NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Vanderbilt coach Bobby Johnson retired
abruptly Wednesday as the Commodores' head coach for what he called personal reasons.
Vice Chancellor David Williams announced the news in a post on
the university's athletic website Wednesday just before a news
conference. Minutes later, the 59-year-old Johnson stepped up to a
podium and said he was retiring from college football.
Johnson called it a very difficult decision but one not prompted
by health concerns for either himself or his wife.
"Football is not life, but it's a way of life and it consumes
your life," Johnson said. "You only have so many years to live,
and you want to see a different way."
Johnson's retirement comes a week before he was scheduled to
appear at the Southeastern Conference's preseason media days,
nearly three weeks before players report for fall practice and just
seven weeks before the Commodores' opener Sept. 4 against
Williams announced that Robbie Caldwell will be the interim head
coach after serving as assistant head coach.
"I am saddened by the fact Bobby has made this decision,"
Williams said. "At the same token as I've said to the staff, it's
our obligation to respect his decision. I did try to talk Bobby out
of it. I tried to talk him out of it yesterday. I tried to talk him
out of it last night, and I tried to talk him out of it this
He has led Vanderbilt the past eight seasons and went 2-10 in
2009. He went 29-66 at Vanderbilt and coached the Commodores to
their only non-losing season since 1982 in 2008 with a win at the
Music City Bowl that gave them a 7-6 record.
"This is quite a shock to us," Caldwell said.
Johnson had become just the third coach in Vanderbilt history to
hold the job for at least eight years, joining Dan McGugin and Art
Guepe. Johnson went 29-66 at Vanderbilt and coached the Commodores
to their only non-losing season since 1982 in 2008 by winning the
Music City Bowl.
Johnson also ended losing skids to eight other SEC teams during
his tenure, including a 22-game string to Tennessee in 2005.
But he lost the top recruit of his incoming class in February
when Georgia running back Rajaan Bennett, the highest-rated player
ever signed to Vanderbilt, was shot to death at his home.
(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)