Vanderbilt Stadium is celebrating its 100th season this year, and the Athletics Department has already released a list of Billy Wade and 99 other Vandy football players representing the best our program has had to offer. It’s a pretty cool look back at Vanderbilt football and one of the country’s oldest football stadiums. In honor of the occasion, I have decided to do something similar by ranking all 100 seasons at Vanderbilt Stadium thus far. I’ve only been a Vandy fan for a few years now, so please fill me in on what I missed in the comments. If you want to catch up or just rage against the Vanderbilt Athletics machine, first, second, and third parts are already out. The fourth part starts below.
70. Art Guepe, 1960: 3-7 (0-7)
I’m going to come clean. I’ve been staring at all these seasons long enough that they’ve all blended together. What’s another Watsrek Panhoferepe season on top of the many that came before and after it? I didn’t take the time to dive into the numbers and environment around each season quite like I should have, so now I’m left regaling you with a list of wins (this particular year we beat Marquette, William & Mary, and Clemson. CLEMSON! They weren’t the version of Clemson we’re recently familiar with, but they were middle of the pack that year.). This year should be lower, though, because it was a big collapse from the streak of 6 winning seasons that came before it. Come on, Art, be the you we know you can be.
69. Derek Mason, 2019: 3-9 (1-7)
Fun Fact: At one at one point held the largest lead a team would hold all season over eventual national champions and possible all-time greatest college football team, Joe Burrow’s 2019 LSU Tigahs. Only Florida would match our 7-point lead all season. That and a win over ranked Missouri (derogatory) (Ed. note: spits) for homecoming were positives, as was a 38-point shutout of boogeyman ETSU. The negatives? We lost and lost big most of the rest of the year. It was a step back from the year before, too, but that was at least to be expected. Oh and finally, NICE!
68. Art Guepe, 1953: 3-7 (1-5)
We won 3 games this year. They were against awful teams, but 3 wins are 3 wins. These wins were most fun for me when I thought of them as the Land and Sea Clash for the V, the SEC Nerd Bowl, and the Battle of Nashville against Virginia, Tulane, and MTSU respectively. This was Coach Guepe’s first season taking over from Bill Edwards, so a lack of improvement makes at least a little sense. It’s still disappointing we didn’t manage at least another win or two given it was a down year in the SEC.
67. Art Guepe, 1954: 2-7 (1-5)
This season is a lot like the one before it, but we beat Orange Team! We shut them out 26-0! WOOOO HOOOO!!! There was a light at the end of this otherwise very dark tunnel. I don’t care if they were really bad that year, I’ll take the wins where I can get them. We also beat Villanova, making us 2-0 in as many years against V-teams.
66. Doby Bartling, 1945: 3-6 (2-4)
The World War II seasons are the most difficult to rank. Sure our record was bad, but it was our second season with an interim Coach Bartling. We beat Kentucky and Florida early but suffered through the rest of the season with Coach Red Sanders away in, fittingly, the Navy. We weren’t great but weren’t supposed to be anyways so this feels like a good enough place for this year to land.
65. Red Sanders*, 1940: 3-6-1* (1-5-1*)
Red Sanders is without a doubt one of the best all-around contributors to Vanderbilt football. He played quarterback here during some of Coach McGugin’s (and by extension some of our program’s overall) best seasons then came back in 1940 to coach a few more all-time great Vanderbilt football seasons. This was his first season taking over after an awful showing in 1939, so it makes sense that this would be his worst year. The record is not entirely his, though. Coach Sanders had an emergency appendectomy before the third game of the season against Kentucky. His assistant coach, fresh off an assistant gig at the University of Alabama, took over for the game. That assistant coach’s name was Paul “Bear” Bryant. We’ll credit him with the tie. Coach Sanders came back the next week to finish out his only losing season as head coach.
64. Woody Widenhofer, 2000: 3-8 (1-7)
Every time I read “Woody Widenhofer” I think “Woodyball” and every time I think “Woodyball” I hear the sound of pinball machines in my head. Anchor of Gold has really done a number on my mind I guess. We beat some really bad teams and lost to some really good teams in Coach Widenhofer’s penultimate season. Usually you only get what, like 3 tries in a pinball game? In Woodyball I guess you get 5!
63. George MacIntyre, 1985: 3-7-1 (1-4-1)
This season is weird because our win Chattanooga and tie with Georgia are actually quality results against quality teams. Yes, Chattanooga was actually alright that year and Georgia was ranked 12th after beating No. 1 Florida a few weeks after our game. Not too shabby. We beat a 5-6 Kentucky, too. We lost big to most everyone else. Seems like a fun season, but I wasn’t there so I wouldn’t know for sure. Vanderbilt won fewer games than the year before, which is bad, and this was ultimately Coach MacIntyre’s final game before Watson Brown took over, which is double big bad, so maybe it should be lower. There are only so many games that should be higher, though, so it’s here at 63.
62. Bill Pace, 1970: 4-7 (1-5)
FOUR WINS! NO TIES! **airhorn noises** We handed Tampa their only loss of the year, which is cool, but THEY AIN’T PLAYED NOBODY ALL YEAR PAWL so it’s not impressive, just notable. That’s the best tidbit I can really offer you here. We eked one out over Kentucky this year, too, keeping us out of last place in the SEC. It just means more, and it means the most when you’re winning the conference Toilet Bowl.
61. Watson Brown, 1988: 3-8 (2-5)
This season should be lower. I was enamored by 2 SEC wins including over an at-the-time ranked Florida. We kept it close most of the rest of the time, too, but close only counts in horse grenades and hand shoes. Sad because judging by the rankings and records it was a tough year for the conference so we could have capitalized with a better coach, better resources, and on and on. Hopefully that won’t happen again any time soon.