To Vanderbilt fans the 1999 season seemed to be the season they had long awaited. The Commodores had beaten Ole Miss and South Carolina on the road. The Citadel was pummeled by the Commodores, 58-0.
On the eve of the Kentucky game Vanderbilt Athletics Director, Todd Turner, announced that he had extended Widenhofer's contract through the 2004 season in order to demonstrate his faith in Widenhofer's leadership. The move seemed to be a good one at the time and it was believed the contract extension would help to motivate the team to a much needed victory over Kentucky.
The Commodores battled Kentucky before a national television audience. Vanderbilt's tough defense held the highly regarded Wildcat offense to only 252 yards total offense that day while the guys in black and gold accumulated over 380 yards total offense. However, turnovers would be the difference in this one. The Commodores turned the ball over three times to just once for the cats. Late in the fourth quarter, trailing 19-17, Vanderbilt recovered a UK fumble at the Wildcat 40. With three minutes remaining Vanderbilt drove to the Kentucky 30 before fumbling the ball itself. The Commodores were forced to watch helplessly as the Kentucky offense ran the clock out of time. Vanderbilt would now be forced to beat defending National Champions Tennessee in order to complete a winning season. That would not happen.
Now, two years and five Vanderbilt wins later, it is expected that Woody's announcement will motivate the team to excel and produce an SEC victory over Kentucky that will keep Vanderbilt out of the SEC East basement. Expect the team to play with added enthusiasm since this is not only their seniors last home game, but their head coach's. Let's hope the team can put the coaching situation announcement to better use than they did in 1999.