100th Anniversary of Vanderbilt Stadium

Honoring 100 years of Vanderbilt Stadium. Appreciating the past and celebrating our future.

1922-2022

Moments in History

  • Vanderbilt Stadium (then known as Dudley Field) opened on Oct. 14, 1922, when Vanderbilt hosted Michigan.
    • Commodore coach Dan McGugin played at Michigan and was the brother-in-law of Wolverines coach Fielding Yost. The Commodores, led by team captain and halfback Jess Neely, battled heavily favored Michigan to a 0-0 tie.
  • The stadium was the first in the South built for football.
  • Prior to the formation of the SEC in 1933, Vanderbilt competed in the Southern Independent Athletic Association and the Southern Conference. The Commodores’ first game at Dudley Field as founding members of the SEC came on Oct. 21, 1933, when Vanderbilt tied Mississippi State 7-7.
  • Legendary coach Bear Bryant made his head coaching debut at Dudley Field on Oct. 12, 1940, as an emergency replacement for coach Red Sanders, who was recovering from an appendectomy. Bryant led the Commodores to a 7-7 tie with the Wildcats.
  • The first NFL game played in the South took place at Dudley Field in 1944 when the Green Bay Packers and Philadelphia Eagles played a mid-season exhibition game to raise money for the war effort.
  • The Commodores played their first ever night game at Dudley Field on Sept. 25, 1954, against Baylor. Lights had been installed at the stadium earlier that year for the Billy Graham Crusade.
  • John F. Kennedy became the first sitting president to appear at Dudley Field on May 18, 1963, to deliver remarks in celebration of the university’s 90th anniversary.
  • Gale Sayers put on one of the most remarkable performances in Dudley Field history during an exhibition game Aug. 28, 1965, as a Chicago Bears rookie. The future Hall of Famer scored three touchdowns: a 77-yard punt return, a 93-yard kickoff return, and a 25-yard touchdown pass as a halfback.
  • After a massive off-season renovation project, Dudley Field reopened as Vanderbilt Stadium on Sept. 12, 1981. Vanderbilt beat Maryland 23-17 to christen the stadium.
  • In 1998, the Tennessee Oilers played their first season in Nashville at Vanderbilt Stadium as the Coliseum was under construction. In December of that year, the Music City Bowl debuted at the stadium.
  • ESPN College GameDay came to town on Oct. 4, 2008, and the Commodores rose to the occasion, beating No. 13 Auburn 14-13, Vanderbilt’s fifth straight win to start the season.
  • Sarah Fuller became the first woman to score points in a Power 5 football game when she kicked two extra points against Tennessee at Vanderbilt Stadium on Nov. 28, 2020.
  • The $300 million Vandy United campaign, featuring major upgrades to Vanderbilt Stadium, is announced on March 29, 2021.
  • Vanderbilt commencement is held at Vanderbilt Stadium for the first time on May 15, 2021, to allow for COVID-19 precautions.

Top 100 Players in Vanderbilt Stadium History

Nominations are now open for the top 100 Commodores in Vanderbilt Stadium history. Click here to submit names to be considered until April 29.

Following fan submissions and input from Vanderbilt football experts and historians, fans will have a chance to vote prior to the list being revealed. Stay tuned to VUCommodores.com and @VandyFootball for your chance to celebrate the greatest Commodores in Vanderbilt Stadium history.

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Vandy United

Show your Commodore pride and make a meaningful difference for our student-athletes by making a gift to the Vandy United Fund today! Gifts of all sizes combine to make an impact.