Colts Coaching Saga: Who is Jim Caldwell?

RealFootball365.comSenior Writer IJanuary 28, 2008

     We now know that Jim Caldwell will at some point replace Tony Dungy as Head Coach. The question is not what title he will hold, but who is he?

     A name previously not on the radar for casual fans outside of Indianapolis before the Dungy retirement, is rumored now in direct line for a head coaching job. If nothing else, the Colts will stay constant. Not to mention the benefit of the experience Caldwell may bring as a result of the sundry jobs he has held in the sport.

     At 53, almost nine months older than Dungy, Caldwell currently serves as the team's QB coach. Some might consider him to be Phil Jackson's football equivalent: Fantastic talent can make any leader look like a genius.

     Regardless of how significant his contribution has been to the success of Dungy who usually mans the spot, the fact is that the passing game has been exceptionally proficient with Caldwell as coach. If nothing else, he is not hurting anything.

     A true measure of his skill may be the '01 season he spent as QB coach with the Buccaneers. He got a decent performance out of Brad Johnson, who threw for 3,406 yards, completing over 60 percent of his passes; it was a fair season for a fair quarterback.

     Before joining Dungy in Indiana, Caldwell spent his years teaching in the NCAA. He began the year after his graduation as a graduate assistant in 1977 at his alma mater Iowa, following a university football career spent, surprisingly, as a member of the defensive secondary.

     Caldwell juggled schools before landing at Penn State in 1986, where he performed several tasks for the Offense. The high point was undoubtedly the work he did as positional coach for Kerry Collins. A QB who left Happy Valley and continued a remarkably checkered Pro career with such teams as the Carolina Panthers and New York Giants. Caldwells impressive work with his most renowned student at PSU is further evidence that he is not merely along for the ride in Indianapolis.

     The most noteworthy line on Caldwell's résumé points out he was Wake Forest's head coach from 1993 to 2000. The red flag for those in blue in white would be his 26-63 record there, but it was not as if he led an ACC powerhouse to ruin: Despite their recent improvement, the fact that the Demon Deacons have appeared in eight total bowls shows that he was at a basketball school that also happened to field a football team.

     He even got them to one of those postseason contests, namely the Aloha Bowl, in his penultimate season, a game in which Wake prevailed 23-3 over Arizona State to finish with a 7-5 record; while that is not exactly the same as Steve Spurrier getting Duke to win, it is still fair to say that Caldwell managed to attain at least a marginal amount of progress.

     Most importantly, this seems like a natural move where the Colts will be left in the hands of a trusted assistant. It is entirely unlike another recent case where NFL subordinate Jason Garrett was given a swimming pool filled with money in anticipation of his eventual assumption as assistant head coach at Dallas.

     Aside from the fact that Caldwell was technically promoted from assistant to associate head coach is the fact his franchise made a move that, instead of creating chaos and tension, enhances stability.

     Wade Phillips may be selling his Cowboys apparel on eBay at this time next year with a hot shot coordinator ready to take his place, while Indianapolis' case seems like one where continuity has just been ensured after the current leader leaves at the time of his choosing.

     A smooth transition for a squad that manages to retain its superstars and is helmed by an unassuming, tranquil gentleman. A line of succession is in place when Dungy exits, in a specialized coach who will be entering his seventh season with the Colts. Caldwell clearly works well with Peyton Manning, which is advantageous not only to himself, but the program as well.