The Detroit Lions have given their fans little to celebrate in the past 15 years. During that period the Lions made only four playoff appearances and won fewer than five games six times. They hit rock bottom by losing every game in the 2008 season. New head coach Jim Caldwell has the task of turning the team's fortunes around.
Born on Jan. 16, 1955, in Beloit, Wis., Caldwell was a starter in each of his four years as a defensive back at the University of Iowa. He graduated with a degree in liberal arts and was a graduate assistant for the Hawkeyes in 1977. Southern Illinois University hired Caldwell as defensive backs coach in 1978 and named him defensive coordinator two years later. After working as the defensive back coach at Northwestern University in 1981, Caldwell spent three seasons on the University of Colorado's staff, coaching the outside linebackers and later the quarterbacks and wide receivers. He coach the defensive backs at the University of Louisville in 1985. Caldwell joined Penn State University's coaching staff in 1986 and remained there until 1992. His first head coaching opportunity came from Wake Forest University in 1993. In 1999, the Demon Deacons enjoyed their first winning season and bowl game appearance in seven years. He left Wake Forest in 2000.
Caldwell became quarterbacks coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2001. The following year he was named the Indianapolis Colts' quarterback coach, a job that allowed him to spend six seasons working with Pro Bowler Peyton Manning. Manning won three Most Valuable Player Awards during that period and led the NFL in several categories - including completions, passing yards and passing touchdowns - accomplishments he gave Caldwell a lot of credit for. The Colts triumphed in the 2007 Super Bowl, and Manning was named the game's MVP. Caldwell was later named head coach and became only the sixth coach to lead his team to the Super Bowl in his first season, although the Colts lost to the New Orleans Saints in the 2010 Super Bowl. His time in Indianapolis ended in 2011.
The Baltimore Ravens hired Caldwell as their quarterbacks coach in February 2012 and promoted him to offensive coordinator 10 months later. Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco was brilliant during the playoffs, joining Joe Montana as the only players to throw 11 touchdowns and no interceptions in a postseason. The Ravens won the 2013 Super Bowl, and Flacco earned MVP honors.
When the Lions were seeking a replacement for the fired Jim Schwartz, both Manning and former Colts head coach Tony Dungy called general manager Martin Mayhew to endorse Caldwell. The Lions hired Caldwell in January 2014. Caldwell announced at his introductory press conference that he believes the time for winning is "right now." No doubt Lions fans will hold him to that.