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Woody Widenhofer Bio

Woody Widenhofer
'97-'01
15-40 Overall Record

Resignation Press Conference

Woody Widenhofer, one of football's most capable defensive strategists, resigned as Vanderbilt's head coach November 8, 2001, ending a seven-year relationship with the university.

Widenhofer's tenure on the campus was marked by tough defenses and haunting losses. Under Widenhofer, Vanderbilt was 15-40-0 overall, and 4-36 in the Southeastern Conference.

A Pennsylvania native and 1970 graduate of the University of Missouri, Widenhofer earned a national reputation for defensive coaching years before arriving at Vanderbilt in 1995 as a defensive coordinator.

Widenhofer, who played linebacker for Dan Devine at Missouri, worked at Michigan State, Eastern Michigan and the University of Minnesota before agreeing to become linebacker coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers. The struggling AFL franchise blossomed during Widenhofer's tenure and its defense, especially Widenhofer's linebacking corps of Andy Russell, Jack Lambert and Jack Ham, began to dominate the league. After four years - and two Super Bowls - Widenhofer became the Steelers' defensive coordinator, witnessing the famed "Steel Curtain" defense capture two more Super Bowl titles. Many experts believe Widenhofer's defense at Pittsburgh was the greatest in professional football history.

In 1984, Widenhofer joined the upstart United States Football League, coaching quarterback Doug Williams and the Oklahoma Outlaws to a 6-12 record.

The following year, Widenhofer returned to Missouri, accepting what he considered a dream job at his college alma mater. The undermanned Tigers slowly improved under Widenhofer, but failed to post a winning campaign during his four-year reign.

After the Missouri disappointment, Widenhofer surfaced as defensive coordinator for the Detroit Lions. He spent four years in Detroit and two more with the Cleveland Browns before newly hired Vanderbilt coach Rob Dowhower invited Widenhofer to oversee the Commodore defense.

While Dowhower's tenure resulted in identical 2-9 campaigns, Widenhofer's defenses were feared by its opponents. The defensive-minded Commodores just missed upsets of Notre Dame, Alabama, Florida and Tennessee during the two-year period.

In 1997, Vanderbilt administrators named Widenhofer as the school's 25th head coach. After 2-9 and 3-8 seasons, Commodore followers seemed within grasp of a winning season three years ago,only to watch their team drop close decisions to Florida and Kentucky. The 5-6 mark in 1997 was Widenhofer's best finish at Vanderbilt.

In 2000, expectations were dashed when two of Vanderbilt's finest players were ruled ineligible for the first two games. The Commodores lost both contests, and never recovered, going 3-8.

The 2001 season started in bitter fashion for Widenhofer and his Commodores. The team was stunned by Middle Tennessee State 37-28 in the season opener, then dropped heartbreaking conference losses to Alabama and Auburn. They ended the season 2-9.


 


 

Coach Johnson Press Conference
Introduction Transcript
Introduction Photos
Introduction Video
Introduction Audio
Johnson's Resume
Johnson's Bio
Quotes on Johnson
All Time Coaches
Woody Widenhofer Bio
'01 Key Players(.pdf)
'01 Season Review(.pdf)
'02 Schedule

 

 

 

 







 
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
                   
Vanderbilt Athletic Department
2601 Jess Neely Drive
Nashville, TN 37212
615-322-GOLD (4653)