January 12, 2009
Last year, the Indianapolis Colts named Jim Caldwell as the successor to Tony Dungy. With the Super Bowl-winning coach stepping aside today, Caldwell takes over, a fact that's no less surprising now than it was when it was announced last January.
Caldwell's previous head coaching experience came in college, when he spent seven years at Wake Forest. I attended Wake during Caldwell's final two seasons and it's no stretch to say that if you had told anybody in Winston-Salem that Jim Caldwell would one day become a head coach in the NFL, they would have laughed out loud ... heartily ... for a really long time.
It's not that people thought Caldwell was an especially bad head coach, but it's doubtful that anyone thought he was a good one. Caldwell went 26-63 at Wake Forest, a record that was poor even at a school that had always been a football laughingstock.
His losing ways were excused because it was said to be impossible to win at Wake Forest. That theory was proven wrong though when Caldwell's successor, Jim Grobe, took the Demon Deacons to the Orange Bowl in 2007 and led the team to its current streak of three straight bowl appearances (the first such run in school history).
Grobe has won 53% of his games at Wake. Caldwell won just 29%. In simpler terms, his teams were lousy.
After getting fired at Wake, Caldwell found work in the NFL and has served as the quarterbacks coach in Indianapolis since 2002. Some say his arrival coincided with Peyton Manning's flourishing as a quarterback. But, of course, correlation doesn't imply causation.
Does Caldwell's college record mean he's going to experience something similar at the professional level? Of course not.
Should it cause a little concern from the Colts faithful? Absolutely.
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