Sunday, January 17, 2010

New Award for Colts Head Coach Jim Caldwell

A tip of the cap goes to the head coach of the NFL Indianapolis Colts, Jim Caldwell. What an extraordinary job he has done in his 'rookie' year as the replacement for his mentor Tony Dungee, although I don't think Dungee could ever truly be replaced.

Jim has led the Colts to the AFC championship game, and I hope beyond. He has stepped into a pair of impossibly big shoes to fill, and done so admirably and with outstanding results. He does so after serving as the quarterbacks coach for three years, earning a big THANK YOU from Peyton Manning. He was also the assistant head coach for Dungee last season. His 2009 edition is now 15-2 after defeating Baltimore 20-3 Saturday...the team's first win, by the way, after being 0-3 in playoff games following the bye week afforded to the teams good enough to not have to participate in the wild card round. The Colts will next face the winner of today's Chargers/Jets game for the right to appear in Superbowl XLIV down Miami way.

Caldwell, though, only received 7 NFL Coach of the Year votes finishing behind the Bengals' Marvin Lewis, the Saints' Sean Payton, and the Chargers' Norv Turner...all of whom did superb jobs as well. But, if I had a vote, it would have gone to Caldwell. So, I decided to invent my own...and Caldwell is a unanimous winner! Please read on as to the 'what' and the 'whys'.

Think of it this way. Many times in most pro leagues, coaches and managers are actually penalized by the electorate for their team being TOO talented. Phil Jackson of the Lakers pops into my head. He's won a grand total of ONE Coach of the Year awards while with the Remark-a-Bulls of 1995-96 which went 72-10. All he did was handle the likes of Jordan, Pippen, Shaq and Kobe in his career. Jerry Sloan, one of the NBA's best coaches, has NEVER won...also bordering on criminal. Jim may be in the same fraternity.

Oh, he'll get his due all right, and would trade ANY individual accolade for a championship ring any day of the week. His players believe in him. His boss, Bill Polian...a football brain of the highest order...believes in him. Tony Dungee believes in him. And, all those great football minds cannot be wrong.

But there is a clincher. Caldwell gets credit for one more very important thing. He's an IOWA GUY! Caldwell was U of I class of '76. This is critical since I am Coe College class of '78. We know many of the same people, and we're all rooting for him to do REPRESENT as the youngsters like to say. I'm not saying there weren't ANY people of color in eastern Iowa back in the day, but we DID have to import Afro Sheen, picks and Jet Magazines from Illinois. Suffice it to say we were a VERY exclusive club.

So, add all these factors together, and there is a great case to be made for Caldwell being the very first...(insert drum roll here)... 'Fred said it Rookie Head Coach of the Year who went to Iowa and did the Bump' award. Enjoy it, Jim. I think this is an achievement that I'm certain will never again be duplicated.

The award carries with it absolutely nothing of monetary value, but a firm handshake will be offered when next we meet.