Quotes from Bobby Johnson retirement press conference

July 14, 2010

Outgoing Head Coach Bobby Johnson

"After much thought and consideration for everyone involved, I have decided to retire -- not resign, I'm retiring -- as a college football coach, and that'll be effective the end of July. I will not be coaching the Commodores in the 2010 season. Obviously, this a very tough decision, one with which my wife Catherine and I struggled, but I want to make it perfectly clear that this was a personal decision and it's about what we want to do with our lives, and it doesn't only have to do with Vanderbilt football."

"I do want to thank Vanderbilt University for giving me the opportunity to work at a first-class institution and work with some great people. I want to thank my staff for their tireless effort to better compete on the biggest stage in college football, and I'm extremely confident that they will not only sustain that program but they will move it forward. The same goes for my non-coaching staff. There are so many people that work extremely hard for Vanderbilt football, and I can't come close to possibly thanking all of them. I think they know who they are, and I see them every day and I'm going to miss them all."

"I want to thank Chancellor Zeppos and Vice Chancellor David Williams for their support of our program. As we've worked together for the past eight years trying to improve our program, my appreciation for David Williams' talents have grown tremendously. Those two guys mean a lot."

"Most of all, I want to thank the hundreds of young men who accepted the challenge of pursuing one of the greatest educations in the country and, at the same time, competing in the best football conference in college football. In my opinion, a coach could not ask for any more from his players. I'm proud of some of our accomplishments, but I'm more proud about the type of young man we have when he leaves our program."

"I know I've left some people out, and I know you have a lot of questions about what's happening here, and we'll get those answered here. One more time, I just want to make sure everybody knows that I am retiring for personal reasons, and Vanderbilt University, Vanderbilt Athletic Department and Vanderbilt football have been pretty special in my life. That's the way I want to remember it."

Vice Chancellor David Williams

"Thank you all for coming. Bobby contacted me, wanted to sit down and talk, and quite honestly, I thought we were going to be talking about certain things as related to the season. Bobby indicated, as he said to you all, that he wanted to retire from coaching college football. I was shocked, as I'm sure you all are. We love Bobby Johnson. As I've said many times, Bobby Johnson is my football coach. My only regret is that my son doesn't play football so he can't have a coach named Bobby Johnson. I am saddened by the fact that Bobby has made this decision, but by the same token as I've said to the staff, it is our job to respect his decision."

"I did try to talk Bobby out of it. I tried to talk him out of it yesterday; I tried to talk him out of it last night; I tried to talk him out of it this morning. But I think he's gone through this, and as he said to you, it's a personal decision, and we at Vanderbilt Athletics, while we wish it wasn't that decision, will respect that decision."

"As I said, we'll answer all your questions, but we do have business at hand. In a month and a half, we have to open up our season against Northwestern, so one of the things that we have to do is keep the program going, so I'm here to announce that effective immediately, the interim head coach of the Vanderbilt football team will be Robbie Caldwell. I've discussed this both with the chairman of the board and the Chancellor and other Board members, and everybody's on board. Robbie is our assistant head coach. He has earned this position, and we're 100 percent behind Robbie and the rest of the staff. I've met with the staff and we've gone through this, and we'll carry on with focus and get ready to play Northwestern on Labor Day weekend."

Interim Head Coach Robbie Caldwell

"This is a sad day, yet a happy time for me obviously. 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."

"It's a great time for me and my family. I wish they could be here, but this is quite a shock to us. I look forward to working with Vice Chancellor Williams, who's a very special man to all of us [because of] what he's done to help us achieve our goals here and will continue to do.... It's an exciting time for us to get down and get to work."

On how he handles the interim title
"That's a great question. I haven't had time to think about it, it all happened so fast. I'm just excited to have an opportunity to continue to work with these guys."

On how he may change his philosophy as a head coach
"I'm who I am. I've been coaching for a long time. Some say I've gotten too soft in my old age, but I look forward to the challenge."

On if he's considered what he would do as a head coach
"When you've been coaching for a long time, obviously you have some thoughts. The reason I'm here is Coach Johnson. He invited me to come join his staff, and I liked the way he did things and does things, and our philosophies are similar. We were raised under the same coaches, so that made it a lot easier."

On how the timing of his promotion will affect the staff
"These coaches that he's assembled, we'll hit the ground running. They're great men, great coaches. They spent their whole career tending to everybody else's children besides their own. They're very professional. They know the game. I look for great things from them."

On the pressure felt with taking the head coaching job
"Well, I haven't had time to think about it, but there's pressure every week. We put pressure on ourselves more than other people, so we're kind of used to that."

On whether he's impressed with the continuity of the staff
"Absolutely. My hat's off to Vice Chancellor Williams and Coach Johnson for keeping us all here. I'm not a record guy, but if you checked the stats, I don't think any staff has ever been here this long. I hope we keep them together and we keep running. As Mr. Williams said, we're looking forward to Northwestern."



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