Here I am, comfy as can be in the Joel Smilow Center. With my computer nestled safely in my lap, my notebook in one hand and trusty tape recorder in the other.
I am ready for the press conference. So who is going to emerge behind door No. 2? Don Brown, Tom Gilmore, Steve Addazio, Tom Williams? Maybe Bill Belichick, Steve Mariucci, Dick Jauron, Tom Coughlin or George Halas are preparing their final thoughts as they prepare to meet the masses. Wait, can one person be considering "the masses." Actually, outside a couple of representatives from the campus newspaper the turnout is on par for the coverage Yale received during the season in this very same room following the Bulldogs' home games. So I guess I should not be distressed that I am the only person here. Hold on, somebody just informed me that Papa Bear Halas passed away in 1983. "Well, cross him off then." (Sorry, couldn't resist the urge to quote a line from Major League).
This reminds me of that time in the Cincinnati airport last January en route to Milwaukee as part of my UConn women's basketball coverage. I arrived in the waiting area an hour and a half before my flight and was the only person there. No other passengers, no ticket takers, no pilots, no flight attendants. I was not worried. An hour before take off, no big deal. When it was 45 minutes before I was slated to leave, I'll have to admit I got a little anxious. Thirty minutes to go and I was approaching the panic stage. Then the cavalry arrived in the form of a lone front desk worker. She told me I was one of 10 people on the flight, then she said I was one of five. Wait, there are only three. Finally, tried not to break out in a fit of uncontrollable laughter, she informed me I was the only passenger.
But I digress. Wait, my cell phone just rang. It was one of my sources telling me that there is no press conference. I better book before my car gets buried in the 6 feet of snow expected to hit the area. My source said they are confident a new coach will be in place by Sept. 19, 2009 which happens to be the day when Yale opens the 2009 season with a game at Georgetown. We can only hope.
OK, let's be serious for a second. This is what I know outside the fact that Yale lost 34 seniors from a team which went 6-4 including the program's all-time leading rusher and one of the most decorated defensive players to even suit up for the Bulldogs and with each day and week that passes by, recruiting a class to replace them becomes all the more challenging.
First, I am not and have never been a candidate for the Yale football job. Sorry, I was supposed to be serious, wasn't I?
OK, here goes.
Within days of making the trip to New Haven to interview for the Yale job UMass coach Don Brown and Holy Cross coach Tom Gilmore pulled their names out of contention for the opening created when Jack Siedlecki accepted an assistant athletic director's job after posting a 70-49 record and winning two Ivy League titles in 12 years at the helm of the Bulldogs' football program.
Next, it seems as if we significantly overstated Stanford offensive coordinator Dave Shaw's role in this deal. While his name did come up early in the process, he was never a serious candidate for the job and have it on good authority that he did not interview for the opening.
Finally, the current candidates
(with current being the key word) are the aforementioned Addazio and Williams.
I've heard positive reports on both candidates but neither are slam dunks either. Addazio could be in position to become the offensive coordinator either at Florida or Mississippi and it is hard to say no to opportunities like that to take over at Yale. Williams is a bright, articulate man with a promising coaching future. He would make history by becoming the first black head football coach at Yale. If he wants the job, will those who do the hiring overlook the fact that he has no head coaching experience and all of his 11 years as a college assistant came far, far away from the Ivy League with stops at Hawaii, Washington, Stanford and San Jose State?
So if Addazio and Williams aren't the choices, then what? Well, anybody who has followed past Yale coaching searches will say it is like deja vu all over again. Usually there are two ways of proceeding, the easy way and the Yale way. The good news is that at least the NFL regular-season should be over, making it easier to speak to NFL assistants on non-playoff teams. Then again, the way things are going, the regular season may be wrapping up in the NHL, NBA and Major League Baseball as well.
All along I heard that Friday (as in today) was the target day for an announcement or at worst, there would be a head coach in place by Christmas. Well, Friday is here and other than the latest storm of the century threatening to turn the Nutmeg State into a winter wonderland, there's no news that a day after Gilmore pulled out of contention, Brown followed suit. Christmas is fast approaching (six shopping days for those procrastinators out there).
So if neither Addazio nor Williams pan out, do they bring Siedlecki back? Well, to quote that rental car commercial "not exactly." Or a more pertinent question: will they find a candidate who is an improvement over Siedlecki? You remember Siedlecki who took over a Yale program which had five straight non-winning seasons and by the end of his fourth season already had three winning seasons and won an Ivy League title. I know that he struggled to beat Harvard, a no-no for any Yale coach in any sport, but still if Siedlecki was the coach at Columbia, Cornell or Dartmouth and had a 70-49 record with two Ivy League titles in the last 12 years including a 23-7 mark over the last three seasons, the Yale search committee would be doing cartwheels if he said he was interested in the Yale job.
I know there was a number of vocal alumni who wanted Siedlecki out and clamored for a new man in charge of the Yale football fortunes. All I have to say is be careful for what you wish for. Yale may end up with a brilliant pick to become the third head football coach since the year of my birth (that would be 1965 for those of you not privy to my birth certificate). Let's just hope that when the hire does take place, it is an improvement over what was already in place.
This much I know, this Friday morning press conference thing isn't all it is cracked up to be. But it will allow this wonderfully bizarre proceed to continue on and on and on and on.