Does it matter that these days Vanderbilt is losing every game by four or five touchdowns instead of one?
I think it does, and apparently so does David Williams, Vanderbilt’s Vice Chancellor of Athletics But Not An Athletic Director Because We’re Too Progressive for Those Sorts of Things.
"There's losing and there's losing," Williams told the Tennessean recently. "To be down 41-0 at halftime (to Florida last week), that wasn't one of my happiest days."
Williams has also said he’s evaluating Coach Caldwell based not only on his win-loss record but how his team plays in games they lose.
Um, that’s not so good for Caldwell.
This season Caldwell has had the good fortune to face the worst Florida and Georgia teams in recent memory. But whereas Bobby Johnson and even Woody Widenhofer would barely lose to the Gators and Dawgs when those schools had Top 10 teams, Caldwell has lost to much weaker versions by a combined score of 98-14.
Oh, and on Saturday Vandy plays one of the weakest Tennessee teams in recent memory. Can’t wait to see how that turns out.
Remember back in 2002 when Bobby Johnson inherited a terrible team and lost his first game 45-3 to unranked Georgia Tech? He finished that season 2-10, but if you spotted him seven points in his losses, he would have finished 6-6. Spot Robbie Caldwell seven points in his losses and Vandy would be 3-7 right now instead of 2-8.
Johnson finished his career with a winning percentage of 30.5%. But spot him just three points and that jumps up to 47.4% and bowl eligibility in five of his eight seasons. Spot him seven points and he wins 59% of his games and has only two losing seasons, his second and his last.
I can hear some of you screaming right now that a loss is a loss is a loss. But wouldn’t you feel better about the future and about Caldwell if the Dores had lost by a field goal to Georgia and a touchdown each to Florida and Arkansas?
I sure would.
Here’s how Vandy coaches since Watson Brown rank in winning percentage, and, just for kicks, if you spot them a field goal and a touchdown:
ACTUAL WINNING PERCENTAGE
1. DiNardo: 19-25 (43.2%), never bowl eligible
2. Johnson: 29-66 (30.5%), bowl eligible once, one bowl victory
3. Widenhofer: 15-40 (27.3%), never bowl eligible
4. Caldwell: 2-8 (20%)
5. Dowhower: 4-18 (18.9%), never bowl eligible
5. Brown 10-45 (18.9%), never bowl eligible
SPOT ’EM A FIELD GOAL
1. DiNardo: 22-22 (50%), twice bowl eligible
2. Johnson: 45-50 (47.4%), bowl eligible five times
3. Widenhofer: 23-32 (41.8%), bowl eligible once
4. Brown 17-38 (30.9%), bowl eligible once
5. Caldwell: 3-7 (30%)
6. Dowhower: 4-18 (18.9%), never bowl eligible
SPOT ’EM A TOUCHDOWN
1. DiNardo: 27-17 (61.4%), four times bowl eligible (in four seasons)
2. Johnson: 56-39 (59%), six times bowl eligible (in eight seasons)
3. Widenhofer: 26-29 (47.3%), bowl eligible twice (in five seasons)
4. Brown 25-30 (45.5%), bowl eligible twice (in five seasons)
5. Dowhower: 8-14 (36.4%), never bowl eligible
6. Caldwell: 3-7 (30%)