Alum proposes ‘rules’ by which a great football team can strive for mediocrity

To the Editor:

An wise old ball coach once instructed me that “Winning football means thinking football, football played first with a man’s mind and only incidentally with his hands and feet and heart.”

Fine words, indeed, from a slippery Princetonian (William W. Roper). As a donating alumnus, I am proud to see that the Eli coaching staff is too shrewd to entertain such foolishness, and write to encourage coach [Jack] Siedlecki to adhere to the strategy that has so lately guided our beloved team to a successful second-place finish in the Ivy League. For those who have not had the good fortune of seeing enough games to contemplate the essence of Coach Siedlecki’s coup d’oeil, I shall divine it for you, so that come next season, you may more fully appreciate its perfection.

Keep the ball strictly between the tackles. Up the center whenever possible, boys! Counter left — preferably three times in a row — and out! For the longer we hold onto the ball, the greater the risk that we shall fumble it.

Call high-risk plays in high-risk situations. Every coach must have a touch of the gambling spirit; how are we to break big plays if we do not attempt to catch our opponents unawares? Here, our coach’s brilliance particularly shines: I remember one home game where he called a double reverse — with the team on our own five-yard line. The receiver was tackled for a safety seven yards deep in the end zone — but, oh, the potential! There was not a single defensive player beyond the 20-yard line! If only our dear player had broken free, it would have been an easy six points!

Leave matters of precision to the marching band, lest the players’ self-confidence begin to suffer from the unrealistic expectations of perfection.

And finally: never compromise the integrity of the game plan. There is no more serious delusion than the belief that adjustments may turn the tide of a game. A sudden change in strategy only gives the impression that the leadership is flailing in the dark for some kernel of wisdom, and encourages the opposition.

I am confident that as long as our boys continue to be guided by a coach professing these precepts, the gridiron success that we have enjoyed over the past six years will continue.

Boola, Boola!

Patrick McGill

Nov. 26

McGill graduated from Yale College in 2006.

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