Jacksonville Jaguars defensive assistant Tom Williams has been selected as Yale’s 33rd head football coach, the News has learned.

Williams, 39, will become the first African-American head coach in history of Yale’s football program. The Athletics Department has scheduled a press conference for Wednesday to introduce him as the successor to Jack Siedlecki, who resigned in November after 12 seasons.

Jacksonville Jaguars defensive assistant Tom Williams will be named Yale's next football coach, the News has learned.
Jacksonville Jaguars defensive assistant Tom Williams will be named Yale's next football coach, the News has learned.

Williams has never before been a head coach, but he has extensive experience in college football. Before spending the past two years with the Jaguars, Williams was an assistant for 11 years at Hawaii, Washington, Stanford and San Jose State.

At Stanford, his alma mater, Williams was co-defensive coordinator for two seasons and in 2004 was named associate head coach. The next season, he went to San Jose State, where he was co-defensive coordinator and helped lead the team to a 9-4 record and a win in the New Mexico Bowl in 2006.

Steve Conn, the director of Yale Sports Publicity, refused to confirm or deny that Williams has been selected as Siedlecki’s successor, though he said a press conference has been scheduled for 2 p.m. Wednesday at Ray Tompkins House to introduce the team’s next head coach.

The selection concludes a longer-than-expected search to lead one of college football’s most storied programs. UMass head coach Don Brown, Holy Cross head coach Tom Gilmore and now-University of Florida offensive coordinator Steve Addazio also interviewed for the position but decided to stay with their respective programs.

Williams’ selection was first reported Monday afternoon on the Web site of WTNH.

Williams, who played linebacker in college, was a captain of the 1992 Stanford team that went 10-3 and won a share of the Pac-10 title. An undrafted free agent, he spent the 1993 season on the San Francisco 49ers’ practice squad but returned to Stanford the next year to earn a master’s degree in university administration. While there, he served as a graduate assistant under coaching legend Bill Walsh.

In 1996, Williams joined the coaching staff of the University of Hawaii, where he spent three seasons, including one as the Rainbow Warriors’ defensive coordinator. He then moved on to the University of Washington, where he served as the linebackers coach under Rick Neuheisel from 1998 to 2001, until returning to his alma mater in 2002.


  • tight

    This is good news. Maybe he can turn our program around. It's still too bad, Sidelecki shouldn't have gone out on such a bad note.

  • kate '06

    way to go, yale! proud to be a bulldog. welcome aboard, Coach Williams!!!! let's bring home another ivy title.

  • but can he beat harvard

    nothing else matters

  • Payton

    Another proud day in Yale's storied history. We will miss Coach Sid though.

  • Anonymous

    This hire does not make any sense. Yale already has one of the best defensive coordinators in the Football Championship Subdivision. His defense was the #1 scoring defense the last two years. Yale's offense has been the major struggle and Siedlecki was the one calling the plays. Who is going to call plays now if the head coach is a defensive guy? Is he going to displace Flanders with the defensive play calling? Then we still need to hire an offensive coordinator. Williams may be a good coach but he does not address the needs of the Yale team.

  • Yale Alum 06

    Welcome Coach Williams
    i'm excited you are the new Coach
    of the Yale Football Program

  • Kai

    This looks like a really great hire. Hopefully he can draw up some good offensive plays, though, since that's been our biggest problem.

  • T.R

    Haven't we gotten past "The First…" When the Headlind begins with this it only shows how far behind Newpaper editors are. In fact we sport fans know that we don't blink an eye when African Americans are hired and fired as regularly as there paler compatriots. Good luck Coach Tom Williams the key is to recruite Big Linemen tall QB's and fast running backs oh and beat Harvard. Oh and By the way which will be back first, Mory's or that dopey Marching Band?

  • SidSucks

    Are you people talking about the same Coach Sid? The guy didn't care a thing for his players and Harvard had his number. Good riddance. Let's see if Williams can do better.

  • fivelw

    Dear Coach Tom-
    I'm looking forward to many victories over Harvard. Your Pro and West Coast experience will surely enable you to come up with an offense that can score more that 7 points in 2 years.
    Here's hoping your math and administrative background at Stanford help you to successfully recruit under the constraints of the academic index. It's not a level playing field in the Ivys. Don't get frustrated with the Yale Administration's "ways of the amateur."
    Best of luck for many successful seasons.

  • @ #8

    It's hard to say a headline or lede talking about "the first" is out of touch given the incredible racial disparity in football coaching at all levels. The NFL has been forced to require NFL teams merely to interview minority candidates; there are only 6 black head coaches in all of the Bowl Subdivision (formerly I-A), which has 119 teams; and representation among FCS (I-AA) head coaches is still nowhere near representational of the proportion of black players and assistants involved at the same level. That this is Yale's first black head coach is a significant milestone, even though it shouldn't be, and making that point is not a indication that journalists are out of touch.

  • Will W.

    Totally agree with #11.
    #8, perhaps it is you who is out of touch given the amount of coverage that Auburn's recent hiring of Gene Chizik over an African-American coach with much better credentials. To say that race no longer has any factor in college football hiring would be overlooking the egregious disparity in coaching diversity. Charles Barkley may be an idiot (see but he's right about this point. Yale isn't a school in the deep South, but it's still an important milestone for a school as steeped in tradition, football-wise and otherwise, to hire its first black coach.

  • ELI

    Not to go all Jason Whitlock here, but isn't the new coach being put into a position to fail. He has never been a Head Coach at any level! It can be argued that he was accelerated through the system as much for his ability as for his ethnicity. When he has a losing season, how will he respond? There is no track record, he has no, repeat no experience coaching offense, or recruiting under the constraints of an academic index. There were better candidates available, and isn't that the ultimate hire the best coach?

  • Anonymous

    What is the point of publishing this? Boring and religious … in short, northing worthwhile!

  • Dear Charles Barkley

    aka #11, #12:

    Unless anyone thought that the Yale football program was racist, this 'milestone' doesn't matter. There are more white quarterbacks and more black running backs in the NFL. This isn't racism - it's a fact. Unless you're going to suggest that people have discriminated against black quarterbacks and white running backs, you have to deal with the facts that various professions will experience racially-disproportionate balances. One good explanation that I've read is that many college coaches are players who didn't make it to the pro level. Since statistically, black players are more likely to make it pro than white players, it seems like the remaining balance skews white.

  • ralph diorio

    good luck Tom.But i hope you understand this group forced a good coach out.Lets see we lost 4 games by 17 points.Are you kidding me Yale. So we hire a coach who never coached a game at this level.Jack did a fine job so what Harvard had our number the last few years.We had most other teams number. Fire the YALE football committee.

  • Anonymous

    @13: Did you watch the press conference? He worked in recruiting at Stanford. I think they pay a bit of attention to the Academic Index.

  • @14

    Actually, there is a long and storied history about black quarterbacks in HS being forced to change positions as soon as they are recruited for college. It was very common even ten years ago.

    To deny that race matters would be a folly. That's not the only credential and in fact, the most important one. But Yale is where football began and it is significant that this is the first African-American hire.

  • @Anon


    You know nothing about college athletics.

    Only the Ivy League is beholden to the Academic Index.

    Stanford can do whatever and recruit whomever they want.

  • ELI

    Really? He "worked in Admissions" at Stanford? So Stanford is constrained by an academic index like Yale and Harvard are? Not even the same zip code buddy! Yale can't even think of admitting half the rockheads who go to Penn or Brown, let alone Stanford!! Is it the Palo Alto campus that attracts athletes w/ Pac10 ability, or a lax admission standard compared to Yale? Who has more pull in the admissions office, Harbaugh and Dawkins, or Turtlehead Siedliecki? This brash neophyte had better score on Harvard, then worry about beating them!

  • A Yale Prof

    What I would like to know: will Mr. Williams excuse team members from practice now and then so they can attend classes?

  • Yale Footballer

    @ A Yale Prof,

    Coach Siedlecki had an open policy that players were allowed to miss practices for certain classes- especially labs and other pre-med requirements.

    He also allowed players to leave practice early to make it to section on time.

    There is no conflict between football and class.

  • A Yale Prof

    @ Yale Footballer

    Hmm… only "certain classes"? not all? are "labs and pre-med requirements" privileged?

    My teaching experience at Yale (extensive) contradicts the statement that "there is no conflict between football and class"

  • Yale08

    I can't believe a professor is criticizing a particular sports's athletes for missing class. Plenty of students at Yale I've known, athlete or not, skip classes. It's hardly a Yale football thing.

  • @Yale Prof

    What classes are offered between 4:30pm and 7:30pm?

    Why would your class conflict with practice?

  • A Yale Prof

    @ Yale Prof
    Since Yalies are loath to start school before 130, many classes, especially sections, run to 5:20 pm or start at 7:00 pm… not to mention makeup exams or special review sessions. Thursday afternoon classes and Fridays are victims to "away games" as well.

    Missing classes on one's own decision is not the same as missing classes at the requirement of a coach. A student may, indeed, want to attend the class or take a makeup exam, etc., but "cannot" because of demands by her/his coach.

  • Yalie

    I've definitely taken classes that happened between 4:30 and 7:30, i.e. labs and seminars…..

  • News Flash

    Yale students skips class for a variety of activities everyday:

    -a capella
    -intramural sports
    -varsity sports
    -smoking pot
    -video games
    -finishing papers
    -attending guest lectures
    -watching TV
    -surfing the internet
    -finding jobs
    -working in the library

    ALL are voluntary decisions to forego certain classes- even for varsity athletes- they choose to give up something (class) to gain something (sports).

    At least athletes have a restriction from their coach not to schedule classes during practice so they don't actually have to miss a class during that time.

    Yale footballers are up at 7:30am everyday, they take the majority of their classes between 9am and 2:30pm.

    They go to section after practice.

    If you can't schedule your class during those times, I suggest you re-examine your teaching schedule.

  • A Yale Prof

    @ News Flash
    In a way, you have made my point.. we must schedule classes to fit the athlete's schedule, not those of the academic community…
    I do teach between 9 and 230 AND at 330 AND at 7 pm…

    Having taught a 930 am class with an official enrollment of 200 + with an average attendance of 25, and a nearly full attendance upon moving the same course to 1130 am, I get the message from the majority…

  • Prof is Clueless

    Guess what?

    It isn't just football players skipping your class- the athletics vs. academics argument is absurd.

    I would expect a man with a doctorate to understand that students don't want to wake up early, and they don't want classes scheduled during their extracurricular activities.

  • A Yale Prof

    Hmm…. between sleep and extracurriculars there's not much time left to squeeze in that $35K Yale education, I guess.

  • Yale

    Finally! The Yale prof has realize what Yale students have known since their first class.

    Yale professors are largely irrelevant to the Yale experience.

    The greatest joys and accomplishments of Yalies come outside of class- through the arts, sports, jobs/internships, trips and friends. Professors who have the most impact are those who are able to forge strong bonds with students during senior essays and other independent projects and research.

    Go back to your lecture, Professor.

    No one is listening. They are all on their laptops surfing the internet, emailing, txting, planning their next great source of fun and reward.

    You are irrelevent. Yale College exists for its students, not for its professors.

  • Question

    A random poli-sci course on a random nation.

    An obscure history class on social functions.

    A womens and gender class on who knows what!

    How does the typical Yale class justify its cost?

    It doesn't. If it was the value of classes alone, Yale wouldn't be worth the paper the diploma is printed on.

    BUT- the time outside of class, in the residential colleges, in the dining halls, in the guest lectures/master teas, the spring breaks, the conversations, the Yale-Harvard game, the intramurals, the pleasure reading and independent research in the library, the sunny days on the quad and the snowing saturdays on the futon…

    These are worth $35,000 per year.

    This is why Yale grads want their kids to come here.

    This is why I will fondly remember my bright college years.

    NOT- because of some generally useless professor teaching mostly garbage classes to attempt to justify his own salary and existence at this fine university.