Friday, July 30, 2010

Thoughts On: the Vanderbilt Commodores

Something unlikely happened this month-- Commodore football attracted some attention. I know, right? Weird!

Here's what happened: it was a week before SEC media days, three weeks before practice started, and seven weeks until the season opener, and Vandy's head coach, Bobby Johnson was all, "Welp! Guess it's time to retire!" But, Coach, why? Is it your health? Your wife's health? "Nope! Just time to retire!" But, Coach, why didn't you retire at the end of the season? "Shouldn't coach a whole season if your heart's not in it!" No, Coach, the end of last season. "Oops, look at the time, gotta go!" (You can read the actual words he said here, but trust me, I gave you the gist.)

This struck me as kind of dumb/weird until I read this ESPN article. The author argues that what Johnson was really doing was saving his coaching staff's jobs--if Johnson had retired at the tradtional/sense-making time (at the end of last season), there would have been a coaching search, and odds are that Vandy would have found a brand-new guy who would have brought in his own people. This explanation makes as much sense if any. If it's true, then it makes Johnson's decision crafty/weird, but also pretty high-handed, purposely taking the job of choosing a new coach away from Vanderbilt leadership. Then again, it's Vanderbilt, which doesn't even bother to have an athletic department (or, therefore, an athletic director), so . . . maybe that's fine?

Whatever the reason, Vandy has a new coach, and he is Robbie Caldwell. Robbie Caldwell, as it turns out, is a Big Hilarious Fat Guy.

There are many kinds of football coach. There's the Cold Humorless Strategist
You are required to hate these guys unless they coach your team. I think it's in the Constitution.

The Intolerable Supposed Wunderkind

The Super Nice Wonderful Human Being
OK, to be fair, this is less a "kind" and more "just Tony Dungy."

The Probably a Crazy Person
My favorite part of this Jim Mora rant is, of course, the use of the phrase "diddly poo."

And there's the old favorite, which we should all hope is starting to have a resurgence in popularity, the Big Hilarious Fat Guy.
Oh, Rex Ryan. Never change. Also, never coach a team I'm actually invested in.

Vanderbilt's particular Big Hilarious Fat Guy was a big, big hit at SEC Media Days. I recommend you read this article, but if you don't want to, I'll just go ahead and quote the best parts.
Caldwell doesn't look or sound like Nick Saban or Urban Meyer or Mark Richt. He's got a deep Southern accent, a corpulent build, and appears as comfortable in a suit as a sinner does in church. Five minutes into his talk Caldwell addressed his relative anonymity, "I can still walk in places and nobody knows me," Caldwell said. "Last night I was opening the door for people and they gave me a tip. I thought, hey, that's great. How can you get it any better than that?"
Yes, he's a down-home good ol' boy, so he even knows about agriculture and stuff! (I dare you to find an article about Nick Saban that contains the phrase "turkey insemination." Betcha can't. [Mack Brown, though . . . maybe.]) Of course, this also means he has manners:
After his 40-minute discourse ended, Caldwell turned to the man pointing out the media members asking questions and thanked him for his help. Then he climbed down off the dais and thanked the stenographer. He was the only coach to thank these individuals in two days of media interviews thus far.
Awww. That really does make me want to root for him. Rooting for Vandy: Now Not Totally Thankless! (You can have that one for free, Vanderbilt marketing people.)

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