Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Rice still waiting

I found it quite interesting to hear that Jerry Rice Jr., the son of the future Hall of Fame receiver who set pretty much every receiving record during his brilliant NFL career, visited the Yale campus a couple months back.

Rice appeared to be a long shot to leave the west coast to play in the Ivy League when I first reported about his visit and while that still seems to be the case, it is intriguing that the star at the Menlo School in Atherton, Calif. has yet to pick up a scholarship offer from the Pac-10 school. It should be worth noting that the last story I saw on him stated that Cal and UCLA are looking at Rice, a talented receiver prospect who was named the utility player of the year in California's Peninsula League as a senior, as a preferred walk on while Arizona, Stanford and Washington State have also expressed interest but not enough to offer him a scholarship. His only scholarship offer thus far has come from Air Force. On the site for the All-American Bowl which Rice will play in on Friday, Yale is mentioned along with Cal, UCLA, Stanford and Arizona. Of the 88 players on the rosters for the All-American Bowl Rice is one of three players who lists an Ivy League school among the colleges under consideration and the only player on the West squad. Receiver Anthony Curto out of Clifton Park, N.Y. lists Princeton and Georgetown while defensive back Mike Giresi from Westerville, Ohio has Penn along with Villanova, Pittsburgh and Purdue as schools he is considering. The game will be played at 5 p.m. on Friday at Coastal Carolina's Brooks Stadium and will be televised live on Fox College Sports.

Now back to the most popular subject regarding Yale football these days - the search for a new coach. I consider this to be the calm before the storm with so few people on campus between Christmas and New Year's. Expect the interview process to pick up steady after the holidays. I will be very surprised if a new coach is not in place by the time Yale holds its annual awards banquet and named the 2009 team captain next month. Then again, the early word was that a new coach would be in place by Christmas and we all know that hasn't happened.

The Yale coaching search is going national as an item appeared on SI.com site under "Campus Clicks" touting recently fired Romeo Crennel as the perfect candidate. Something tells me Eric Horowitz was being a bit facetious. Speaking of coaches with NFL experience, those who were hoping to see Dick Jauron return to Yale as the Bulldogs' head coach will not get their wish as reports out of Buffalo have Jauron returning as the Buffalo Bills' head coach. The way things are going in the NFL these days, it might save time reporting which coaches are not being fired rather than detailing the ones who are. Denver's Mike Shanahan is the latest one to go, making him the fourth head coach let go since the end of the regular season.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Lawrie on the board

Former Yale tight end had his first catch of the season on Sunday.

Lawrie had a four-yard reception on the first play the Bengals' second drive. Shayne Graham capped the 11-play, 63-yard drive with a 38-yard field goal. It was Lawrie's third career catch with his third different team. In 2006, playing for New Orleans, Lawrie had a 17-yard catch in a Oct. 15 game against Philadelphia. On Jan. 2, 2005 Lawrie had a 15-yard reception for Tampa Bay against Arizona.

For good measure, Lawrie added a seven-yard catch midway through the second quarter.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Addazio staying with Gators

Former Cheshire High coach Steve Addazio is the latest candidate to decide to stay where he is rather than remain in contention for the vacant Yale football job.

On Saturday night the University of Florida released a statement with the news that Addazio has been named Florida's offensive coordinator.

I first saw the report in the Palm Beach Post but expect it to be up on the Florida web site and reported by the other media outlets who cover Florida shortly.

Addazio joins UMass coach Don Brown and Holy Cross coach Tom Gilmore as candidates who interviewed for the Yale job only to opt to remain where they are. There has been little news on the other candidate brought in to interview for the job (Jacksonville Jaguars defensive assistant Tom Williams). With the NFL regular season coming to an end tomorrow, don't be stunned if Yale turns its attention to other NFL assistant coaches.

Addazio led Cheshire the state titles in his last three seasons with the Rams. He won his last 34 games, beginning a win streak which would reach a state record 49 before leaving to become an assistant coach at Syracuse. Stints at Indiana, Notre Dame and most recently Florida. Addazio, the offensive line coach with the Gators, was named the assistant head coach by Florida coach Urban Meyer this season.

Addazio now replaces Dan Mullen, who was named the head coach at Mississippi State earlier this month. Mullen will be working with Meyer, Addazio and the rest of the Florida offensive coaching staff to devise the game plan for the Jan. 8 national championship game against Oklahoma.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Some good news

Yes, there is other Yale related news that does not involve updates on who may be coaching the 2009 Bulldogs.

The Shreveport Times reported that Louisiana's Gatorade Player of the Year Dez Duron has committed to Yale. Duron is a 5-11, 165-pound quarterback who threw for 4,216 yards and a state record 57 touchdown passes as a senior at Evangel Christian. The record he broke was that of another Evangel Christian QB named Brock Berlin who attended Florida for a season before transferring to Miami. More recently, Berlin has been a reserve quarterback with the St. Louis Rams. Berlin got into the game against Chicago on Nov. 23 and completed one of three passes for 6 yards.

Obviously with the coaching situation still up in the air, recruiting news has been a bit slow. Before Jack Siedlecki relinquished his duties to take an assistant athletic director's position at the university, it was confirmed that John Runk, a receiver out of Cincinnati's Anderson High, Buckingham Brown & Nichols kicker Phillipe Panico, who set a Massachusetts record with a 58-yard field goal in October, Greenwich linebacker Will McHale and Hopkins quarterback John Powers have received their likely letters from Yale meaning their applications have been approved by the Yale admissions department.

According to a report in the Miami Herald, Ryan Becker - the quarterback for the St. Thomas Aquinas team which finished undefeated and No. 1 in three national high school polls is considering Princeton, Harvard and Yale. Becker had a 29-1 record as a starting quarterback at the Ft. Lauderdale school, leading his team to consecutive 5A titles. As a senior Becker completed 124 of 161 passes for 2027 yards with 30 touchdowns passes and five interceptions. I also noticed that Yale was mentioned as a possible destination for a pair of linemen who recently played in the Maryland Crab Bowl All-Star game. Micah Colston, a 6-foot-3, 300 pounder from Parkside High in Salisbury, Md., is linked to Maryland and Yale while 6-5, 275 pound Justin Hymes out of Allegany High in Cumberland, Md., has Yale among 10 teams he is considering.

Addazio weighing his options

In Wednesday's edition of the Register there will be an update on the attempt to fill the vacant Yale head football coach job.

Sources have indicated to us that former Cheshire High coach Steve Addazio can have the job if he so desires. That is a big "if."

Addazio is in contention for the plum gig as Florida's offensive coordinator with former Gators' OC Dan Mullen taking the head job at Mississippi State. There was some bantering about Mullen even attempting to lure Addazio, currently Florida's offensive line coach, to Starkville to be Mississippi State's offensive coordinator. I'm not sure how likely that scenario is with three of the assistants Mullen has hired to date being former offensive coordinators. The opening at Florida is a different story.

The Palm Beach Post addressed the issue in a blog Monday morning mentioning Addazio and receivers coach Billy Gonzales as the top in-house candidates to fill Mullen's spot. One thing in the blog that would concern me from Yale's end is the statement that Florida coach Urban Meyer will take his time finding a replacement for Mullen. Time is a luxury Yale simply does not have. If Addazio wants the Yale job, those being entrusted with doing the hiring should finish the deal. Sure, Yale has a solid start to the recruiting season with a handful of prime recruits having already received "likely letters" but the longer the process drags out, the more difficult it will be securing commitments from recruits who are currently undecided. If Addazio chooses to stay with the Gators, things could get extremely interesting as the job search will open back up.

I do know that the original target of having a coach in place by Christmas is about to come and go. Will something happen between Christmas and New Year's? Stay tuned.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Abare finishes 11th

Yale senior linebacker Bobby Abare finished 11th in the voting for the Buck Buchanan Award, given to the premier defensive player in Football Championship Subdivision.

Abare had one first-place vote, three votes for second, third and fourth and eight fifth-place tallies to finish with 40 points. defensive end Greg Haywood of Eastern Washington had 39 first-place votes to easily outdistance Maine's Jovan Belcher to win the award. Current NFL starters Jared Allen and Rashean Mathis are among the former winners of the award.

Appalachian State quarterback Armanti Edwards won the Walter Payton Award as the top offensive player in FCS while James Madison's Mickey Matthews earned the Eddie Robinson Award as the coach of the year.

Friday, December 19, 2008

What a process

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.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Report: Brown out of the running

WWLP, the ABC affiliate in Springfield, Mass. is reporting that Don Brown has opted to remain at UMass. There are no comments from Brown, just sources cited from inside the UMass athletic department.

When we get more info, we will report it. There will be a story in Friday's Register of a new candidate who is emerging with ties to Stanford University.

Here is the report from WWLP.

AMHERST, Mass. (WWLP) - The UMass athletic department has confirmed to WWLP that Don Brown has taken his name out out of the running for the Yale football head coaching job. Brown interviewed for the Yale job in the past week.

Brown spent six seasons as the Yale defensive coordinator from 1987-1992. He interviewed for the same position 12 years ago, but was beat out by former Amherst College coach Jack Siedlecki, who is stepping down.

Brown still has 3 years left on his deal with UMass and led the Minutemen to the
national title game in 2006.

Honors rolling in for Abare

A day after Bobby Abare was named to the Football Championship Subdivision All-American second team by the Associated Press, the Yale senior linebacker was the only Ivy League player named to the American Football Coaches Association FCS All-American team

Here's the release from Yale

Bobby Abare ( Acton , Mass. ), one of the most decorated defensive players in the history of Yale football, added another honor to his resume when he was selected to the 2008 American Football Coaches Association FCS All-America Team.

Abare, a senior LB who captained the 2008 Bulldogs, was the only Ivy League player to make the 25-man squad after leading Yale to a second straight year with the nation’s top scoring defense. The Bulldogs allowed just over 10 points per game last fall.

Recently named the co-recipient of the Bulger Lowe Award (New England MVP) by the Gridiron Club of Boston and a Walter Camp Football Foundation All-American, Abare was honorable mention All-America in 2007. He is a finalist for the 2008 Buck Buchanan Award as the top FCS defensive player. Yale’s last first-team All-America pick was Ed McCarthy ’07 in 2006.

He owns the school records for interceptions by a linebacker (10) and touchdowns by a defensive player (4). Abare, a three-time first-team All-Ivy pick, led the Blue in tackles the last three falls while his teams went 23-7 and captured a 2006 Ivy League title.

2008 AFCA Football Championship Subdivision Coaches’ All-America Team
Pos Name Ht. Wt. Cl. School
WR Andre Roberts 5-11 175 Jr. The Citadel WR Ramses Barden* 6-6 227 Sr. Cal Poly
TE John Nalbone 6-4 255 Sr. Monmouth
OL Nick Hennessey 6-6 300 Sr. Colgate
OL Raphael Nguti 6-7 330 Sr. Albany
OL Aaron Lockwood 6-2 303 Sr. Southern Illinois
OL Demario Deese 6-4 305 Sr. Gardner-Webb
OL Brad Samsa 6-3 290 Sr. Youngstown St.
QB Armanti Edwards 6-0 184 Jr. Appalachian St.
RB Javarris Williams 5-11 215 Sr. Tennessee St. RB Herb Donaldson 5-11 225 Sr. Western Illinois
Pos Name Ht. Wt. Cl. School
DL James Ruffin 6-4 265 Jr. Northern Iowa
DL Jovan Belcher 6-2 228 Sr. Maine
DL Greg Miller 6-3 250 Sr. Villanova
DL Greg Peach 6-3 255 Sr. Eastern Washington
LB Jason Williams* 6-3 235 Sr. Western Illinois
LB Marcellus Speaks 6-2 230 Sr. Jackson St.
LB Bobby Abare 6-2 220 Sr. Yale
DB Lardarius Webb 5-10 205 Sr. Nicholls St.
DB William Middleton 5-11 186 Sr. Furman
DB Dontrell Miller 5-8 175 Jr. Tennessee-Martin
DB Colt Anderson 5-11 195 Sr. Montana
Pos Name Ht. Wt. Cl. School
P Doug Spada 6-1 190 Jr. Southeast Missouri St.
PK Robbie Dehaze 6-3 193 Sr. Northern Arizona
AP Scotty McGee 5-9 180 Jr. James Madison
*-2007 AFCA All-American

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Gilmore pulls out

Holy Cross coach Tom Gilmore has pulled out of the running for the vacant Yale football job.

Gilmore was in New Haven on Monday interviewing for the job held by his close friend Jack Siedlecki for the last 12 seasons.

On Wednesday he told the Worcester Telegram & Gazette that he is no longer a candidate for the Yale job.

UMass coach Don Brown, Florida offensive line coach Steve Addazio, Stanford offensive coordinator Dave Shaw and Akron defensive coordinator Jim Fleming are known to have interviewed with Yale officials although indications are that Shaw and Fleming are not in the running to replace Siedlecki.

The original hope of having a coach in place by Friday is looking unlikely. In Yale's history counts for anything in such matters, don't expect this to be a routine process. There are just too many people with their hands in this deal to make as easy as identifying a leader and hiring them but maybe Yale will surprise me.

Stay tuned.

Candidates lining up

I'll have to admit, the list of candidates for the vacant Yale football job exceeded my expectations.

I was figuring coordinators, preferably offensive coordinators, would be the ones in the running for the gig left available when Jack Siedlecki relinquished his post to become as assistant athletic director at Yale.

But the four finalists include current UMass coach Don Brown, who my sources say is the leader in the clubhouse, and Holy Cross coach Tom Gilmore. Former Cheshire High coach Steve Addazio, who is currently the offensive line coach for a Florida team a win away from its second national title in the last three years, and former Sacred Heart University coach Jim Fleming, now at Akron after a stop at North Carolina. Stanford offensive coordinator Dave Shaw was also brought in for an interview.

Coaching searches can be precarious creatures. At one point, it seemed as if recently fired Tennessee offensive coordinator Dave Clawson was emerging as a serious candidate. Then the former head coach at Fordham and Richmond was hired at Bowling Green. As recently as a week ago, Addazio was being thought of as the No. 1 guy. In recent days, Brown was moved to the front of the pack.

One thing to remember, there are a lot of people who have to sign off on the hiring of the Yale football coach. If all goes well, a new coach could be named by Friday although people I spoke to on Monday and Tuesday felt that seemed a little less likely than it was a few days earlier.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Huge honor for Abare

When your name is mentioned alongside Yale legends like Levi Jackson, Dick Jauron, Brian Dowling and Rich Diana, it is clearly a special honor.

Yale senior linebacker Bobby Abare was so honored when he was named the co-winner of
the George "Bulger" Lowe Award by the Gridiron Club of Boston as the most outstanding player in New England.

Abare, who shared the award with Mark Herzlich of Boston College, led the Bulldogs with 86 tackles and four interceptions. He has also been named a finalist for the Buck Buchanan Award given to the outstanding defensive player among Football Championship Subdivision teams.

Abare becomes the ninth Yale player and first defensive player to win the Lowe Award and the first recipient from Yale since running back Rich Diana was honored in 1981.

1944 - Paul Walker, E
1946 - Levi Jackson, RB
1950 - Bob Spears, FB
1956 - Denny McGill, HB
1960 - Tom Singleton, QB
1968 - Brian Dowling, QB
1972 - Dick Jauron, RB
1981 - Rich Diana, RB
2008 - Bobby Abare, LB

Friday, December 12, 2008

Clawson to Bowling Green

Former Tennessee offensive coordinator Dave Clawson, who was in the running for the vacant Yale football job, has been named the head coach at Bowling Green.

Clawson, who played at Williams and had successful head coaching stints at Fordham and Richmond, would have been a nice fit at Yale. Earlier this week I spoke to a couple colleagues at the Knoxville News-Sentinel who had dealings with Clawson at Tennessee and they had nothing but good things to say about the 41-year-old Clawson.

Yale senior linebacker Bobby Abare is a member of the Walter Camp's Football Championship Subdivision All-American team which is being announced today. Abare led Yale with 86 tackles and two defensive touchdowns, tied for the team lead with four interceptions and was second with 12 tackles for losses for a defense which led FCS teams in scoring defense for the second season in a row.

2008 Walter Camp Football Championship Subdivision All-America Team

WR Ramses Barden* Cal Poly Sr. 6-6 227 Altadena,
WR Terrell Hudgins* Elon Jr. 6-3 235 Rocky
Mount, NC
TE Scott Sicko New Hampshire Jr. 6-3 230
Stillwater, NY
OL Colin Dow Montana Sr. 6-5 300 Billings,
OL Nick Hennessey Colgate Sr. 6-6 300
Danvers, MA
OL Joel Bell Furman Sr. 6-8 308
Spartanburg, SC
OL Jonathan Bieschke Appalachian State Sr. 6-5 275 Port St.
Lucie, FL
C Scott Lemn James Madison Sr. 6-3 285
Virginia Beach, VA
QB Armanti Edwards Appalachian State Jr. 6-0 184
Greenwood, SC
RB Herb Donaldson Western Illinois Sr. 5-11 225 St.
Louis, MO
RB Rashad Jennings Liberty Sr. 6-1 230
Forest, VA
PK Andrew Wilcox Elon Sr. 6-2 231 Richmond,

DL Greg Peach Eastern Washington Sr. 6-2 250
Vancouver, WA
DL Jovan Belcher Maine Sr. 6-2 228
West Babylon, NY
DL Larry Hart Central Arkansas Jr. 6-1 242 Madison,
DL Greg Miller Villanova Sr. 6-3 250 Willow
Grove, PA
DL John Faletoese UC Davis Sr. 6-3 292
Carmichael, CA
LB Nathan Williams Murray State Sr. 6-1 225
Murray, KY
LB Zach East Prairie View A&M Sr. 6-2 230 Houston,
LB Bobby Abare Yale Sr. 6-2 220
Acton-Boxboro, MA
DB Mark LeGree Appalachian State Soph. 6-0 200 Columbus,
DB Marcus Haywood James Madison Sr. 6-0 190
Williamsburg, VA
DB Colt Anderson Montana Sr. 5-11 195
Butte, MT
DB K.J. Gerard Northern Arizona Sr. 6-1 187 Fountain
Valley, CA
P Robbie Dehaze Northern Arizona Sr. 6-3 193
Sherwood, OR
KR LeRoy Vann Florida A&M Jr. 5-9 182 Tampa, FL

* - 2007 Walter Camp FCS All-America selection

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Special day in The City

It was a memorable trip to New York on Tuesday for the press conference for the National Football Foundation's annual awards dinner.

The list of players inducted into the Hall of the Fame was truly impressive. Troy Aikman, who quarterbacked the Dallas Cowboys to three Super Bowl championship, was the inductee creating the most buzz. Perhaps the funniest line came courtesy of former Buffalo Bills running back Thurman Thomas. On the conference call, he was asked to talk about going into the Hall of Fame along with Aikman since Thomas starred at Oklahoma State and Aikman spent the first two seasons of his college career at Oklahoma before transferring to UCLA. Paraphrasing Thomas' remark, he said "this is one of the few times I am not losing something to Troy."

Yale was prominently featured in the event. The late Dick Galiette, voice of Yale football for 34 seasons before his death in 2005, was the co-recipient of the Chris Schenkel Award for broadcasting excellence in college football. Senior cornerback Casey Gerald was one of the 15 finalists for the Draddy Trophy or "Academic Heisman." Although he didn't win, Gerald was asked to speak at the dinner Tuesday night on behalf of the 15 Draddy Trophy finalists. The always eloquent Gerald did not disappoint.

"You always recall the people who have the most impact on your lives," Gerald said. "I'm eternally grateful to the game of football. I have lived that game at Yale, and it gives the chance to live your dreams."

Freshman linebacker Jordan Haynes was also at the dinner as one of the five national high school scholar-athletes honored by the NFF.

In Wednesday's edition of the Register, there were two stories off the event. First, was the main story on the Yale contingent being honored focusing on Galiette receiving the Schenkel Award and with Gerald, Haynes and defensive coordinator Rick Flanders on site, I took the opportunity to check in and see how things are proceeding at Yale without a head coach running the shots.

There were quite a few things I was unable to get into the paper for space purposes.

First, Flanders said he has no interest in the vacant head coaching job.

"No, I like the job I have. I was only a head coach for one year. I kind of like the one (job) I have," Flanders said.

Flanders would love to return for his 13th season as Yale's defensive coordinator but ultimately that decision will fall to the new head coach. The search to find Jack Siedlecki's successor is moving forward and don't be surprised to see something happen in the next couple of weeks. I'll let the internet message boards and web sites who so desire to throw out different names on an hourly and daily basis. The fact is that it is quite early in the process and when we feel the time is right, we will certainly be providing updates. I will say this much, be careful in how much stock you put into many of the rumors circulating out there. It certainly is a popular topic of conversation. I saw UConn director of athletics Jeff Hathaway who I know courtesy of my other assignment of being the beat writer for the UConn women's basketball program. He was surprised to see me and I told him it was part of my other life as the Yale football beat writer. He asked me what was new in the job hunt. I couldn't resist landing a playful jab so I said "well, the name Randy Edsall keeps surfacing." Hathaway had a good laugh on that one considering how many times Edsall's name has been thrown out there in rumors about the vacant Syracuse job.

Perhaps the one image I have from the event is that I sometimes forget that players are fans too. Casey Gerald's eyes lit up when I mentioned the names Troy Aikman and Jay Novacek. Gerald grew up in Dallas and is a huge Dallas Cowboys fan.

"I have rarely been a loss for words but this is one of those times where you are a guy who grew up in Dallas and you see Troy Aikman and Jay Novacek up there, Thurman Thomas and all those guys, that is something most people can only dream of," Gerald said. "It is real special just to be in a room with them. I'm a huge, huge (Cowboys fan), the Super Bowl parties growing up in Dallas were kind of like Christmas all over again. I still get in trouble now and then for harping on the golden days of the glory of the Cowboys. It is a phenomenal franchise obviously and a phenomenal opportunity to see guys who were part of those teams. I am going to try to go and get a camera at some point to try to get a picture of them."

I asked Haynes who he was most blown away by among the impressive group of Hall of Famers.

"There are so many famous people here," Haynes said. "I feel small but it is a good feeling to be here with everybody. Definitely Troy Aikman but I was blown away to see Graham Harrell, Chase Daniel (who were on hand as Draddy Trophy finalists) over there eating dinner with us (Monday night) so it is pretty cool. It has been a fun time."

Haynes did let slip that classmate Drew Baldwin was named the team's freshman of the year. It is hardly a stunning choice as Baldwin received the most varsity playing time among the freshmen. When Gio Christodoulou was moved from cornerback to receiver in an attempt to spruce up a stagnant Yale passing offense, Baldwin became the first freshman to crack the two-deep chart. Along with sophomore Adam Money, he got to see a decent amount of work in Yale's "dollar" formation where cornerback Paul Rice was moved inside to linebacker.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Mack wins Draddy

California center Alex Mack edged out 14 other candidates including Yale's Casey Gerald to win the Draddy Trophy, commonly referred to as the "Academic Heisman."

Here's the full release which was just sent over by the National Football Foundation

Cal Center Alex Mack Named 2008 Draddy Trophy Winner

Mack becomes first Pac-10 winner of the NFF's top scholar-athlete award, as $277,000 in scholarships is distributed to the 2008 NFF National Scholar-Athlete Class

NEW YORK, December 9, 2008 - Alex Mack , an All-America center from the University of California, became the 19th recipient of the Draddy Trophy, presented by HealthSouth , at The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame's Annual Awards Dinner in New York City tonight.

The Draddy Trophy is one of college football's most sought after and competitive awards, recognizing an individual as the absolute best in the country for his combined academic success, football performance and exemplary community leadership. The award comes with a 24-inch, 25-pound bronze trophy and a $25,000 postgraduate scholarship. A total of $277,000 was awarded to Mack and the other 14 Draddy Trophy finalists, who each claimed $18,000 scholarships for their post-graduate educations.

"We are extremely proud to award this year's Draddy Trophy to Alex," said NFF Chairman Archie Manning , whose son Peyton claimed the 1997 Draddy Trophy. "He represents the best of the best in collegiate academics and athletics and epitomizes the leadership qualities learned playing our great sport."

Having already graduated magna cum laude with a 3.61 GPA and a bachelor's degree in legal studies, the 2008 Pac-10 Scholar-Athlete of the Year for football is a four-time Academic All-Pac-10 selection currently pursuing a master's in education. In an article by Eric Gilmore of CalBears.com, several of Mack's teammates concurred that it has come to be expected to see the two-time ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District pick "walking around with a book all the time," and acknowledge that Mack "puts in the time to succeed" when it comes to school and football.

Equally impressive, the projected first round NFL Draft pick is a two-time All-Pac-10 pick, one of only three players to be named a unanimous 2007 First Team All-Conference selection en route to earning the Morris Trophy as the conference's top offensive lineman. Named a First Team All- America by The Sporting News in 2007, the Santa Barbara, Calif., native is a finalist for the Rimington Trophy and the leader of an offensive unit that allowed the fewest sacks (24) in the Pac-10 in 2006 and '07. Mack will lead the Golden Bears to face Miami (Fla.) in the Emerald Bowl on Dec. 27.

A member of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, Mack was the literal poster boy for Cal's "Dancing with the Stars" fundraising event, which raised money for underprivileged children in the San Francisco area. He was selected as a summer guest columnist for the Sporting New Today and has participated in an after-school program with local elementary schools.

Mack follows Je'Rod Cherry (1995) and Donald Pat Newell (1959) as NFF National Scholar-Athletes for the Golden Bears.

Launched in 1959, the NFF scholar-athlete program became the first initiative in history to credit a player for both academic and athletic accomplishments. The centerpiece to the NFF's scholar-athlete program, which has awarded $8.9 million to 708 top athletes, the Draddy Trophy, first awarded in 1990, honors Manhattan College quarterback and former NFF Chairman Vincent dePaul Draddy .

"The NFF mission is to build leaders through football, and the 2008 NFF National Scholar-Athlete class members stand as a testament to that creed," said NFF President & CEO Steven J. Hatchell . "We look forward to supporting the bright futures of each of these fine young men, and we take great pride in holding them out as examples of football's unique ability to build tomorrow's leaders."

Candidates must be a senior or graduate student in their final year of eligibility, have a grade point average of at least 3.2 on a 4.0 scale, have outstanding football ability as a first team player and have demonstrated strong leadership and citizenship.

The 2008 Class of NFF National Scholar-Athlete Award Recipients and Draddy Finalists includes:

Andrew Berry - CB, Harvard University
Ryan Berry - QB, South Dakota State University
Chase Daniel - QB, University of Missouri
Brian Freeman - OT, Carnegie Mellon University (Pa.)
Casey Gerald - CB, Yale University
Graham Harrell - QB, Texas Tech University
Quin Harris - LB, Louisiana Tech University
Jeff Horinek - LB, Colorado State University
Ryan Kees - DE, St. Cloud State University (Minn.)
Alex Mack - C, University of California
Ryan McDonald - OL, University of Illinois
Greg Micheli - QB, Mount Union College (Ohio)
Darryl Richard - DT, Georgia Tech
Brian Robiskie - WR, Ohio State University
Louie Sakoda - K/P, University of Utah

Gerald was selected among the Draddy finalists to speak at Tuesday's NFF annual awards dinner. The late Dick Galiette, the voice of Yale football for 34 seasons, was honored at the event as a co-recipient of the Chris Schenkel Award for college football broadcasting excellence.

There will be more from the event in this blog and in the print edition of the Register on Wednesday.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

More honors for seniors

Five members of the Yale senior class were recoginized over the last couple of days.

Linebacker Bobby Abare and offensive tackle Darius Dale were named to the All-New England squad by the New England Football Writers Association while cornerback Casey Gerald, defensive tackle Kyle Hawari and fullback Shebby Swett were among 10 Yale student-athletes named Academic All-Ivy selections. Each Ivy school was limited to nominating five male and five female student athletes for the honor. Max Rhodes of the soccer team and John Hinkle of the cross country squad were other male recipients from Yale while the female honorees were Kristin Wilk (volleyball), Maggie Westfal and Natalie Mann both from the women's soccer team, Ali Rotondo (field hockey) and Bevin Peters (cross country).