SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Clemson offensive line coach Robbie Caldwell coached his 500th college game earlier this this season in a win over Boston College. He has 41 years of coaching experience and he is not finished yet.
As the third-ranked Tigers gear up to face No. 2 Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl as part of the College Football Playoff Semifinals, rumors have circulated in the last month that Caldwell may be nearing retirement.
The 65-year-old Caldwell quickly put any rumors about his exit from the program to rest at the JW Marriott Camelback Inn Resort & Spa Thursday at the Fiesta Bowl Media Day.
“They’ll have to run me off. I don’t know where those rumors come from, but I guess it’s just media stuff,” Caldwell said. “If I can’t do it anymore, I hope they’ll put me in the road.”
Caldwell, a Pageland, South Carolina native, grew up a Clemson fan and dreamed of one day being a Tiger. He played four years at Furman University where he began his coaching career. After a stint in the ACC, coaching offensive lines at NC State and North Carolina, he coached under Bobby Johnson at Vanderbilt and even tried his hand as an interim head coach for the 2010 season.
When his road ended at Vandy, Caldwell took the Clemson offensive line job in 2011 and has remained in that position ever since. He remembers fishing on Lake Hartwell in the early 1980s wondering what it would be like to coach at a place like Clemson.
“I was out of the state for 25 years so it’s been good to come home and being at Clemson makes it that much more special,” Caldwell said. “When I was coaching at Furman, I would be fishing on Lake Hartwell and could see the stadium. I had dreams of maybe doing that someday and here I am.”
Now Caldwell is focused on the task at hand, stopping Ohio State defensive end and Heisman Trophy finalist Chase Young. Young led the nation in sacks with 16.5 this season, forced six fumbles and recorded 44 tackles on the year. He also has 21 tackles for loss.
Clemson will match him with Ohio-native and sophomore offensive tackle Jackson Carman.
“You do the best you can and hope you’re technique is good enough,” Caldwell said. “He looks great on tape but we won’t know until we get there because we face some pretty good guys at practice. I’m anxious and sitting on pins and needles ready to see what happens.”
As for Carman, Caldwell is confident in his abilities and preparation. He just needs to stay focused on doing his job and not get distracted by the talents of one individual on the defensive line, even if that individual is Chase Young.
The Tigers kick off against Ohio State Saturday at 8 p.m. (ET) in the Fiesta Bowl for the CFP Semifinal.
A great gift for any Clemson fan. Just one of many great items available from Clemson Variety & Frame