1897 Vanderbilt Commodores football
SIAA Champions
ConferenceSouthern Intercollegiate Athletic Association
1897 record6-0-1 (3-0 SIAA)
Head coachR. G. Acton (2nd year)
Home stadiumDudley Field
← 1896
1898 →

1897 Vanderbilt Commodores football team was in its eighth season of playing football, Vanderbilt was coached by R. G. Acton (1896-98). His 1896 squad was 3-2-2. The Commodores would make it six straight games without being scored on. Vanderbilt played in the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association and won the SIAA Championship this was the first in school history.

The ChantEdit

A shocking event occurred in 1897 at the Thanksgiving Day match with in-state rival Sewanee on the original Dudley Field. The word "hell" had been used in the line of a popular cheer on campus by Vanderbilt students and spread into events as football. This caused uproar with the university administration and the city of Nashville. Both teams commenced to pass the ball around for the purpose of limbering up. Throughout this preliminary the students of both colleges gave their respective yells and sung their several songs written for the occasion. There was one yell given with great frequency by the Vanderbilt students which was very offensive to decent people. It starts off "Hippity Huz, Hippity Huz; What in the hell is the matter with us." It had become so popular at Vanderbilt that it was in the minds and causes them to be oblivious to the fact that it was not exactly proper to shock refined ladies by such utterances.

Vanderbilt had entered the game undefeated and un-scored on with wins over Kentucky (24-0), Central (KY) (14-0), VMI (12-0), Kentucky State (50-0), and North Carolina (31-0).

Championship GameEdit

After the Sewanee game, all talk in Nashville was about Vanderbilt being the champions of the South. The other southern university with an outstanding season was the University of Virginia. The Cavaliers were 6-2 with nonconference losses to Navy and Pennsylvania. Virginia agreed to come to Nashville for a game on December 7 with a guarantee of $600, plus half of the net receipts. Virginia only 15 players and traveled 26 hours on the train that brought them to Nashville. A crowd of 2,400 watched the game end, 0-0.

The Nashville American reported, "Unquestionably it was the greatest game ever played in the South. The assaults on the line were terrific, the tackling was brutal, the entire play fierce. Only once was the 20-yard line of either team invaded. Almost immediately after McAlester kicked off, the terrors of the tandem play were displayed. This play meant to bend one side of the line so that the end, the tackle and the guard reinforced the four backs in their charges at the line. Whether the force was directed was not known."

Said Coach Acton, "It was the best game ever played in the South. Virginia was heavier and made most of her weight, using mass plays almost entirely. Our men played a more scientific game. My team can beat any team in America of the same weight." It was said that Vanderbilt's average weight was 165 pounds.

Vanderbilt and Virginia would share the southern title. The American also reported that, "The Vanderbilt players were in a jolly humor yesterday with their miniature football pinned upon the labels of their coats. Joe Goodson, quarterback, was apparently out of training from a large ten-cent cigar he smoked, a gift of Benjamin Childers of Pulaski. `Tab' Farrell had his hair cut and other members were more or less changed in appearance."


Date Opponent Site Result Attendance
October 2, 1897 at [[{{{school}}}|Kentucky State]] Kentucky State • Frankfort, Kentucky W 24-0    
October 16, 1897 Central Dudley FieldNashville, TN W 14-0    
October 23, 1897* VMI Dudley Field • Nashville, TN W 12-0    
October 30, 1897* at Kentucky Stoll Field/McLean StadiumLexington, KY W 50-0    
November 6, 1897 North Carolina Dudley Field • Nashville, TN W 31-0    
November 25, 1897 Sewanee Dudley Field • Nashville, TN W 10-0    
December 7, 1897 Virginia Dudley Field • Nashville, TN T 0-0   2,400
*Non-Conference Game. Homecoming. All times are in Central Time.



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