Colts owner hopes Dungy will return, but Caldwell tapped as heir apparent

Updated: January 18, 2008, 9:49 AM ET
Associated Press

NEW YORK -- Assistant head coach Jim Caldwell would replace Tony Dungy if the Indianapolis Colts coach retires, team owner Jim Irsay said Thursday night.

Irsay hopes Dungy will return and expects to speak to him this weekend, the owner said at a party celebrating an exhibition of the Jack Kerouac "On The Road" manuscript he owns at The New York Public Library.

Irsay said he might be able to make accommodations for Dungy such as allowing him to attend his son's high school football games in Florida on Friday nights. But he has no doubt that Dungy's commitment will be "100 percent" if he continues coaching.

"That's the type of guy he is," Irsay said.

Otherwise, he said, "Jim Caldwell would be the guy."

The Colts, the Super Bowl champions last year, were 13-3 in the regular season before falling 28-24 to San Diego last week in their playoff opener.

Caldwell has been an assistant to Dungy the last seven years -- one in Tampa Bay and the last six with the Colts, where he has coached quarterback Peyton Manning. Caldwell filled in for Dungy for one game in 2005 following the death of Dungy's 18-year-old son, James.

Caldwell spent more than 20 years in college football, and his only head coaching experience came at Wake Forest. He spent eight seasons with the Demon Deacons and led them to a bowl game in 1999.

Caldwell turned 52 on Wednesday and has interviewed with the Baltimore Ravens, Atlanta Falcons and Arizona Cardinals for head coaching jobs over the past year.


Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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