- Chris Low, ESPN Senior Staff Writer
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After just one season on the job, Vanderbilt's Robbie Caldwell is stepping down as head coach.
The university announced the decision Saturday following a meeting between Caldwell and David Williams, Vanderbilt's vice chancellor of university affairs and athletics.
During that meeting, it was agreed that it was in the best interest of the university and Caldwell that he step down.
Caldwell broke the news to his players before the news conference.
"Certainly, I would love to be here, but I understand this is a business situation," Caldwell said at a news conference Saturday. "I told you from Day One, whether it's two days or 20 years, I was very appreciative of Vanderbilt giving me an opportunity to do this. But like I said, there's time for changes. That's the direction the university wants to go, and I understand it."
"We really needed to see that we weren't going 2-10 again," Williams said. "I think that whether or not it was coach Caldwell or coach [Bobby] Johnson, we basically had some goals that we had set down that we wanted to see, and we didn't see those."
Vanderbilt is hiring a search firm to look for a new coach. However, according to two sources, the Commodores are interested in Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn as a replacement candidate, ESPN's Joe Schad reported.
"The program had not progressed like we had hoped. That was the thing," Caldwell said. "I would hope to see some changes made, do some things. The new coach I'm sure will get that opportunity."
Caldwell was initially named interim head coach in July when Johnson abruptly retired just prior to the start of preseason practice. The university later stripped the interim tag from Caldwell's title, and he said recently that his contract was for more than one year.
Caldwell came to Vanderbilt in 2002 with Johnson as the Commodores' offensive line coach.
He will coach his final game as Vanderbilt's coach later Saturday night at home against Wake Forest. The Commodores (2-9, 1-7 SEC) have lost six straight games.
Coaches in their first season at Vanderbilt have struggled to win more than a couple of games. Fred Pancoast debuted by going 7-4 in 1975. Since then, Gerry DiNardo went 5-6 in 1991 and Woody Widenhofer was 3-8 in 1997. Johnson was 2-10 in his first season in 2002.
Vanderbilt ranks 115th out of 120 FBS teams in total offense, averaging 285.1 yards.
Chris Low covers college football for ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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