank attack, and Hek Wakefield kicked goal. A few minutes later, Vanderbilt scored another touchdown. Wakefield returned a kick for 33 yards, and Doc Kuhn ran out of bounds for a six-yard gain. Kuhn then faked a run and Sewanee was caught completely off-guard. He tossed the ball to Lynn Bomar, who was left wide open behind the defense. Bomar scampered the remaining 25 yards for the touchdown with ease. Wakefield kicked goal.
In the second quarter, Sewanee tried to put a drive together after holding Vanderbilt on downs at the 32-yard line. Sewanee halfback Jack Gibbons went for three yards, then halfback 'Heinie' Powers went off tackle for seven more. Gibbons fumbled but recovered for a gain of an additional three. Vanderbilt's defense then responded, and Sewanee was forced to punt. Gil Reese returned the punt for 35 yards. The Commodores were not able to do much with this, and punted away after two failed line bucks. As the quarter came to a close, Bomar intercepted a Sewanee pass. Vanderbilt put together another scoring drive this time, started by Meiers running through Sewanee's line for a long gain. Reese then hit the line to no avail, and a pass fell incomplete. Kuhn hit Neill on a 10-yard pass to get the Commodores inside the 5-yard line. On the next series, Kuhn faked his way through the line for a touchdown. The try failed.
The third quarter was Sewanee's best. After trading punts, Sewanee's offense started to click for the first time. The first long gain for Sewanee was because of a Vanderbilt penalty for roughness. Powers made nine yards around end, and Gibbons plunged over behind his tackles for four more. A long pass from Powers to end 'Shucks' Shook got Sewanee to about the 8-yard line. Vanderbilt's defense again answered the call, throwing Gibbons for a loss and having no gain from Powers. Sewanee attempted a field goal from the 11-yard line which narrowly missed.
Vanderbilt got back to its previous success in the final quarter, with a drive described as a "savage attack." The Commodores got to Sewanee's 17-yard line when two passes failed, one dropped by Tex Bradford at the 5-yard line, to turn the ball over on downs. Sewanee started to get desperate with passes, one of which was intercepted by George Waller. Runs around end and through the middle took Vanderbilt down to the 1-yard line. After Kuhn got a short gain needed for a first down up the middle, Reese took two runs which together accounted for 19 yards. Reese then ran up behind center to power his way into the end zone. The umpire got knocked down on this play, and suffered a sprained ankle. Sewanee's last drive featured a 29-yard pass from Powers to captain Bill Coughlan, which ended up at the Commodores' 42-yard line. Three more passes were tried, but Vanderbilt defended them well. On fourth down Sewanee hit a 9-yard pass, not enough for the first down. The game ended shortly after Vanderbilt's offense took the field, ensuring Vanderbilt's undefeated season.
The startling lineup for Vanderbilt against Sewanee was the following: Bomar (left end), Bradford (left tackle), Lawrence (left guard), Sharpe (center), Kelly (right guard), Morrow (right tackle), Sc. Neill (right end), Kuhn (quarterback), Neely (left halfback), Reese (right halfback), Wakefield (fullback).
The 1922 season was among the best in Vanderbilt and Southern football history. Many publications listed Vanderbilt's season as best in the South. Among sportswriters, Georgia Tech seemed the only challenger for the mythical Southern crown, though the 1922 Southern Conference championship was officially a tie between Vanderbilt, Georgia Tech, and North Carolina. Therefore the Commodores shared a conference title for the second year in a row, having tied with Georgia for the SIAA championship in 1921. Vanderbilt's defense, at least, was universally acknowledged as best in the South. One sports editor wrote "Vanderbilt has a defensive system any coach would give his right eye to possess." Vanderbilt's defense held Michigan, Tennessee, Georgia, and Texas when all were within 3 yards of the goal.
Coach McGugin's fine record in intersectional matchups started to attract attention. He had beaten the Carlisle Indians 4-0 in 1906, tied Navy on the road in 1907, tied Yale 0-0 on the road in 1910, lost a close fight with Harvard 9-3 in 1912; and now one could add the scoreless tie with Michigan of 1922. The next year the Commodores were slotted to again play both Michigan and Texas. Both matches were to be away games, with the rest of the schedule at home. On December 5, at the annual football banquet, quarterback Doc Kuhn was elected captain of the Commodore squad for 1923.
Lynn Bomar received first team All-American honors from Frank G. Menke. He was also selected as a second team All-American by Walter Camp, a third team All-American by Walter Eckersall, and appears on Billy Evans' National Honor Roll. Bomar was one of the first Southern players to make Camp's team. Grantland Rice wrote the next year that "there was no better end in the country last fall." Jess Neely, Doc Kuhn, and Scotty Neill got Camp's honorable mention. Bomar was one of just two consensus All-Southern selections, the other being Red Barron of Georgia Tech. Kuhn was on Billy Evans's National Honor Roll, and was the second quarterback, behind Herb 'Flash' Covington of Centre, selected for Billy Evans's Southern Honor Roll. Scotty Neill appeared on Billy Evans's Southern Honor Roll, the All-Southern team of Zipp Newman, sports editor for The Birmingham News, and on the second team of All-Southerns chosen by Homer George, sports editor for The Atlanta Constitution. Gil Reese also appeared on Billy Evans's Southern Honor Roll and the second team of Homer George. Other Commodores on Billy Evans's Southern Honor Roll were Tex Bradford and Tuck Kelly.
Assistant coach Wallace Wade left the Vanderbilt football team for the head coaching position at Alabama, where he went on to have much success, establishing Alabama's dynasty. He was first pursued by the University of Kentucky, but refused that option once he felt they had kept him too late with a committee hearing. Dan McGugin was first pursued by Alabama, but felt content with Vanderbilt, recommending Wade for the position. In eight years at Alabama, Wade went 61–13–3 with the school's first three national titles; and had the first Southern team to play in a Rose Bowl. His replacement at Vanderbilt was Mercer coach and former Vanderbilt great Josh Cody.
Varsity letter winners
- Lynn Bomar, Gallatin, Tennessee, Fitzgerald and Clarke School - 6 games at end, 1 at tackle.
- Tex Bradford, Mansfield, Texas, Texas Christian University - 7 games at tackle
- Percy Conyers, Halls, Tennessee, Union Academy - 1 game at end.
- Doc Kuhn, Nashville, Tennessee, Montgomery Bell Academy - 8 games at quarterback.
- Tuck Kelly, Whitesville, Kentucky, University of Kentucky - 7 games at guard.
- Fatty Lawrence, Nashville, Tennessee, Hume-Fogg H.S. - 4 games at guard.
- Tot McCullough, Lewisburg, Tennessee - 4 games at end.
- Freddie Meiers, Nashville, Tennessee, Georgia Military Academy (GA) - 6 games at halfback.
- Garland Morrow, Nashville, Tennessee, Hume-Fogg H.S. - 6 games at guard.
- Jess Neely, Smyrna, Tennessee, Branham and Hughes Military Academy - 6 games at halfback
- Scotty Neill, Birmingham, Alabama, Birmingham-Southern College - 8 games at end.
- Gil Reese, Tupelo, Mississippi, Tupelo H.S. - 8 games at halfback.
- Red Rountree, Hartselle, Alabama, Morgan County H.S. - 3 games at halfback.
- Alf Sharpe, Nashville, Tennessee, Montgomery Bell Academy - 7 games at center.
- Hek Wakefield, Petersburg, Tennessee, Fitzgerald and Clarke School - 6 games at fullback
- Jim Walker, Birmingham, Alabama - 5 games at tackle. 1 game at guard.
|Player||Touchdowns||Extra points||Field goals||Points|
|S. T. Porter||1||1||0||7|
|Against Middle Tennessee||38|
Awards and honors
- Captain: Jess Neely
- All-Americans: Lynn Bomar (selected by Walter Camp, Walter Eckersall, Frank G. Menke, and Billy Evans), Doc Kuhn (selected by Billy Evans).
- All-Southern: Lynn Bomar (unanimous), Tex Bradford, Tuck Kelly, Doc Kuhn, Scotty Neill, Gil Reese.
- Dan McGugin (Michigan '03), head coach
- Wallace Wade (Brown '16), line coach
- Lewie Hardage (Vanderbilt '12), backfield coach
- Tom Zerfoss (Vanderbilt '19), assistant and freshman coach.
- Joe Killebrew, manager
- McGugin coached from 1904 to 1917 and then from 1919 to 1934. It is said he took 1918 off either to work in the mining business or because of the First World War.
- Vanderbilt, among others, held dual membership as they were in both the SIAA and in SoCon. It seems Sewanee was in the SIAA, and is therefore sometimes counted as a conference win. see Roger Saylor. "Southern Intercollegiate Conference" (PDF).
- cf. Grantland Rice (November 30, 1922). "The Sportlight: Concluding Dope". Boston Daily Globe.
- Cummisky, Thomas L. "Picking Champ Grid Teams Is Not Easy Task Since So Many Have Just Claims." San Antonio Evening News 1 Dec. 1922: 18.
- Grantland Rice (November 24, 1922). "The Sportlight: Football Alphabet". The Boston Daily Globe.
- cf. Clyde Berryman. "QPRS American College Football National Champions" (PDF). "Official 2013 NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision Records Book" (PDF). The National Collegiate Athletic Association. pp. 76–77.
- cf. James Vautravers. 1922 College Football National Championship.
- "1922 NCAA Division IA Football Power Ratings".
- Russell, Fred, and Maxwell Edward Benson. Fifty Years of Vanderbilt Football. Nashville, TN, 1938, p. 40–41
- Christopher J. Walsh. Where Football Is King: A History of the SEC.
- Louis Henry Baker. Football:Facts and Figures. p. 85.
- "1922 Vanderbilt Commodores schedule and results". sports-reference. Retrieved October 2012.
- Sometimes spelled Neil
- "Official Program Vanderbilt-Sewanee Game November 30, 1922" (PDF).
- "1922 Vanderbilt Commodores football roster".
- "Vanderbilt to Pick Grid Team From 23 Candidates". Atlanta Constitution. July 18, 1922. p. 13. Retrieved March 22, 2015 – via Newspapers.com.
- The Sigma Chi Quarterly: The Official Organ of the Sigma Chi Fraternity 41. p. 753.
- "Vandy Loses Thomas Ryan". Atlanta Constitution. October 11, 1922.
- "Gil Reece Arrives". The Atlanta Constitution. September 21, 1922.
- Camp, Walter, ed. National Collegiate Athletic Association Football Rules: Official Intercollegiate Football Guide. 45 Rose St, New York: American Sports, 1922. Print. Spalding's Athletic Library.
- "New Eleven to Come South As Tech Opponent." The Macon Daily Telegraph 10 Sept. 1922: 7.
- "Many Grid Stars Will Be Missing". The Atlanta Constitution. September 10, 1922.
- "Greatest Grid Season Looms". September 10, 1922.
- "Tom Zerfoss".
- Grantland Rice (January 23, 1922). "The Sportlight: The Title Hunter Prospects". Boston Daily Globe.
- "New Rule." Appleton Post Crescent [Appleton, Wisconsin] 23 Sept. 1922: 9.
- Traughber, William L. "Tom Wilson and Wilson Park" Nashville Sports History: Stories from the Stands. Charleston, SC: History, 2010.
- "Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders-1922".
- Fuzzy Woodruff. A History of Southern Football 1890–1928. p. 187.
- 'Athletics' and "Vandy Defeats The Blue And White 38 to 0" The Normalite, October 1922 p. 52–54
- "Vandy Draws No Easy Foe". The Atlanta Constitution. September 27, 1922.
- "Furman Opens, Too". The Atlanta Constitution. September 28, 1922.
- "Vandy Coaches Working Hard." Columbus Ledger 10 Oct. 1922: 6.
- "Vandy Defeats Arkansas Team." The Macon Daily Telegraph 8 Oct. 1922: 8.
- Sam S. Greene (October 15, 1922). "Michigan and Vanderbilt play to Scoreless Tie In Commodores' Stadium: Southerns Spring Surprise on Rivals". Detroit Free Press.
- "It's All In The Slant." Ironwood Daily Globe 18 Sept. 1922: 6.
- "Vandy Opens South's First College Athletic Stadium on Saturday." The Macon Daily Telegraph 8 Oct. 1922
- Campbell, Judith D. "Vanderbilt Football: The Glory Years." Nashville Business and Lifestyle 15.8 (1992): 58
- Jeff Mosher (January 20, 1936). "Playing Square". The Evening Independent (St Petersburg, FL).
- e.g. see "No Change Is Made In Lineup of Team." Ironwood Daily Globe 20 Oct. 1922: 10.
- "Seven Times Has Michigan Beaten Vanderbilt Team." The Grand Rapids Press 11 Oct. 1922: 24.
- "Wolverines Are Ready For Game With Vanderbilt." The Kalamazoo Gazette 9 Oct. 1922: 8.
- "Case Will Face These". Cleveland Plain Dealer. October 4, 1922.
- "Commodores, Shy Two Stars, to Meet Wolverines." Dallas Morning News 14 Oct. 1922: 12.
- "Vandy Stars Are Injured". Atlanta Constitution. October 13, 1922.
- "Vanderbilt Opens $200,000 Stadium." Miami Herald 14 Oct. 1922: 5.
- "Vandy Ready for Michigan". Times-Picayune. October 14, 1922.
- "Vanderbilt's New $200,000 Stadium Will Be Dedicated". Athens Daily Herald. October 13, 1922. p. 1.
- "William Lofland Dudley" Journal of Industrial & Engineering Chemistry 1914 6 (10), 856-859.
- "Vanderbilt's Stadium Will Be Full, Saturday." The Daily Northwestern [Oshkosh, Wisconsin] 12 Oct. 1922: 12.
- "Commodores to Dedicate New Stadium Saturday." Dallas Morning News 13 Oct. 1922: 18.
- "Vanderbilt Stad Will Seat 22,600." Kalamazoo Gazette 12 Oct. 1922
- "Vanderbilt Stadium".
- Traughber, William L. Vanderbilt Football: Tales of Commodore Gridiron History. Charleston, SC: History, 2011, p.33 and p. 77–80
- The Commodore (Vanderbilt Yearbook) 1923 p. 13
- "Wolverines Worry Over Vanderbilt." The Kalamazoo Gazette 11 Oct. 1922: 20.
- for the meme that the South has faster players, see, for instance Jonathan Chait (January 9, 2002). "Not So Fast".
- Bill Traughber. "Q&A with George McGugin".
- Scott, Richard. SEC Football: 75 Years of Pride and Passion. Minneapolis, MN: Voyageur, 2008; p. 24–25, 30
- "Obituary: Daniel Earle McGugin".
- "1922 standings".
- Francis J. Powers (October 16, 1922). "Michigan Attack Proves Lacking". Cleveland Plain Dealer.
- "Kipke Recalls Vandy Game". Herald-Journal (Spartanburg, South Carolina). October 5, 1933.
- "Powerful Wolverine Eleven Held To Scoreless Tie By Commodores." Augusta Chronicle 1922 Oct. 15
- "Vanderbilt Christens Stadium By Tying Michigan, 0 to 0". The New York Times. October 15, 1922.
- cf. Bill Traughber. "CHC- Vandy Ties Michigan in 1922".
- 2012 Vanderbilt Football Fact Book, p. 119
- cf. "Death Closes Long And Brilliant Career For Dan McGugin". The Evening Independent (St Petersburg, FL). January 20, 1936.
- "Football Squads Begin practice". The Kingsport Times. September 14, 1923.
- "Vanderbilt Holds Michigan To A Tie". Lima News. October 15, 1922.
- e.g. David J. Walsh (November 16, 1922). "Leading Elevens Catch Tartars Saturday". Rochester Evening Journal.
- Sherraden, Jim, Elek Horvath, and Paul Kingsbury. Hatch Show Print: The History of a Great American Poster Shop. San Francisco: Chronicle, 2001, p. 35
- The Commodore (Vanderbilt Yearbook) 1923 p. 18
- Bill Traughber (September 16, 2014). "Looking back: The dedication of Vanderbilt Stadium".
- Bill Traughber. "The history of Vanderbilt Athletics part 1".
- "Vanderbilt Opens Its News Stadium with Tie." Charlotte Sunday Observer 15 Oct. 1922: 2.
- "Gil Reese". The Evening Independent. December 7, 1923.
- Zipp Newman (December 5, 1950). "Southern Football History, Chapter 2". The Tuscaloosa News.
- Walter Camp (October 26, 1922). "Camp Praises Work Of Vandy Against Michigan". Atlanta Constitution.
- "Yost Points for Ohio: Michigan Coach Preparing Team for Battle With Buckeyes". The New York Times. October 10, 1922.
- "Tie Put Pepper Into Workouts Of Wolverines" The Jackson Citizen Patriot [Jackson, Michigan] 17 Oct. 1922: 17.
- Tom Perrin (1987). Football: a college history. p. 113.
- "Wolverines And Hawks Unbeaten". The Telegraph Herald. November 27, 1922.
- cf. "Michigan and Iowa Look the Best." The Toledo News-Bee 14 Nov. 1922: 14.
- "Michigan Proves A Favorite: Consensus Vote of Sports Writers Shows Wolverines Have Most Men Picked". Los Angeles Times. 1922-12-27.
- Norman E. Brown (December 8, 1922). "Below Wins Place on 'All-American' Eleven Selected by Prominent Sports Writer: Harry Kipke Named as Year's Best All-Round Man". Capital Times (Madison, WI).
- "Vanderbilt Downs Texas Longhorns, Long Grid Rivals." Dallas Morning News 22 Oct. 1922
- "Rivals Sections Clash With Veteran Eleven Pitted Against Orange". Dallas Morning News. October 21, 1922.
- "Gridiron Champs and near Champs Settling into Proper Places." Fort Worth Star-Telegram 20 Oct. 1922: 25.
- "Texas University Meets Vanderbilt Dallas Saturday". Corsicana Daily Sun. October 19, 1922.
- "Vandy Favored To Beat Texas By Large Score." Port Arthur Daily News 21 Oct. 1922: 3.
- "Great Gridiron Season Sport Gains Admirers." St. Albans Daily Messenger [St. Albans, VT] 23 Sept. 1922: 6; "Football Season to Be Record One. About Forty Intersectional Games Are Billed." Morning Oregonian 24 Sept. 1922
- "Football Is Past Trial Horse Stage". New York Times. October 21, 1922.
- "Texas-Vanderbilt Tickets on Sale." Dallas Morning News 12 Oct. 1922
- Hawthorne, Bobby. Longhorn Football: An Illustrated History. Austin: University of Texas, 2007, p. 14
- The Alcalde. Jan–Feb 1983. p. 24.
- "Orange Backs Average 165." The Mexia Evening News 19 Oct. 1922: 1.
- "Longhorns Are Too Late With Passing Game." San Antonio Light 22 Oct. 1922: 31.
- "Crippled Vandy Team Confident". The Washington Post. October 21, 1922.
- The Commodore (Vanderbilt Yearbook) 1923
- "Big Gains Are Made On Punts And Wide Runs In Dallas Game." Fort Worth Star Telegram 22 Oct. 1922: 14.
- "Longhorns Ready For Ala. University Sat". The Breckenridge Daily American. October 30, 1922.
- "Commodores Win By Superior Play When Near Longhorns' Goal." Wichita Daily TImes[Wichita Falls, Texas] 22 Oct. 1922: 9.
- "Vandy Commodores Win Over Texans". St. Petersburg Times. October 22, 1922.
- "Vandy Whips Texas Team". The Atlanta Constitution. October 22, 1922.
- "Longhorns in Battle with Vandy Showed Unexpected Strength." Fort Worth Star-Telegram 23 Oct. 1922: 10.
- cf. "Vanderbilt Noses Out Victory Over Texans." The Columbus Enquirer Sun 22 Oct. 1922: 6.
- "Vandy's Headwork Won From Texas Says Venne." San Antonio Express 24 Oct. 1922: 12.
- "Alabama Holds Scoring Lead." The State [Columbia, South Carolina] 4 Dec. 1922: 5.
- "M-"Dengues" Hold Big Vandy To 25-0". The Mercer Cluster. November 3, 1922.
- "Mercer Is Off For Vanderbilt." Columbus Ledger 27 Oct. 1922: 6.
- "'Dengues Leave For Vandy's Game'". The Mercer Cluster. October 27, 1922.
- "Leaving Five Regulars Behind Mercer Baptists Hit The Trail For Nashville to Battle Vandy." Augusta Chronicle 27 Oct. 1922: 6.
- "Mercer Team Plays Vandy Eleven." The Macon Daily Telegraph 27 Oct. 1922: 8.
- "Rats To Tackle Savannah Squad." The Macon Daily Telegraph 26 Oct. 1922: 8.
- Wilder, Robert E. Gridiron Glory Days: Football at Mercer, 1892–1942. Macon, GA: Mercer UP, 1982, p. 38
- "Vandy Scrubs Easily Defeats Mercer Team." The Montgomery Advertiser; 29 Oct. 1922: 11.
- "With Majority Of Regulars On Side Lines, Vandy Wins Easily From Crippled Baptists, 25-0." Augusta Chronicle 29 Oct. 1922: 2.
- "Vandy Subs Are Used with Only Few of Varsity." The Macon Daily Telegraph 29 Oct. 1922: 6.
- "Vanderbilt Wins From Volunteers." The State [Columbia, SC] 5 Nov. 1922: 11.
- "Vandy Meets Vol Eleven". Atlanta Constitution. November 1, 1922.
- "Hard Contests Are Scheduled" The Lexington Herald 6 Nov. 1922: 3.
- The Volunteer Yearbook (1923) p. 110–111
- "Tennessee Fights Hard, but Loses to Vanderbilt." The Montgomery Advertiser 5 Nov. 1922: 11.
- "Six Teams Still Own Clean Slates". The New York Times. November 6, 1922.
- "Football 'Cats Hold Vandy to 9-0 Count; Centre Again Trims Washington and Lee Gregg Misses." Lexington Herald 12 Nov. 1922: 5.
- "Tulane Stronger". The Atlanta Constitution. November 5, 1922.
- "Wildcats Invade Enemy Lines For Second Time". The Kentucky Kernel. November 10, 1922.
- "Wildcats May Break Record." The Lexington Herald 8 Nov. 1922: 8.
- "Wildcats Lose Hard Fought Game To Vandy Eleven At Nashville". The Kentucky Kernel. November 17, 1922.
- "Vandy Stops Kentucky 'U'". Atlanta Constitution. November 12, 1922.
- "Vanderbilt Outplays Kentucky University." Augusta Chronicle 12 Nov. 1922: 2.
- "Vanderbilt Alone Unbeaten in Dixie." The Miami Herald 13 Nov. 1922: 10. West Virginia was also undefeated, but not considered part of the South for some reason.
- "1922 Kentucky Wildcats".
- "Vanderbilt Defeats the University of Georgia." Charlotte Sunday Observer 19 Nov. 1922: 2.
- "Four Stars Play Here For Last Time". The Red and Black (University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia). November 17, 1922.
- Homer George (November 19, 1922). "Georgia Bulldogs Are Defeated by Vanderbilt 12 to 0". Atlanta Constitution.
- "Mulvihill Out As Georgia Goes To Battle With Vandy". Athens Banner. November 18, 1922.
- "Vandy Hopes To Defeat Georgia." The Macon Daily Telegraph 17 Nov. 1922: 8.
- "Dope Favors Vanderbilt Over Georgia Bulldogs In Game To Be Played In Athens Saturday." Columbus Ledger 15 Nov. 1922: 5.
- "Centre Eleven Battles Tiger at Birmingham." The Macon Daily Telegraph 15 Nov. 1922: 2.
- Earle Watson (November 22, 1922). "Georgia Is Ready for Final Bow of Season on Gridiron.". The Montgomery Advertiser.
- Morgan Blake (November 23, 1922). "Aerial Attack By Vanderbilt Stars Won Game Saturday". The Red and Black (University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia).
- "Vandy Favored For Dixie Title." Port Arthur Daily News 20 Nov. 1922: 7.
- T Kyle King. "Too Much Information: Georgia Bulldogs v. Vanderbilt Commodores".
- "Georgia vs Vanderbilt - All Time".
- cf. "Princeton-Chicago football game is broadcast across the country".
- "Big Crowd Sees Vanderbilt Win." The State [Columbia, SC] 1 Dec. 1922: 9.
- Bill Traughber. "CHC- Sewanee Was Vandy's First Rival".
- "Vanderbilt Easily Wins." Columbus Ledger 1 Dec. 1922: 7.
- "Vandy Trounces Sewanee 26 to 0." The Macon Daily Telegraph 1 Dec. 1922
- "Sewanee Loses To Vanderbilt, 26-0". The Sewanee Purple. December 14, 1922.
- "Vanderbilt Winner Over Sewanee." Augusta Chronicle 1 Dec. 1922: 6.
- "Vanderbilt wins from sewanee eleven, 26-0.". The Washington Post. December 1, 1922.
- e.g. "Vanderbilt Team Only Undefeated Eleven In South". The Washington Post. December 2, 1922.; "Few Titles Changed Hands During 1922". The Washington Post. December 31, 1922.; "No Outstanding Football Eleven During The Year." New Castle News 27 Dec. 1922: 17.; Farrell, Henry. "Sports Kings That Kept Crown." Middletown Daily Herald 31 Dec. 1922: 6.
- "Champions of the South regardless of conference affiliation.".
- cf. Noel, Tex. Stars of an Earlier Autumn An Unofficial College Football Records Book. Iuniverse, 2011. p. 374
- e.g."Alabama and V.M.I. Lead Dixie Teams". The New York Times. December 4, 1922.
- Cliff Wheatley (November 17, 1922). "Vanderbilt's Fort". The Atlanta Constitution.
- Grantland Rice (November 1, 1922). "The Sportlight:Song Of The Stalwart". Boston Daily Globe.
- cf."Great Struggle Next Saturday". The Miami Herald. October 26, 1921.
- "Texas Plays Vandy Again Next Year." Fort Worth Star-Telegram 1 Dec. 1922: 21.
- "Vanderbilt To Play Michigan-1923." Augusta Chronicle 3 Dec. 1922: 15.
- "Seven Games Listed For Vanderbilt U". The Washington Post. December 13, 1922.
- "Kuhn Vandy's Pilot". The Washington Post. December 6, 1922.
- "The Sportlight". Boston Daily Globe. October 18, 1923.
- "All-Southern Grid Warriors Chosen By Dixie Coaches". The Spartanburg Herald. December 9, 1922.
- "Selection of Mythical All-Southern Grid Team Difficult Task." The Montgomery Advertiser 3 Dec. 1922: 10.
- "Fletcher, Georgia Star, And Barron at Halfback; Covington Quarterback". The Atlanta Constitution. December 3, 1922.
- "Billy Evans' Honor Roll." The Grand Rapids Press 9 Dec. 1922: 16.
- "Wade To Coach Alabama". New York Times. December 17, 1922.
- cf. Keith Dunnavant. "Crimson Fame".
- "KY. Is After Coach Wade". The Atlanta Constitution. December 6, 1922.
- Pope, Edwin. Football's Greatest Coaches. Atlanta: Tupper and Love, 1955, p. 282
- Whittingham, Richard. Rites of Autumn: The Story of College Football. New York: Free, 2001. p. 63