As three News reporters brought to light in their profile of him on Friday, Tom Williams is a force to behold. Yale’s new head football coach charmed us from the first moment he approached the lectern at Ray Tompkins House at his introductory press conference in January and declared it “a new era for Yale football.” And it wasn’t just Williams’ talk of the X’s and O’s of football that was so impressive.
Beyond his remarkable ascent from playing football in a middle-class Texas community to captaining a bowl-winning Stanford team and vying for the Rhodes Scholarship while doing it, Williams is inspiring in his understanding that being a student-athlete comprises much more than playing on a team.
Williams exemplified it in his time at Stanford, going abroad to study Italian, taking piano lessons and singing in a gospel choir. And he is committed to promoting that type of life for his players.
This mentality is what sold Athletics Director Tom Beckett on Williams, and we are delighted that Beckett passed over conventional choices to make a brave move in hiring an unknown like Williams, who argued for the job on the basis of wanting to mentor players who appreciated that coming to Yale involved more than just playing football.
“When Tom asked me why I was interested [in Yale] … I said, ‘Because it’s a good fit, Tom,’ ” Williams said when he was introduced in January. “I mean, the kids I’m going to be working with are Tom Williams — they’re going to be smarter and more athletic, but they’re going to be a lot like me. I’m going to be able to connect with those guys.”
We bet he will, too — and if he can beat Harvard, all the better.
Welcome to Yale, coach.