Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Vanderbilt Commodores; SEC 101 - A Fan's Guide to the History and Tradition of Mizzou's New Conference

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Vanderbilt Commodores; SEC 101 - A Fan's Guide to the History and Tradition of Mizzou's New Conference

Article excerpt

VANDERBILT UNIVERSITY

Location: Nashville, Tenn.

Enrollment: 12,859

Colors: Black and Gold

Stadium: Vanderbilt Stadium.

Capacity: 40,550. Opened in 1981 at same site of former Dudley Field.

All-time record/first year played: 563-575-50/1890

Bowl record: 2-2-1

Conference championships: None

TRADITIONS

Vanderbilt is better-known for its sterling academics than its athletics, and there long have been those who believe those two missions are divergent. "There is no way you can be Harvard Monday through Friday and try to be Alabama on Saturday," coach Art Guepe said after going 39-54-7 at Vandy from 1953-1962. But coach James Franklin is trying to persuade followers otherwise after coaxing the Commodores last season, his first, to the fifth bowl appearance in school history, a 31-24 loss to Cincinnati in the Liberty Bowl. With 17 starters back, he said at SEC media days last month, "The sky's the limit with us ... We have too much to sell ... If you're truly the best and the brightest, where else would you go? You have an opportunity to chase both of your dreams (athletically and academically) at the same time."

FOOTBALL HISTORY

It's ancient history now, but under coach Dan McGugin Vanderbilt went 124-30 from 1904-1922. From 1915 to 1935, the Commodores had 21 straight winning seasons; they've had 19 since and just one since 1982. Such is life in the SEC for a private school that invests far less in athletics than the vast commitments made by its brethren.

NICKNAME

The rare, perhaps unique, moniker "Commodores" reflects the nickname of school founder Cornelius Vanderbilt, who made his name and fortune in shipping and railroads and was nicknamed "Commodore." The tag apparently was popularized for the school in 1897 by the Nashville Banner's William Beard, who had been a quarterback on the 1892 team.

MASCOT

"Mr. Commodore" has been Vandy's mascot for decades but had a more seemingly random predecessor: George, a basset hound. Before the 1964 game with Tennessee, George chased up and down the sideline Tennessee's then-mascot, a horse named Ebony Masterpiece. Vandy won 7-0. A few weeks later George was voted the school's official mascot but died two years later, and his replacement, Samantha, was later determined unable to replace George - ending the brief basset hound tradition. …

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