Colonels and Commodores: A Look Back At Vandy and Ole Miss

When the SEC went to 12 teams in 1992 and assigned — at the time — two permanent cross-divisional rivalries, Vanderbilt drew Alabama and Ole Miss. The former, like lots of things in the SEC, can be traced to Bear Bryant, who allegedly convinced other SEC coaches to assign opening games using a system where the first team in the alphabet would play the last, the second the next to last and so on. It was just convenient, of course, that Alabama was alphabetically first and Vanderbilt — the historically woeful Vanderbilt — was last (this also explains why Auburn and Tennessee used to play so frequently in the early part of the season).

Now, that story may be apocrypha (convincing apocrypha, but apocrypha nonetheless) and when the SEC halved the permanent opponents, it didn't think anything of eliminating an annual Tide-Commodore game (after all, Alabama needed to play Tennessee on the Third (and Now Sometimes Fourth) Saturday In October).

So Ole Miss remained and remains Vandy's annual cross-over game.

The game actually has a lot of history behind it. The Rebels are Vandy's second-longest continuous rival. The schools are the SEC's smallest and, culturally, share a lot of similarities.

And, historically, the teams have matched up well. Ole Miss leads the all-time series 47-37-2 and have held the lead in the series since 1985, though Vandy's six wins in the last eight years have them clawing back to even. Perhaps most interestingly, over 86 years Ole Miss has outscored Vanderbilt by 156 points, a margin of victory of 1.8 points per game (Vandy's single-digit win in Oxford last year brought that average down minimally).

The closeness, though, is influenced by some truly bizarre scores from the early days of the game.

Vanderbilt won the first 18 games in the series — all played in Tennessee and all but two (which were played in Memphis) played in Nashville — and in 14 of those, Ole Miss failed to score at all. Vandy won by at least 60 points three times, including in 1915 — the "Point Per Minute" team — when Vandy won by the unfathomable score of 91-0.

Upon the reunion of that team in 1975, John Bibb of The Tennessean related this story, retold in Bill Traughber's Vanderbilt Football:

The same 1915 team was heading for Memphis to face Ole Miss. The team was undefeated and unscored on. Somewhere near Dickson, Tennessee, the Commodores' train was halted and forced to sit for hours while crews worked to clear a freight train wrecked ahead on the tracks.

As student manager, part of Stahlman's duties was to attend the various needs of the individual players. As the day wore on, it became apparent the Commodore players faced the distinct possibility of no lunch. The dedicated Stahlman, departing the idled train made a forage into neighboring orchards and returned with pocketfuls of apples — noticeably green, but to the hungry football players, quite delicious.

Vandy was led by Irby "Rabbit" Curry — he scored six touchdowns and kicked eight points-after. Curry left Vandy in 1917 and enlisted. He became a pilot and was shot down over France in 1918. He was probably Dan McGugin's favorite player. Legend has it McGugin had three pictures in his office: Abe Lincoln, Robert E. Lee and Rabbit Curry.

Aug 28, 2013 1:31 PM

Vanderbilt vice chancellor to step down next year

Administration chief joined university in ’98, took current job in ’09
Aug 26, 2013 1:16 PM

VU solicits faculty input for capital campaign

Vanderbilt University leaders, for what seemingly is the first time in university history, are asking faculty to offer ideas that will serve as a blueprint of sorts for future investments and the next capital campaign. Read more here.

Aug 26, 2013 7:00 AM

Slacking 'Dore demand

Jeff Lockridge reports that Vanderbilt might actually sell fewer season tickets this year, despite coming off a nine-win season for the first time since Woodrow Wilson's first term:

Last year approximately 18,500 season tickets were sold, and Vanderbilt celebrated a nine-win season for the first time since 1915. Vanderbilt went over 16,200 season tickets this past week, said director of sales and marketing Steve Walsh. The season opener is Aug. 29 against Ole Miss, which features Blackman graduate I’Tavius Mathers.

The article notes several potential reasons — the school raised prices (one long-time season-ticket holder said his tickets went up $350) and added more sections for the exclusive use of the National Commodore Club, Vandy's odd-numbered year schedule is less attractive, the rape indictments — but none of that assuages James Franklin, who said he is both coach and salesman, but he'd like to drop the latter from his business card eventually (and Steven Godfrey makes the right observation here: if Franklin leaves as coach, it'll be because he couldn't drop that salesman job).

Anchor Of Gold points out that VU season tickets have always been buttressed by opposing fans and the new, higher (but still lower than the rest of the SEC) prices and donation requirements do kill some of that false demand.

Also of note, in light of the ongoing rabble about the Predators' scheme vis a vis Blackhawks tickets, is this tidbit (emphasis mine):

Vanderbilt last sold out of season tickets in 1996 when Notre Dame was on the schedule and Irish fans were forced to buy seats to every game to see their team in Nashville. Vanderbilt’s high-water mark in recent years was 19,000-plus in 2008.

Aug 19, 2013 10:00 AM

First woman to hold VU endowed professorship dies at 72

Jean Bethke Elshtain, a former Vanderbilt University professor of Christian ethics who wrote provocatively in support of the U.S. war on terror, died in Nashville on Sunday. She was 72. Elshtain joined the Vanderbilt faculty in 1988 and was, according to her biography on the website of the University of Chicago Divinity School (at which she later worked), the first woman to hold an endowed professorship in VU history. Read more here.

Aug 14, 2013 2:10 PM

VU scientists to unveil possible anxiety treatment findings

Vanderbilt University scientists will report next week the discovery of a potential treatment for anxiety. The chemically modified inhibitors of the COX-2 enzyme relieve anxiety behaviors in mice by activating natural “endocannabinoids” without gastrointestinal side effects. Bill Snyder and vanderbilt.edu have more here.

Aug 8, 2013 7:15 AM

VU's Zeppos joins other university leaders in addressing federal cuts to research

Vanderbilt University Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos has joined 164 college and university leaders in asking President Barack Obama and members of Congress to recommit to federally funded science and engineering research in an effort to reverse the “innovation deficit” following sequestration. Liz Entman and vanderbilt.edu have more here.

Aug 7, 2013 1:08 PM

Drop anchors, not calls

AT&T says it has eliminated the black (and gold?) service hole at Vanderbilt University Medical Center by installing a new 4G LTE-capable Distributed Antenna System.

The DAS contains 1250 antennas providing enhanced network coverage to 11 facilities at the campus covering more than 4.9M square feet of space.  The facilities include Vanderbilt Hospital, Monroe Carell Jr. Childen’s Hospital, Medical Center East North Tower, Medical Center North, The Vanderbilt Clinic, Medical Center East South Tower, Preston Cancer Research, Medical Research Building 3, Medical Research Building 4 and the Medical Arts Building.

AT&T invested nearly $1.4 billion in its Tennessee wireless and wireline networks from 2010 through 2012, with a focus on expanding 4G LTE mobile Internet coverage and enhancing the overall performance of its networks.

A DAS installation consists of multiple strategically-placed antennas that distribute AT&T’s wireless network coverage throughout the Medical Center’s campus providing for more efficient management of wireless capacity in heavily-trafficked areas. DAS has the ability to provide enhanced, more consistent wireless coverage to customers in indoor or outdoor spaces where geographical limitations – terrain, building construction, etc. – or crowd density might otherwise prevent the optimal wireless experience.

Aug 6, 2013 10:32 AM

Technology Council seeks local leader to tackle unfilled jobs challenge

Massey replacement will need to be a 'bridge builder'
Aug 2, 2013 11:31 AM

NPT show to feature VU researchers

Nashville Public Television will debut tonight the second program in its Tennessee Explorers series, with the show to feature three Vanderbilt faculty members and researchers. David Salisbury and My VU at vanderbilt.edu have more here.

Jul 30, 2013 12:45 PM