Opening statement “As you know, it’s been across the wire, I am no longer the coach here after tonight’s game. I appreciate Vanderbilt giving me the opportunity to sit in this seat for a little while. It’s been a pleasure. I’m very fond of these players and this school. It’s my wish that these players go on and get their degree, that’s what our staff is all about. I hope they complete that and in the process, win a football game tonight and enjoy the day.”
On making the decision to step down… “The program had not progressed like we had hoped, that was the thing. We had hoped to see some changes made and I’m sure the new coach will have that opportunity.
"I’ve gotten an opportunity to be sitting in this seat. I have to thank David Williams for having that opportunity, being a long-time assistant. It is what it is, I appreciate the opportunity and we’ll move on from here.”
On being disappointed…. “Well certainly I would have loved to be here next year, but I understand it’s a business situation. I told you from day one that whether it’s two days or 20 years, I am very appreciative of Vanderbilt for giving me this opportunity to do this. Like I said, it’s time for changes and that’s the direction this university wants to go and I understand it.”
On the players playing with extra motivation tonight… “I don’t want them to ever do anything for the coach; I want them to do it for the school and for themselves. They are wonderful young people. They’ve fought hard all year long and it’s a tough situation. I could not be more proud of them. I’m just glad we got the opportunity to tell them first what was going on because that almost didn’t happen. It didn’t the last time so you need to be sure to let them know. They are the reason we’re here. None of us would have a job if it weren’t for them. “
On doing things differently if he had more time… “There are too many details to go into. It’s not much different from being an assistant. I’ve been around along time and I’ve seen a lot of coaches do a lot of different ways. There are some things I would have done differently if I had to go back, and there are some I wouldn’t change at all. I’m very proud to have this opportunity. The one thing I hate is that my wife doesn’t get the opportunity to be a head coach’s wife anymore, I think she was a pretty good one at that.”
On the mood of tonight… “I’ll be excited, just as excited as ever because it’s about these kids. I call them kids because of my age, but they are young men and they are very special people, that’s why they are here at Vanderbilt. I love every one of them. That’s one thing we can say about this team, I don’t think there’s one of them on the team that I dislike. There are very few coaches, if they were honest, in America who could say that.”
On the reaction of the team… “I don’t know. We told them and then we moved on and you’ll have to ask them. I don’t want it to be about me, it’s about them. It always has been.” Vice Chancellor David Williams
Opening statement… “On behalf of Vanderbilt University we’d like to thank Coach Caldwell an his staff for the years they put in here, it’s been a great run. There have been some wonderful things that happened, we went to the first bowl game that helped solidify a program here. Coach Caldwell and I discussed the future of Vanderbilt and the football program and it was a mutual agreement that Vanderbilt and the football program need to go in a new direction and we plan to get after that immediately but we would like to thank the coach and the staff for all the hard work they did.”
On Coach Caldwell having only seven weeks to prepare for the season… "We start off every year with goals and expectations; it doesn’t really make a difference if you have to make a coaching change. In the sense that Coach Johnson left at an inopportune time, we still had to go with the goals. One of the things we have to look at is the totality of the coaching staff, we have to look at our fan base, we have to look at are we progressing, is the team getting better, how we look to the future. We had a mindset of what we thought. Coming off a few years ago when we went to a bowl game, and then the next year going 2-10, it was a very disappointing season. We really needed to see that we weren’t going 2-10 again. I think that whether or not it was Coach Caldwell or Coach Johnson, we basically had some goals that we had set down that we wanted to see, and we didn’t see those.
"We had an opportunity to sit down before the end of the game and we talked over the holiday and we had a meeting this morning to morning to make the decision. I don’t think it makes a difference if it were today or tomorrow, we were at that point where I think there was a mutually agreed upon decision between the university and the football program needed to go in a different direction."
On the timeline of the hiring process… "It will get done when it gets done. That’s not all in our control, but obviously the quicker we can get it done, the better. The fact of the mater is, it’s process to find another head coach, and that coach hiring a staff, we’ll have to go with however the timeline will develop. We’ll get at it immediately."
On looking at candidates… "We’re looking for someone that’s a good fit here at Vanderbilt, and Vanderbilt has some uniqueness to it. When we look at candidates, we always have to look at the academics and how they’ve treated that. We’ve also been priding ourselves that our staff was very good on the fact that they run an absolutely clean program, that’s every important to us. When we look at compliance issues, we look at those things. Obviously as coach said, we’re all here for the benefit of the kids. We’re looking for someone who has that, and we’re looking for someone who has passion and most importantly we’r e looking for someone who’s going to be able to compete in the SEC and who can put together a staff who can compete in this conference."
On keeping the assistants… "Head coaches hire assistant coaches. It’s my job to hire the head coaches, so if they want to keep the whole staff, that’s fine with me. But that will be the head coach’s decision."
On the hiring process… "Hiring is hiring, and you look for quality people to fit what you’re …put your goals and expectations around.
"We will use a national search firm that we will retain. I have a long term relationship with Dan Parker at Parker Executive Search and we will use them to assist us in this and we will take input, I’m sure we’ll get a lot of input, we’ll look at that. Anytime you’re trying to hire a head coach in any sport, it’s a tough situation. Sometimes you’re hiring an offensive or defensive coordinator and they’ve never been a head coach, never been a CEO of a football program. That presents risks. But when you hire a head coach that’s proven somewhere else, you’re changing positions, you’re changing cities, you’re changing universities, so that becomes somewhat of a risk. So we’ll do the very best we can to get a very good head coach for this university. As you just said, we’ve had a lot of success in baseball and basketball and our other sports and Vanderbilt needs to get after that in football. That’s the direction we’re going to take."