Robbie Caldwell was in a tough spot.
No, he was an impossible spot.
Caldwell, who announced Saturday he was stepping down following the season, was handed the keys to the Vanderbilt football program a mere weeks before preseason practice began this year when Bobby Johnson abruptly retired.
His Commodores probably played their two best games of the season in the first three weeks of the season. They lost a close one at home to Northwestern to open the season and then beat Ole Miss by two touchdowns on the road two weeks later.
Other than a rout of hapless Eastern Michigan, it’s been all downhill since.
Vanderbilt enters Saturday night’s finale against Wake Forest having lost its past six games by a combined margin of 230-65.
Even by Vanderbilt’s standards, the injuries have mounted to staggering proportions.
The offensive limitations that have gripped this program for the past couple of years have only intensified this season. The few playmakers the Commodores did have (Warren Norman and Zac Stacy) have been injured.
It’s also been a struggle the whole way for junior quarterback Larry Smith, who’s completed just 47.4 percent of his passes.
Whoever the Commodores go after has to figure out a way to pump some offensive life into this program.
And those who run the program have to be willing to give back.
If Vanderbilt is going to have any chance to genuinely compete in the SEC, there needs to be more of a commitment to improving facilities, renovating Vanderbilt Stadium and adding the kind of amenities that attract great football players.
Even then, this is one of the toughest jobs in all of major college football.
Some might say an impossible job.
And while Caldwell’s never going to be remembered for how many games he won as a head coach, he will be remembered for the way he treated people, the way he could light up a room and the way he was always willing to sacrifice for the good of his players, the good of his fellow coaches and the good of his team.