NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Robbie Caldwell has been named Interim Head Football Coach at Vanderbilt, as announced by Vice Chancellor David Williams on Wednesday. Caldwell takes over for Bobby Johnson, who announced his retirement at a press conference this afternoon.
A veteran coach with more than 30 years of experience, including the last eight at Vanderbilt, Caldwell had previously served as the team's Assistant Head Coach and Offensive Line Coach.
"This is a sad day, yet a happy time for me obviously," Caldwell said. "I've worked a long time as a loyal assistant, and I had the privilege of being asked to come here by Coach Johnson. College football is losing a great man today. It's going to be difficult for all of us because of his friendship, his leadership and all of the things that he's done here at Vanderbilt.
"He's made a lot of history and hopefully my first act is to make sure we keep our staff intact, because he's assembled a great group of people, and hopefully we'll be able to do that."
A native of Pageland, S.C., Caldwell has been an integral piece of the program's rise, while coaching some of the top offensive linemen in Vanderbilt history. In 2009, Caldwell mentored Thomas Welch, who was selected by the New England Patriots in the seventh round of the NFL Draft, and Bradley Vierling, who signed as a free agent with Pittsburgh.
Caldwell also mentored Chris Williams, who became the highest offensive lineman ever taken from Vanderbilt in the NFL Draft when Chicago made him the No. 14 overall pick in 2008. Another pupil, Justin Geisinger, also played in the NFL.
Caldwell and Johnson have ties that date back to the 1970s when they both served as assistants at Furman. When Johnson was hired at Vanderbilt before the 2002 season, he brought in Caldwell as a member of his original staff.
Before joining Vanderbilt, Caldwell coached the North Carolina line for two years after lengthy stays at North Carolina State and Furman.
At North Carolina State, Caldwell tutored the line for 11 years, then added the responsibility of Assistant Head Coach from 1997-99. Caldwell coached 14 All-ACC Wolfpack linemen. Prior to joining N.C. State, Caldwell coached the front line at Furman from 1978-85, and served there as a grad assistant in 1976.
Caldwell was a three-year letterman at center for Furman. He graduated with a B.S. degree in health and physical education from Furman in 1976.
Caldwell and his wife, Nora Lynn, are the parents of a daughter, Emsley, 15.