John Adams: Recent history reveals a new Tennessee rival

The Tennessee-Vanderbilt rivalry continued Wednesday night as the Vols defeated the Commodores 58-46 at Memorial Gym in Nashville. The rivalry will resume Sunday when the Lady Vols take on the Vanderbilt women's basketball team at Thompson-Boling Arena.

I realize I mentioned the Tennessee-Vanderbilt rivalry twice in a lead paragraph. I'm trying to make up for lost time.

I ignored it for years. Decades even.

Never mind that the schools are less than a three-hour drive apart. Or that they're both in-state schools and card-carrying members in the SEC.

They just always have seemed worlds apart — Tennessee, the football school; Vanderbilt, the academic institution.

But the sports disparity is dwindling, though you couldn't tell it by the history. This is more about recent history.

History: Before last season, Tennessee had won 28 of its last 29 football games against the Commodores.

Recent history: Vanderbilt beat the Vols 41-18 last season and lost in overtime the year before. And in the last five seasons, the Commodores have finished higher than the Vols in the SEC standings three times.

History: The Lady Vols are 61-8 all-time against the Commodores.

Recent history: Vanderbilt won by 14 points last season in Nashville and lost by eight this season in the same arena. It wasn't that along ago that Tennessee won six consecutive games in the series by double-figure margins.

History: The Tennessee men's basketball team is 113-70 all-time and has twice had double-digit winning streaks against Vanderbilt.

Recent history: Tennessee has won five of the last eight games in the series. But the Commodores had the same SEC record as the Vols last season and finished higher in the conference standings each of the two seasons before that.

History: The Vols have a 168-145-2 all-time record against Vanderbilt in baseball.

Recent history: The Commodores have won 12 of the last 18 games, including the memorable sweep of 2011 in which they outscored UT 39-5 in three games.

The status of the football rivalry is the most intriguing. Based on resources and tradition, there's no way Vanderbilt should threaten the Vols. But UT's repeated mismanagement coupled with Vanderbilt's hiring of James Franklin has turned a game that once held no suspense into one of great import for both programs.

New coach Butch Jones has stressed the significance of Tennessee dominating in-state recruiting. And he's not just referring to outsiders.

Tennessee no longer has to look beyond state lines to find a legitimate rival.

John Adams is a senior columnist. He may be reached at 865-342-6284 or adamsj@knoxnews.com. Follow him at http://twitter.com/johnadamskns.

© 2013 govolsxtra.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Discuss
  • Print

Comments » 16

ElizabethtonvolnNC writes:

.....waiting for that capper, flowers guy to tell us what a disaster all things UT sports are now and how Vandy is THE program in Tennessee.... Or was he actually the ghost writer for this column??

johnlg00 writes:

I was a Vandy fan for about the first five years I was aware of college sports, largely because I was born in Nashville--in Vanderbilt Hospital, no less--and my Dad was a grad student at Peabody. We moved to K'ville when I was about 10, which was 56 years ago, and I have been a Vol fan ever since. However, because of my personal history, I never had quite the same visceral hatred for Vandy felt by many Vol fans. Still, UT's unquestioned dominance for most of that time made it easy for me to continue a certain distant affection for poor ol' bumblin' Vandy. Now, not so much. It is true that UT has in too many ways sunk to the level where Vandy IS a real rival, but Vandy should get a little credit for rising as well. The fact that Vandy has gained a bit on the Vols should be a wakeup call for all Vol fans, but Vandy, except for basketball this year, is no longer some "little sisters of the poor" opponent of no consequence to anybody. We need to do all we can to regain some momentum that has undeniably been lost in the last few years of uncertainty. UT IS the main sports program in the state, and it is high time we started acting like it again.

Razor784 writes:

It's kind of like a sibling rivalry, you're always sort of a rival with your little brother.

Colliervol writes:

Sorry but 2 wins in 30 tries does not constitute a rivalry in football. Get back to me when Vandy wins 10 more. You'll probably have to come visit me in the cemetery though. I'll be gone long before that happens.

mloaks#222092 writes:

sorry, but Vandy IS a FB rival to UTK, if you really follow the sport...

growing up in Oak Ridge I remember how proud we were when Wildcats went to UT to play, but when one went to Vandy, it was an honor...

laraccoon writes:

in response to mloaks#222092:

sorry, but Vandy IS a FB rival to UTK, if you really follow the sport...

growing up in Oak Ridge I remember how proud we were when Wildcats went to UT to play, but when one went to Vandy, it was an honor...

is that like one or two Wildcats who played for U T in the past 30 years ?

tulelakevol writes:

What Colliervol said.

dragon18 writes:

Dang, really slow news day? Vandy has had a few good years in football. They've had blips like this before now. UT is at an all time low for as long as I have been following them (1990). They are natural rivals because they are in conference in the same state. Beyond that one or two wins in football does not a true rivalry make. It is easier to see the parity in basketball however, but you have to take into account that totally F'ed up gym Vandy has that gives them an even greater home court advantage IMO. So there's my 2 cents worth. Beyond that I could care less about Vandy. Inconsequential even in the best ever years of it's football existence.

voloffaith writes:

Sir John I take you to task on saying we(UT) are a football school and not one worthy of academic excellence. If didn't nean to it was imlied.....fine acdemic institution with one of the best business schools in America....ok rant is over............

voloffaith writes:

in response to voloffaith:

Sir John I take you to task on saying we(UT) are a football school and not one worthy of academic excellence. If didn't nean to it was imlied.....fine acdemic institution with one of the best business schools in America....ok rant is over............

Hey self what is nean and imlied? UHH..mean and implied.

jakethevolguy writes:

Vandy always has and always will......SUCK!!
I agree totally with Colliervol, we'll probably all be long gone before Vandy wins 10 against the Vols!! Never happen!!

VOLinATL writes:

Unless we get back to our accustomed levels, we dimiss Vandy, KY, Ole Miss, etc at our own peril.

murrayvol writes:

in response to johnlg00:

I was a Vandy fan for about the first five years I was aware of college sports, largely because I was born in Nashville--in Vanderbilt Hospital, no less--and my Dad was a grad student at Peabody. We moved to K'ville when I was about 10, which was 56 years ago, and I have been a Vol fan ever since. However, because of my personal history, I never had quite the same visceral hatred for Vandy felt by many Vol fans. Still, UT's unquestioned dominance for most of that time made it easy for me to continue a certain distant affection for poor ol' bumblin' Vandy. Now, not so much. It is true that UT has in too many ways sunk to the level where Vandy IS a real rival, but Vandy should get a little credit for rising as well. The fact that Vandy has gained a bit on the Vols should be a wakeup call for all Vol fans, but Vandy, except for basketball this year, is no longer some "little sisters of the poor" opponent of no consequence to anybody. We need to do all we can to regain some momentum that has undeniably been lost in the last few years of uncertainty. UT IS the main sports program in the state, and it is high time we started acting like it again.

I don't get the dislike for Vandy by most of my fellow Vol fans either. Until recently why bother?

UT dominance over Vandy didn't start 30 years ago. It spans several generations beginning with Neyland's arrival in 1926. We'll see if this latest uptick inspires their fanbase to contribute more and demand more from the administration to keep it rolling after Franklin gets an offer he can't refuse.

Sir_Spanky writes:

Who cares that University of Tennessee athletics has declined to Vanderbilt's level? As long as Jimmy Cheek and all of the other grossly overpaid individuals responsible for it have their vacations planned and their tee times set - THAT, my friend, is what matters.

golfman1975 writes:

in response to murrayvol:

I don't get the dislike for Vandy by most of my fellow Vol fans either. Until recently why bother?

UT dominance over Vandy didn't start 30 years ago. It spans several generations beginning with Neyland's arrival in 1926. We'll see if this latest uptick inspires their fanbase to contribute more and demand more from the administration to keep it rolling after Franklin gets an offer he can't refuse.

In the early '70s I was in the Pride and played Vandy in Nashville. The mayor of Nashville asked us to stay over for the Christmas parade. When we got to the Vandy campus they threw oranges out of their dorm windows and we had 2 knocked out cold. At that point...I hated Vandy. To be so smart they sure act stupid.

TNVol71 writes:

Two good articles on UT and then JA goes back to the bashing. I guess he just had a mental lapse to actually have produced the positive articles.

Want to participate in the conversation? Become a subscriber today. Subscribers can read and comment on any story, anytime. Non-subscribers will only be able to view comments on select stories.

Features