I hate to see Johnson leave; it must have been health related. Something is going on with him physically to cause him to leave three weeks before fall practice starts. Johnson said his wife had a lot to do with his decision. There was talk that he had asked the administration for an upgrade to the facilities and they responded that he needed to prove it on the field before he got what he wanted. That is a rumor. He just got some upgrades last year and if he wanted more maybe he did need to prove it on the field. Mainly, it was his health. He's 60 and there could have been some issues. Coaching football at Vanderbilt is taxing both mentally and physically and he may have been just worn out. We'll see how Robby Caldwell does. Johnson was way too conservative offensively and his decision to stick with Larry Smith last year was catastrophically bad. I think Mackenzi Adams got a raw deal throughout his career. If Johnson had just let him start in 2008 the week after he had led the team to victory over Auburn, we probably would have beaten Ms. State and who knows? We might have won nine or 10 games that year. Mackenzi could never feel confident under Johnson, and I think Johnson ruined his career. Mackenzi would have been a good qb and leader for this team in '08 and '09 but he never got a chance.
Would Johnson have gone with Larry Smith this year? Probably. Maybe Smith has gotten better, but he sure was bad last year. Maybe Caldwell can really open up the competition and give Jordan Rodgers, Jared Funk and Charlie Goro a chance. Larry Smith could be a lot better this year, but his track record is not good; one of those guys could be better.
If Caldwell doesn't work out–though he could– maybe go after somebody like Chris Peterson of Boise State, his offensive coordinator, Bryan Harsin, the coach at Utah, Kyle Whittingham (done a great job), Kirby Smart, the guy at TCU, Gary Patterson, or even Gus Malzahn.
Vandy needs a guy who is an offensive guru who can hire a stellar d coordinator. We just need better offense and we need to keep improving on defense. We also want a guy who has a lot of integrity and won't win at all costs. Vandy should always be a first class operation; a team that wins and loses with integrity.
Maybe Caldwell will work out. I've exchanged e-mails with him in the past on recruits and he seems no-nonsense and tough. He has done a good job with the line for the most part over the years, though last year's line was somewhat of a disappointment mainly due to injuries. This guy is more offensive-oriented than Johnson so that's good.
The team has great talent at running back, pretty good players now at wide receiver with some talented young guys who now have experience and some talented frosh. Secondary looks great with Casey Hayward and Jamie Graham at corners and Sean Richardson at one safety and some great players behind them. Linebackers should be good particularly if guys like Tristan Strong and DeAndre Jones play up to their potential. We know Chris Mavre is good and John Stokes should have a good year. Dline should be good. Tight end should be solid with Monahan and Barden with Mason Johnston backing them up. It's all up to the oline and qb. Can Larry Smith or Jordan Rodgers come through? Can the line stay healthy and show some toughness both run blocking and pass blocking. There are some good young ones and a few veterans. Schedule is demanding as usual. Open with Northwestern at home then LSU at home. Not totally out of the question to win those games; just have to really be clicking. Go to Ole Miss after that. Games at Georgia, at Kentucky and at Arkansas. Full schedule is below.
We'll hope for the best and stay optimistic.