Why is Bobby Johnson's face still on mural of Vanderbilt coaches?

Friday, August 27, 2010 at 5:01pm

The Mount Rush ’Dore on the side of a building at 28th Avenue and West End that most folks still call “U Greek Me Greek,” has long been adorned with a mural of the faces of the Vanderbilt football and basketball coaches — and it’s gone unchanged since 2002 when Melanie Balcomb took over the women’s basketball team. Since then, Balcomb, men’s hoops coach Kevin Stallings and football’s Bobby Johnson have stared onto West End.

This summer, Johnson retired, replaced by quote-machine-in-a-polo-shirt Robbie Caldwell.

While Caldwell readies for his first game Saturday against Northwestern, Johnson remains on the mural.

Nashville real estate investor Jim Crossman bought the property a few years ago, and no one’s had to update the faces in an era of unprecedented coaching stability.

Michael Cooper — the artist who has changed the faces in the past — says Vanderbilt was always quick to remind him when those faces needed changing. But the university says it was U Greek who was in charge of the mural.

And now — no one seems to know who is in charge of the facade.

Vanderbilt athletic media relations man Rod Williamson says the school is willing to do what they can to help whoever decides to update it, but points out it’s not their building, it’s not part of their marketing campaign, and it’s “not a priority.”

Meanwhile, the folks at Crossman say the mural is indeed Vandy’s responsibility.

In fact, Crossman’s Frank Englert said the school is “going to have the Bobby Johnson figure taken off and redone.”

For his part, Cooper is ready and willing — once someone tells him to — to put up Caldwell’s avuncular visage — and maybe add a coach, perhaps baseball’s Tim Corbin. It’s not an outrageously pricey endeavor — Cooper says it would take “$1,500, tops” to replace Johnson with Caldwell.

And Caldwell? He’s not sure it’s a logistical possibility anyway.

“Naw, my head is probably too big to go up there, they might not have enough room,” he joked.

3 Comments on this post:

By: tim4wsp on 8/28/10 at 10:00

Who Cares?

By: jwk6179 on 8/28/10 at 3:06

What's the big hurry to change it? Theywill just have to repaint again after tyhe season when Vanderbilt hires the NEXT coach to replace Caldwell. And if anyone actually thinks that Robbie Caldwell weill remain the head coach after this season, I've got some beachfront property in Nevada I'd like to sell.

By: fredb on 8/30/10 at 10:23

It's a slap in the face (literally) to Coach Caldwell, his gallant efforts, the hard work this year's team is putting in to support him, and to all the faithful Vandy fans who will be coming out to root on the Commodores at their first home game next week to have to see this. Who ever is in charge: Do the right thing... call Mr. Cooper tomorrow and tell him to get his paint and brushes ready. Five days and counting, folks.......