CHC- Vandy Ties Michigan in 19228/30/2006
by Bill Traughber
The Vanderbilt Commodores open the 2006 football season this week in Ann Arbor against the tough Michigan Wolverines. The meeting will be the eleventh between the intersectional opponents. The series opened in 1905 also in Ann Arbor where Michigan won 18-0. The last time the two universities met was in 1969 when the Commodores fell to the Wolverines, 42-14. Vanderbilt has an all-time 0-9-1 record against Michigan.
Only two of those games were played in Nashville. Vanderbilt losing in 1908, 8-0 and the Commodores best effort in 1922, a scoreless tie. But that 1922 game was the dedication of the new Dudley Field.
The first game at the new stadium would be an event called “Stadium Day.” The Castner Knott Dry Goods Co. wanted the Vanderbilt University women to be in stylist dress for that special event. A sale was inspired. "Grovers two-strap slippers for women" were on sale at $4.65.
"Coats of Marvella, Gerche, Tarquina, Marleen, Mousayne, Veldeen, with rich trimmings of fox, squirrel, caracut, beaver, seal, monkey and wolf, from an exceedingly exquisite group,” were also on sale.
"They are fashioned along the new popular long lines, emphasizing individual touches in every model. A most remarkable selection at—$105.00," read the advertisements from The Tennessean.
The gents were not excluded as Joseph Frank & Son, in their economy annex, were selling "suits with two pairs of pants," at an unusual value of $27.50. The Fulwirth suit with the extra pants practically doubled the life of your suit stated the special advertisement.
Stadium Day was full of festivities. On the campus of Vanderbilt University on Oct. 14, 1922, was the inaugural football game of the new Dudley Field. The game between Vanderbilt and Michigan had a carnival-like atmosphere.
Dignitaries and politicians were invited to participate at Dudley Field, the largest football-only stadium in the South at that time. The guest of honor for the dedication game was Cornelius Vanderbilt, the great-great grandson of the university's namesake.
Accompanied by his wife, Vanderbilt arrived at Nashville's Union Station on the morning of the game, his first trip to the city. The day's first event was a luncheon for the young Vanderbilt couple, which was held at the Hermitage Hotel and hosted by Vanderbilt University Board of Trust.
Thousands of Vanderbilt students and alumni met downtown for a parade with Tennessee Governor Alf Taylor riding in the lead automobile. Decorated in orange and black, their automobile began the parade at Twelfth and Broadway, weaving through the side streets to a reviewing stand at the foot of the Capitol Building.
Leading the parade was the Vanderbilt University's band followed by the faculty. The medical department furnished some entertainment for the thousands who lined the streets with the students dressing in costumes to fit their field of study.
The med students were led by "Dr. Pill" and was closely followed by the freshman class parading in skulls and cross-bones. The sophomore medical class was armed with pounding tin pans and skillets. Other creative instruments made of shinbones and certain sections of the human anatomy were also seen.
After the countless speeches, the automobile procession, escorted by the police and Tony Rose's band, proceeded to the new stadium.
The stadium originated with a fund that began with the university lending half of the projected cost of $300,000 to the Athletic Association. The balance was to be raised by the alumni. The ambitious goal was to play the first home game in the 22,000-seat stadium in October 1922.
Construction of the stadium was managed in several months after the plans were completed in January 1922. A local firm was awarded the construction contract with Vanderbilt alumni engineers and architects supervising the actual work. Construction on the vacant lot began in February.
The field was completed in June and the last of the concrete was poured on September 29. The height of the stands was 30 feet above the field on the west side, and the east side rose to 70 feet.
A Tennessean reporter described the field from the new press box on the day of the game: The field was beautiful sight. It was absolutely clean and the grass was green except for a few brown spots. The goal posts were of iron pipe and padded so that no injury could come from a fall against them.
They were wrapped in the respective colors of Vanderbilt and Michigan. Each 5-yard line was numbered with a letter plate so that there was no trouble in telling the exact position of the teams at a glance. It seems that a small boy is foiled at last. A number tried to slip in, but the height of the stands was too much for them.
Three airplanes flew over the field at a height of a thousand feet while the Vanderbilt band played "America." The fans in the stands stood as Governor Taylor delivered the opening dedication speech. The field was dedicated to the late Dr. William L. Dudley, the founder of athletics at Vanderbilt.
While the band played "The Star Spangled Banner," Mrs. Vanderbilt raised the Vanderbilt flag, the governor's wife raised the American flag and Michigan sponsors raised the Michigan flag.
After the dedication program, one of the airplanes piloted by Lt. Herbert Fox of the 136th Aero Squadron, swooped down over the northern goal posts. Two hundred feet above the field, Fox dropped the game football that was wrapped with the colors of Vanderbilt and Michigan.
The ball dropped near Vanderbilt head coach Dan McGugin, a Michigan graduate, who caught the ball on one bounce. He handed the ball over to his brother-in-law and Michigan head coach Fielding Yost who was in his 22nd year with the Wolverines. No attempt was made to catch the ball since a similar stunt in Texas resulted in an injury to the receiver.
Vanderbilt and Michigan had met on seven occasions since 1905 with the Wolverines winning all of them up to this point. The mighty men from the Big Ten were favorites to win this dedication game. The 2-0 Commodores were coming off shut out wins against Maryville and Henderson-Brown.
In the locker room prior to the kickoff, McGugin gave his hopeful pregame inspirational talk. Referring to the Michigan players, McGugin said, "You are going against Yankees, some of whose grandfathers killed your grandfathers in the Civil War." Unknowing to the Commodore players was the fact that McGugin's father had been an officer in the Union army.
An estimated 18,000 fans stood to their feet as Vanderbilt captain, Jess Neely, led his Commodores onto the field for the 2:15 p.m. kickoff. Each team met at the center of the field to pose for photographs. Michigan won the coin toss and Vandy All-American, Lynn Bomar, had the honors of being the first to kick off in the new stadium.
In an era of primarily running the football, each team's defense's was relentless and not giving up much ground. The game became a battle for field position as the punters dominated the game. The Vanderbilt band playing "Vanderbilt Forever," tried to inspire their fighting Commodores.
The only threat in the first half occurred when Vanderbilt was forced to punt from its 7-yard line. Vandy punter Scott Neil only managed a 20-yard kick. Michigan drove to the Commodore 2-yard line before facing a fourth-down situation.
From a kick formation, Michigan faked the kick and end Harry Kipke took the ball off the right tackle, but was stacked up at the Vanderbilt one-foot line. A Vandy player, trying to gain an advantage, pushed himself off the goal post and into the pile of players. The crowd in the stands went wild.
The kicking game continued to control the contest with Michigan's Kipke's punting ability equaling Neil's. The halftime score was Vanderbilt 0, Michigan 0. The band played Vanderbilt songs and formed its traditional "VU" periodically throughout the game.
In the third quarter a Vanderbilt student, "Freshman Gross, the best cheerleader Vanderbilt ever had," ran around the field waving handkerchiefs and yelling. He attempted to fire up his Commodores and break the stalemate. Thousands of fans responded and waved their white hankys.
A fourth quarter field goal attempt by Michigan was low and fell harmlessly into the end zone for a touchback. The gun sounded and the game ended 0-0. To show their delight, the fans whirled approximately 3,000 seat cushions onto the field. They did not lose to the mighty Wolverines.
Vanderbilt recorded 17 punts in the game compared with Michigan's 10. “Stadium Day” was a success and so was the 1922 season. The tie would be the only blemish on the Commodore record as they finished the season undefeated with an 8-0-1 record.
Next week read about Vanderbilt upsetting the Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa in 1984.
If you have any comments or suggestions you can contact Bill Traughber via e-mail at WLTraughber@aol.com.