"You shouldn't come off like a rube and a clown and I think this guy's a clown."...
The so-called "most powerful media member in the SEC" is not too fond of Vanderbilt's choice to replace Bobby Johnson on an interim basis. Robbie Caldwell has turned heads during interviews in recent days for his avuncular, good ol' boy approach. An approach that's become rare in college football as athletic directors seek out polished CEO wannabe's to head up their multimillion dollar football operations. In other words, if you have a southern twang, your name better be Steve Spurrier.
Caldwell has been greeted as a breath of fresh air by most of the media members he's encountered in his short tenure but that wasn't the case on the Paul Finebaum radio show this week:
I'm not going to be disingenuous. Very few people I know think you're going to be there at the end of this football season. You may, but most people on this radio row and most people who are covering this league don't think you will.
I think I will.
Well, I hope you will.
I could care less what all them think. It's about what the people at Vanderbilt think. I am what I am. You see it. I've been very genuine here today. I don't put on any airs. I am what I am. I'm a country boy. I've paid my dues: 30 some odd years coaching in this business. It's a great honor to work with young people and I love every minute of it.
Most of the rest of the interview consists of the radio host probing the coach for more information about the nature of the handover of power in Nashville. It amounts to a good, solid few minutes of aggressive interrogation. Good radio... until the interview ends and the next segment begins. Remember when the host says he doesn't want to be "disingenuous" and told the coach he hoped he'd be able to hold onto the job long term?
"I'm getting some criticism for the way we handled that interview. I'm just not buying it. I'm sorry. I know he got a standing ovation when he talked to sportswriters today and a lot of folks love this guy but I think if you're going to be the Vanderbilt head coach, you shouldn't come off like a rube and a clown and I think this guy's a clown.
If you're going to be the Vanderbilt head coach, you at least ought to give off the impression that you could get into Vanderbilt. Could you imagine this guy going through the application process as a student? I'm sorry, that's just how I feel. I always try to shoot straight on this program and I'm going to continue to. I just don't know what everyone thinks is so wonderful about this guy. I don't think he's a great representative of Vanderbilt wanting to talk about going to Dreamland and hunting. I mean, to me, this guy has no idea what he's doing and I think you could hear it there in the interview. He's just a good ol' country boy. He didn't give one, single answer. I don't know if this guy was in on the fix or not with Bobby Johnson but it certainly sounded like he might've been and Bobby Johnson might be the smart guy trying to get away from this guy on his staff."
Oh boy. Where to begin? The name calling right off the top? The idea that the Vanderbilt head coach wouldn't be able to get through the admissions process himself?
Let's answer that last question with another question: How many Vanderbilt football players would be admitted into that school if they didn't play football?
He's a bad representative of the school because he's willing to talk about a barbecue restaurant and hunting?
The host also incorrectly states that Caldwell "didn't give one, single answer." In fact, he answered all of the host's questions. Caldwell wasn't vague or evasive at any moment during the conversation. The host may choose not believe the answers given, but that's a different matter.
Perhaps it's a personal axe the host is grinding since he mentions his family in relation to the coach later on in the show:
"My wife's got a degree from Vanderbilt. It's supposed to represent class and integrity and the finest academic institution and this guy sounds like he's doing an ad for reading is fundamental."
Here's a sample of Caldwell's interaction with the media at SEC Media Days in Hoover, Alabama.
It doesn't sound much different than something you might hear out of the mouth of Bobby Bowden. But Bobby Bowden types aren't welcome in college football anymore. Better to talk like you just left a corporate boardroom than a locker room. That's the order of the day in college football.
And that's a shame.
The interview itself was refreshing. What happened after the subject left the table was regrettable.
It'd be nice if the host conjured up some of that vigor for guests that wielded a little more power and influence rather than use it all on the sacrificial lamb from Nashville.