Vanderbilt Commodores football
2023 Vanderbilt Commodores football team
First season1890
Athletic directorCandice Storey Lee
Head coachClark Lea
3rd season, 9–27 (.250)
StadiumFirstBank Stadium
(capacity: 40,550)
FieldDudley Field
Year built1922
Field surfaceFieldTurf
LocationNashville, Tennessee
NCAA divisionDivision I
ConferenceSoutheastern Conference
Past conferencesIndependent (1890–1894)
SIAA (1895–1921)
SoCon (1922–1932)
All-time record618–665–50 (.482)
Bowl record4–4–1 (.500)
Unclaimed national titles6 (1906, 1910, 1911, 1918, 1921, 1922)
Conference titles14 (12 SIAA, 2 SoCon)
RivalriesTennessee (rivalry)
Georgia (rivalry)
Ole Miss (rivalry)
Kentucky (rivalry)
Georgia Tech (rivalry; dormant)
Sewanee (rivalry; dormant)
Consensus All-Americans7[1]
ColorsBlack and gold[2]
Fight songDynamite!
MascotMr. C
Marching bandSpirit of Gold Marching Band

The Vanderbilt Commodores football program represents Vanderbilt University in the sport of American football. The Commodores compete in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and the East Division of the Southeastern Conference (SEC). They are led by head coach Clark Lea. Vanderbilt plays their home games at FirstBank Stadium, located on the university's Nashville, Tennessee campus.


Main article: History of Vanderbilt Commodores football

See also: List of Vanderbilt Commodores football seasons

Vanderbilt has a winning percentage of .492, the second lowest among all members in the Southeastern Conference. They have never had a season with ten wins.

Head coaches

Main article: List of Vanderbilt Commodores head football coaches

Adopting the nickname the Commodores after the 1897 season, the team has played in 1,250 games over 126 seasons. In that time, six coaches have led the Commodores to a postseason bowl appearance: Art Guepe, Steve Sloan, George MacIntyre, Bobby Johnson, James Franklin and Derek Mason. Four have led them to a conference championship: R. G. Acton, W. H. Watkins, James R. 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 two National Championships retroactively by Clyde Berryman.

Of the 29 different head coaches who have led the Commodores, McGugin,[3] Ray Morrison,[4] Red Sanders,[5] and Bill Edwards[6] have been inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.

The head coach is Clark Lea, who was hired on December 14, 2020.

Conference affiliations

Vanderbilt has been affiliated with the following conferences.[citation needed]


Conference championships

Vanderbilt has won 14 conference championships, with six shared and eight won outright.

Season Conference Coach Overall record Conference record
1897 SIAA R. G. Acton 6–0–1 3–0–1
1901 W. H. Watkins 6–1–1 6–0–1
1903 James H. Henry 6–1–1 5–1–1
1904 Dan McGugin 9–0 5–0
1905 7–1 6–0
1906 8–1 6–0
1907 5–1–1 4–0
1910 8–0–1 5–0
1911 8–1 6–0
1912 8–1–1 4–0–1
1915 9–1 5–0
1921 7–0–1 4–0–1
1922 SoCon 8–0–1 3–0
1923 5–2–1 3–0–1

† Co-champions

National championships

Vanderbilt has been awarded 6 national championships for the years 1906, 1910, 1911, 1918, 1921, and 1922. The selectors were determined for 1918 by David Wilson;[7][8] 1910,[9] 1921,[10] and 1922 by James Howell;[11] 1906 and 1911 by Richard Billingsley Report;[12][13][14][15] 1921 and 1922 by Clyde P. Berryman QPRS.[16][17]

Season Coach Overall record Conference record National Championship Selector
1906 Dan McGugin 8–1–0 6–0–0 Richard Billingsley Report
1910 8–0–1 5–0–0 James Howell
1911 8–1–0 5–0–0 Richard Billingsley Report
1918 4–2–0 4–0–0 David Wilson
1921 7–0–1 4–0–1 Clyde P. Berryman QPRS
James Howell
1922 8–0–1 3–0–0 Clyde P. Berryman QPRS
James Howell

Undefeated seasons

Vanderbilt has had 8 undefeated seasons in the years 1890, 1897, 1904, 1910, 1921, 1922, 1943, and 1944.

Bowl games

Vanderbilt has been invited to nine bowl games, with the Commodores garnering a record of 4–4–1 in bowl games.

Season Coach Bowl Opponent Result
1955 Art Guepe Gator Bowl Auburn W 25–13
1974 Steve Sloan Peach Bowl Texas Tech T 6–6
1982 George MacIntyre Hall of Fame Classic Air Force L 28–36
2008 Bobby Johnson Music City Bowl Boston College W 16–14
2011 James Franklin Liberty Bowl Cincinnati L 24–31
2012 Music City Bowl NC State W 38–24
2013 BBVA Compass Bowl Houston W 41–24
2016 Derek Mason Independence Bowl NC State L 17–41
2018 Texas Bowl Baylor L 38–45



Main article: Tennessee–Vanderbilt football rivalry

Tennessee vs. Vanderbilt 2007

Vanderbilt and Tennessee have played 117 times since 1892 , Tennessee leads the series 79–33-5.[18] When the rivalry first started Vanderbilt dominated by taking 19 of the first 24 with 3 ties. But from 1928 to 2022 however, Tennessee has dominated going 77–14–2 against Vanderbilt. 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.[19]


Main article: Georgia–Vanderbilt football rivalry

Georgia Vanderbilt 2011

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 60-20–2 through the 2022 season.[20]

Ole Miss

Main article: Ole Miss–Vanderbilt football rivalry

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

Vanderbilt and Ole Miss have played 92 times since 1894.[21] Ole Miss leads the series 51-39-2.[21] 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.


Main article: Kentucky–Vanderbilt football rivalry

Having started in 1896, the Kentucky-Vanderbilt football series has been played annually since 1953.[22] The two are divisional opponents in the SEC East. The series, which rotates between Nashville, Tennessee and Lexington, Kentucky, is led by Kentucky at 48-42–4 with the average score being Vanderbilt 16.9-Kentucky 15.6.[23]

Georgia Tech

Main article: Georgia Tech-Vanderbilt football rivalry

The Commodores first met the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in 1892 in Atlanta, Georgia with Vanderbilt winning 20–10.[24] Since 1924, the winning team in the series has received a silver-plated cowbell with the year and final score of each game engraved on it. The trophy was created by Ed F. Cavaleri, who was described by the Atlanta Constitution as “a faithful Georgia Tech supporter though he did not attend the Jacket institution,” according to Georgia Tech's website. Cavaleri purchased a cowbell at an Atlanta hardware store to use as a noise-maker while on his way to a game in 1924. The Commodores defeated Georgia Tech 3–0, however another fan in attendance suggested that Cavaleri award the bell to the winning team. The tradition was born and Cavaleri attended every game between the two teams from 1924 to 1967.[25] The cowbell has a gold plate screwed into each side, with “GEORGIA TECH-VANDERBILT FOOTBALL TROPHY” inscribed at the top. Three columns list the year of each game, Vanderbilt’s points scored and Georgia Tech’s points scored. The results of the games from 1924 to 1967 are engraved on one side; the results from 2002, 2003, 2009 and 2016 are on the other.[26] Vanderbilt is 15–20-3 against Georgia Tech in 38 games. The Commodores lost the last matchup 38–7 in 2016.


Main article: Sewanee–Vanderbilt football rivalry

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;[27] dating back to 1891 when Vanderbilt played its second football game. Vanderbilt leads the series 40–8–4.[28] 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 and are unlikely to anytime soon as Sewanee plays in NCAA Division III.


Traditionally, Vanderbilt has featured differing designs of gold helmets, black jerseys, and gold or black pants at home, and gold helmets, white jerseys and gold, or white pants on the road. Meanwhile, the traditional alternate uniform saw gold helmets and jerseys matched with white pants.

The James Franklin (2011–2013), and Derek Mason (2014-2020) eras saw the introduction of several new combinations- including "blackout” (i.e. all black), and "whiteout" (i.e. all white) uniforms. The team's gold alternate jerseys were also re-designed with the addition of black shoulders and a more muted gold. Eventually, battleship gray was incorporated as well.

The Clark Lea (2021–Present) era has seen a return to traditional gold helmets (note: featuring a modernized “V” logo), black jerseys, and gold pants at home, and gold helmets, white jerseys, and gold (or white) pants on the road. Vanderbilt introduced a new all white ("whiteout") uniform at the start of the 2022 season.

Individual awards

College Football Hall of Fame

Vanderbilt Commodore football personnel have been inducted into the National Football Foundation's National College Football Hall of Fame.[29]


Name Position Career
John J. Tigert HB 1901–1903
Josh Cody T 1914–1916, 1919
Lynn Bomar End 1921–1924
William Spears QB 1925–1927
Carl Hinkle C 1935–1937


Name Career
Dan McGugin 1904–1917, 1919–1934
Ray Morrison 1918, 1935–1939
Red Sanders 1940–1942, 1946–1948
Bill Edwards 1949–1952


Main article: List of Vanderbilt Commodores football All-Americans

Player Year Position
Zach Cunningham 2016 LB
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 End
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

Consensus All-American

Vanderilt has had seven consensus All-Americans in their history. In 2016, Zach Cunningham became the first unanimous All-American in Vanderbilt's history.[30]

Player Year Position
Lynn Bomar 1923 E
Hek Wakefield 1924 E
Pete Gracey 1932 C
George Deiderich 1958 G
Jim Arnold 1982 P
Ricky Anderson 1984 P
Zach Cunningham 2016 LB


Main article: List of Vanderbilt Commodores football All-Southerns

Conference recognition

Vanderbilt Commodores personnel, including coaches and players, have received recognition from the Southeastern Conference for their performances on the football field.[29]

Most Valuable Player

Five Vanderbilt players have been awarded Most Valuable Player, with three of them being awarded over a six year span to Commodores.

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

Offensive Player of the Year

One Vanderbilt player has won Offensive Player of the Year honors.

Name Year
Jay Cutler 2005

Freshman of the Year

Two players have won Freshman of the Year while at Vanderbilt.

Name Year
Kwane Doster 2002
Warren Norman 2009

Best Blocker

One Commodore has won Best Blocker, doing so twice.

Name Year
Jack Jenkins 1941, 1942

Best Wide Receiver

Name Year
Earl Bennett 2005–2007

Coach of the Year

Five Vanderbilt coaches have won Coach of the Year honors over the past century.

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

Future opponents

Conference opponents

From 1992 to 2023, Vanderbilt played in the East Division of the SEC and played each opponent in the division each year along with several teams from the West Division. The SEC will expand the conference to 16 teams and will eliminate its two divisions in 2024, causing a new scheduling format for the Commodores to play against the other members of the conference.[31] Only the 2024 conference schedule was announced on June 14, 2023, while the conference still considers a new format for the future.[32]

2024 Conference Schedule

at Auburn
at Kentucky
at LSU
at Missouri
South Carolina
  • FirstBank Stadium
  • Nashville, TN
  • FirstBank Stadium
  • Nashville, TN (rivalry)
  • FirstBank Stadium
  • Nashville, TN

Non-conference opponents

Announced schedules as of April 26, 2020[33]

No games are scheduled for the 2030 and 2031 seasons.
2024 2025 2026 2027 2028 2029 2032 2033
vs. Virginia Tech (neutral) at Virginia Tech Austin Peay Eastern Kentucky SMU Purdue at Stanford Stanford
Norfolk State Georgia State NC State at Stanford at NC State at SMU
SMU Colorado State at Colorado State
at Georgia State


  1. ^ [bare URL PDF]
  2. ^ "Athletics". Vanderbilt University Brand Style Guide. Retrieved March 23, 2022.
  3. ^ Dan McGugin at the College Football Hall of Fame
  4. ^ Ray Morrison at the College Football Hall of Fame
  5. ^ Red Sanders at the College Football Hall of Fame
  6. ^ Bill Edwards at the College Football Hall of Fame
  7. ^ "David Wilson 1918 College Football National Champion".
  8. ^ "Vanderbilt All National Championships". 2009-08-08. Archived from the original on 2009-08-08. Retrieved 2023-02-05.
  9. ^ "James Howell 1910 College Football National Champion".
  10. ^ "James Howell 1921 College Football National Champion".
  11. ^ "James Howell 1922 College Football National Champion".
  12. ^ "Richard Billingsley Report College Football National Champion".
  13. ^ "Richard Billingsley Report College Football National Champion".
  14. ^ "Richard Billingsley Report College Football National Champion".
  15. ^ "Richard Billingsley Report College Football National Champion". Archived from the original on 2001-10-24. Retrieved 2023-01-15.
  16. ^ "Clyde P. Berryman QPRS College Football National Champion" (PDF).
  17. ^ "Clyde P. Berryman QPRS College Football National Champion".
  18. ^ " : NCAAF Football : Series records : Tennessee vs. Vanderbilt".
  19. ^ "School Photos: Vanderbilt Sports" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on April 12, 2023.
  20. ^ "Winsipedia - Georgia Bulldogs vs. Vanderbilt Commodores football series history".
  21. ^ a b " : NCAAF Football : Series records : Mississippi vs. Vanderbilt".
  22. ^ " : NCAAF Football : Series records : Kentucky vs. Vanderbilt".
  23. ^ "Kentucky Vanderbilt series". Retrieved 2 August 2017.
  24. ^ "Winsipedia - Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets vs. Vanderbilt Commodores football series history". Winsipedia.
  25. ^ "College Football News, Videos, Scores, Teams, Standings, Stats". FOX Sports.
  26. ^ "Inside The Chart: The Cowbell". Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. September 15, 2016.
  27. ^ William L. Traughber. "CHC- Sewanee Was Vandy's First Rival". Archived from the original on 2014-08-08. Retrieved 2014-08-29.
  28. ^ cf. William L. Traughber (2011). Vanderbilt Football: Tales of Commodore Gridiron History. History Press. p. 26. ISBN 9781609494230.[permanent dead link]
  29. ^ a b According to the Vanderbilt 2006 Football Media Guide.
  30. ^ "SEC Consensus All-Americans by the Numbers: Alabama has half the league's 2016 haul". 17 December 2016.
  31. ^ Emerson, Seth (2023-06-01). "SEC approves 8-game football schedule for 2024, no decision yet on long-term format". The Athletic. Retrieved 2023-06-20.
  32. ^ Gerson, Aria (2023-06-14). "Vanderbilt football schedule 2024 includes Tennessee, Texas". Nashville Tennessean. Retrieved 2023-06-22.
  33. ^ "Vanderbilt Commodores Football Future Schedules". Retrieved April 26, 2020.

Further reading