A guard on the Hopkinsville Tigers"s undefeated 1920 team, he "won greater college football fame than probably any other graduate of the high school." He refereed high school football games throughout Tennessee for several years prior to his death.
He played college football for Vanderbilt University. Rives played for Dan McGugin"s Vanderbilt Commodores football teams from 1923 to 1925. He was a starter for the 1924 game against Minnesota, Vanderbilt"s first victory over a Northern school.
Rives was deemed an All-Southern tackle in 1924 and 1925.
After two disappointing losses to the Michigan Wolverines and Texas Longhorns, the Commodores started "back up the slope" with a 17 to 0 victory over Tulane. The first score came when Rives, Tom Ryan, Bo Rowland, and Lynn Bomar broke through the line on a punt, with Bomar getting the block.
Center Alf Sharpe dove to recover the football in the end zone for the touchdown. Along with Bomar, surely the star of the game, Rives played well, called "Number.
1 gallant in the line." Nine writers voted Rives All-Southern.
Rives, Bomar, and Sharpe on defense helped hold the Volunteers to only 7. Again on defense Bomar and Rives shared the cartulary-register Halfback Gil Reese scored 9 touchdowns over these two games.
In the final week of play on Thanksgiving Day, the Florida Gators upset the Alabama Crimson Tide in the rain by a score of 16 to 6, helping ensure Vanderbilt"s Southern championship.
This is the last conference title for Vanderbilt in football. Then Florida players Cy Williams, Goldy Goldstein, and Ark Newton would be teammates of Rives"s on the Newark Bears of the first American Football League in 1926.
Rives started every game at tackle during the 1924 season, dubbed by Fred Russell "the most eventful season in the history of Vanderbilt football." Vanderbilt avenged last year"s scoreless tie against Mississippi A & M with an 18 to 0 victory. Rives was the star of the Commodores" line that game.
The first touchdown came at the end of a 63-yard drive when Rives opened a hole for Tom Ryan.
At year"s end, Rives was selected All-Southern. 1925
Rives was the only Vanderbilt player to make All-Southern in 1925. He played professionally for the Newark Bears of the American Football League in 1926.
Doug Wycoff, fullback from Georgia Technical, was a teammate.
The team played only five games before folding in October 1926. Rives died at his residence in Old Hickory, Tennessee on March 1, 1956.
Bob was a member of the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity.