Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Patrick Witt's scheduling dilemma story picking up steam

Patrick Witt has heard the "I'd love to be faced with that problem" so many times in the last week or so that he simply lost track. However, he doesn't look at the possibility of either skipping the Harvard game in a week in a half or kissing goodbye his dreams of becoming a Rhodes Scholar as a win-win situation.

“It’s exciting and stressful,” Witt said. “To be named a finalist is a huge honor and something I am excited about. At the same time, different people are weighing in on the issue and I don't want to let anybody down so it is a distraction, I wouldn't say it’s a welcome distraction. It is obviously a great opportunity but at the same time, I'd love to have a decision made and move forward from here knowing what I am going to do.

“It is tough. I lean on people around me, I lean on my family, on Coach (Tom Williams) to help me make the decision but it is difficult. There are people who will second guess your decision and think you are wrong and that is fine. I will make the right decision for me, my team and the university.”

When Witt began the process of applying for the Rhodes Scholarship, he was fully aware that if he became a finalist, the interview would take place in Atlanta in the morning of the Yale/Harvard game. Knowing of the possibility of being asked to stay behind for a follow-up interview would mean not playing in his final collegiate game.

“I don't know if a clear answer is going to reveal itself to me so I have to make the best decision with the information I do have but in a lot of ways this is a decision of principle,” Witt said. “Coach mentioned that leadership is a major facet on who they select as candidates and as finalists. My big arena to display my leadership is on the football field as the quarterback. I have a duty to uphold and in some ways if I were to attend the interview and miss the game, I wouldn't be acting as the leader that they selected.”

Witt’s dilemma, which was the subject of a report on the NBC Nightly News on Monday, drew writers from the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg News Service to Yale’s weekly media gathering at Mory’s on Tuesday. Representatives from the Dallas Morning News, Boston Globe and NCAA.com have also requested an interview with Witt.

Witt’s hope is that his Rhodes interview could be moved so he could both go to the interview and play in the game. That is what happened in 2008 when Yale defensive back Casey Gerald was faced with the same situation. Gerald was able to interview the night before The Game and fly out the following morning.

That possibility still exists and there is a lot of work behind closed doors to try to make that happen.

“I am still in contact with the folks at the Rhodes,” Witt said. “I am still trying to work out some kind of solution from this. When I hear definitively one way or another, I'll go back and make my decision based on that. At this point, it is all speculation because I haven't made a decision yet. Hopefully I won't have to. I will continue to exhaust every means possible.

“They (the Rhodes committee members) are very understanding. In their defense, these dates were set long before the season started. I knew when they were. I understood the conflict that could exist and I guess in some ways I held out hope that we could work around it.

Yale football coach Tom Williams was faced with a similar decision when he was Witt's age. The timing of the Rhodes final interviews was a little different but he had to pick between attending a San Francisco 49ers training camp after wrapping up an impressive career at Stanford or heading to his Rhodes Scholarship interview. Williams picked football and has no regrets.

"He and I have talked frequently about this situation and I still believe you have to follow your heart, whatever your heart tells you," Williams said. "If you do that, you won't be disappointed, you won't have any regrets. I am one of those people that say you live your life with no regrets and just told him to soul search and do what feels right. I think if you do that, you can't go wrong.

"I think you would be inhuman if you didn't have stress associated with this. I just think the nature of this decision can weigh on you and you have the media, you have preparation for your games, nothing changes. You still have all these things you have to take care of and are involved in addition to this heavy decision you have to make."

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

According to the NYTimes, 11/17/11, Williams did not face the same choice as Witt. He was never a Rhodes Scholar candidate, which he has claimed ever since he was hired here. Disappointing that a Yale coach would be guilty of puffing his resume.

9:36 AM 
Blogger Jim Fuller said...

I saw the New York Times story and went to practice this morning to get Williams' reaction. He said he did apply for the Rhodes while at Stanford but never was a finalist. He said he has reached out to the faculty member who worked with him on his Rhodes application when he was Stanford and that he wants to clarify things. All the bio information I see on him dating back to his time as a Stanford assistant list him as a Rhodes candidate and not a finalist. I was among the reporters who stated he was a finalist based on comments he made on being in a similar situation as Patrick Witt.

10:16 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's a bit of a stretch to say that you were a candidate just because you sent in an application. But, according to the Times, the Rhodes people never received an application from him. Maybe he just thought about sending in the app?
In any case, he never had the same dilemma as Witt did, which is what he claimed.

11:04 AM 

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