The Tennessean is reporting that Vanderbilt has lifted the interim label off Coach Robbie Caldwell. So all those chat room blogger guys can now type "CRC" instead of "ICRC."
Vice Chancellor (But Don't Call Me Athletic Director Because We Don't Need One) David Williams made the announcement today at the Wild Horse Saloon, presumably after knocking back a few beverages of his choice.
He said this: "I think what it says is we see Robbie as our head football coach,” Williams said. “I don’t want to start any speculation one way or the other, but we see him as our head football coach."
In other words, if you're a fan or a recruit that really likes Robbie Caldwell, then he's going to be our head coach forever. And if you're a fan or a recruit who doesn't really like Robbie Caldwell, then maybe we won't keep him.
Williams went on to say that he evaluates all his head coaches at the end of the season.
Making Caldwell the head coach is a good move for several reasons:
1. We absolutely need commitments from some more recruits. We've got only two commitments so far, but don't forget that Kentucky had about that many this time last year and finished with a pretty strong class. Caldwell generated some priceless momentum and excitement at SEC Media Days and making him the real head coach (whatever that means and for however long that is) certainly doesn't hurt. And if Vandy wins a couple of big games early, it will just solidify the fact that Caldwell's a good coach that kids will want to play for, instead of raising questions about how long he'll remain the interim coach.
2. Mike Leach would have been a mistake. He's the kind of coach hired by desperate schools that want to win at all costs, and by schools that have previously hired bitter coaching legends that get into fights with their bosses at salad bars.
3. No coach who's already a proven winner at the D-1 level is going to take the Vandy job. No assistant coach who's a star at the D-1 level and being groomed to be a head coach is going to take the job either. Sorry, but that's the truth. If we ever turn this ship around, it's going to take an underdog, a surprise, somebody who's been standing in the shadows. Like our offensive line coach.
4. Or maybe not. But why not? Making Caldwell the head coach gives him a complete vote of confidence and the complete authority to make changes and lead the program. In the past two weeks, he's hired an offensive mastermind from Tulsa (I think; how's that going?) and he's said he plans to play more true freshmen and use Wesley Tate some as a slot receiver. The guy's full of surprises.
5. And if he does better this season than people thought Johnson would (nobody's predicted more than three victories), then he'll keep the job. The last time I checked, everybody's on the hot seat in college football. If he goes winless or beats only Eastern Michigan, then he'll get fired and nobody will be complaining.
6. In other words, he's been given every incentive to win. If he wins, he keeps his job. The Bobby Johnson method was to hang tough and wait for the ball to bounce your way. That worked beautifully in 2008, it was a disaster last season. Caldwell doesn't have the time to hang tough and wait. But he's being given the opportunity to take action and make Vandy a winner. Take the bull by the horns, as they probably say in his neck of the woods.
Of course, making Vandy a winner is relative. I hope Caldwell wins at least five games, which will buy him at least another year as head coach. As it would have been with Coach Johnson, he'll have a better team next year and an even better unit in 2012. Winning three or four might be considered a moral victory, but also might not be enough.
To keep the job, Caldwell will have to do better than people thought Johnson was going to do this year. It's not necessarily fair, but it's the truth. Johnson still had a bit of capital remaining from the Music City Bowl victory.
And making Caldwell the head coach gives him the assurance that if he surpasses four games, his moment in the sun will surely last another year, and could lead to even greater glory. He knows what he's got to do, and I think he's going to do everything he can, including opening up the offense and taking some risks.
If anything, it'll be interesting. And if he pulls it off, he deserves the job.