Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Calm before the storm

For those wondering why there haven't been updates on this blog regarding the search for a new Yale football coach in the last few days, I took the opportunity to head out of state to visit with my sister and her family without my computer, tape recorder, notebook.Now that I am back in Connecticut, I hope to start providing some info. I know this is a key recruiting time but with so many people away for the holidays, I'd say this is kind of a dead time in terms of identifying candidates and bringing them in for interviews.

My colleague Chip Malafronte did some digging with his Yale sources while I was away and came up with an interesting list of candidates

I know Dick Jauron is somebody who would be warmly received by many alumni, I question whether he would be an ideal fit. It's not just that he will turn 62 in the middle of next season (although that does make one wonder how many years he would stay at Yale if he got the gig) but he is an NFL coaching lifer who has never coached at the college level. Certainly playing for  guy who has spent part of 10 season as a head coach in the NFL would be appealing to recruits, it would surprise me if he opted to leave his job as the defensive coordinator with the Cleveland Browns to take over at Yale.

Bob Shoop was a name I heard as a possible candidate during the Yale/Harvard week. He has the basic qualifications I would think the committee would be looking for (previous head coaching experience, ties to Yale and/or the Ivy League). The defensive coordinator at Vanderbilt seems to be in a great spot right now but the former receiver on the Kelly Ryan-led Yale squads of the late 1980s is somebody to keep an eye on. I know he was just 7-23 in his stint as Columbia's head coach but I doubt too many people could have won games at Columbia during the time he was there.

The next two names (Brian Polian and Pat Graham) certainly have bright futures in coaching. Polian would concern me because he has not only never been a head coach but hasn't been an offensive or defensive coordinator either. Graham, just 32, would probably benefit from more seasoning before taking over a college program.

I would be shocked if former New Haven coach Tony Sparano has any interest in the Yale job. I think it is more likely he lands on his feet as an NFL assistant after getting let go as the Miami Dolphins head coach recently.

Now for some of my thoughts on other candidates.

Don Brown was a serious candidate back in 2008 before leveraging Yale's interest into a pay raise as the head coach at UMass. He then headed to Maryland as the defensive coordinator for two seasons before taking the same job at UConn. He certainly is qualified for the job with three head coaching stints in the Northeast. Brown was Yale's defensive coordinator from 1987-92 under Carm Cozza, whose input will be sought out during this process. Will he leave UConn after one season to take the job (if offered it) that he passed on in 2008? That remains to be seen. If he did, Yale would be his fourth job in five years so I'm not sure he is bringing the kind of stability Yale is looking for.

New Haven coach Peter Rossomando, who I've heard is interested in the job, is a pretty interesting candidate. He has done a remarkable job turning the once dormant New Haven program back into a national power. I know people will say his experiences as a scholarship Division II school may be a case of apples and oranges going into a situation where he'd have to recruit from such a small player pool but Rossomando is an outstanding coach that I think Yale should give serious consideration to during this process.

A name I am just throwing out there because I think Yale would be wise to get a gauge of his interest is South Florida assistant coach and New Haven native Vernon Hargreaves. Although he has never been an offensive or defensive coordinator or head coach, Hargreaves can count NFL stars Jon Beason, D.J. Williams and Jonathan Vilma as pupils of his during his eight seasons as the linebackers coach at Miami.

Another person with Connecticut ties who I would think the people at Yale should at least send out feelers to is Iowa assistant coach Ken O'Keefe. The Milford native began his coaching career at the University of New Haven in 1976-77. He has been Iowa's offensive coordinator for the last 12 seasons.

The name of Holy Cross coach Tom Gilmore was a prominent one early on in the search for Jack Siedlecki's replacement three years ago before he removed himself from consideration. His name is always a popular one when an Ivy League job becomes available because of his time as a standout lineman and former Ivy League MVP during his playing days at Penn. I'm not sure of his interest level. I will put Hargreaves, O'Keefe and Gilmore on the backburner list until I get a sense that either they or Yale have an interest in the opening.

Naturally staff members on other Ivy League teams could emerge as candidates. Former Yale assistant coaches Joel Lamb and Tony Reno have been extremely successful at Harvard and I know some people who read this blog have thrown their names out there.

I would expect candidates to be brought in for interviews in early January and for Yale to move very quickly once that part of the process is underway. When this happened in 2008, the search began in late November. They are a full month behind in 2011 and will need to move quickly in order to minimize the recruiting impact.

As for what the new coach is walking into, Yale has a pretty solid nucleus of returning players especially on offense even with the graduation of record-setting quarterback Patrick Witt, leading rusher Alex Thomas and starting guards Gabe Fernandez and Colin Kruger. John Whitelaw is an untested but athletic quarterback who got some time working with the first unit during practice last season. He isn't blessed with as strong of an arm as Witt but will make more plays with his feet. Mordecai Cargill should be the go-to back next season although Kahlil Keys was a highly-touted freshman would likely would have received some varsity carries had he not missed all of last season due to injury. With the return of Chris Smith, Deon Randall, Cameron Sandquist, Allen Harris, Jackson Ligouri and others, Yale may have the deepest set of receivers in the league. Yale also returns nearly all of its tight ends, h-backs and fullbacks. James Talerico, who saw time at both tackle and guard last season, figures to be a top candidate to fill one of the starting guard spots. With three tackles returning who started games last season (Roy Collins, Wes Gavin and Ben Carbery) it would not surprise me if the new staff chose to move one of them inside (the extremely athletic Collins would be my choice) to compete for a starting guard spot.

It is on defense where I think the new coach will have his work cut out for him with five of the top seven tacklers off a team which struggled at times a season ago. No position will be hit harder by graduation than the front four as defensive tackles Jake Stoller, Reed Spiller and Pat Moran as well as defensive ends Matt Battaglia, Austin Pulsipher and Cliff Foreman are leaving. Defensive end seems to be in a little better situation with Allen Davis and E.J. Conway returning. There are some talented young defensive ends but it will be interesting to see which defensive tackles step up to join Chris Dooley in the rotation.

Replacing Jordan Haynes, Yale's top tackler the last two season, at linebacker as well as Drew Badwin and Geoff Dunham, three-year starters in the secondary won't be easy. Yale does seem to have options at those positions. Team captain Will McHale will be one of the best players in the Ivy League next season and a potential starting linebacking corps of McHale, Brian Leffler and Will Vaughan could be the most athletic group the Bulldogs have had in a while. A bunch of guys saw time at the corner position next to Baldwin (although that isn't necessarily a good thing considering how many big plays Yale gave up in the passing game). Kurt Stottlemyer and Collin Bibb drew starting assignments last season as juniors and I wouldn't be surprised to see them head into the spring as the starting corners although Yale brought in a bunch of talented DB recruits in the last two seasons. At safety, special-teams star John Powers could be ready to become a starter. Nick Okano, a starter as a sophomore, could emerge as the leader of the secondary as a junior.

It's going to be an interesting period for a Yale team with the potential to compete for an Ivy League title but also with enough question marks that if a new coach doesn't get the chance to hit the ground running, a second-division finish is also a realistic possibility.


Anonymous Anonymous said...


Any word on possible recruits for Yale from Choate-namely Matthew Porter and Avery Lewis?

3:04 PM 
Anonymous Yale74 said...

Yale must act expeditiously to secure the recruits

3:56 PM 
Blogger Jim Fuller said...

What I heard a while back was that the Choate kids were not going to be early admits. What happens now is anybody's guess. Once a staff is in place, I will attempt to provide updates of players who were on Yale's recruiting radar.

6:16 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Porter and Lewis are studs. Avery Lewis had an injury half way through the season. Porter was All New England lineman of the year. Keep an eye also on All New England Choate OLB/FB Austin Carter. 6'1" 220, 92 tackles on D and 7 yards per carry/20 yards per catch average on O. Being recruited across the league on both sides, and by Yale as fullback or H back.

10:24 AM 
Anonymous richardpatrick57 said...

Jim -

Are there any candidates from the current coaching staff. After all, that's how Carm Cozza got his job...

11:08 AM 
Anonymous Truly Blue '59 said...

Many thanks for your thorough review of the head coach candidates and your analysis of next fall's prospects.
Regardless of who's picked for the top job, I'd like to see us hire an aggression/intensity/ferocity coach. No, you can't have your players frothing at the mouth, but coming out of the huddle we often look like a bunch of guys forced to work overtime at the registry of motor vehicles. At other times it appears we're trying to run out the clock in the game's first quarter.
This time last year (12/28/10) you reported we had twelve (Whatever happened to Kyle Rouse?) early admits. I assume we're nowhere near that number now.
Once again, thank you for all your news.
Truly Blue '59

11:10 AM 
Anonymous stevegi said...

Interesting that you heard of Shoop as a potential candidate during Yale-Harvard week, when Williams was still very much the coach.

12:58 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting that Bob Shoop's name came up during Yale-Harvard week - Williams was still the coach then.

3:09 PM 
Blogger Jim Fuller said...

Candidate might be too strong a word just a name they'd like to see Yale pursue if Williams were let go.

5:41 PM 
Blogger Jim Fuller said...

I think Yale's early commit list is around 10 right now.

5:42 PM 
Anonymous Bulldog1973 said...

One can only assume that the Yale recruits are now being pursued by other colleges that have more stable coaching situations. The athletic department and admissions must act fast so that this recruiting year is not a big bust.

8:49 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Matthew Porter is the cousin of current Yale DE Allen Davis. I would suspect that if Yale still wants him, they will get him.

1:01 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for mentioning Joel Lamb -- he should unquestionably be our number one target. He worked under Siedliecki and has gone on to lead the record-setting Harvard offense that ripped us apart this year. The only way we are ever going to challenge the brilliant Tim Murphy is if (A) he leaves Harvard or (B) we hire someone who knows his program from the inside. It will be a travesty if Beckett does not at least reach out to Lamb!

11:54 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree more in regards to Joel Lamb. Top quality football coach and spotless character, something Yale is in need of after this latest debacle. I also believe if Lamb is hired that you will see some Harvard assistant coaches, past and present, follow him to Yale.

8:27 PM 
Blogger Jim Fuller said...

One of the main issues with Joel Lamb is that his wife is the field hockey coach at BC. I know that was an issue back in 2008 and it would be extremely difficult for Joel to work in New Haven while his wife is in Boston. There's no doubting that he should very high up on Yale's radar. Unlike some of the other potential candidates, he could hit the ground running in terms of recruiting which should be the No. 1 concern right now.

11:04 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would have to believe that if he's applied for the position then Joel would have already thought out a plan for him and his family. I also agree with you that bringing him in would allow us to, as you said, hit the ground running with recruiting. He has already identified and built relationships with many recruits who would be right at home at Yale. I truly could see him leading the program back to the top of the ancient eight for the next several decades. Let's get it started!

11:13 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

do we know the names of the 10 early committs, high schools, and positions?

11:18 PM 
Anonymous 89 grad said...

Don Brown as a candidate scares me. Many of his players love him and feel great loyalty to him, but his history since Yale has some red flags:

When HC Northeastern is denied permission to speak to a conference rival (UMass), takes the job anyway, Northeastern sues him and UMass;
As the blog post mentioned, pulled out of last Yale search at last minute and leverages a raise; and
Commits to stay at Maryland when Randy Edsall is hired, then a month later bolts for UConn two days after Signing Day, leaving Terps and the recruits he just signed in the lurch.

These things happen in college coaching, but three times with the same guy?

Also would prefer someone a little younger instead of someone who may be looking for his last post before he retires.

4:50 AM 
Blogger Jim Fuller said...

There could be other commits but the ones I have confirmed and reported:

Jackson Conway, RB Bronxville, NY
Christian Conway, RB Bronxville, NY
Matt Rubino, WR, Holy Spirit, NJ
Ben Killion, OL, Wootton (Md.) HS
Tom Undercuffler, DB Berlin
Adam Van Valkenberg, LB Lake Brantley FL
Roger Kilgore, WR/DB Bishop Ahr (NJ)
Caleb Gilligan-Evans, RB Stepinac (NJ)
Carl Kreitzberg, OL West Salem (Ore.)
Sean Marinan, OL Xavier

4:17 PM 

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