Jim Caldwell Press Conference

The Colts introduced their new head coach, Jim Caldwell, on Tuesday. See what Jim Irsay and Bill Polian had to say about the change in leadership, and get to know coach Caldwell a little more as he tells his story to the assembled media. Read about his background, his coaching philosophy, who influenced him, and more!

Colts' owner and CEO Jim Irsay

"Good afternoon. We are here to announce our new head coach, Jim Caldwell. His wife, Cheryl, is up here with him and we move off of a special day for us yesterday saying our goodbyes to Tony (Dungy) even though, as I said, he will be around. This day is about moving forward. I couldn't be more excited about having Jim Caldwell as our next head coach. I think this is something Bill Polian and I had very lengthy discussions (about) over the last several years. We knew that it was a possibility that Tony might retire. It was on our radar screen. I think as an owner, that Bill is always looking out there and seeing who the top candidates are. You always have running lists. I emphasize that this was not something that was done out of convenience. This was about getting the best guy. I'm really confident that Jim is that man. He brings to the franchise the qualities that are most critical.

"As I said yesterday, leadership is paramount to be a leader of men. Jim has that quality, has experience there. He also is extremely intelligent, and this is going to be Jim Caldwell's team. It not about trying to carry forward something that Tony Dungy did. As Tony had when Tony came here, he took over a Jim Mora team and that was a real asset to him because Jim Mora, as we all know, is an outstanding football coach, a very disciplined guy who put together a great components for the franchise. Tony inherited that. That was a plus, and I think the big plus for Jim coming in again is having an outstanding franchise to inherit.

"Again this is about going forward. I can speak as the owner that every year you get into this thing, you're seeing how much more you can out of it. How more energy, how much more excitement and how you can make it new each year. That's very important to me, and I'm excited about that aspect; about what Jim is going to bring to the table. This is going to be his team. He has a vision. Bill Polian and I are here to support him, and I'm really excited about the possibilities of where this franchise can go. Where we've been has been incredible. I think when you look at the salary cap era that really started to over more in the late 90's, once the system got into full swing, and the cap got more into play, what we've done is incredible. So Jim is going after that backdrop as he goes forward and tries to measure up and meet the accomplishments of that we already have here.

"We're looking to get a second championship, and that's what it is about. We want another ring. We want another Lombardi Trophy. The only way that is going to happen, starts this afternoon and I know Jim knows that. Each day putting hours together, days together and doing all the small things that lead to success. I know Jim is going to do that. It's going to be something where as we go forward we really feel in my mind that the window of opportunity is not closing. This franchise with Bill Polian and Tony Dungy and now Jim has done a tremendous job in terms of going forward and bringing in new players and new energy every year. I couldn't be more excited. I'm really looking forward to this new era beginning for us, and it's also important to me as it is to Jim and Cheryl and his family for him to have an impact in the community. I know he's that sort of individual as well. As the head coach of the Indianapolis Colts, and this city and state, I know he'll represent us well and in a tremendous way in the community getting involved in certain things that he has a passion for and he's motivated to get involved in. I know he's a complete package when it comes to that. I'm very excited."

Team president Bill Polian

"Good afternoon. Back in ‘05, we began to get inquiries from a team or two or three around the league about Jim as a potential offensive coordinator candidate. Our offense, of course, was in a record-setting mode at that point and time. Then, people looked at Jim as the quarterback coach as the perfect person perhaps to install or bring that offense to other clubs. I had the benefit of working everyday with Jim Caldwell and seen not only technically but in working with football players and people at that position, motivating them and developing them.

"I went to Tony and subsequently Tony and I went to Jim Irsay and we said we thought it would really be appropriate to name Jim Caldwell assistant head coach because he has all the qualities necessary if anything were to ever happen to Tony or he would decide to retire. This is the kind of person that we want as our head coach. The reason that Tony and I made that recommendation to Jim was that Tony had worked with Jim from 2001 on in Tampa and all the way through here, but interestingly enough I knew Jim Caldwell some time before that.

"My mentor, Marv Levy, when I first began as a scout many years ago, said when you go out to colleges, not only scout the players, but scout the coaches. Around 1992, or thereabout, I made my yearly visit to the Penn State squad and there was a young quarterback by the name, oddly enough, of Kerry Collins, who was growing and developing. You could see that he was going to become a star and you could see that that team was going to be one of Penn State's greatest teams. They, indeed, ended up undefeated when those players were seniors. Coaching Kerry Collins and mentoring him was a man named Jim Caldwell. I just made a little note in my file and then, low and behold, I go to Carolina and we're trying to build a franchise down there, and I had a year to study potential head coach candidates throughout the United States at every level, pro and college.

"We subsequently hired Dom Capers who did a wonderful job. But at that time, Jim Caldwell was at Wake Forest and he was in the process of rebuilding that program and he ultimately took them to a bowl game, and that was the first time in a long, long time. I got an opportunity the see Jim Caldwell the head coach up close and personal, both getting to know him and watching him work in a situation that was difficult. It was a rebuilding situation where Wake Forest was a decided underdog both from talent, in facilities and resources available to the others that they were competing with. Jim did a marvelous job there. I had the good fortune to work side by side with him everyday; be on the practice field with him; be at the game site with him every week during his tenure here as our quarterbacks coach and assistant head coach.

"When it came time, unfortunately and tragically, for someone to take over when Tony's situation developed in ‘05, there was no better person than Jim Caldwell. I was very grateful that Jim Irsay had seen fit to allow us to make the promotion that we did. Jim handled the job as well as anyone could in those very difficult circumstances. At that point and time, there was no doubt in Tony's mind and my mind and in Jim Irsay's mind that Jim Caldwell at some future time would be our next head coach. Tony said yesterday that if Jim was on the market today, he'd be number one on everybody's list. He had a couple of interviews; maybe more than a couple of interviews in the last years.

"Two people I respect very greatly told me, ‘Boy is he everything you said he was and more.' He would have been probably the number one guy being considered for any head coaching opportunity this year. I'm certain he would have gotten one, and I'm very glad that the one he got is the Indianapolis Colts because he's the right man for the job at the right time, and I'm certain that we're going to go forward with the same aggressive, talented, disciplined. successful football team that we've had under Tony Dungy."

Head coach Jim Caldwell

"I want to thank (Colts President) Bill (Polian) and (Colts Owner and CEO) Jim (Irsay) for that introduction and just one statement at the beginning, from this day forward I will thrive to follow the environment that Jim Irsay, Bill Polian and Tony Dungy have created. I want to thank each one of them for the confidence they have placed in me, and what a privilege it is to direct one of the great organizations in the National Football League. Thanks to Jim and Meg (Irsay) and their family for the first-class environment they have established. Jim has been trained in this business, he knows it inside out from the time he was (involved in it) in his early teens. He has a great love and passion for this team, and it certainly reveals itself in every aspect of this organization. He provides every available resource for success.

"I'm looking forward to working in close contact with maybe the premier football man in this business in Bill Polian. He's just absolutely outstanding. We've had an opportunity to work together here the last seven years and we've had a lot of interaction, particularly during the draft and also other personnel matters which I've enjoyed. He's a great guy to deal with on a daily basis, and he's put together a great team with (son and Vice President of Football Operations) Chris (Polian) and also (Director of Player Personnel) Tom (Telesco). They do a great job in the personnel areas, but he's maybe one of the most well-respected individuals in our profession, and that goes without saying. He has an abundance of knowledge and expertise in a variety of areas, and I plan to lean heavily upon him throughout my tenure.

"I want to thank Tony for all that he has done over the years. He has been a friend, a confidant, a mentor, who has won the right way with humility and strength and integrity and class and never compromised his Christian values. He provided a candid bird's-eye view for me, particularly over the last four years or so where I would ask him if I could come in ask him questions about different aspects of this game and particularly on the pro football level, how he handled discipline. Situations which were very, very difficult, he gave me an opportunity to kind of talk with him, to exchange ideas, to certainly get a real good sense of how things should be done. He set a great example for all of us in this profession.

"I just finished reading a book that was titled ‘Outliers' by a gentleman by the name of Malcolm Gladwell. He noted in a passage the definition of ‘meaningful work' and I think it certainly goes without saying you can sense that around here, Bill and Jim have created this environment. He stated ‘meaningful work' had to include complexity, which we certainly have here, it's a very complex game; autonomy, which is certainly one of the hallmarks of this organization because they give you an opportunity to coach, they give you an opportunity to deal with your own players and your own area of expertise; and there's also a direct correlation between effort and reward, and you certainly sense that in our game. I thank those three men for putting this thing together, the environment they've created and the approach for me to take over this franchise moving forward.

"I want to recognize a great group of players and coaches who constantly represent this organization in a championship manner on and off the field. They give the kind of energy and effort and execution and commitment to public service on a daily basis.

"Perhaps the question that may be asked is, ‘What can you expect from Jim Caldwell?' Often times you don't get a chance to know individuals as assistants and I'm certain that is the case with me. What I want to say first of all to the Colts organization, I commit to enthusiastically represent this organization in a first-class manner with humility, compassion and persistence. To the players and coaches I commit to creating an atmosphere that is conducive to success. When they approach the complex they can expect an open-door policy with every ounce of my energy to make certain that they have a sense that when you come here, you have an opportunity to get better. To the loyal Colts fans that live and die with us each and every week, I commit that your team will continue to play fast, smart and physical. To the National Football League I commit to protect the integrity of the game on and off the field. To the media, I have one goal today and that is just to make certain that my first press conference isn't immortalized as one of those beer commercials. But I do look forward to working with you. I understand the importance of what you do and I will assist in that endeavor.

"Another question that one may ask is, ‘Who is Jim Caldwell?' Number one, I am a Christian, not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but I try to live my life accordingly. Number two, I am a son. My father Willie is a retired General Motors employee of 35 years, who also worked two jobs and still found time to somehow coach my brother and I on our little league team. I never heard him complain, never heard him make any excuses. My mother Mary, a retired nurse, spent most of her years in service in geriatric care. She was a nurse's aid, an LPN, an RN and rose to supervisor of a nursing home. The two of them set a great example for me to live by, to hard work and determination and resilience after disappointment along with strong Christian values. I am a brother. I have an older sister and a younger brother. I am a husband. You met my wife Cheryl of 31 years. She's been a constant and loyal companion, and I've known her since I was 15 years old, so she probably knows me better than anyone else around except for my parents. She loves the game of football, has been part of it, has been a great support to me and certainly allowed me to perfect my craft, took care of our children and directed them while I was off either chasing recruits or working in the office studying film during those early days. I am a father. I have a son, Jimmy, who's 30, a son, Jermaine, who's 27, a son, Jared, who's 25 and a daughter, Natalie, who's 23. I am a grandfather. Jimmy and his wife blessed me with a grandson, James Caldwell III, a.k.a. Trey, who's about 20 months old and certainly the joy of our life. As a matter of fact Cheryl is here with me often, but I became a second-class citizen after that baby was born.

"The third question that one might ask is, ‘Who has been an influence on you and your career?' I have been influenced by a number of great men in this profession and I want to recognize a few that have had a profound impact on my career. John Heineke, Phil White, Bernie Barken, those names mean nothing to you but in an old small town of about 35,000 people in Southern Wisconsin it rings true because those were men that had a direct impact on our community through sports. They challenged us, they made us better, they developed us, they made us commit to our craft and it certainly has made a difference, I think, in the lives of all of those who had an opportunity to compete and play for them.

"I want to mention the name of Rey Dempsey, who I worked for at my first job down in Southern Illinois University in Carbondale. A real taskmaster. He indoctrinated me into the business. He's one of those guys that worked those kinds of hours that were cultural at that time within our profession, from the wee hours in the morning and we'd get up the next morning with maybe three or four hours sleep and go right back at it again. And that was consistent throughout the year. But he certainly taught you how important detail-oriented work was. He was a great fundamental teacher and one of college football's great taskmasters. He always had this sign on his desk and I'll never forget it. It said, ‘Get After It.' I tried to use that as my motto in terms of every day when I walk into the office there's something to get done and you have to be able to get it done in a short period of time.

"Dennis Green is a name you've all heard. One of the great motivators in our business, he had a keen eye for talent and one of the most organized individuals that I've worked for, and I worked for him at Northwestern University. Bill McCartney I worked for at the University of Colorado. Bill McCartney, I still remember a quote that he had on the front of our playbook, the first page that you flip over. He had a quote by Fielding Yost. He wanted to be the kind of guy that had an influence on people, certainly won football games and certainly won championships, but also make a difference in the lives of young people. He wanted to set a great example. So what he included in there was a quote by the great football coach from the University of Michigan. It said, ‘To me no coach in America has asked to make a sacrifice. He asked that you do just the opposite. Live clean, come clean, think clean, stop doing all the things that hurt you mentally, physically and morally and start doing the things that make you keener, finer and more competent.' That has stuck with me over the years.

"I worked for Howard Schnellenberger at the University of Louisville. Howard is a Bear Bryant clone. He measures his words the same way, a very hard-nosed individual. Let me tell you something, he could probably instill toughness in a teddy bear. He's one of those guys that really does a great job in terms of setting standards for winning, and he continues to do so even today. He's over 70 years old and I saw he just won his last bowl game. He's won six straight bowl games and is down at Florida Atlantic.

"I worked for Joe Paterno at Penn State University as Bill (Polian) alluded to. One of the great strategists and tacticians the game has ever known. One of the things that he taught me was to rely on your fundamentals and techniques. He said that you couldn't rely on fooling people. That's extremely important, and I think Coach Dungy kind of echoed some of those same things. One phrase you're going to hear me echo from time to time that sticks with me every single day, Paterno would always say, ‘Take care of the little things and the big things will take care of themselves.' That's kind of the motto of which I kind of build my principles in terms of football. We're going to take care of all the little things, the detail work, and the big things will indeed take care of themselves.

"Coach Dungy, I've spent eight years with Coach Paterno, eight years with Coach Dungy, and Tony has been just an excellent, excellent teacher, instructor and mentor in my life. He's had a huge impact on the way I think all of us view the game of football, the game of life that you play along with it. He is an unflappable individual and that's certainly what kept our teams in a lot of ballgames when things looked a little bleak and looked like they were going to be a little tough to overcome, simply because of the fact that he never got rattled. A lot of poise, a lot of patience. All of those men were great leaders and great men and the great majority of them have all some championship or another. So I stand before you today having drawn from all of those experiences to face a great challenge that I am looking forward to.

"Over the last four years in preparation for head coaching positions across the country that I interviewed for in this league, I had an opportunity to kind of put together my gameplan. One of the things I put in there was that first 30 days on the job, and ironically I pulled it out the other day once I found out that Tony wasn't coming back to kind of review it and take a look at it and how appropriate it is even for this situation because essentially, everything is relatively new for me. Although I am very, very familiar with the groundwork, I'm very, very familiar with the people within the organization, but my view, my perspective has changed. As an assistant coach you have somewhat of a narrow scope. You're looking at your job, you're trying to make certain that your job is done to the best of your ability and the things that lie outside of it, particularly within the organization, there are other assistant coaches that are responsible for those areas, and the head coach governs it all.

"So now I'm going to start to look at things from a different lens, and that's going to be a lot of fun. I'm looking forward to that. So my first 30 days, some of the things I talked about, getting acquainted obviously with your staff. I'm in the process right now, even though I know the guys and know them well, but yet it's a little bit different perspective, we sit down and we talk about some things and we try to make certain that we have a good understanding of one another and where we can plan to go with this situation. I have an opportunity now to talk to the marketing staff, to talk to a number of the other groups that are so vital to this organization, individuals that are dealing with our community service and sort of set my gameplan in terms of how I would like to interact with them and the things that we would like to participate in. So it's all new, it's all different. It's a little different perspective which I'm certainly happy to be a part of and I can't wait to put my stamp on things."

On how he prepared last year:

"It's been invaluable, especially last year. As the assistant head coach you're obviously there in case Tony (Dungy) is away from the office or involved in some other activity that has him away from the office. You're there to run practice, you were the designee. You didn't necessarily get an opportunity to get a bird's-eye view, inside look, or go behind the curtain to see what went into the decision making process. As an Associate Head Coach that changed for me. This time of the year I started having the opportunity to go in and sit down with Bill (Polian) and Chris (Polian) and also see Jim (Irsay) walk in and interact with the draft and preparation for the draft. Tony allowed me to organize schedules from January to up around training camp. It was a great, great, experience for me. It gave me a chance to really get hands-on sort of contact with things that are really going to be vital. Bill, Jim, Chris, and the rest of the group were gracious enough to allow me to come into the draft room and sit and listen.

"I also had the opportunity to evaluate every single player we drafted. The year before I would just look at the quarterbacks. I also saw why we've been very, very productive over the years. There's no question you can see from the results, and it goes without saying these men are excellent at what they do. I was certainly glad to have had the opportunity to see them work. It gave me a different perspective and that made a huge, huge difference."

On the comparison to Tony Dungy:

"People draw a lot of comparisons between the two, and there are a lot of comparisons. Both of us are probably men of a few words. This is probably the most you're ever going to hear me talk at this particular point in time. Certainly both of us are men of faith. It's been a big part of our lives. Both of us actually played against one another about the same time period in the Big Ten, we're Midwesterners, and we're family men. I think there are a lot of things you can glean. There are a lot of similarities. There are some things I certainly don't want to run away from that I hope and look forward to being as successful as he's been. He's set an incredible path. No one can measure up to him. There's not going to be anyone that comes in as a first-ballot Hall of Famer that's going to be able to do what he has done. He's done an outstanding job. I am my own person and I would suspect that I may be a bit more emotional, probably not a whole lot, but a bit more emotional than coach from time-to-time. I worked for him for eight years and I never heard him raise his voice one time. I might break that record. There's a possibility I might break that record. Overall I think that those are some of the things you're going to observe and see that we're different, but in a number of ways I hope that I'm a lot like him as well."

On his community and charity involvement:

"My wife (Cheryl) and I have been talking about it for a while and we're going to pray about it for a little bit and kind of see what suits us as a family and make our decision accordingly. There are some charitable organizations that I've been a part of already like All Pro Dad, things that I will continue. At some point in time the others we'll designate. We understand the importance within our organization of our community involvement and we'll continue that."

On possible staff changes:

"I'm in the process right now of visiting with each one of our staff members. It started this morning and will continue later on this afternoon. It may take me a couple of days just to talk with them about some of the issues, some of the things we have planned and the direction of the program, etc. I'm not ready at this point in time, certainly not capable of giving you any details in that area. At some point in time we will be able to give you a little bit more direction. There are a number of things that could occur. In this game there are some changes. We have a lot of quality coaches on our staff and some of them are being pursued by other organizations. That could play into it as well."

On coaching quarterbacks:

"That will be done by Frank (Reich). He'll move into my position but the other things have not been determined as of yet. That's the great thing about being a head coach, you kind of get a chance to dabble in a little bit of everything. I'll try to make certain that I have an opportunity to deal with the special teams, offense and defense, but certainly not infringe upon anyone. Frank is very capable. He had an opportunity to work with us last year, kind of got a good feel for the lay of the land. He's an expert at what he does. He's played 13 or 14 years in this league. He's done an outstanding job and I would expect him to be able to carry that load and do a tremendous job. We're looking forward to that."

On being an offensive guy:

"If there is a side of the ball that I'd spend a little more time on perhaps it may be offense. I actually played on defense. I started my career on defense as well. The first quarter of my career was all defense. I have some familiarity with those areas, and certainly feel that I have a grasp of it. If you coach offensive football you better have a grasp of defensive football as well. I do plan to kind of oversee and cross all boundaries."

On the goal of being a head coach in the NFL:

"It's been something that I've always dreamed about. There are only 32 of these positions in the world. When you get down to that small number of positions, you know that's quite special. It's an exciting time for me. It's a great opportunity for me. I can't wait to really get rolling."

On growing up in Beloit, Wisconsin:

"Beloit, Wisconsin is a blue collar town. The Fairbanks Morris Company that was in the center of our town, we grew up probably about a block and a half from there. We had an opportunity to know the folks that were going in and out working for that particular corporation. They're all blue collar workers, it's a blue collar town. People look each other in the eye and say hello. You walk through Beloit you have to say hello about 50 times. Whoever you pass is going to speak to you. I don't care if its black, white, pink or purple, it's an unusual community. It taught the values just in terms of what's important, the small-town values. It's also a hard-nosed town as well. It taught you a little toughness in things that are needed to deal with this world. Sometimes the things in this world are not exactly like you would picture them. It takes a little toughness and aggressiveness to get you through."

On advice from Tony Dungy:

"There's so many of them. I'm going to give you one situation that occurred. When he gave me an opportunity to come in and ask him questions about how he dealt with certain issues, we had a disciplinary issue that popped up and I asked him how did you deal with this issue? How did you gather the information? How did you arrive at this particular decision? This particular individual he dealt with and punished, etc., some may have thought it could have been handled a couple of different ways. It could have been handled more severely or less severely. He and I kind of batted that around a little bit. He said this to me, ‘It's not about me. It's not about me. It's about this team. It's about this organization. It's about what's best for them. I have to look at the young man and make certain that we also cover those areas as well.' He did a great job of removing himself sometimes from a situation, where a lot of us in those situations of authority sometimes have to be able to pound the podium a little bit to show, ‘Hey I'm in control, etc.' He set great examples and showed us that that's not necessarily the best way."

On speaking to his players at some point:

"I will and I'll convey it sometime in the near future because they are all scattered. Obviously this time of the year, they're in different parts of the country and what we typically do during this time, we'll put together a letter and to send out with them along with the schedule for the rest of the spring and when they have to report back and that nature. I'll have an opportunity to address them when we get them all together this spring."

On how Wake Forest prepared him:

"Well one of the big things I learned was leadership. There was an old saying that said the mark of a true leader is a man that can lead himself. You really don't know until you get the opportunity to stand in front of a group, and for eight years, I had the opportunity to lead a hundred-plus young men 365 days a year, which was quite a task. In terms of organizational leadership skills, that was absolutely invaluable. You have to deal with so many different entities. Juggling between the faculty and the board of trustees and boosters and the media and things of that nature. It was a great sort of a training ground for me. It taught me some valuable lessons."

On it being a tough task at Wake Forest:

"The other thing you have to consider is in 1993 when I took that job, it was like 16 years ago. Now I'm hoping that I've matured and developed and growing stronger in a number of different areas since that time which I believe there's no question that I have. We're not trying to hide from the record that we had. We're not making any excuses and not going to hide from past failure. You learn from failures but we left the program better from the way we found it and I think that's important."

On his appreciation for the current Colts players:

"We have high standards here. Let me tell you something, that's great. That's outstanding. Jobs are difficult in this league. It's tough to win one game, let alone the number of games this franchise has been able to win over the last seven years. It's going to try you. You're going to be tested and there's going to be a lot of work and effort, but the great thing about it is we don't have to necessarily do it alone. That's why you put together a great staff and we have a staff with a lot of experience and expertise so we tend to lean on one another to get this job done. We have excellent players. We have from top to bottom an organization from our owner on down that is absolutely excellent and certainly focused in on winning. We all have the same vision. We want to win championships. I think that's very exciting. I'd rather it be that way than low expectations."

On changes on offense:

"That's one of the things that we'll address in terms of our evaluation process. From a schematic standpoint offensively and defensively we do not anticipate any drastic changes, but here's the thing you have to understand about football. Every year, we take a total review and take a look at everything that we've done and often times there's little tweaking that goes on because of the fact that maybe the opposition had caught on to a certain phase offensively or defensively or maybe your kicking game, so you have to make some adjustments there. We also adjust constantly in terms of how we practice and how we handle the OTA's. This year is going to be a bit different because our numbers are down. Obviously we will have an 80-man roster, so all those things play into it. There always will be a little tweaking in this game. There are going to be some changes. Be leery of the individual that wants to change nothing and the individual that wants to change everything. We want to be somewhere in between."

On the challenge of replacing Tony Dungy:

"I embrace that challenge. Number one, he certainly had a great impact on this community and is a very tough act to follow, but I'm not competing with Tony. We're here to direct this program and get it going in the direction we think it should. We want to build upon what's already been established and it's a great foundation of success here and we want to move forward."


Colts Blitz Top Stories