Woody Widenhoefer brought a wealth of community excitement and support with him, when he was named Rod Dowhower's successor. Woody tirelessly spoke with every Rotary Club, church group, and civic organization he could find. He was hailed for not only his multitude of past football accomplishments and accolades, but also for his work bringing together the Vanderbilt defense, the lone bright spot during the two years under Dowhower. However, just as his predecessors had found, the excitement wanes quickly when there are not enough or any watermark wins. Woody brought the program its share of goodwill, but not wins. The following notes look at the Widenhoefer-era in a strictly wins and losses perspective.
Widenhoefer-era SEC Results and Facts
The Widenhoefer-era (1997 to 2001) has thus far resulted in just four Southeastern Conference wins, compiling a record of 4 and 34.
During Widenhoefer's tenure as coach, Vanderbilt fans were only able to enjoy one SEC home win, the 1998 victory over a South Carolina squad who finished with one win.
Not only were SEC wins been hard to come by, but decisive ones were non-existent. Of Vanderbilt's four SEC wins the average margin of victory was less than a field goal.
Year Game Score Margin
2000 at Kentucky 24-20 +4
1999 at Ole Miss 37-34 (OT) +3
1999 at South Carolina 11-10 +1
1998 South Carolina 17-14 +3
The average SEC game under Widenhoefer to this point would have a final score of 30 to 12.
VU has only scored 30 points in a regulation SEC game once since 1997, this past Saturday against Kentucky.
The Vanderbilt offense has scored 14 or fewer points in more than two thirds (26 of 38) conference games, including 11 without a touchdown.
Conversely, opponents scored more than 28 points in 61% of these games.
Widenhoefer-era Non-Conference Results and Facts
Non-Conference games were kinder to VU, especially against ACC lightweights like Duke and Wake Forest. The following is breakdown of Widenhoefer's non-conference results versus Division 1A opponents.
Year Game Result Margin
2001 MTSU L 28-37 -9
2001 at Duke W 42-28 +14
2000 Miami, OH L 30-33 -3
2000 Duke W 27-6 +21
2000 at Wake Forest W 17-10 +7
1999 N. Illinois W 34-31 +3
1999 at Duke W 31-14 +17
1998 at TCU L 16-19 (OT) -3
1998 W. Michigan L 24-27 -3
1998 Duke W 36-33 (OT) +3
1997 N. Texas W 29-12 +17
1997 TCU W 40-16 +24
1997 at N. Illinois W 17-7 +10
Only three of Vanderbilt's non-conference games were against teams who finished with a winning record. Each of these three contests (Miami, W. Michigan, and MTSU) resulted in a loss.
Vanderbilt accumulated more wins versus the ACC (5) than versus the SEC. Unfortunately for Vanderbilt, Duke and Wake Forest cannot be admitted as provisional members of the SEC.
Despite a consistently weak non-conference slate, generally against teams from mid-major conferences, Vanderbilt only managed an average margin of victory of slightly more than one touchdown.
Four consecutive wins over Duke represent almost one third of Woody's win total of 13 over Division 1A opponents.
Woody Widenhoefer's coaching stint resulted in one win over a team with a winning record (Ole Miss 1999) in five seasons.
In 1997, Vanderbilt's total point output versus SEC competition was 52 or 6.5 points per game, and Vanderbilt's leading receiver Tavarus Hogans ended the season with 381 receiving yards and 20 receptions.
Versus Division 1A competition Woody compiled a 13 and 37 record.