Vandy's Caldwell entertains at SEC event
Robbie Caldwell spun yarns about his days as a ''turkey inseminator'' and joked about being so anonymous he got a tip for opening a restaurant door for a guy Wednesday evening.
''Oh man, I got a dollar and a half,'' Vanderbilt's new interim coach said gleefully.
Caldwell, who was promoted after Bobby Johnson retired on July 14, entertained a room full of sportswriters Thursday at Southeastern Conference media days, even drawing applause from much of the room when he was done. The folksy sense of humor could come in handy this season with a team that didn't win a league game last season and hasn't had a winning SEC mark since 1982.
A few highlights from the 56-year-old's media days debut:
- ''I'm 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' - other than in 1977 when I was head (high school) baseball coach. We were pretty good, by the way. We were 14-2, had a chance, made the playoff.''
- He's worked pouring concrete, farming and as a pipefitter. Then, there's the turkey farm. ''I don't know if I could tell you what my job was, but I was on the inseminating crew. That's a fact. I worked my way to the top.''
- Asked if he would continue Johnson's profanity ban: ''You know, I'm no angel, that's for certain. We certainly do try to live by that. But you know it's just a sign of limited vocabulary sometimes. I know y'all can't tell it, but I do have an education.''
Caldwell was enough of a hit that South Carolina's Steve Spurrier was even asked if he had lost his title as the league's ''most quotable coach.''
''No, I'm not worried about that at all,'' Spurrier said. ''I don't think I've won enough games lately to have any outlandish quotes.''
GEORGIA'S YOUNG QB: Georgia coach Mark Richt knows redshirt freshman quarterback Aaron Murray is good at answering any question fired his way in the meeting room.
''But we've got to be careful, coach (Mike) Bobo and myself, not to get enamored with that and expect him to be able to answer the question quite so well as he's on the field getting chased by a bunch of 300-pound defensive linemen,'' Richt said. ''He's got to live the experience of being that quarterback.''
Murray enrolled in January 2009 and has been through two spring practices. He emerged from spring as the No. 1 quarterback, and has the benefit of some proven players surrounding him on offense.
''They respect this kid because he prepares, because he puts the team first, because he has talent,'' Richt said.
Fullback Shaun Chapas called Murray ''one of the hardest workers we've got.'' Murray was a prep All-American at Plant High School in Tampa, Fla., and was rated the third-best quarterback in the country by Rivals.com and Scout.com.
''We've got 10 guys surrounding him who have all been there and thrown into the fire,'' Chapas said. ''When he's in the huddle, he has command of the huddle. We believe in him and I know he believes in himself.''
GAMECOCKS HOPES: Spurrier figures the baseball team's national title proves South Carolina can indeed compete for, and win, championships.
''Hopefully we believe that will rub off on other teams, and we're the next one up,'' Spurrier said.
It's something to hold onto as he tries to take the Gamecocks from a team that is averaging a respectable seven wins a year during his tenure to one that is contending in the powerful SEC East.
Fullback Patrick DiMarco also said the football team wants to add to the baseball success.
''I got some text messages saying it's our turn now,'' DiMarco said. ''It's true. They stepped it up and did something, and now it's time for us to do something.''
Spurrier knows that doesn't mean it's going to happen. He remembers too well South Carolina's last trip to Birmingham, when Connecticut beat the Gamecocks 20-7 in the PapaJohns.com Bowl.
''UConn beat us soundly,'' Spurrier said. ''We haven't forgotten that. Until we prove we can play on a consistent basis, we've just got hope. We've got to go earn our way to believing that we can be a top SEC team.''
''I still have two years of eligibility left. I'm an Arkansas Razorback. All that stuff comes after.''
Arkansas QB Ryan Mallett when asked if he was treating his junior season as if he's an NFL-bound senior.