Vanderbilt's Caldwell ready to deal with reality

NASHVILLE - Robbie Caldwell is preparing for Vanderbilt’s regular season finale. It also could be his final game as the Commodores’ head coach, and he says he’s working on what he can control right now.

Caldwell is 2-9 with Vanderbilt having lost six straight games in his first season. The Commodores wrap up the season Saturday night against Wake Forest (2-9), and he said Monday at his weekly news conference he doesn’t know the status of his future with the program.

“I sure don’t. I have no idea. I’m just going to keep working. I can’t control that. I’m trying to work on things I can control, but good question,” Caldwell said.

Caldwell got his first head coaching job in mid-July about seven weeks before Vanderbilt’s season opener when Bobby Johnson unexpectedly retired. That left Caldwell little time to make changes, though he did change offensive coordinators in October.

The offense, riddled by injuries, has made improvements since, especially in the past two games with new coordinator Des Kitchings working from the booth instead of the sideline.

Vanderbilt had a couple long drives and finished with 77 plays for 333 yards in last week’s 24-10 loss to instate rival Tennessee. They held the ball a few seconds shy of 30 minutes.

Caldwell wants to make more changes in the future. But he said if Saturday night is his last game at Vanderbilt, that he would be sad.

“I’ve enjoyed my time here at Vanderilt, but hopefully it won’t be. ... I understand that’s the life of a football coach in this day and time,” Caldwell said. “I told you the story a few weeks ago. Jim Valvano came in with a lifetime contract and got fired. There’s nothing in stone as a coach. You live from one year to the next. You hope to go from there.”

Injuries that have hampered Vanderbilt all season just keep getting worse. Defensive tackle Rob Lohr now is doubtful against Wake Forest after hurting an elbow in the loss to Tennessee.

Caldwell has played 13 true freshmen on a team that will have 17 seniors recognized Saturday night but not one leading even a single statistical category for the Commodores.

Those same players are thinking more about finishing off the season, and their careers, with a rare win in the final game of the season at Vanderbilt. Linebacker Nate Campbell said he tunes out any speculation to avoid letting negativity creep in.

Senior Kennard Reeves has started the past two games at running back due to injuries.

“As a senior headed out, I’m not sure what they’re going to do. Either way we want to finish strong. This last game I feel like it would be huge to finish with a win and get that W and hopefully get the program headed in the right direction,” Reeves said.

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Comments » 8

VolinCalif writes:

I hope they keep him and give him at east another year to put in his own game. Vandy had just too many freshmen this year just like UT. those kids will be very good next year . So give the man a chance.

UTVOLSRROCKN writes:

The real question is..."Is VandyGrad, aka, CantStandSaban ready to face reality?"

TommyJack writes:

Robbie is a good guy. And I'm sure all the scone eating, frappe latte drinkin, blue blood pretenders hate him passionately.
Makes me want to pull for the guy.

OrangePride writes:

Good man and I for one would like to see him get another year and a full opportunity to put all his own systems and coaches in place. It's not like a new coach is coming in there to turn the program around anyway. So why not give him a recruiting year and see if the program improves? I frankly think he will do as well as anyone they will bring in at this point. Can't help but pull for the guy!

civilianvol_formerly_marinevol writes:

Saturday, I kept expecting Vandy to quit, but they never did. They fought hard for 60 minutes; that's just not like Vandy. Caldwell may be the opposite of Mark Richt. I always felt Richt did less with more than any other coach in the SEC. This year Caldwell may be doing more with less than any other coach in the SEC. Considering the talent he was given and the situation he was put is right before the season started, and considering the lack of support from the fan base and the university, he may be a phenomenal overachiever.

punkin writes:

The wine and cheese crowd at Vandy already want him gone. I think he is a breath of fresh air compared to Meyer and Saban.

BigOrangeinCharge writes:

Caldwell's a good, solid coach who's coaching in the hardest place to win in the hardest conference in the nation and he's never gotten the chance to really put his stamp on things there.

Why are they so quick to run him out of town under these circumstances? Has he done something to alienate people, or is it just the 2-9 record?

Prostar writes:

The smart thing to do is to keep him, we know what a coaching revolving door does to a program and we've taken steps to fix ours. Face reality, you can't pay top dollar so who are you going to bring in that will do a whole lot better?

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