Sewanee–Vanderbilt football rivalry
First contestedNovember 7, 1891
Vanderbilt 22, Sewanee 0
Number of meetings52
Most recent meetingNovember 23, 1944
Vanderbilt 28, Sewanee 7
All-time seriesVanderbilt, 40–8–4
Largest victoryVanderbilt, 68–4 (1905)
Longest win streakVanderbilt, 14 (1925–1941)
Current streakVanderbilt, 1 (1944)

The Sewanee–Vanderbilt football rivalry was an American college football rivalryTemplate:CN between the Sewanee Tigers and Vanderbilt Commodores. They were both founding members of the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association (SIAA), the Southern Conference, and the Southeastern Conference (SEC). Both teams' histories feature some powerhouses of early Southern football, e.g. 1899 Sewanee Tigers football team and 1906 Vanderbilt Commodores football team. It was the oldest of Vanderbilt's rivalries; dating back to 1891 when Vanderbilt played its second ever football game and Sewanee played its first.[1] Vanderbilt leads the series 40–8–4.[2] It used to be claimed as the oldest rivalry in the south,[3] older than the "South's Oldest Rivalry" between North Carolina and Virginia. Usually played towards the end of the season on Thanksgiving Day, the two teams have not met again since 1944.

The two universities are in the same state of Tennessee and are over 90 miles away from each other. A newspaper account of the rivalry reads: "Both schools look upon the game as the big feature of their schedule each year, no matter what other games are included, and it is always the biggest drawing card on either schedule."[4] "Goodbye Sewanee goodbye" was even a song sung by Vanderbilt students.[5]

Game results

Sewanee victoriesVanderbilt victoriesTie games
1 November 7, 1891 Sewanee, TN Vanderbilt 22–0
2 November 26, 1891 Nashville, TN Vanderbilt 26–4
3 October 15, 1892 Sewanee, TN Sewanee 22–4
4 November 12, 1892 Nashville, TN Sewanee 28–14
5 October 14, 1893 Sewanee, TN Vanderbilt 10–8
6 November 17, 1893 Nashville, TN Vanderbilt 10–0
7 November 29, 1894 Nashville, TN Vanderbilt 12–0
8 November 28, 1895 Nashville, TN Vanderbilt 18–6
9 November 27, 1896 Sewanee, TN Vanderbilt 10–4
10 November 25, 1897 Nashville, TN Vanderbilt 10–0
11 November 25, 1898 Nashville, TN Sewanee 19–4
12 November 17, 1900 Nashville, TN Sewanee 11–10
13 November 16, 1901 Nashville, TN Tie0–0
14 November 27, 1902 Nashville, TN Sewanee 11–5
15 November 21, 1903 Nashville, TN Vanderbilt 10–5
16 November 24, 1904 Nashville, TN Vanderbilt 27–0
17 November 30, 1905 Nashville, TN Vanderbilt 68–4
18 November 30, 1906 Nashville, TN Vanderbilt 20–0
19 November 23, 1907 Nashville, TN Vanderbilt 17–12
20 November 26, 1908 Nashville, TN Tie6–6
21 November 25, 1909 Nashville, TN Sewanee 16–5
22 November 24, 1910 Nashville, TN Vanderbilt 23–6
23 November 30, 1911 Nashville, TN Vanderbilt 31–0
24 November 28, 1912 Nashville, TN Vanderbilt 16–0
25 November 22, 1913 Nashville, TN Vanderbilt 63–13
26 November 21, 1914 Nashville, TN Sewanee 14–13
27 November 20, 1915 Nashville, TN Vanderbilt 27–3
28 November 25, 1916 Nashville, TN Tie0–0
29 November 29, 1917 Nashville, TN Vanderbilt 13–6
30 November 28, 1918 Nashville, TN Vanderbilt 40–0
31 November 27, 1919 Nashville, TN Vanderbilt 33–21
32 November 25, 1920 Nashville, TN Vanderbilt 21–3
33 November 19, 1921 Nashville, TN Vanderbilt 9–0
34 November 25, 1922 Nashville, TN Vanderbilt 26–0
35 November 24, 1923 Nashville, TN Vanderbilt 7–0
36 November 29, 1924 Nashville, TN Sewanee 16–0
37 November 21, 1925 Nashville, TN Vanderbilt 19–7
38 November 20, 1926 Nashville, TN Vanderbilt 13–0
39 November 26, 1927 Nashville, TN Vanderbilt 26–6
40 December 1, 1928 Nashville, TN Vanderbilt 13–0
41 November 23, 1929 Nashville, TN Vanderbilt 26–6
42 November 11, 1933 Nashville, TN Vanderbilt 27–14
43 November 10, 1934 Nashville, TN Vanderbilt 19–0
44 November 9, 1935 Nashville, TN Vanderbilt 46–0
45 November 9, 1936 Nashville, TN Vanderbilt 14–0
46 November 6, 1937 Nashville, TN Vanderbilt 41–0
47 November 5, 1938 Nashville, TN Vanderbilt 14–0
48 November 11, 1939 Nashville, TN Vanderbilt 25–7
49 November 9, 1940 Nashville, TN Vanderbilt 20–0
50 November 8, 1941 Nashville, TN Vanderbilt 20–0
51 October 7, 1944 Nashville, TN Tie0–0
52 November 23, 1944 Nashville, TN Vanderbilt 28–7
Series: Vanderbilt leads 40–8–4

Notable games

1891: Sewanee's first game; Vanderbilt's second

Sewanee's first ever football game, and Vanderbilt's second, was the first instance of this rivalry at McGee Field on November 7, 1891. Vanderbilt won 22 to 0. McGee Field is the oldest stadium in the south still in use, and the fourth oldest in the nation.[6]

1897: Vanderbilt gives Sewanee Hell

Vanderbilt beat Sewanee 10–0. A shocking event occurred in 1897 at the Thanksgiving Day match with 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.


Phil Connell

Phil Connell and captain Howard Boogher dove to recover the ball after the victory, giving Vanderbilt its first conference title.

1899: Sewanee's greatest team; no game with Vanderbilt

Sewanee manager Luke Lea, after a disagreement with Vanderbilt over gate receipts resulting in the 1899 game being cancelled, sought a way to make up for the lost revenue. In response, Lea put together an improbable schedule of playing five big name opponents in six days. Playing so many games in a short period minimized costs while maximizing revenue.[7] During this road trip, Sewanee outscored its opponents for a combined 91–0, including Texas, Texas A&M, LSU, and Ole Miss. Sewanee obliterated each one, traveling by train for some 2,500 miles. This feat, barring fundamental changes in modern-day football, can never be equaled.[8] Contemporary sources called the road trip the most remarkable ever made by an American college team.[9]


Henry D. Phillips

1902: Sewanee drubs Vandy

Sewanee defeated Vanderbilt in a surprising 11 to 5 upset.[10] John Edgerton's touchdown was the first Vanderbilt had scored on Sewanee since 1897. Captain Henry D. Phillips made Sewanee's touchdown.

1903: Vanderbilt upsets Sewanee

1903 met difficulty in determining an SIAA champion. Clemson's John Heisman pushed strongly for Cumberland to share the SIAA title with Clemson,[11] but also originally scheduled a game with the Vanderbilt-Sewanee winner to decide the conference.[12] Cumberland's strongest victory was its win over Vanderbilt.

File:John Tigert (c. 1903).jpg

John Tigert

John J. Tigert, later a prominent educator, got Vanderbilt's first touchdown, and thus was the first person to score on the Tigers all season.

1905: Vanderbilt drubs Sewanee

Vanderbilt crushed a strong Sewanee squad 68–4. One publication claims "The first scouting done in the South was in 1905, when Dan McGugin and Captain Innis Brown, of Vanderbilt went to Atlanta to see Sewanee play Georgia Tech."[13] John Scarbrough made Sewanee's only points on a 35-yard field goal.[14] On the dedication of Harris Stadium, one writer noted "The University of the South has numbered among its athletes some of the greatest. Anyone who played against giant Henry Phillips in 1901-1903 felt that he was nothing less than the best as guard and fullback. Anyone who ever saw a punt from the foot of J. W. Scarbrough."[15] Honus Craig once ran 60 yards for a touchdown.[14]

1907: Grantland Rice's Greatest Thrill

In the second year of the legal forward pass Vanderbilt won the SIAA championship on a double-pass play. Sewanee led 12 to 11 with twelve minutes to play. At McGugin's signal, the Commodores went into a freakish formation in which Stein Stone remained at center but all other players shifted to his left.[16] Quarterback Hugh Potts took the snap and lateraled the ball to Vaughn Blake, who lateraled it across to Bob Blake, who had lined up deep in punt formation, as Stone ran down the field.[16] Blake then connected with Stone on a 35-yard pass down inside the 5-yard line.[17][18] Honus Craig ran in it to win the game.[19] It was cited by Grantland Rice as the greatest thrill he ever witnessed in his years of watching sports.[20]


Bob Blake

Vanderbilt coach Dan McGugin in Spalding's Football Guide's summation of the season in the SIAA wrote "The standing. First, Vanderbilt; second, Sewanee, a might good second;" and that Aubrey Lanier "came near winning the Vanderbilt game by his brilliant dashes after receiving punts."[21] Innis Brown recalled that Sewanee was likely the South's best team that year.[18]


Lee Tolley

1909: Sewanee's last SIAA title

Sewanee beat Vanderbilt 16–5, giving Vanderbilt its first loss to a Southern team in six years. and netting the SIAA championship for Sewanee. "Moise, for Sewanee, played the game of his life."[22]

1914: Tolley leads Tigers over Vanderbilt

Sewanee quarterback Lee Tolley was awarded a gold football charm to commemorate the 14 to 13 victory.[23] One account reads "For brilliance and beauty of execution, (Tolley's play) has had few equals, if any, in the South, and the Tiger leader retires from the game as the premier quarterback in the S.I.A.A., beyond a doubt." His performance included a 75-yard punt return for a touchdown.[24]

1921: Vanderbilt's muddiest game


A soaked Curry Field.

The Commodores closed the season with a 9 to 0 win over Sewanee in the "muddiest game" in its history.[25] The Commodores were supposedly knee-deep in mud and water,[26] with players unrecognizable.[27] The two teams were considered a fairly even match before the game. Sewanee felt confident its line gave them a chance to win, but also a bit nervous about Vanderbilt's passing attack.[28] In a game for bragging rights and the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association title, Lynn Bomar would be injured.[29]

The game went scoreless until the fourth quarter, when Sewanee fumbled the snap on a punt and the punter was smothered by Jess Neely, Frank Godchaux, and Pink Wade for a safety. Later in the fourth, Hek Wakefield would punt the ball 54 yards from his own 38 yard-line, and Elam recovered a fumble by Sewanee's Powers. Wakefield ran in the game's only touchdown off-tackle from about 5 yards out. Wakefield kicked goal. Sewanee had more first downs than Vanderbilt, six to Vandy's two, but suffered four successive fumbles.[30][31]

1924: Sewanee's last and greatest victory

Sewanee won for the first time in a decade by the score of 16-0. The student newspaper The Sewanee Purple labeled it "The Greatest Victory for Sewanee in Its Thirty-one Years of Football History."[32] Vanderbilt coach Dan McGugin stated "Sewanee played a brilliant, sustained game. It was her day all the way." Michigan coach Fielding Yost said of the game, "It was one of those days when everything you try goes wrong and everything the other fellow tries goes right. Sewanee played great football." Gil Reese was relatively controlled and Bob Rives' line play was adequately challenged. Gil Reese and Fatty Lawrence starred for the Commodores. Sewanee's backfield of captain Harris, Gibbons, Barker, and Mahoney "clicked to perfection"[25] and its line received lots of praise as well.[32] It's the last time Sewanee has beaten Vanderbilt.

See also


  1. William L. Traughber. "CHC- Sewanee Was Vandy's First Rival".
  2. cf. William L. Traughber. Vanderbilt Football: Tales of Commodore Gridiron History. p. 26.
  3. "Oldest Dual Series".
  4. "Ready For Big Game". The State (Columbia, South Carolina). November 19, 1920.
  5. "Goodbye, Sewanee, Goodbye". Retrieved February 1, 2015.
  6. "2004 Sewanee football media guide". p. 43. Archived from the original on 2013-03-09.
  7. Rachel Zoll (November 27, 1999). "1899 Sewanee 'Iron Men' remembered". Herald-Journal.,4122731&hl=en.
  8. cf. Rufus Ward (February 5, 2012). "Ask Rufus: The greatest football team ever". Archived from the original on April 17, 2016.
  9. "Sewanee's Football Tour". The Daily Times: p. 3. November 16, 1899. Archived from the original on March 5, 2016. Retrieved November 6, 2015. open access
  10. "Vanderbilt Is Given Drubbing". Atlanta Constitution: p. 1. November 28, 1902. Retrieved March 30, 2015. open access
  11. Langum, David J. From Maverick to Mainstream: Cumberland School of Law, 1847-1997. p. 95.
  12. "Fine Football in Southland". The Courier-Journal: p. 25. October 25, 1903. Retrieved May 16, 2016. open access
  13. George Allen. How to Scout Football. p. 3.
  14. 14.0 14.1 "Vanderbilt, Sewanee 4.". The Courier-Journal: p. 7. December 1, 1905. Retrieved May 10, 2016. open access
  15. "Stadium Has Harris Name". The Sewanee Purple. November 6, 1957.
  16. 16.0 16.1 Edwin Pope. Football's Greatest Coaches. p. 339.
  17. "Claiming Rampant". The Miami News. February 9, 1954.,7229096.
  18. 18.0 18.1 "Brown Calls Vanderbilt '06 Best Eleven South Ever Had". Atlanta Constitution: p. 52. February 19, 1911. Retrieved March 8, 2015. open access
  19. Bill Traughber (December 5, 2007). "CHC: Stein Stone's Famous 1907 Catch".
  20. "Grantland Rice Tells Of Greatest Thrill In Years Of Watching Sport". Boston Daily Globe. April 27, 1924.
  21. Dan McGugin (1907). "Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association Foot Ball". The Official National Collegiate Athletic Association Football Guide (National Collegiate Athletic Association): 71–75.
  22. "Sewanee Wins Contest Easily". The Courier-Journal: p. 7. November 26, 1909. Retrieved May 8, 2016. open access
  23. Wiedmer, Mark (January 18, 2015). "Century-old football charm proves you can go home again". Retrieved February 7, 2015.
  24. "Tolley's Run Won Victory". Hopkinsville Kentuckian. November 28, 1914.
  25. 25.0 25.1 Russell, Fred, and Maxwell Edward Benson. Fifty Years of Vanderbilt Football. Nashville, TN, 1938, p.39, 43
  26. "Vanderbilt Wins From Sewanee In Final Quarter, 9-0". Augusta Chronicle. November 25, 1921.
  27. "Vanderbilt 9, Sewanee 0.". Morning Oregonian. November 25, 1921.
  28. "Gridiron Gossip". Montgomery Advertiser. November 10, 1921.
  29. "Vanderbilt-Sewanee Clash is Big Even". Montgomery Advertiser. November 24, 1921.
  30. Camp, Walter, ed. National Collegiate Athletic Association Football Rules: Official Intercollegiate Football Guide. 45 Rose St, New York: American Sports, 1922. Print. Spalding's Athletic Library.
  31. "Final Period Rally Wins for Old Vandy". Charlotte Observer. November 25, 1921.
  32. 32.0 32.1 "Sewanee 16, Vandy 0". The Sewanee Purple. December 3, 1924.

Template:Sewanee Tigers football navbox

Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.