AFTER 12 YEARS, SIEDLECKI STEPS DOWN

The Siedlecki era has officially come to an end.

Under increasingly harsh criticism from students and alumni following Saturday’s crushing loss in The Game, football coach Jack Siedlecki announced his retirement on Wednesday after 12 years presiding over one of college football’s most historic programs.

Football coach Jack Siedlecki addresses his team after the Harvard-Yale game in 2004.
Football coach Jack Siedlecki addresses his team after the Harvard-Yale game in 2004.

Siedlecki said he will remain at Yale as an assistant director in the Athletics Department, and Yale officials said they will immediately begin searching for his successor.

“I am extremely proud of what we have accomplished over 12 years, going from 1-9 to 9-1 in three years, winning two Ivy League championships and playing with the title on the line in the final game of the season the past three years,” Siedlecki said in a statement. “I have been given an opportunity to stay affiliated with Yale Athletics for the balance of my career, and I deeply appreciate that.”

The statement, e-mailed to reporters shortly at 12:30 p.m., confirmed a News report earlier Wednesday that the coach had decided to step down and would join the Athletics Department in an administrative capacity.

Siedlecki coached the Bulldogs to a 70-49 record over 12 years. He led the team to two Ivy titles, one in 1999 and the other in 2006, and last year was named Coach of the Year by the New England Football Writers Association.

Rumors about Siedlecki’s possible departure began to circulate among members of the football team on Tuesday, three days after Yale lost to archrival Harvard in The Game for the seventh time in eight meetings. The defeat dropped Siedlecki’s overall record against the Crimson to 4-8.

In the wake of Saturday’s defeat, students and alumni have directed a torrent of criticism at Siedlecki, with some suggesting he should be fired. It was not just that Harvard has Siedlecki’s number, many of them said; rather, it was the way in which the Crimson dominated the Elis the last two seasons that suggested Yale should go in another direction. In the teams’ last two meetings combined, Harvard has outscored Yale 47-6 and the Bulldogs have been held to under 200 yards of total offense.

The loss on Saturday was on the latest setback in a disappointing season. Entering the season as co-favorites to win the Ivy League championship with the Crimson, the Elis finished a 6-4 overall and 4-3 in conference play, good for only fourth place in the Ivy League.

Those results came despite boasting the No. 1 scoring defense for the second consecutive year and the return of one the most prolific tailbacks in Ivy League history, Mike McLeod ’09. Yet the Bulldog offense was not able to match the defense’s strength and was held to 14 or fewer points in six of the team’s ten games.

Still, Siedlecki posted a winning record over his tenure, and his squad was a combined 23-7 over the past three years. In the statement, Yale Athletics Director Tom Beckett praised Siedlecki’s tenure.

“We are proud of the work Jack and his staff have accomplished in a football program where the expectations are very high and the results have been good,” Beckett said. “We believe the Jack will continue to be a valuable presence as an assistant director of athletics in a position where he can be a powerful advocate and spokesperson for Ivy athletics and Ivy athletes, both within the University and around the nation.”

Siedlecki, a 1974 graduate of Union College, began his coaching career at the University of Albany as an assistant coach in 1976. After stops at Wagner College and Lafayette College, he received his first head coaching job at Worcester Polytechnic Institute in 1988. He then took the head coaching position at Amherst College before being hired by Yale to replace legendary head coach Carm Cozza for the 1997 season.

The statement said that a search committee will be assembled and will immediately begin to look for Siedlecki’s replacement. Although Yale officials were mum about any specific names, defensive coordinator Rick Flanders may be an early favorite after leading the nation’s top scoring defense two years in a row.

“I think we have some capable guys on the staff,” Brandt Hollander ’08, the captain of the 2007 squad, said by phone Wednesday. “Who comes to mind is the defensive coordinator, Coach Flanders. He’s led the number one scoring defense in the country two years in a row. And Yale is such a unique place and going with a guy familiar with the unique situation will be a good choice.”

The Web site FootballScoop.com first reported on Tuesday that Siedlecki would not return to coach the Bulldogs next season.

Comments

  • Anonymous

    There is a god!

  • Anonymous

    In all seriousness, as a devoted Yale football fan, I feel bad that it had to come to this…though lots of people, including myself, have criticized him quite a bit, he did turn the program around when he initially took over in the late 90s, and the Yale faithful should be thankful for his efforts.

    The bottom line is that it just wasn't working out anymore for whatever reason, and it was time for a change. I sincerely wish him the best of luck, wherever he may end up.

  • Anonymous

    As usual, Harvard acts and Yale reacts.

  • CC '10

    Whoooo!

    Yes we did!

  • T.R

    The coach has done a very good job with the restrictions the school and the league puts on him. He rebuilt the program. The Harvard and Penn Teams are just larger then the Yale Offense it is not about being outcoached being kicked upstairs might be fine for senile old proffessors not for an athlectic department that gets very little support from the students and community.

  • BR 10

    If anyone here thinks that Harvard's band is better, then you should have gone there. When I realized during Camp Yale my freshman year that our marching band had more to do with being funny and having fun than with being pretentious and parading around in silly outfits, I knew I'd chosen the right school.

    Also, there seems to be something fishy about Duffy's assertion that he didn't "approve" the props in question. He had ample opportunity to check them out and make sure they were appropriate, and I would be really surprised if the band wouldn't have painted over whatever was objectionable if he had made his concerns known--after all, the point was the wall itself, not the graffiti. It definitely sort of seems like he's punishing them after the fact without having given them fair warning beforehand. I would be very interested in seeing an article that detailed the whole "approval" process.

  • OnBoard

    This is Yale not Alabama or Oklahoma. Since when does Yale fire a coach for not winning? Who cares whether Harvard wins a few more games? The Ivy League should be proud of its reputation for being a last bastion of true college football played with real scholar athletes; not professionals disguised as "communication" majors.

    Does the team like him? Has he been a good mentor? Does he promote good sportsmanship? Is he conscientious?

    Get a grip, its sports.

  • Saxes

    It should be pretty clear by now that the comments on yaledailynews.com are representative primarily of fringe crazies who spend a lot of time reading message boards. (See: Any inter-Ivy article, any story involving gay people, etc. etc.)

  • Anonymous

    It's funny, but if those two records were reversed (say Yale were 49-70 over the last 12 years but was 8-4 against Harvard), he'd still have the job. Ivy football will always be sad by objective standards, but you gotta win the homecoming game.

  • Old Blue '73

    I saw last year's team at the beginning of the season and at the end, when it was crushed by Harvard at home. Hype was high since both teams were undefeated. I have never personally seen a college team come out so flat for a big game. It wasn't just because McLeod was hurt. A former player who has friends with kids on the team told me after that game the coach was not popular with the players. It's not a popularity contest but when a coach can no longer draw performance from his team that matches its talent, it's time for him to go.

  • KT

    Praise the lord! I can die a happy man now. I'm sure Siedlecki is a good guy, and yes, he has a winning record overall, but his play-calling has been absolutely horrendous for the four football seasons I have spent at Yale. Last year, we won because of a monster season by Mike and the O-Line. This year, with an awful O-Line, Siedlecki didn't adjust, and we only won any games because of an amazing defense. This change is long overdue, and good luck to whoever takes over, because we're losing a hell of a lot of talent this year.

  • Yale '09

    And if by "almost immediately" you actually mean years ago when he was resigned after losing another miserable Game vs. Hahvahd.

  • Old Blue '73

    There will always be some prudes (sexually or politically) who object to these types of bands. If there weren't such reactions, the bands wouldn't be quite so much fun. If they try to be on the edge, sometimes they'll go over. For those who aren't familiar with the type of band, try googling "scramble band" and read up a little on them. YPMB has a scandalous proud tradition among them. YPMB, take your lumps, try to avoid true crassness and keep it up.

  • Recent Alum

    Do they even know of someone better to replace him with? If not, that sounds like a terrible idea.

  • T.R

    Perhaps those new dorms, er exuse me, the new Residential college will be used to house the BCS eligible Yale Football Team and Final Four Basketball Team.

  • alum '01

    Great news for Yale!!

    Totally agree with #9. Siedlecki was a disaster of a play-caller, could never adjust, and we had an amazing year last year in spite of him, not because of him.

    To #6, "Onboard", what a moronic statement. You seriously ask "Since when does Yale fire a coach for not winning?" Get a grip!

  • Y11

    Step one in the right direction. Now fire Beckett, and perhaps we can get around to fixing that little issue of Princeton having twice as many overall Ivy championships as Yale.

  • Penn State Fan

    Who cares about Yale football. Is it still in existence?

  • ADOLESCENT LUNKHEADS

    As Yale President Giamatti famously said: "Winning isn't everything." (later Baseball Commissioner Giamatti suspended Pete Rose for corruption). Just because Harvard wins a Yalecoach has to lose his job? Sounds like a bunch of adolescent lunkheads made THAT decision.

  • emjay
  • BR10

    It was actually one of the saddest moments when I realized there wasn't a 'traditional' marching band at Yale.

    Don't get me wrong, some people in the YPMB are funny. But as a whole, I don't think much would be missed if they weren't around.

    As for comments like this:

    "If you want to see dorks in stupid marching band uniforms with lame plumed hats marching around to some traditional music, go to a state school. WE're smart, funny and entertaining."

    Wow. Elitist little snob. It takes hours a week of dedication to perform those shows. You're making fun of them for going to a state school and performing with grace and dedication? It's one thing to say that you don't like that and that's fine, but to denigrate it?

    I assure you one thing: I know many who would rather see eight minutes of a performance with passion, dedication, talent and precision than some scatter band and their funny jokes.

  • Saybrook Alum '83

    It shouldn't be too hard to get a decent replacement in this economy

  • Anonymous

    If only those football players were STRONGER……

    lol….naw…obviously that's not why we lost.

  • Wow

    BR10, just because the YPMB doesn't place a premium on precision doesn't mean they don't have passion, dedication and talent. JE11 said it well - how many other students get up at 7 am on a Saturday to support our Bulldogs? And you don't think much would be missed if they weren't around? The YPMB is the largest and loudest cheering section at any football game before we play Princeton and Harvard. Whether or not one likes their irreverent style of humor, the YPMB halftime shows take up less than 10 minutes of each game. They cheer for its entirety - no matter how bad the weather is or how bleak our team's prospects may be - which is not something to be belittled.

  • dirtdiggler

    he's no Carm Cozza, but handsome dan is relieved

  • @16

    Winning is everything. Yep, pretty much.

  • YaleSenior

    THANK YOU YALE ATHLETICS! Now maybe we can start kicking Harvard's ass again as God intended!

  • ivy sports fan

    All of the Ivy bands with the exception of Cornell's are an embarassment to the league.

    None of the bands seem to know how to read the crowd, and play appropriate stadium music. I am shocked that the football coaches and athletics directors allow them to come to the games. The atmosphere might be better with canned NFL-style stadium music.

  • JESUX

    Up the middle, up the middle, up the middle, punt!

  • y09

    i am sure siedlecki is a nice guy, but this is definitely the right move. anyone who is defending him has clearly not watched the games or just doesnt understand football. many of the games yale won under his tenure were done at the physical expense of mcleod, who was ridiculously overworked. it is time for a coach who understands that football has evolved and there are other offensive strategies in addition to establishing the run.

  • '10

    Maybe the first step should be keeping the football team out of Toad's the week of the Harvard-Yale game.

    I'm sure most of them weren't there, but…

  • Y'08

    I'm slightly relieved but not completely so until Yale finds a coach who manages not to be less innovative than Siedlecki….

  • Eli

    If you think Yale should have the same excellence in their teachers on the athletic fields as they do in the classrooms (and I do) this is the correct move.

  • Anonymous

    We should go after Ty Willingham, who has an excellent coaching pedigree, and who, fortuitously, may be available.

  • Bow wow wow

    I hear a guy named Charlie Weis might be available to interview in about 48 hours. Supposed to be a great play caller, guaranteed to give his teams a "decided schematic advantage."

  • Well…

    #46 and #48--

    While I agree that none of us really has the right to decide what "news" the YDN should or should not publish, the YDN's practice of finding stories from sources that many of us would consider private (emails to panlists, for example) is somewhat shady. They do this sort of thing a lot, and I, for one, wish they wouldn't. I think it betrays the YDN's status as a student publication, and is considerably less professional than making an effort to talk to the people involved.

    I think it's a mistake to believe that anything any YDN staffer has access to is fair game--most groups don't scrutinize their panlists to make sure no one from the YDN is reading their e-mails. Just because you're on a group's panlist doesn't mean you have the right to betray a group's privacy.

  • Re: #48

    You sound like a "conspiracy theorist."

  • Brek-ek-ek

    Siedlecki's performance is not defensible. Students have been clamoring for his "retirement" since 2004 at least.

  • Vinnie

    Ty Willingham??!!?? The slob fired from Notre Dame and Washington?!?

    Harvard is probably hoping that Yale hires him so they can keep on kicking their sorry a**.

  • Anonymous

    The legendary Carm Cozza had a losing record against Harvard during his record 32 years at the helm, so the ability to beat Harvard is clearly not the be all and end all.

  • Anonymous

    My nominee:

    The dynamic, young coach of New Haven's Hillhouse High - Tom Dyer - an offensive genius whose squad has gone 11-0 this year.

  • anon

    My guess:

    Comment #32 was written by a local high school football player.

  • RJN

    As a University of Notre Dame alumnus (and Father of a Y 2008 graduate), my hope is that you hire Charlie Weiss, ND's coach, as soon as possible……

  • John B.

    OnBoard, in response to your questions -

    Does the team like him? NO.

    Has he been a good mentor? NO, but he hasn't burnt down any children's hospitals either.

    Does he promote good sportsmanship? Anyone who hired Coach Brooks is an enemy of sportsmanship.

    Is he conscientious? NO.

    Thanks.

    JB