Alabama Football: History of Tide versus Vanderbilt football games

NASHVILLE, TN - SEPTEMBER 09: Trent Sherfield
NASHVILLE, TN - SEPTEMBER 09: Trent Sherfield /

Saturday afternoon, September 23, 2017, in the cozy confines of Nashville’s Dudley field, Alabama football and Vanderbilt will play for the 84th time. Let’s look at the football history between the two schools.

For the lovers of college football history, particularly southern football history, Alabama football games against Vanderbilt are important. Only two other old foes have lined up against Alabama football more times, Mississippi State and Tennessee.

Beyond the games played, the human connections between the two football programs go back almost 100 years. The first Alabama football, national championship coach, Wallace Wade was a Vandy assistant coach for two seasons. Wade left Vanderbilt to become the head coach at Alabama in 1923.

Paul “Bear” Bryant coached his first game as a head coach at Vandy on October 12, 1940. Bryant left an Alabama assistant coach position to assume the same title, with more responsibilities at Vanderbilt. Red Sanders was the head man at Vandy during Bryant’s two years in Nashville.

Sanders missed a game due to an emergency appendectomy surgery. Sanders chose Bryant to replace him for one game against Kentucky. The Bryant-led Commodores tied favored Kentucky 7-7. Less than 14 months later, Bryant left Vanderbilt to enlist in the Navy.

Bryant had a fondness for Vanderbilt and Nashville. While at Kentucky and before moving on to Texas A&M, Bryant told close friends in Nashville, he would love to return to Vanderbilt as head coach.

Former Bryant player and 1965 All-American, Steve Sloan was the head coach at Vanderbilt in 1973 and 1974. Sloan also spent three years in Tuscaloosa as Athletic Director.

The Record

The overall record for Alabama football against Vanderbilt is 61-18-4. Not surprisingly, the record shows a marked deviation before and after Paul Bryant became Alabama’s head coach. From 1903-1957 Alabama football failed to win half the games with Vanderbilt. The record in those games was 17-16-2.

In the ten Vandy games preceding the Alabama football, Bryant coaching era, Alabama football only won twice. Bryant’s first two Alabama teams tied Vandy in 1958 and 1959. Since then Vandy has won just twice, in 1969 and 1984. The 1969 score was Vandy 14, Alabama 10; in 1984 it was Vandy 30, Alabama 21.

There have been some blowouts by the Tide but there have also been several competitive contests.

  • 1962; Alabama 17 – Vanderbilt 7
  • 1982; Alabama 24 – Vanderbilt 21
  • 1987; Alabama 30 – Vanderbilt 23
  • 1989; Alabama 20 – Vanderbilt 14
  • 1994; Alabama 17 – Vanderbilt 7
  • 1995; Alabama 33 – Vanderbilt 25
  • 1996; Alabama 36 – Vanderbilt 26
  • 2006; Alabama 13 – Vanderbilt 10

This week, per Alabama football opened as an 18.5 point favorite. Despite the line, optimism abounds in Nashville. It should be great fun.

Next: The 10 Best Alabama QB's of All-Time

We will be sharing more information about the 2017 Commodores. Check in with us often as we follow the preparation for the Tide and the Dores.