Caldwell passes on Arkansas

After talks with Petrino, defensive assistant to stay with Vols

Steve Caldwell

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Steve Caldwell

Steve Caldwell

Photo by

Steve Caldwell

Longtime Tennessee assistant football coach Steve Caldwell gave his boss something of an early Christmas present Sunday.

With at least two coaching vacancies to fill after the Vols face Wisconsin in the Outback Bowl on Jan. 1, Tennessee's defensive ends coach made sure UT coach Phillip Fulmer didn't have to add another position to his coaching search.

Caldwell had spoken several times with newly hired Arkansas coach and longtime friend Bobby Petrino about becoming the Razorbacks' defensive coordinator, but on Sunday night Caldwell told Petrino that he would remain at Tennessee.

"(Petrino) and I have talked three or four times about the job, and before I ever went to meet with him, I wanted to make sure whether it was something that I wanted to do," Caldwell said Sunday. "After spending some time with my family, I've decided that I'm not going to do that. This is where my family is. Tennessee is really my family now."

Caldwell and Petrino, who resigned as the Atlanta Falcons' head coach earlier this month to take over at Arkansas, coached together at Nevada in 1994.

At Nevada, Caldwell was the co-defensive coordinator and Petrino the offensive coordinator.

Caldwell arrived at Tennessee in 1995 and has been in Knoxville ever since.

"We're very excited about Steve staying," Fulmer said Sunday. "He's an outstanding football coach, a really outstanding person. His family means a lot to UT. As much as anybody that we have on our staff, he creates the kind of atmosphere that you'd want your son or daughter to be around."

The deciding factor for Caldwell was family.

"That really played a huge part in it," Caldwell said. "(Caldwell's granddaughter) is six months old and for me to up and leave right now and ask my wife to do that - it might have to happen someday, but it doesn't have to happen right now."

UT has yet to announce raises for its assistant coaches, although Fulmer said that Caldwell will receive an increase.

Still, it won't be as big as the one Caldwell could have received at Arkansas, which paid Reggie Herring $350,000 as its defensive coordinator this season.

Caldwell, regarded as one of UT's best recruiters, earns $150,000.

"I won't get into the salary or anything right now, but we ought to be able to help that some," Fulmer said. "Not nearly what he would have made as a coordinator, but enough to justify him staying here. You have to compliment our administration for allowing us to keep pace with pay. It's gotten crazy quickly, a little bit, but our administration does a good job of keeping pace."

Tennessee already must replace at least two assistant coaches.

Current offensive coordinator David Cutcliffe will take over as Duke's head coach following the Outback Bowl, and wide receivers coach Trooper Taylor will become co-offensive coordinator at Oklahoma State.

Tight ends coach Matt Luke and running backs coach Kurt Roper, both of whom coached with Cutcliffe at Ole Miss, could also join Cutcliffe's staff at Duke.

Neither have been available for comment since Cutcliffe was named head coach.

If those two leave, the Vols will have four new coaches on the offensive side of the ball for next season.

On defense, however, Tennessee has enjoyed a rare level of continuity.

Defensive backs coach Larry Slade has the shortest tenure of any defensive coach - and he came on board in 1999.

Defensive line coach Dan Brooks has been at UT since 1994, and defensive coordinator John Chavis has been with the Vols since 1989.

"It's something that we've enjoyed a measurable amount of success, and a lot of it's due to that continuity and to that teamwork that we've had over a number of years now," Fulmer said. "Offensively, we're obviously getting ready to have to start rebuilding that continuity, but it's been unbelievable the amount of people and the quality of people that are interested in that (offensive coordidnator's) job."

Tennessee interviewed Clemson offensive coordinator Rob Spence on Friday, the only known candidate to interview for UT's offensive coordinator job.

But Caldwell's decision to stay means Tennessee won't be searching for a new defensive ends coach.

"It's not somewhere that I want to leave," Caldwell said. "Bobby and I talked about all those things. He was very understanding. I think he'll do a great job at Arkansas, regardless of what people might think over the past few weeks.

"He was nice enough to even consider me as his defensive coordinator. It was just a pleasure. It was really overwhelming that he would consider that."

Drew Edwards covers University of Tennessee football. He may be reached at 865-342-6274.

© 2007 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Comments » 54

FWBVol writes:

OK all you's an example of another UT coach somebody wanted bad enough to offer a coordinator spot. Yes, he mentioned his family situation as a reason for staying, but he also sees something in the program to turn down twice the salary.

Thanks Steve and keep up the good work.

LargeOrange writes:

Thank you Coach Caldwell for showing that there is more to life than money. You said "Tennessee is really my family now." and that speaks volumes. We are proud to have you for the coach and man that you are.

Kwitcherbellyachin writes:

Honestly, would you want to commit yourself to a staff headed by Petrino? I wouldn't, and I have to think Petrino's penchant for not finishing what he started had something to do with Caldwell's decision.

andy112382#209793 writes:

FWBVol, this doesn't play into the naysayers whining, so they will most likely either spin this in a completely different way than what it really means or they will just avoid posting on here altogether.

After all you have morons saying we should get rid of John Chavis, how fast they forget how he has had to rebuild the defense year after year, what was it, like 3 seasons in a row he had to replace the majority of the Dline yet we still managed to win games. Anyone who knows anything about football would realize how young the defense was in key spots and how promosing it should be that we had our best defensive showing at the end of the season due to them getting better as the season went on! These naysayers could find negative stuff about Eric Berry after all, just give them time.


gohawks1 writes:

Glad to have you staying on board, Coach Caldwell. And for those of you who may have forgotten, Coach Chavis was listed as one of the best defensive coordinator coaches in one of the mass media publications I've seen in recent years. I'm glad to have him on board, too. Thanks coach, for what you mean to this organization.

ballewville6 writes:

thank you coach caldwell for staying at ut and showing other coaches that money isnt everything and not letting the money draw more assistances and other coaches away from program,this will be a rebuilding year for the coaching staff and make it harder to get big time recruits to come here and i hope we will come out playing hard next year and get some big time recruits ,my hats off to you steve caldwell

jevolball7 writes:

Can my XMAS dreams get any sweeter? Caldwell,is no fool he knows that "staying in with the Big One"Has the potential for an incestual promo., down the line.After all:this staff is all about kissing a.. and staying the course.THANK GOD FOR BRUCE PEARL. Who gives a rats butt about all these stupid coaching moves??? Oh, I know the state newspaper and radio station. At least we have a couple of other stations to listen to.But,as far as print,MONOPOLY,unless you're out of toilet paper.Mr.Whipple please don't squeeze the KNS. It might leak some news,nah only if UT allowed it.

etvolfan writes:

I'm glad that Caldwell will be staying around at UT. I think that he and Dan Brooks do a good job with our guys in the trenches. If Petrino wanted to hire Larry Slade then it wouldn't hurt my feelings though? Chavis is pretty good though. If people will remember the '05 season that defense kept us in every game while our inept offense couldn't score on a $2 hooker.

slambob2#228938 writes:

Chavis is a very good coordinator. He took a bunch of freshmen and turned in a solid defense by mid-year.

Thanks, Coach Caldwell, for sticking with the Orange. Good luck in Tampa.


glockjockey writes:

He should have took took the money and run while the gettings good.

vol4jesus writes:

jayeeevolball7 please get your rotten attitude/trashy mind right b4 santa puts you on the naughty list! Thanks Coach Caldwell for not worshipping the not so almighty dollar! GO VOLS beat the Badgers!!!

pdhuff#552644 writes:

glockjockey - correct - one can only hope that his name does not come up for sacrifice "in the Tennessee family". Bet the underskilled, loved-Phil-to-death R Sanders could tell him a thing or two. "Tennessee family", loyalty, hoo boy!

Good capable man, Caldwell, keep your powder dry, my friend. Only $$$$$ and ego count in that game.

vol52 writes:

Caldwell was in charge of the special teams while they started to decline. I believe that Caldwell felt there was more security with Fulmercito.

TommyJack writes:

All telling what CPF promised him to prevent yet another defection. Work like heck.

eduardo writes:

How does he know F$$$$lmer's gonna a be here. According to our AD, he's supposed to look at the season wholistically. The season is not over with yet. If they get beat up pretty good, which could happen with all the distractions. Well let's just say a change is in order!

TommyJack writes:

Hey Caldwell: Ask John Majors about Tennessee loyalty and family.

GerryOP writes:

Stay the course.

TommyJack writes:

Dash: Putrid? Idiots? You don't mean that.

ElizabethtonvolnNC writes:

TJ: Give it a rest with the "John Majors". He dug his own grave, and blames others.

Now you question this coaches loyalty?

How many have criticized CFP for being too loyal and "staying the course".

PR? What could he promise him that is going to make up for a coordinators position and 200 hundred in change? Seriously man?!

TommyJack writes:

ElizNC: Do you have a CPF bobble-head on your dash? I see your position as extreme as you see mine. Changes are needed and sooner rather than later. What would it take for you to believe that a big change is in order? Seriously man?

waterskier3#226480 writes:

bottom line he stayed because his extended family has placed roots in east tn and he didn't want to leave.. he didn't stay for the orange and white he stayed for the secruity and family..... he has always done a good job with the ends but special teams is a different beast...

so he didn't stay for ut football and his love for ut he stayed for family so get off he stayed for fulmer and the ut football it was a family decision and that's it.... you could say he knows his job and he didn't want a change and have to learn something new also... complacent????

larry slade please go... he is so bad its not even funny..........

bowerst#242774 writes:

Caldwell is a highly regarded coach and recruiter who will be in demand should the situation worsen in Knoxville. I don't know why anyone would question his reasons for staying. Family is most important and East Tennessee is a great place to live.

I would place my money on all the Fulmer-haters getting their wish in the next couple of years, but it won't be this year, no matter what happens in the bowl game. Losing Trooper Taylor will hurt just as it did when we lost Garner, the assistant who brought Grant, Lewis and so many other fine players to Knoxville a decade ago.

But going into this season I thought UT would go 6-6 or 7-5. The schedule was brutal. I never would have dreamed this team would have been in position to beat LSU in the SEC Championship Game. So whether you hate Fulmer or not, you have to say this team fought back and competed harder than many recent UT teams. Fulmer also beat Spurrier and Richt, and I didn't think he would.

pdhuff#552644 writes:

TJ, loyalty ends where the rubber meets the road. "Loyalty" will get the locks changed on your office door. A baby pig might love its mother, but a farmer knows sows eat their young occasionally. Rough example, but the corporate world of college football is "what have you done for me lately"! The Fulmer-Bowden-Paterno crowd battle this constantly.

Like the CPF bobblehead thread. The local autoparts store removed them from the shelf when they caved in the dash on several '63 Chevy p/u's. Beat the Badgers.

philfan writes:

If we really want to keep the high quality coaches, like Caldwell, at Tennessee for a long, long time, we need to pay them at least as much as the highest paid assistants are being paid in the SEC. Loyalty to Tnnessee, and a desire to stay at home, will not be enough when another university approaches Caldwell, or any other coach, with a sack full of money. We need to realize we are one of the best known and winningest teams in the nation, and pay the assistants, and head coach,accordingly.

budrhon writes:

Petrino may be a friend to Caldwell, but who can trust him the way he did the Falcons. Petrino will find it's going to be hard recruiting for the Razorbacks with his known reputation.

Ralph_Crampton writes:


pw1212595#218412 writes:

TDTN, bka,tdala, hides behind a computer and says things he would never say to your face. He would be mashed.

GrandCanyonVol writes:


thesavageorange writes:

Funny how some people kept saying"do you ever see someone coming after our coaches" or "no one want's anyone on this staff".Now CPF just hopes the phone stops ringing.Chavis may be getting burned out.(judging from some of the things he has said)Think Steve knows something we don't?

thesavageorange writes:

GrandCanyonVol :AMEN!I hope this christmas is meaningful for all of you.

TommyJack writes:

savage: I think the comment you're referring to about people not coming after our coaches is pointed mainly at the Rotund One. Work like heck and super-size that order, please.

thesavageorange writes:

TommyJack:I am talking about the people that stated (in general) that no one wanted any of our coaches.I know if you or TDTN say it whom you are refering to.Others have stated at times that our whole staff should be replaced.

Hixson_Vol writes:

Please...hopefully this means that Caldwell will be taking the open DC spot at UT.

thesavageorange writes:

FireChavis :Maybe.Chavis has seemed exhausted,frustrated , and down right burned out when(rarely this year)I have heard him speak.I may be wrong , but I think you will get you're wish sooner than later.

Greyfeathers writes:

Big mistake Caldwell... The ship is sinking.

eefor10c writes:

When Dash mentioned putrid losers and idiots only two peopled responded---tommyjack and tdTN. Which is which?

pdhuff#552644 writes:

A very Merry Christmas, all.

TommyJack writes:

eefor10c: I'll take the putrid. Have a happy holiday.

TommyJack writes:

eefor10c: Was it something I said?

TommyJack writes:

MERRY CHRISTMAS to all. Faithful and loser/haters alike.

gohawks1 writes:

Lest we forget, Jesus is the Reason for the Season.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

andy112382#209793 writes:

TouchdownTN - Fulmer bobble head to clean your toilet, huh? Way to stick with the Christmas spirit......but with all of your Fulmer jabs, I guess your toilet gets more use than usual with all the cr*p that you post about our staff and team.

Hixson_Vol writes:

I'm praying for a Christmas miracle...Chavis being announced as the new DC at Duke.

JETnTN writes:

I say all coaches should blackball Patrino!!

txvolsfan writes:

Waterskier are you really that freaking stupid or are you just an idiot!!!!
If people do not like there jobs and where they work then there is no way in hell that that would stay there for 1/2 the money. PERIOD!!!
So either answer can apply there is no answer for stupidity!!!!!

txvolsfan writes:

and another thing Waterskier if you hate the VOLS that bad then stay the hell off this site and you never ever have to think about the team or Coach Fulmer or the University of Tennessee!!!
You freaking stupid idiot!!!!
I'm sick of your post and your negativity

PS: and have a Merry Christmas and remember that Jesus is the Reason for the Season.
even though my post wasn't very christianly

pdhuff#552644 writes:

Methinks Santa may miss some of us. Maybe not. Goodnite.

threehundredbowler writes:

TDTN,please use your head to clean your toilet.That is the only thing your head is good for you dumb ass.

TommyJack writes:

7pin: Uh Oh. You'll pay for that one bro. :)

TheTotalFan writes:

Glad to see the dedication.

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