Interim Vanderbilt coach thrilled with opportunity

Interim Vanderbilt head football coach Robbie Caldwell at SEC Media Days 2010 (WBRC photo)
Interim Vanderbilt head football coach Robbie Caldwell at SEC Media Days 2010 (WBRC photo)

By Dennis Washington

HOOVER, AL (WBRC) - Robbie Caldwell has two jobs this football season: coaching the Vanderbilt Commodores and trying to get the 'interim' off of the front of his current title.

He knows neither will be easy.

Caldwell spoke to reporters Thursday at SEC Media Days, less than two weeks after becoming Vanderbilt's interim head coach. Caldwell was promoted to interim when former head coach Bobby Johnson suddenly announced his retirement.

Caldwell said the past two weeks has been bittersweet.

"None of us had any idea," Caldwell said. "Coach (Johnson) had always told us that he would retire one day and be in good health hopefully and be able to enjoy it. That's what he did. I'm so excited for him."

Caldwell said the news of Johnson's retirement initially created panic in his family.

"All they heard was 'retirement,'" Caldwell said. "They were all in an uproar, crying, carrying on. They never heard about the part about me getting to be interim head coach."

Caldwell said he and his assistant coaches are not worried about coaching this season with an "interim" on their titles.

"Our coaches are professionals," Caldwell said. "That doesn't concern them one bit. Obviously Vanderbilt will do the right thing. They always have. Our chancellor was an interim. I think people make more of that than probably they should."

Caldwell said he is just thrilled to have the opportunity.

"I told my wife, if it's two days or 20 years, I will now be able to say, 'Hey, I was a head coach one time.'"

Caldwell knows he and the coaches have a lot of work ahead of them to prepare for the upcoming season, building on some adjustments made by Johnson in the spring.

"We've made some tweaks," Caldwell said. "It's going to be an exciting, exciting time for us."

Caldwell knows the next few months may determine whether he gets the head coaching job permanently.

"I know I got to do my job," Caldwell said. "If we do that, everything will take care of itself. I'm not really concerned about that. But we're working towards it maybe one day."

Vanderbilt begins football practice August 6 and plays its first football game September 4 against Northwestern.

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