Know Thy Enemy: A Vanderbilt Football History Lesson
Saturday, the Alabama Crimson Tide will play host to the Vanderbilt Commodores in the SEC opener for Nick Saban and company.
Name: Vanderbilt University
Mascot: Commodores / Mr. Commodore
Nickname(s): Vandy / Dores
Coach: Clark Lea
Quarterback: AJ Swann / Mike Wright Jr.
Location: Nashville, TN
Fight Song: Dynamite
Famous Alumni: Al Gore, Greg Abbott, Skip Bayless, A lot of professional baseball players
Although the Commodores are often on the wrong end of many trophy case jokes on Twitter, they do happen to be one of the best academic schools in the country and a baseball powerhouse.
Vanderbilt currently ranks No. 13 in the nation for overall colleges in a list produced by US News. Not bad for an SEC school.
Additionally, the Commodores are most commonly known in the sporting world for their dominance on the diamond. Coach Tim Corbin led the Dores to a pair of national titles (2014, 2019) over the past decade, while producing MLB-level talent like Atlanta's Dansby Swanson at shortstop.
Corbin's crew visited Omaha a whopping five times dating back to 2011, with a regional appearances in 16 straight seasons since 2005.
On the gridiron, the success has been a bit harder to find.
The Dores enter Saturday's contest with a 3-1 record this season, a vast improvement so far from year's past.
Vanderbilt has wins at Hawaii, vs Elon and at Northern Illinois on the season so far. The lone loss came against No. 21 Wake Forest at home back in Week 2, although a strong fight was put on.
Junior quarterback Mike Wright led the team to its first win of the season, before freshman freshman AJ Swann took over the reigns in the loss to the Demon Deacons during Week 2.
The Commodores hold a 614-649-50 record all-time, good for 99th overall across the FBS level. Vanderbilt has zero national championships, but does claim 13 total conference championships from before the SEC's inception. The Dores have been to a total of nine bowl games, with their last appearance coming in 2018 under Derek Mason in the Texas Bowl.
Vanderbilt is 19-53-4 against the Crimson Tide head-to-head, with its last win coming back in 1984 in Tuscaloosa. Alabama currently holds an 11-game win streak over the Commodores, although the two schools have only met once (2017) over the past decade.
Ah yes, that 2017 game, who could forget. It has really been five years since Nifae Lealao proclaimed "Alabama, you're next" into the microphone, following a win over Kansas State.
In case you forgot how that went ...
Let's look into the all-time series record, shall we?
The Commodores won the first five matchups in the series, starting with a 30-0 beatdown of the Tide in 1903. However, the program has only beat Alabama twice since its 1956 win that marked victory in six of the previous nine games for Vanderbilt.
Penn State's James Franklin built the program into a mid-pack SEC East team during his tenure in Nashville before departing for the Nittany Lions after 2013. Unfortunately for Vanderbilt, it has been an uphill battle following Franklin's departure, as the Dores have yet to pull off a winning season since.
Coach Clark Lea seems to have slowly righted the ship from the end of the Mason era, however. With Vanderbilt picking up three wins on the season thus far, the Commodores have already surpassed their combined win total from 2020 and 2021 put together, although an SEC victory is still needed.
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