The Decade in Vanderbilt Football

The decade of the "Aughties" has seen plenty of lows, interspersed with several highs, for Vanderbilt football... and VandyMania has been there to cover every last play. Here's a retrospective look at the decade past in Vanderbilt football.

2000
- Record: 3-8, 1-7 SEC
- Head Coach: Woody Widenhofer
- The forgettable: With Jamie Winborn and Jimmy Williams suspended, Vandy drops opener to Miami of Ohio... season quickly spirals downward... bowl expectations after surprising 1999 season go down drain.
- The memorable: Commodores finish strong, defeating Kentucky 24-20, nearly upsetting Tennessee at Adelphia Coliseum... a record four players are drafted by NFL teams.
- Memorable quote: "Winning begins in my office." (Newly hired Chancellor Gordon Gee)
Prevailing sentiment on VandyMania message boards: "Fire Woody!"

2001
- Record: 2-9, 0-8 SEC
- Head Coach: Woody Widenhofer
- The forgettable: Season begins with 37-28 loss to MTSU, goes downhill from there... chance to send Auburn into overtime evaporates with botched fake field goal attempt... Commodores fail to win a conference game.
- The memorable: Hmmm... a hard-fought, 28-22 win over Richmond?... Dan Stricker has All-SEC junior season.
- The downright embarrassing: Widenhofer resigns in disgrace after No. 4 Florida annihilates Vandy, 71-13.
- Memorable quote No. 1: "It's hard to win a football game." (Widenhofer)
- Memorable quote No. 2: "We are looking to make a coaching hire that will shock the world." (Directory of Athletics Todd Turner)
- Transition: After making a run at Stanford's Tyrone Willingham and Colorado's Gary Barnett, Vandy hires Furman coach Bobby Johnson to replace Widenhofer.

2002
- Record: 2-10, 0-8 SEC
- Head Coach: Bobby Johnson
- The memorable: Kwane Doster named SEC Freshman of the Year... redshirt freshman Jay Cutler wins starting quarterback battle in fall camp, shows promise.
- The forgettable: 45-3 debut loss to Georgia Tech dispels notions of "quick fix" under Johnson... injuries decimate already-thin offense, resulting in shutout in finale.
- The downright embarrassing: With Cutler suspended, MTSU defeats Vanderbilt again, 21-20.
- Memorable quote: "During that loss to Georgia Tech, I looked over at the sidelines and saw nothing but stunned expressions... and that was just the assistant coaches." (Johnson)
- Prevailing sentiment on VandyMania message boards: "Why isn't Benji Walker playing?"


VU celebrates 2003 victory over Kentucky. (AP/Neil Brake)

2003
- Record: 2-10, 1-7 SEC
- Head Coach: Bobby Johnson
- The memorable: Vandy snaps 23-game SEC losing streak with home win over Kentucky; goalposts paraded down West End.
- The forgettable: Missed field goal leads to 24-21 opening loss to Ole Miss... Vandy blows 17-10 lead in final minute to lose to Georgia Tech... five losses are by 11 points or less.
- The downright embarrassing: Tennessee shuts out Vandy for second year in row, 48-0.
- Memorable quote: "We spanked 'em and made 'em like it." (Vandy Lance, after win over Kentucky)
- Prevailing sentiment on VandyMania message boards: "Why isn't Steven Bright playing?"
- The out-of-the-blue: Chancellor Gordon Gee restructures department of athletics saying, "I'm declaring war on the jock culture."

2004
- Record: 2-9, 1-7 SEC
- Head Coach: Bobby Johnson
- The memorable: Vandy defeats Mississippi State at home... offense explodes in season finale, a 38-33 loss to No. 14 Tennessee.
- The forgettable: South Carolina rips Vandy 31-6 in opener, starting another downward slide... Commodores lose 14-13 to hapless Kentucky on Shane Boyd's flutterball.
- The downright embarrassing: 'Dores blow a 27-3 lead to lose at home to Rutgers.
- The tragic: Kwane Doster is shot to death in Tampa over Christmas break. (AP photo at left)
- Memorable quote: "Yeah, we think about bowl games a lot... we watched a lot of them over Christmas break." (Johnson at SEC Media Days)
- Prevailing sentiment on VandyMania message boards: "Will we ever get past two wins?"

2005
- Record: 5-6, 3-5 SEC
- Head Coach: Bobby Johnson
- The forgettable: MTSU blocks last-second field goal to preserve 17-15 victory... phantom "excessive celebration" penalty costs Vandy a chance to beat Florida in regulation in the Swamp... Commodores self-destruct on Senior Day vs. Kentucky, dashing bowl hopes.
- The memorable: 'Dores open season 4-0, including come-from-behind road wins over Wake Forest and Arkansas... the surprising start draws attention from Sports Illustrated, ESPN and New York Times... Cutler rewrites school's record book for passing, becomes Broncos' first-round selection.
- The unforgettable: 'Dores win thrilling 28-24 season finale in Knoxville, ending 22-year streak of dominance by Tennessee. (Stan Jones photo at right)
- Memorable quote: "Well, I guess sometimes before you start building back, you have to hit rock bottom." (Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer, after loss to Vanderbilt)
- Prevailing sentiment on VandyMania message boards: "Johnson for governor!"

2006
- Record: 4-8, 1-7 SEC
- Head Coach: Bobby Johnson
- The forgettable: Season gets off to bad start in "Big House" against Michigan before ESPN audience... Vandy blows 10-3 halftime lead vs. Alabama, loses 13-10... gust of wind deflects late field goal in loss to Arkansas.
- The memorable: Chris Nickson leads Vandy to road upset over No. 16 Georgia (Photo at left by Stan Jones), has monster game in win over Duke... Commodores fall 25-19 to Florida, which goes on to win National Championship.
- Prevailing sentiment on VandyMania message boards: "2007 should be our year!"

2007
- Record: 5-7, 2-6 SEC
- Head Coach: Bobby Johnson
- The memorable: Mackenzi Adams fills in for Nickson, leads Vandy to road upset of No. 6 South Carolina (photo at right by Stan Jones)... Earl Bennett becomes SEC's all-time career leader in receptions.
- The forgettable: Chancellor Gee departs for Ohio State... late fumble costs Commodores a win over Georgia... Nickson's erratic play leads coaches to start Adams in last six games... Vandy blows 24-9 lead against Tennessee, loses 25-24... Bennett skips senior season for NFL.
- The downright embarrassing: On a miserable Senior Day, with bowl eligibility within reach, Vandy is crushed by visiting Wake Forest.
- Memorable quote: "All the positives throughout the season don't look good right now. We have to re-evaluate." (Johnson, after Wake Forest loss)
- Prevailing sentiment on VandyMania message boards: "Why isn't Adams starting?" / "Will this program ever turn the corner?"


ESPN Gameday at Vanderbilt?! (Photo by Whitney D.)

2008
- Record: 7-6, 4-4 SEC
- Head Coach: Bobby Johnson
- The memorable: Vandy opens season 5-0, climaxed by a thrilling 14-13 nationally televised win over No. 13 Auburn... ESPN Gameday visits campus for first time... Bryant Hahnfeldt becomes the school's all-time scoring leader.
- The forgettable: Commodores proceed to lose six of their next seven games, including mystifying losses to Mississippi State and Duke... offense goes in tank in second half of season... D.J. Moore turns pro early.
- The unforgettable: Win over Kentucky makes 'Dores bowl-eligible for first time in 26 years... 'Dores upset Boston College 16-14 in Music City Bowl behind three Bryant Hahnfeldt field goals, school's first bowl win since 1955 (photo at right by AP's Mark Humphrey)... Vandy's winning season is first since 1982... Johnson named co-SEC Coach of the Year.
- Prevailing sentiment on VandyMania message boards: "Lock in Bobby Johnson now, before some other school comes after him!"

2009
- Record: 2-10, 0-8 SEC
- Head Coach: Bobby Johnson
- The memorable: Sophomore Larry Smith beats out Mackenzi Adams in fall camp... 'Dores come on like gangbusters in 45-0 opening win over Western Carolina... Warren Norman (left, photo by Stan Jones) sets SEC season record for total offense by a freshman.
- The forgettable: 'Dores fail to win a conference game, finish season on eight-game losing streak... Commodores fall to Army in overtime thanks to mistakes and questionable officiating... hamstring injury in Georgia Tech game ends Smith's season... injuries decimate team depth over 12-week season without a bye.
- The downright embarrassing: Defense yields 56 points in loss to Georgia Tech... anemic offense finishes last in SEC in total offense and points per game.
Prevailing sentiment on VandyMania message boards: "Ted Cain must go!"

- Decade record, 2000-09: 34-83, 13-67 SEC

- Offensive players of the decade: Jay Cutler, Earl Bennett
- Defensive players of the decade: Moses Osemwegie, D.J. Moore
- Special teams player of the decade: Bryant Hahnfeldt
- Most satisfying win of the decade: Vanderbilt 28, Tennessee 24 (2005)
- Most painful loss of the decade: MTSU 37, Vanderbilt 28 (2001)


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