Bobby Johnson Retires As Vanderbilt Head Coach, Ending 34-Year Career

Vanderbilt head football coach Bobby Johnson abruptly announced his retirement this afternoon, less than two months before the start of the 2010 season.

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Robbie Caldwell: Interim Head Coach, Daring Dresser

Listening to Nashville sports station 104.5 The Zone and trying to get a handle on this whole Bobby Johnson flap, we were treated to a delightful anecdote about Robbie Caldwell discovering he'd been named the interim head coach of the Commodores.

According to David Williams, vice-chancellor at Vandy for University Affairs and Athletics, when they found Caldwell he was lining a practice field in "these little shorts" and a t-shirt that was "maybe too small", and they had to scramble to find him proper clothes for the rapidly approaching press conference. This is Caldwell, so we'll leave to your imagination what exactly that entails.

Caldwell's in his eighth year of coaching the Dores' offensive line, and has also served as assistant head coach for the past two seasons. This is his first head-coaching gig, and follows stints at North Carolina State and Furman. He does tend to stay in one place for long stretches at a time; it's looking like he'll be at Vandy for at least a while longer. And he's got Bobby Johnson's vote of confidence, for a start:

[Don't] let those down-home tales fool you.

“Robbie, he tries to give you that hayseed act a little bit, but he’s a really smart guy,” Johnson said.

We'll get to hear those tales firsthand next week at SEC Media Days, and if I know my beat writers, you'd better believe the shorts are going to top everybody's list of questions.


Anchor Of Gold: Johnson Retirement Timing Makes A Strange Kind Of Sense

With Bobby Johnson's impromptu retirement press conference concluded, everyone watching is left knowing nothing much more than we did ahead of time, other than that Johnson's thankfully not battling some secret fatal illness that makes this step necessary, and neither is his wife. SBN's Vanderbilt community, Anchor of Gold, takes a step back to ponder the timing of this decision:

The more I think about it, the more I'm convinced that July IS the best time for a coach like Bobby Johnson at a school like Vanderbilt to retire. If he retires at the end of a season, recruiting for the following year is completely screwed. Anytime between December and the end of June and the recruits they've signed can opt out (which might be worse than having no traction for the following year). By mid-July, they're enrolled in summer school. Also, the current/future coaching staff can begin damage control at the earliest possible time for the next recruiting class. As a follow up, this is probably why Vandy's 2011 recruiting class had really yet to grow (especially compared with where they were with the 2010 class a year ago).

(Don't miss the part where a commenter suggests that Vandy's football program continue to operate without a head coach much in same manner as their athletic department operating without a dedicated AD. This is far from the craziest suggestion proffered today.)


Bobby Johnson Retiring, Not Resigning, As Vanderbilt Head Coach

Reporter: When did you start thinking about retirement?

Bobby Johnson: About 20 years ago.

In what might have been the sanest snap press conference ever to be called in the SEC, Bobby Johnson calmly dismissed any of the usual concerns. Health issues? No. Burnout? Maybe a little, but not enough to do the trick. Anything else? No, said the coach, who cited a limited amount of time left on this earth as the primary motivation for retiring from his position as head football coach at Vandy.

Johnson is not interested in being an AD, and said that while he may not be done, he has time to decide what to do next and will take his time. As hurried as the press conference may have been, Johnson seemed completely in control, though he did get emotional when discussing his players, whom he described as “accepting the challenge of getting one of the best educations in America while playing on college football’s premiere stage.”

Vandy assistant and longtime Johnson staffer Robbie Caldwell will take over for Johnson in the meantime.


Vanderbilt Schedules Press Conference For 2 P.M. EDT

While no official word has come yet from Vanderbilt regarding Bobby Johnson's resignation (though confirmations of the report continue to surface), the school has scheduled a press conference for Wednesday afternoon, at 2 P.M. EDT. Which likely means that official word is soon to come from Vanderbilt regarding Bobby Johnson's resignation.

For now, Vanderbilt is only saying the conference "is in regards to the football program."

The press conference will be aired live online.

Follow this StoryStream for updates as they become available, and visit our Vanderbilt blog, Anchor of Gold, for more reaction and news.


Report: Bobby Johnson Resigns As Vanderbilt Head Coach; Crazy SEC Offseason Continues

Bobby Johnson, Vanderbilt head coach since 2002, has resigned his post as of this morning, according to longtime Nashville talk radio host and former Vandy announcer George Plaster. 

The report has been confirmed by the AJC's Tony Barnhart, and may be considered fact at this point since Barnhart doesn't report anything he doesn't hear from the horse's mouth itself. (Or failing that, he at least talks to the jockey.) 

The most insane offseason in SEC history continues with the resignation of Vanderbilt's most successful coach in recent history. Johnson did not exactly turn Vandy into a power with a 29-66 record at the school, but he did turn them into a competitive side in the SEC and led them to a Music City Bowl victory in 2008 while improving their recruiting, expanding facilities, and engineering several major upsets along the way like Vanderbilt's victory over Georgia at home in 2006.  

The suddenness of the departure and the odd timing points to the usual suspects: health reasons, an unanticipated personal reason, and the least likely of all, personal scandal (since Johnson is a taciturn, straight-arrow type with an unassailable reputation).

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