If there was ever a head football coach that deserved some patience, you'd think Vanderbilt 's Robbie Caldwell would be him.
He took over as head coach just weeks before the start of the Commodores' season when Bobby Johnson stunningly resigned. He inherited a team with a highly suspect offensive philosophy and a major talent disadvantage against nearly every team on its SEC schedule. He was given essentially no shot at implementing his own staff or schemes in the miniscule timeframe allotted. He is in his first season. And, just once more for emphasis, he is the coach at Vanderbilt . You could argue that the 'Dores 2-9 record is actually better than you'd expect from Caldwell, since his team has played a difficult nonconference schedule (featuring bowl-bound UConn and Northwestern ) and have been major underdogs in 10 of those contests.
And still, to hear Caldwell tell it, none of that might matter to his bosses in Nashville :
Caldwell may understand, but frankly we don't. What, exactly, was the Commodore brass expecting after the chaos of Johnson's retirement? Why, after years of conservatism when it comes to hiring and firing, are they suddenly getting an itchy trigger finger with a coach who's done almost nothing to desrve it? If they were always intent on giving Caldwell just one season at the helm before going after a bigger fish, then why remove the interim tag from his title in the first place?
Caldwell is hopeful Saturday night's season finale with Wake Forest isn't his last game as Vanderbilt's football coach.But if it is, Caldwell said he understands ...
"If it is my last game, well, I'll be sad because I've enjoyed my time here at Vanderbilt," Caldwell said. "Hopefully it won't be. But if it is, I understand. It's the life of a football coach, unfortunately, this day and time."
Since none of those questions have obvious answers (and since Vandy's athletic department may not be in the kind, it will still be a major surprise if Caldwell is given the boot. But if he is, it'll be the clearest sign yet that the SEC's win-now-or-win-never attitude towards the employment of its head coaches has filtered down to even its lowest -- and most academically-oriented -- rung.