Caldwell brings experience, humor to Clemson
February 5, 2011
CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) -- The way Robbie Caldwell explains it,
the reason he is Clemson's new offensive line coach and no longer Vanderbilt's
head coach is simple.
"I got fired," Caldwell quipped with a big smile Thursday.
"I was unemployed and I was looking for a job."
After taking over at Vanderbilt in July, he said he
thought he'd have more than one season to turn the program around. And though
that didn't happen, Caldwell insists he isn't bitter.
He certainly hasn't lost his sense of humor.
"The way I look at it, if it hadn't happened, I wouldn't
be here right now," he said.
The well-traveled Caldwell took the long road to get to
He was at Furman, North Carolina State, North Carolina and
Vanderbilt from 1978-2009 before Bobby Johnson's abrupt retirement last July
elevated Caldwell to the top spot with the Commodores.
Vanderbilt struggled through a 2-10 season and Caldwell
knew his time leading the program wouldn't last. He resigned hours before the
Commodores' final game last November
"At first, it was like, 'We're going to give you time,'"
Caldwell said. "But you knew in your heart unless we did something special ...
so it is what it is."
Caldwell is replacing longtime Clemson assistant Brad
Scott, who spent 12 years with the Tigers and is moving into an administrative
role. Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said Caldwell and Scott share the same
plainspoken style and drive to make offensive linemen better.
The two also share a legacy as fired SEC coaches: Scott
was dismissed in 1998 following five seasons at South Carolina.
Caldwell may have coached against LSU's Les Miles,
Florida's Urban Meyer and Georgia's Mark Richt, but he pointed out he didn't
match up with them in other areas.
"Understand one thing guys, I was not an SEC coach --
money-wise," he said.
Taking time off wasn't truly in the plans.
Caldwell wasn't ready to walk off the sidelines. He tried
to occupy himself without recruits to call or offensive linemen to train.
Eventually, Caldwell says, he wore out his welcome with his wife, Nora Lynn.
"Finally one day, she said, 'You've got to get out of the
house,'" he said.
Scott spoke with Swinney in December about leaving his
role with the offensive line and soon enough, Caldwell's name came up. Swinney
discovered Caldwell's interest and soon, an agreement was reached.
"Robbie is one of the most respected coaches in the
business," Swinney said. "He is a proven offensive line coach and recruiter."
Caldwell, a South Carolina native, had known Swinney and
several Clemson assistants through years of recruiting.
"There are connections there," he said. "It's just a
And perhaps one that better suits Caldwell's passion.
"Where I was football ain't quite as important as it is
around here," he said.
Caldwell inherits a line that brings back four starters.
He hasn't looked too hard at his personnel yet and promised not to judge them
from the tape he does watch. Just as he hopes he won't be judged harshly for
last season as he attempted to hold the Commodores together.
"All of us need a fresh start sometimes," he said.