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That’s the gist of Jeff Lockridge’s article in today’s Tennessean. I am ambivalent as to whether Coach Caldwell should be given another year, or should be released after Vanderbilt concludes the 2010 campaign Saturday against Wake Forest. On the one hand, Coach Caldwell inherited an incredibly difficult situation, taking over as the head coach just 7 weeks before the season was set to begin. Despite their struggles, Caldwell has shown a willingness to shake things up, most notably by installing Dez Kitchens as Offensive Coordinator in the middle of the season. On the other hand, Vanderbilt has not been nearly as competitive this season has they had been in previous years. The most illustrative example: between 2005 and 2009 Vanderbilt lost 9 games by 21 points or more; this year, they’ve lost 4 (and both UK and UConn probably could have been worse were it not for late touchdowns). As David Williams said: “there’s losing, and there’s losing,” and Vanderbilt’s losses this season absolutely fall into the latter category (whatever that is).
I don’t think Vanderbilt should fire Caldwell and his staff just to fire them. You only fire a coach if you you can get a better coach who will take the program further than its current leadership can. For Vanderbilt, that means getting the program to a point where every year a bowl feels like a possibility. Despite Joe Biddle’s vague critique that Vanderbit “lacks commitment” and prognostication of our inevitable doormat status in the SEC, I think expectations of Black and Gold football in December (or dare I say January) is achievable. So the question is two-fold: 1) is Robbie Caldwell capable of that? 2) If he’s not, what coach that would be attracted to Vanderbilt, is?
What do you think, VSLNation?
Another wrinkle to consider, according to Jeff Lockridge’s blog, is the opening at Furman, where several members of the current staff, including Robbie Caldwell, Ted Cain, and Bruce Fowler coached under Bobby Johnson before his jump to the Commodores. Does Caldwell decide to pull a Tubby Smith and seek greener pastures before being shown the door?