Sunday, January 01, 2012

Next couple of weeks could determine Yale's fortunes

If the Yale administration has any concerns about the fortunes of the 2012 Yale football team, they'd better be hitting the ground running this week.

Beginning with the announcement that Yale's general counsel would be investigating Tom Williams' claims of being a Rhodes Scholarship candidate, the process leading to his removal as Yale's coach has moved at a snail's pace. I was told by a very reliable source that Yale had heard back from the people at Stanford verifying that they had recommended that he pursue a Rhodes Scholarship on the day that Yale played Harvard. For the record, that was Nov. 19. Yet, it took five weeks before Yale announced Williams "resignation." I believe that Williams resigned of his own accord about as much as I bought that Jack Siedlecki "retired" after the 2008 season.

I had multiple people with connections to Yale tell me the week of the Yale/Harvard game that Williams was as good as gone as soon as Yale put Williams' fate in the hands of the General Counsel. It seems to me that they waited to announce it until the week before Christmas to minimize the impact. Why not announce it when the Yale students are on break? That is exactly what happened. The Yale players were not informed of Williams' departure until after the media was notified. That is an absolute slap in the face to the Yale players and seems to me of being a case of the Yale administration acting in order to save face instead of doing what is in the best interest of the Yale program.

Today was the first one that Yale was left without a head coach. Now it is the time for Yale to get Williams' replacement. They do have about 10 early commits leaving about 20 spots left to filled. The word I have been hearing is that many of the prospects expected to visit campus in a couple of weeks have scheduled visits to other schools for the weekend of January 13-15. Among those planning to come to Yale that weekend was Wes Moon, a safety from Monarch High in Louisville, Colo. Down to Yale and Princeton, Moon recently committed to Princeton.

According to a story on the site, Moon was quoted as saying "Yale's head coach resigned, which was the starting point, and then I was considering how much I wanted to take my official visit. My high school coach, Phil Bravo, asked me what I thought Yale could have that was better than Princeton. It took me a long time to sit down and ponder what I actually wanted, and I realized I was perfectly content with Princeton."

Even before the news of Tom Williams' departure from Yale became public, coaches from the rival Ivy League coaches were closing in on the players being recruited by the Bulldogs. The day that the Williams story broke, I spoke with Yale recruiting target Ludovic Richardson out of Notre Dame of West Haven who said a member of Brown's coaching staff had contacted him. Trust me, this was not an isolated incident.

If the people who make the call on hiring the new Yale coach don't want to Bulldogs to get completely crushed in recruiting, they may want to have a head coach in place by the end of this week or the middle of next week at the latest. At then if recruits do visit New Haven next weekend, they will be able to meet with the Bulldogs' head coach other than a bunch of assistants likely not to be around when Yale begins spring practice.

There's no reason that candidates can't be brought in for interviews this week. Two names consistently mentioned as being targeted by Yale are Vanderbilt defensive coordinator and former Yale receiver Bob Shoop and UConn defensive coordinator Don Brown. Well, Vanderbilt's season ended with a 31-24 loss to Cincinnati in the Liberty Bowl on Saturday and UConn wasn't bowl eligible so if Shoop and/or Brown are interested, let's hope Yale moves quickly to bring them in.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's general counsel, not council.

9:41 AM 
Anonymous Truly Blue '59 said...

Dear Jim:
Thank you for your latest. The faithful would be thrilled if Yale acted with dispatch, but that seems unlikely.
Once a matter lodges in a General Counsel's office the pace generally slackens, particularly in non-profit land, a realm without urgency or deadlines.
A General Counsel's job at places like Yale is prestigious, well-paid, well-perked, generally stress-free, and often largely ceremonial. Tense, complex, or high-stakes matters usually get farmed out. A GC's primary objective is the preservation of his or her fiefdom. The last thing he/she wishes is a recurrence of l'affaire Williams. Unless a candidate is or was a part of the family, we can expect background checks that begin with his great grandparents.
Tell me if I'm wrong, but I've heard that our choice in 2008 was Steve Addazio, Urban Meyer's offensive coordinator. My sources say it was a done deal until President Levin insisted on interviewing Mr. Addazio. Unfortunately President Levin was elsewhere and Mr. Addazio had an attractive offer that was due to expire before President Levin became available. We all know what Mr. Addazio did. Why should things be different now?
But enough with the grumbling. How about this? President Levin signs on as Interim Head Coach and pledges to involve himself in recruiting with a particular emphasis on those in leadership positions such as QBs.
Truly Blue '59

11:59 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jim, I've left messages several times on the subject of Coach Williams and his claim of being a Rhodes scholar candidate. Thank you for providing a forum for readers on this topic. Most recently, I said at 3:09 PM on your 12/6 post that I would "refrain from crowing" about rumors that his dismissal was imminent even though you thought that he would survive this scandal. I'll continue to refrain from anything that smacks of gloating because I believe that, given the same set of facts, Yale might have reached a different decision than asking for Coach Williams' resignation.

But I do want to address the two occasions on which you were dismissive of my assertion there was a valid comparison to George O'Leary's resume fabrication. After my first message on 12:48 PM on your 11/17 post, you called my analogy "laughable." As I then explained in a follow-up 8:07 PM message, the similarity with O'Leary was not in the specifics of the untruths on their resume.

The similarity results from the fact that Notre Dame first found out that O'Leary had not lettered in football as he had claimed. But Notre Dame was willing to live with that lie. Notre Dame asked O'Leary if there were any other problems on his resume and he assured them that there were not. Notre Dame told him that, as long as that was true, he would be retained. It was subsequently discovered that he did not have a master's degree and he was then dismissed. It was really the way O'Leary handled the scandal after the first lie was discovered that led to his firing.

Now that we know more about Coach Williams' situation, the analogy appears more apt than ever. If he had immediately come clean after the New York Times article, I have no doubt that he would still be head coach at Yale. But rather than be truthful, he continued to issue statements that, for example, "his interview wasn't final." Of course we now know that were no interviews at all, final or not.

Moreover, the subject of his lying about being on the San Francisco 49ers' practice squad sounds right out of the O'Leary episode. In the language of a Yale SAT question, O'Leary's football letters are to Williams' Rhodes scholarship candidacy as O'Leary's master degree is to Williams' 49ers practice squad. It was probably the SECOND lie, after being confronted on the first lie, which sealed Coach Williams' fate.

Can you imagine an uncomfortable meeting in which Yale's general counsel asked Coach Williams pointed questions about his Rhodes experience? After some discussion about exactly at what point in the process an interested student becomes a "candidate" for the scholarship, the lawyer asks, "Is there anything else on your resume that I should know about?" Coach Williams, missing the last opportunity to save his job, responds, "No, everything else is true."

I'll bet that's exactly how it went down. It wasn't the first lie about his Rhodes candidacy which cost Coach Williams his job; it was the way he handled the subsequent inquiries which did. Just like O'Leary.

12:41 PM 
Anonymous Richard Patrick57 said...

Where is Tom Beckett in all this?
It is like the A.D. has nothing to do with getting a new football coach.

He's probably watching the Stanford game along with President Levin.

4:52 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My Son is a current player on the team, and I had to text him when I heard the news! I agree the way this was handled was not right!

7:52 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My son is getting very nervous about what is going on. He has heard nothing after his commit. It is rather strange that he has not been contacted after the firing!!

8:40 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My son, another commit, heard the news from a Harvard alum. There are players who have said yes to Yale, cut off other choices, and are now in complete limbo. High stakes.....c'mon Yale!

9:16 PM 
Blogger Jim Fuller said...

It is strange and silly that your son has not heard from a member of the Yale coaching staff. I would expect the process of hiring a coach to pick up steam but have no idea why the assistants wouldn't be in contact with the committed players. Hopefully they will get their act together.

9:17 PM 
Anonymous Late 80s Eli said...

Don Brown was suspended for the first three games of his job at UMass after a court found he had "willfully and intentionally breached his contract" with Northeastern.

Don Brown pulled out of the search last time around to get a raise out of UMass.

Don Brown agreed to stay on with Randy Edsall at Maryland, then ran off to UConn two days after the end of the signing period.

Don Brown turns 57 years old this year.

This is the guy we want for our next coach? NO THANKS.

9:33 PM 
Anonymous Truly Blue '59 said...

The fact that Yale did not immediately notify every one of its recruits that it would stand by its commitments is a shocking leadership failure.
This is a matter for the President and the A.D. Both of them should make it clear publicly AND privately that, of course, Yale will keep the promises it made.
It is quite right for the recruits to expect the same degree of integrity from Yale that Yale is demanding of its coaches.
Failure to fix this mess at once will do immense damage to Yale's reputation across the board.

1:00 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Late 80s Eli, Don Brown left Northeastern because it was clear the university would be dropping football in the near future and he had a chance to go to UMass, which most assuredly was not dropping the sport. Read some of the news reports about what's happening at Maryland under Edsall and you'll appreciate why he left for UConn. Whether he chased Yale or Yale chased him the first time around colors his decision to "pull out of the search." As for him being 57 this year, your problem with that is what? He is a very good man who can flat-out coach. If you want to beat Harvard, bring in someone who knows how, not a coach in training wheels.

7:44 AM 
Anonymous Bill Abelson said...

Also, with Brown newly installed as Defensive Coordinator, Yale instantly had a dramatic upgrade in '87 (a fiery soph named Jon Reese had something to do with that too), and came within a whisker of an Ivy title. The Blue then got Ivy rings in '89, and were good in '90-'91 (with Harvard wins both years). All this was with Don Brown's defense.

1:54 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why not Mark Whipple for Yale HC? Top resume, Brown grad... Bill Cowher and Big Ben love him (even if Al Golden and Mike Tomlin did not), his team definitely will light it up offensively. The only downside i see... When iwas at UNH he has some classless war of words with the Virginia Union coach, but i'll chalk that up to youthful indiscretion.

9:35 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From the Ivy board

On campus interviews are this week...

Don Brown - DC/Uconn
Dave Cecchini - OC/Lehigh
Tony Reno - SC/Harvard (Already interviewed)
Kevin Kelly - HC/Georgetown

10:16 PM 

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