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Former Vanderbilt football coach Woody Widenhofer dies at 77

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Widenhofer was the Commodores’ head coach from 1997 to 2001.

Woody Widenhofer

Former Vanderbilt football coach Woody Widenhofer has reportedly died at the age of 77.

Widenhofer was the Vanderbilt head coach from 1997 to 2001; prior to that, he spent two years as Rod Dowhower’s defensive coordinator. He posted a 15-40 record as the Commodores’ head man and resigned following a 2-9 campaign in 2001 — but not before signing Jay Cutler, who spent a redshirt year under Widenhofer before being the starting quarterback for four years.

At a time when Vanderbilt’s football program was in the midst of 25 consecutive losing seasons, Widenhofer had one of the closest near misses in the streak. After opening the 1999 season with a loss to Alabama, Vanderbilt would win three straight including an upset win at Ole Miss. With The Citadel and South Carolina (on its way to an 0-11 season) still left on the schedule, hopes were high for the program’s first winning season since 1982. But, in a story that’s been repeated numerous times over the years, Vanderbilt would come up just short against Georgia (thanks to a curious fake punt call) and Kentucky and finished the season 5-6. Following that season, Woodyball would peter out with 3-8 and 2-9 campaigns.

But we had fun, and we expected to win. Godspeed, Woody.