Dungy, Polian Say Future Bright With Caldwell
INDIANAPOLIS – The future began late Monday for the Colts.
And the coach for the past seven seasons agreed with the president – that with Jim Caldwell, that future is as bright as the recent past.
Caldwell, a Colts assistant since 2002 who was named the Associate Head Coach last January, on Monday afternoon became the franchise's 17th head coach when Tony Dungy – the team's head coach since 2002 – announced his resignation at a 5 p.m. press conference at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center.
"I think this, and I'm not going to speak for (Colts Owner and Chief Executive Officer) Jim Irsay, but if Jim Irsay was looking for a coach and interview all of these guys I'm seeing being interview, he would interview and Jim Caldwell and say, 'That's the best guy out there,''' Dungy said Monday.
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.
"You're getting a guy who is an accomplished football coach," Colts President Bill Polian said. "He isn't Tony Dungy Lite. He's going to be Jim Caldwell. He is an accomplished football coach. He has worked under some wonderful people. He has developed a strong set of values in his own rite in terms of how he wants this program and this football team to operate.
"He's very firm. He's very forthright. He's very softspoken, but don't mistake that for lack of steel in his spine. He has plenty of that."
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. "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 2000. 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 and Manning long endorsed Caldwell as a head-coaching candidate.
Dungy said Caldwell's readiness for the position played a part in the timing of his decision.
"I knew Jim Caldwell was following me and that Jim's going to do a great job," Dungy said. "He's ready. He's going to be fantastic. We're going to keep winning, but when I did leave, I wanted to leave with pieces in place to still win. I think we have that, so it was a balancing act of when to go.
"It's tough to leave when you're winning and you have great guys around you, but Lauren and I prayed about it and we felt this was the right time."
Dungy said fans would be wrong to expect Caldwell to copy Dungy's style.
"I think that's unfair to say," Dungy said. "We're not sure how he's going to do a great job. It's going to be Jim Caldwell's team and he's not going to try to do it like I did it. He has worked for some great people. He has worked with Joe Paterno and a lot of coaches that he has taken something from. He has put his stamp on this team and they're going to continue to win."