Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Switching gears a bit

The first of the stories we are writing leading up to Saturday's Yale/Harvard game appeared in the paper today. As promised, it was a story on Yale senior safety Larry Abare's expected return to the field after missing 4 1/2 games with a broken arm.

But I thought it would be a good time to mention a couple of items from my interviews yesterday that have nothing to do with the Yale/Harvard game.

Considering that Yale coach Tom Williams was an assistant at San Jose State under Dick Tomey in 2005 and 2006, I asked Williams for a reaction to Tomey announcing his retirement after five seasons at San Jose State and 33 years as a Division I head coach.

"Coach and I talked earlier in the year and I know that this season has been grinding for him," Williams said. "I know he was expecting better results and I also know Coach (Tomey) is getting older and he has some grandchildren he wants to spend some time with. I had a feeling that this might be the last year for him but we are losing one of the greats in college football. He is one of the icons. He is president of the AFCA (American Football Coaches Association) which is a very prestigious honor. I am sad to see him go but at the same time, I am excited for him to get some time with his family because he has earned it.

"I worked with a lot of really good coaches. I have talked about the Bill Walshes and Denny Greens but I would say that Coach (Tomey) is just as influential on me as those guys. He had been through a lot of wars, he had seen a lot of players come and go. He's seen a lot of schools, been around a lot of systems.

Going completely away from football, I have been the beat writer of the Pilot Pen Tennis tournament for the last six years before asking off because of all the conflicts with my other assignments. During my meeting with tournament director Anne Worcester, somehow the conversation turned to two-time defending Pilot Pen women's singles champion Caroline Wozniacki. As you may remember, Wozniacki and Flavia Pennetta filmed a commercial in which the Yale Bowl was turned into the world's largest tennis court. Williams thought it would be a good idea to have a professional athlete like Wozniacki speak to his team, which she did.

Anne Worcester told me that whenever she saw Wozniacki at the U.S. Open, she asked when she would be receiving the Yale football jersey she was promised. But it wasn't just any jersey she wanted, she desired the No. 8 jersey. I finally got around to asking Yale punter Tom Mante, who happens to wear No. 8 for the Bulldogs, what that was all about and if he stole Caroline's heart when she visited Yale's practice.

"I understand that she ended up being ranked No. 8 in the world at the time (of her visit) so I think that is why they gave it to her," Mante said with a laugh. "They say that I did (steal her heart), I didn’t meet her but she did see me from a distance."

Finally, a reminded that if you have DirecTV and plan on watching the Yale/Harvard game at home, you will need to go to Plan B. As I mentioned earlier this season, DirecTV dropped Versus from its channel package because of an issue DirecTV has with Comcast's fees for carrying the station. Comcast also took issue with the placement on Versus on the channel grid. The result is that if you are a DirecTV subscriber, you will not be able to see that Yale/Harvard game.

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