A closer look at Jim Caldwell's coaching career

Andy Lyons

A rundown of new Detroit Lions head coach Jim Caldwell's coaching history.

The Detroit Lions hired Jim Caldwell on Tuesday as the 26th head coach in franchise history. Caldwell, who turns 59 on Thursday, joins the Lions after spending the last two years with the Baltimore Ravens. He originally joined the Ravens as their quarterbacks coach, but he was later promoted to offensive coordinator toward the end of the 2012 season. He took over just in time for the Ravens to get on a roll and win the Super Bowl, and he was named the permanent offensive coordinator in 2013.

Caldwell's coaching career actually began at Iowa. He was a graduate assistant for the Hawkeyes in 1977 after spending four years as a starting defensive back at the school. He graduated with a liberal arts degree before his coaching career got started.

After one year at Iowa, Caldwell moved on to Southern Illinois. He spent two seasons as the school's defensive backs coach before receiving a promotion to defensive coordinator in 1980. This led to him receiving a job as Northwestern's defensive backs coach in 1981, and he later moved on to Colorado to coach outside linebackers for two seasons.

Caldwell transitioned to the offensive side of the ball at Colorado in 1984. Instead of coaching outside linebackers, he made the switch to coaching quarterbacks and wide receivers. This only lasted one season, though. He moved on to Louisville in 1985 and was again in a defensive backs coach role.

Caldwell switched back to offense for good when he joined Penn State's coaching staff in 1986. He started out as the wide receivers coach, and he added the role of quarterbacks coach a year later. He remained in charge of those two positions until 1991, when Penn State made him the quarterbacks coach and passing coordinator.

Caldwell ended up staying at Penn State through the 1992 season. For the 1993 season, he was hired as Wake Forest's head coach. Amazingly, he remained in place at Wake Forest through the 2000 season despite not having any real success outside of one year. His time at Wake Forest began with records of 2-9, 3-8, 1-10, 3-8, 5-6 and 3-8. Finally, in 1999, Caldwell led the Demon Deacons to a 7-5 record and a win in the Aloha Bowl. However, Wake Forest went 2-9 the next season, and he was fired after amassing a 26-63 record over the course of eight seasons.

After being dismissed by Wake Forest, Caldwell immediately made the jump to the NFL when he was hired by Tony Dungy in 2001 as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' quarterbacks coach. He only spent one year with the Bucs since Dungy was fired after the 2001 season, but he followed Dungy to the Indianapolis Colts in 2002.

Caldwell started out as the quarterbacks coach in Indy before adding the assistant head coach title in 2005. In 2008, he was named the associate head coach, setting him up to take over the head coaching job a year later when Dungy retired. Caldwell led the Colts to a 14-2 record in his first season as head coach, and Indy made it all the way to the Super Bowl before losing to the New Orleans Saints. In 2010, the Colts went 10-6 and were eliminated in the wild-card round by the New York Jets. Finally, in 2011, with Peyton Manning out all season because of an injury, the Colts went 2-14 and Caldwell was fired.

Caldwell is now getting another chance to be an NFL head coach after spending two years in Baltimore. He had a 26-22 regular-season record in his three seasons as the Colts' head coach, and he went 2-2 in the playoffs. The Lions are hoping that what he was able to do in his first two seasons as Indy's head coach will be a sign of things to come for his time in Detroit, especially that 14-2 season that included a trip to the Super Bowl.

Caldwell, by the way, is from Beloit, Wisc. That's also the hometown for his wife, Cheryl, and they have three sons (Jimmy, Jermaine and Jared), as well as one daughter (Natalie).

(Special thanks to the Baltimore Ravens for the majority of this information.)

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