Tag:Robbie Caldwell
Posted on: June 24, 2011 3:20 pm
 

Hot Seat Ratings show SEC stability

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

When it comes to the SEC and coaching turnover, there's reputation, and there's reality.

The reputation is that with a heaping help of pressure from the nation's most rabid fanbases, the nation's most cutthroat conference hires and fires head coaches on the slightest of whims, for the most gentle of disappointments. And certainly, there have been some head-scratchers over the years, like David Cutcliffe's sudden dismissal from Ole Miss or Houston Nutt's tumultuous departure from Arkansas despite years of success.

But as illustrated by Dennis Dodd's CBS Hot Seat Ratings, since the 2008 season -- and the surprising exits of long-tenured Auburn and Tennessee head coaches Tommy Tuberville and Phillip Fulmer, as well as Mississippi State's Sylvester Croom -- the league that supposedly sees its head coaches change with the wind has in fact become a model of relative stability. Collectively, the SEC has fired just a single coach the past two seasons--Vanderbilt's Robbie Caldwell, himself only hired as a last-minute replacement following Bobby Johnson's retirement.

Four other coaches have left the league in that span, but all of them -- Urban Meyer at Florida, Lane Kiffin at Tennessee, Rich Brooks at Kentucky and Johnson -- did so voluntarily, and in Brooks's case the seamless transition to coach-in-waiting Joker Phillips barely even qualifies as a "coaching change."

That newfound reticence to put coaches on the firing line is reflected in Dodd's ratings, which show just one current SEC coach rated above the median "on the bubble" 3. You get one guess who:

Alabama Nick Saban 0.0
Arkansas Bobby Petrino 1.0
Auburn Gene Chizik 0.0
Florida Will Muschamp 0.5
Georgia Mark Richt 3.5
LSU Les Miles 2.5
Mississippi Houston Nutt 3.0
Mississippi State Dan Mullen 0.0
South Carolina Steve Spurrier 0.0
Kentucky Joker Phillips 1.5
Tennessee Derek Dooley 3.0
Vanderbilt James Franklin 2.0

Assuming we don't have some unforeseen three-win meltdown with Nutt in Oxford, there's a very real possibility the SEC enters 2012 with the same 11 head coaches listed above. Richt is -- without question -- the SEC coach in the most trouble, but he's also a coach with an extremely favorable 2011 schedule, a wealth of talent on hand, and perhaps the most patient administration in the conference.

And if Richt's still here, who won't be? The Spurrier retirement rumors have been securely put to bed with the arrival of recruits like Marcus Lattimore and Jadeveon Clowney. A big 2010 has Miles back on (mostly) firm footing; it'll take multiple down years (or a grass overdose) for him to earn a pink slip. Dooley has at least another couple of seasons with the benefit of the doubt (if we may quibble with Dodd's "3"). And while the aforementioned meltdown might do the trick for Nutt with the Rebels, between his track record and the back-to-back Cotton Bowls -- not something that happens on the regular in Oxford -- he almost certainly has another season of rope.

The most likely coach to keep the SEC from going 12-for-12 in the retention department isn't likely to be fired at all, in fact; it's Dan Mullen, who could be one more sterling season in Starkville away from getting the kind of megabucks, keystone program offer the Bulldogs just can't quite match.

But the guess here is that Dodd, overall, is entirely correct--if Mullen stays put and Richt can salvage eight or nine wins, there's not enough heat under the SEC seats to expect a coaching change anywhere in the league's 12 head coaching positions.


Posted on: December 10, 2010 10:21 am
Edited on: December 10, 2010 11:12 am
 

Report: Vandy offers Malzahn"ballpark" $3M a year

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Given who's making the offer, this report from the Tennessean might say more about the upward spiral of college coaching salaries (particularly in the SEC ) than Nick Saban's contract at Alabama ever could. Why? Because it claims that Vanderbilt -- Vanderbilt! -- has just offered to pay Auburn's offensive coordinator some several hundred thousand dollars more per year in salary than his own league title-winning head coach earns :
Auburn coor­di­na­tor Gus Mal­zahn , who was in town Wed­nes­day, is thought to have recei­ved another offer from Van­der­bilt that approaches the ball­park of $3 million per year.
Say this much for Vandy: now that we know that the SEC's most downtrodden football program has the capacity to come up with this kind of scratch (though we're still not sure how ), it makes a lot more sense why they parted ways with Robbie Caldwell after only one season. When you can make this kind of play for a property as hot as Malzahn, there's no reason to hold on to a well-meaning-but-limited coach like Caldwell.

As for whether Malzahn will accept, both the report above and the one preceding it at the Tennesseean make clear that despite the chance to double and possibly triple his maximum salary at Auburn, he hasn't accepted just yet. (Maryland offensive coordinator James Franklin has apparently moved up to second in the Commodore pecking order and would get the call if Malzahn declines.) He could be willing to wait out the falling dominoes at Florida and then possibly Mississippi State or Arkansas; they might not pay him as much as the Vandy offer and would be almost as difficult a job, traditionally speaking, but the latter would give him a chance to coach in his home state for a fanbase that is already wildly fond of him. That might be worth waiting on, though when we're talking about a ballpark $3 million bird in the hand, it also might not be.

In any case, it looks like Auburn will have to have those dominoes fall exactly right -- Malzahn waits on MSU/Arkansas, Vandy moves on to Franklin, Mullen goes to Florida, State can't make a strong enough offer or goes in a different direction -- to retain Malzahn's services for another year. The far more likely result at this stage is that he's gone, and that the bigger question for the Tigers now is simply keeping Malzahn as focused on the BCS National Championship Game as they can amidst the coaching storm.

 


Posted on: November 30, 2010 4:09 pm
 

Paul Wulff may be on way out, per Paul Wulff

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

On paper, the stakes don't look all that high for this year's edition of the Apple Cup : Washington is 5-6 and a Pac-10 afterthought (again), and 2-9 Washington State is just hoping for another small step forward on the road to respectability. The Iron Bowl this is not.

But for the teams involved, this will be the biggest game of the year. The Huskies have a chance to end a bowl drought dating all the way back to 2002, an unthinkably long dry spell for a team with Washington's Pac-10 pedigree, and send seniors like Jake Locker off on a high note. The rest of the Pac-10 will have a vested interest in a Husky victory as well; of the league's three 5-6 teams aiming for bowl eligibility this weekend -- Washington, Arizona State , and Oregon State -- the Huskies have by far the easiest task with the Sun Devils facing Arizona and the Beavers the Oregon juggernaut.

But to hear Wazzu head coach Paul Wulff tell it, there still might be more on the line on the Cougar sideline, or at least for Wulff himself. As tweeted by the Seattle Times 's Bob Condotta:
Wulff, on Pac-10 conference call, says he's confident in the job he has done, but stops short of saying he knows for sure that he will be back next season. Said no question that WSU will be a bowl team next season.
Putting aside the 2011 bowl talk (which would represent a quantum leap forward for a program that's still being outscored 34-18 on average in conference play), you'd think Wazzu would be happy to keep Wulff in place. The Cougars have consistently played hard for him, have dramatically improved the past two seasons (that average conference score for Wazzu in 2008? 50-9 ), have loads of Wulff's recruits returning next season, and frankly won't have a lot of top-tier candidates beating down their doors to coach on the Palouse if Wulff is dismissed.

But Wazzu athletic director Bill Moos has declined to make any kind of assurances that Wulff will be returning. That, paired with Wulff's own lack of confidence in his job status, would seem to point the tea leaves in the direction of Wulff's firing. After all, we saw this same movie a few days ago, when Vanderbilt 's Robbie Caldwell surprised many by saying midweek that he might be coaching his last game at Vandy; sure enough, he was gone before the week was out.

The good news for Wulff? An upset victory over the Cougars' most hated rival in front of the Wazzu faithful (the very faithful, by this point) would make Moos's decision to let him go dramatically more difficult, and maybe impossible. Wulff could quite possibly still save himself, even if it's highly debatable he ought to need saving in the first place.

Posted on: November 30, 2010 12:07 pm
 

Vandy considering Temple's Golden

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

It's still something of a mystery why Vanderbilt ever removed the "interim" tag from recently ousted (or "resigned," if you believe the press releases) Robbie Caldwell if the Commodores were just going to go coach-shopping again after just one season with college football's most famous turkey inseminator , but at least the Vandy brass appears to be going about that shopping the right way. As in, according to the Tennesseean , taking a look at one of the hottest properties on the coaching market in Temple 's Al Golden .

Golden's overall record of 27-34 may not look overly impressive, and this year's 8-4 mark has actually been something of a disappointment for an Owls team that was expected to win the MAC and instead finished a surprising third in the conference's East division. But that a program as punishingly downtrodden as Temple ever had those kinds of expectations to begin with is a minor miracle; the Owls had gone 3-31 the three years prior to Golden's arrival. And this season hasn't exactly been a disaster, especially by typical Temple standards, not with accomplishments like a win over potential Big East champion UConn , eight wins, and back-to-back bowl berths for the first time in the program's history.

With a resume like that and the rampant similarities between Vandy and Temple -- both academics-first afterthoughts in major metropolitan centers with zero tradition of winning football -- Golden would appear to be the best-case scenario for the Commodores. The bigger question is if their interest is reciprocated; Golden has been rumored for jobs at places like his alma mater Penn State (assuming Joe Paterno isn't immortal, a dangerous assumption at this stage) and Virginia before they hired Mike London . Like fellow alleged Vandy target Gus Malzahn , he may be able to land a better (and certainly easier ) gig down the road even if one doesn't come available this offseason.

But if the 'Dores can get Golden to listen, the Caldwell fiasco might start to make a little sense after all.

Posted on: November 27, 2010 2:09 pm
 

Vandy interested in Gus Malzahn

Posted by Tom Fornelli

The news just broke this morning that Vanderbilt head coach Robbie Caldwell had resigned, and that today's game against Wake Forest would be his last. This happened barely two hours ago, but the rumors about who Vanderbilt will be pursuing to replace Caldwell have already begun.  It seems that Vandy isn't looking outside the SEC for its top choice.

Not surprisingly, that choice seems to be Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn.


Now, as Schad mentions in his tweet, Gus Malzahn will be one of the most sought after coaches during the offseason.  Everyone has seen what he's done on the offensive side of the ball during his coaching career, particularly this season with Cam Newton and Auburn.  So it isn't surprising at all that Vanderbilt would be interested.

What would be surprise would be to see Malzahn take the job at Vanderbilt.  Listen, I don't mean this as an insult to Vanderbilt, but let's be real here. Gus Malzahn can find a lot better head coaching job than Vanderbilt. He'll have his choice of any position that becomes available, be it one we already know of, or one that will come open after the season.

Vanderbilt is not the kind of school that Malzahn could walk into and experience success quickly, as the Commodores have a long mountain to climb if they want to contend in the SEC.  Sure, Malzahn would be a fantastic start to getting that accomplished, but I just can't see it happening.
Posted on: November 23, 2010 4:29 pm
Edited on: November 23, 2010 5:02 pm
 

Caldwell on the hot seat at Vandy?

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

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 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."
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?

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.

Posted on: October 25, 2010 5:06 pm
 

Vandy coordinator carousel should stop on option

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

It's understandable that Vanderbilt would be a little desperate when it comes to the offensive coordinator's position: they rank 105th in total offense, a year after finishing 109th, a year after finishing 118th, a year after finishing 103rd.

But still, you'd think going through three coordinators in less than a calendar year would be a little much. Not if you're first-year head coach Robbie Caldwell , though, who today demoted previous play-caller Johnny Kiser back to quarterbacks coach and promoted running backs coach Des Kitchings to the coordinator's chair. Kiser was himself promoted just this past offseason at the expense of former coordinator Ted Cain , now the Commodores' special teams/tight ends coach.

That Caldwell has shaken up the usually-staid 'Dore coaching ranks is already on the surprising side. (Previous head man Bobby Johnson stuck with Cain through several disappointing seasons.) But what borders on stunning is that he selected the unproven Kitchings over a staff member with an excellent offensive pedigree and actual coordinating experience: Herb Hand , the current Vandy offensive line coach and a Rich Rodriguez disciple who served as co-coordinator alongside Gus Malzahn at Tulsa. Making the move even more mystifying is that for the past two seasons, Vandy has attempted (and largely failed) to run the same no-huddle, up-tempo attack that Hand had a major hand (heh) in developing with Malzahn for the Golden Hurricane.

That he was passed over in favor of Kitchings is probably a signal that Caldwell intends to scrap the sputtering no-huddle for something more conservative; he even added a "no comment" for good measure when asked about the possibility of such a change. But without a once-in-a-decade talent like Jay Cutler or Earl Bennett on hand -- and though Warren Norman is a productive running back, no such talent currently is -- swapping offensive philosophies at Vandy is like rearranging the proverbial deck chairs on that boat they made the move about.

Which is why Vandy is long overdue in following the lead of fellow academics-first peer Georgia Tech and embracing the triple option. Vandy faces an overwhelming talent deficit in regards to the rest of the SEC and realistically always will; it's past time, then, to turn towards the offensive scheme that has proven itself most able to level an uneven athletic playing field. After four straight years plumbing the bottom-most depths of the country's offensive rankings, it's safe to say that playing musical chairs in the coordinator's chair isn't going to deliver the kind of 180-degree change Vandy needs. With all due respect to Caldwell and Kitchings (who, in fairness, cannot do any worse than his predecessors), it's time to think much, much further outside the box.

 
 
 
 
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