Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Johnson stepping down at Vanderbilt
By Chris Low
One of the classiest guys you're ever going to meet in college sports is stepping down.
Vanderbilt has called a 2 p.m. ET press conference Wednesday to announce that Bobby Johnson is stepping down as head football coach and to discuss where the Commodores go from here. It sounds like Johnson's resignation will be immediate and that he won't coach this season.
Here's the ESPN.com news story on the sudden turn of events.
At this point, there's nothing solid on why Johnson is resigning. I talked with him last month, and he spoke at length about this season and his team and was genuinely excited about some of the younger players in the program.
The two names that I hear as the strongest possibilities to replace Johnson on an interim basis are assistant head coach for the defense Bruce Fowler and assistant head coach/offensive line coach Robbie Caldwell.
Obviously, Johnson's career record at Vanderbilt wasn't pretty (29-66), but he'd upgraded the program in a number of different ways: from leading the charge to upgrade the facilities, to upgrading the talent level in the program, to closing the gap on the field with the rest of the league. Under his watch, the Commodores were no longer thought of as a "sure thing" by the rest of the conference.
Winning a bowl game in 2008 was huge, but so was beating Auburn, Tennessee, South Carolina and Georgia. The Commodores gained everybody's respect in the league in the way they played and the way they competed under Johnson. Over and above the big wins, there were countless other near-misses where Vanderbilt played above its talent level.
The past season was disappointing for everybody surrounding the program. Coming off such a high the year before, the Commodores suffered through a winless season in the SEC, the first time that had happened since Johnson's first year in Nashville.
A weak offense was the problem, and really, the Commodores weren't very good on offense the year before when they won the bowl game. They just covered up their deficiencies by playing solid defense and being opportunistic. They created a ton of turnovers that year.
Even though his final season at Vanderbilt was a disappointing one, Johnson can walk away knowing that he left the program in a lot better shape than he found it.