Caldwell, 54, Introduced as Colts' 17th Head Coach
INDIANAPOLIS – A new day dawned on Indianapolis' Westside Tuesday.
As Jim Irsay put it, a new era dawned, too.
Jim Caldwell, a Colts assistant since 2002 and the team's associate head coach for the past year, on Tuesday afternoon was introduced by Irsay – the Colts' owner and chief executive officer – as the franchise's 17th head coach during a press conference at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center.
Caldwell, 54, succeeded Tony Dungy, who coached the team the past seven seasons before announcing his resignation Monday afternoon.
"What a privilege it is to direct one of the great organizations in the National Football League," Caldwell said as he opened his press conference.
Caldwell, who answered questions from media, near the end of his press conference, began it with a speech that included a message to Colts fans and that will run in full later on Colts.com.
"I commit that your team will continue to play fast, smart and physical," Caldwell said to the fans.
If Monday evening were about tears, gratitude and reflection for Dungy's seven-year tenure, Irsay said Tuesday afternoon was about something else, something happier, something new.
"This day," Irsay said, "is about moving forward."
Added Irsay, "I couldn't be more excited about having Jim Caldwell as our new head coach."
Irsay and Polian each reiterated a point made by Dungy during his farewell press conference Monday evening – that Caldwell, who had been installed as the Associate Head Coach last January, was the right choice for the job no matter his previous affiliation with the Colts.
"I emphasize this was not something out of convenience," Irsay said. "This was about getting the best guy. I'm really confident Jim is that man. He brings to the franchise the qualities that are most critical."
Irsay said foremost among those qualities is leadership.
"Leadership is paramount, to be a leader of men," he said. "Jim has that quality, has experience there. He also is extremely intelligent."
Caldwell, 54, who had interviewed for various head-coaching positions around the NFL in recent seasons, interviewed for vacancies in Baltimore and Atlanta last season. The Colts named him the associate head coach and successor to Dungy last January.
"He's the right man for the job at the right time," Colts President Bill Polian said Tuesday. "I'm certain that we're going to go forward with the same aggressive, talented, disciplined football team we've had under Tony Dungy."
Caldwell had been the team's quarterbacks coach from 2002-2004, and served as the assistant head coach/quarterbacks from 2005-2007.
"The fact that Jim has been here and knows our organization inside out, and has the respect of our players and our coaches, there's no question in my mind he's the best guy for this job," Dungy said Monday. "He's ready. He's more than ready. He and I talked today about some of the things he plans, some of the little changes he wants to make and tweak things. He's going to do a great job."
Caldwell coached under Dungy in Tampa Bay in 2001. Before then, he was head coach at Wake Forest from 1993-2000. He coached the Demon Deacons to an Aloha Bowl appearance in 1999.
Caldwell, a four-year starter at defensive back at the University of Iowa from 1973-1976, coached at Iowa for one season, in 1977, then had stints at Southern Illinois (1978-80), Northwestern (1981), Colorado (1982-1984), Louisville (1985) and Penn State (1986-1992).
Caldwell worked with three-time National Football League Most Valuable Player Peyton Manning the past seven seasons. Manning has made the Pro Bowl in each of Caldwell's seven seasons with the team.