The 2013 College Football season begins tonight with our Vanderbilt Commodores playing at home on Dudley Field before a national television audience (ESPN, kickoff 8:15 CDT) versus SEC rival Ole Miss. Expectations are high with the team under Head Coach James Franklin having been to consecutive bowl games the last two seasons (the first time ever in Vandy history) and winning 9 games in 2012 alone. That's the most wins for VU in a single season since 1915!
This game tonight is also the first home football contest for the VU Class of 2017. It sure brings back some fun memories of our first home game which was nearly 44 years ago on October 1, 1969.
That's when the Dores pulled off one of greatest upsets in school history downing the undefeated and nationally ranked (13)Alabama Crimson Tide, 14-10. It's the only time VU beat the legendary Bear Bryant while he coached at Alabama.
Since the night of that game over four decades ago, I am pretty sure almost none of us have seen even some ESPN-style highlights of that evening (and Vandy dominated the game statistically).
But now if you come to our 40th Reunion Class Party, Friday night, October 4, you can see the game in full!
That's right, we will have a DVD tape with every play of that game (including some sideline shots and slow motion action). It will be on display when you arrive at the newly remodeled Rand Hall and will replay throughout the evening. Many thanks to Rod Williamson and the VU Athletic Department for making the game film available!
While there is no play-by-play or game sound available, what you'll see is bound to bring back some great memories!
To get those memory brain cells going, Quarterback Watson Brown was one of the big heroes of the game. Here's a recap of the contest I wrote five years ago (2008) on this blog just before our 35th Reunion.
It was October 1, 1969. VU came into its first Southeastern Conference home game against Alabama having lost its first three contests against Michigan, Army and North Carolina. The Crimson Tide, under its already legendary Coach Paul "Bear" Bryant, came in undefeated and nationally ranked.
But behind the leadership of quarterbacks Watson Brown and (West End) Denny Painter, Vanderbilt rolled up 473 yards in total offense while the defense harressed Alabama quarterback Scott Hunter into completing just four passes in 25 attempts for a paultry 91 yards.
The final outcome however was still in doubt well into the 4th quarter as Alabama led 10-7. That's when Vanderbilt linebacker Christie Hauck (now more famous for his cookies than his football prowess) intercepted an Alabama pass in the end zone and returned it to the Commodore 8.
Let's let Ira Deitsch of THE VANDERBILT HUSTLER tell the rest of the story as he did in article two years later in October, 1971. "At that point Painter took over the reins of the offense and cooly directed the team to the Tide 21-yard line by way of four passes--three to Curt Chesley of 18, 6 and 17 yards and one to David Strong for 19 yards."
"Brown then returned to the field and on third down from the 21, he handed the ball to Doug Mathews (now more famous for his years as a UT assistant football coach and local radio talk show host) who galloped ten yards (for a first down) to the 11. Brown then flipped the ball to Jim Cunningham in the end zone for the winning points."
When the game ended, many fans (and students) stormed the field in victory. Suddenly things looked bright. Vandy had had a winning season the year before (5-4-1 in 1968) so who knew what was possible. Unfortunately while we were there over the next four years Vanderbilt would win but 4 other SEC games and post an overall record of 15-27, 5-18 in the SEC.
The revenge of the Bear was even more decisive. In his next three visits to Nashville (1971, 1973 & 1975) his teams defeated Vandy 42-0, 44-0 and 40-7. He then added the exclamation point beating the Dores 66-3 when he came to Dudley in 1979.
But that one night, October 1, 1969, our first home game as college students, those memories of sweet victory will always belong to us and the Black & Gold nation!
Come see it again when you attend to our 40th Class Reunion Party at the beautifully renovated Rand Hall on Friday evening, October 4, 2013. Register today!