Saturday, January 03, 2009

Last candidate standing?

Excuse me if I don't use the term "front-runner" ever again in reference to candidates to become the new Yale football coach since the last two people deemed to be in the lead to replace Jack Siedlecki as Yale's new coach decided to stay put.

But the word is that Tom Williams, who was impressive in his initial interview at Yale, is still in the running for the job left vacant when Siedlecki stepped down to take a job as an assistant athletic director a few days after a season-ending loss to Harvard.

As the Register first reported, UMass coach Don Brown, Holy Cross coach Tom Gilmore, Florida assistant coach Steve Addazio and Williams, a Jacksonville Jaguars assistant coach, were in to interview for the vacant Yale football job.

Brown opted to stay at UMass, Gilmore decided to remain at Holy Cross and Addazio accepted a promotion to offensive coordinator at Florida. So that leaves us with the 39-year-old Williams.

When speaking to sources regarding Williams' first interview, the word was that Williams came across as a bright, engaging, charismatic individual and knocked them dead during the interview. However, he had two things doing against him - he has never been a head coach at any level and the closest coaching stop to New Haven is his most recent one in Jacksonville. Before being hired by the Jaguars in February of 2007, he had stints at Stanford (his alma mater), Fujitsu (Japan), Hawaii, Washington and San Jose State. Williams, who turned 39 on Dec. 22, does fit the age criteria as the word I heard is Yale preferred not to bring in a candidate in his late 50s so they wouldn't have to go through this whole process a few years down the road.

There are strong indications that Yale thinks highly enough of Williams to keep him in consideration for the Yale job despite his lack of head coaching experience. Then again, the university is running short on candidates these days. Also, it should be noted that four of the seven remaining Ivy League head coaches (Brown's Phil Estes, Cornell's Jim Knowles, Columbia's Norries Wilson and Princeton's Roger Hughes) had no previous head coaching experience before getting their current gigs although Wilson was the only one of the quartet with no previous coaching stints as an Ivy League assistant coach.

Williams would make a bit of history as he would be the first black football coach in Yale history. He obviously comes highly recommended from Stanford people and let's remember that Yale's director of athletics Tom Beckett came to Yale from Stanford so he certainly would have a chance to get a scouting report on Williams while he was Stanford's associate head coach and linebackers coach from 2002-04.

If Williams does not get the Yale job, look out. The uncertainty can not be good for the state of mind of the Yale assistant coaches. To their credit, they have been plugging away on the recruiting trail. They had a normal number of "Early Decision" commitments (in the 8-10 range) as they have had in past years and will just as many recruits on campus in the next two weekends as they have in previous years but trying to sell uncommitted recruits on coming to Yale when a coach has yet to be named is a tricky proposition. I recently spoke to a parent of a recruit considering Yale among some other Ivy League schools and he admitted not having a coach at Yale is a concern. Williams would solve that problem although I would have to say that I thought the Bulldogs would be focusing on a candidate with an offensive coaching background since all Yale's defense did is lead all Football Championship Subdivision teams in scoring defense the last two seasons.

Williams is also a Texas native with significant time as a coach and recruiter in California and Yale had 22 players on the 2008 team from either California or Texas so that part of the equation would be a good fit.

If Williams is Yale's guy, at least the rest of the staff can get some closure regarding their coaching future in New Haven since whoever the new coach is will likely move quickly in deciding which members of the current staff will be invited to stay and which ones need to look for new jobs.

Stay tuned.

1 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

As Monday evening, January 5th, Williams' hiring is official. There will be a press conference on Wednesday.

4:13 PM 

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