News’ View: Looking beyond The Game

In January, at his first press conference as Yale’s head football coach, Tom Williams welcomed reporters to “a new era of Yale football.” He said he had two main goals for the year: To win the Ivy League championship and to beat Harvard.

Well, here we are. It goes without saying that the Ivy League crown is out of reach. The question now is whether Williams and his team can beat the odds and pummel the hated Crimson on Saturday.

If Yale does win, it will be the first Bulldog victory over Harvard at the Yale Bowl since 1999 and it will be welcome revenge for last year’s frigid 10–0 loss.

If Yale does not win, though, it will be too soon to make any serious judgments about Williams and his program.

This season has obviously not lived up to anybody’s expectations. The Bulldogs may end the campaign with a losing record for the first time in four years and some of the team’s best players are battling injuries. The team’s offense struggled to score points all season and the defense, especially in recent games against Brown and Princeton, has not fared much better.

All of this is frustrating, but it says less about Williams than one might think. He does not have a single class of his own recruits on the team, he took over a squad that had lost two of its best players, Bobby Abare ’09 and Mike McLeod ’09, and his primary quarterback is new to the school.

Williams has not made any major mistakes this season. There have not been significant play-calling errors this year — unlike in the past — and the team has for the most part avoided disciplinary issues. Williams has instituted some sound new policies, such as morning practices, that make sense for a school that produces not just athletes but scholar-athletes.

It has indeed been a season of adjustment, with a new system and new coaches and new play schemes. Over the next three years, as Williams begins to recruit his own players and as his staff gets more comfortable at Yale, we will expect better results. Ideally, his tenure at Yale will be as successful as Jim Harbaugh’s has been at Stanford. (It’s not lost on us that Williams probably does want the Stanford job, but the good news is that he will have to win at Yale to earn that post.)

For now, let’s hope the Bulldogs pull off an upset and win tomorrow. Let’s remember that we were once the favorites; that Harvard lost in 2006 and was expected to fall again in 2007, a year in which the Bulldogs were defeated 37–6 in one of the team’s worst losses ever. Let’s hope that this is the year in which Yale will “turn The Game back into a rivalry,” as Williams put it in January.

But let’s also remember that The Game is about more than just the game. It’s about the bands trying to best each other, about T-shirts and pranks that remind us all how clever or not clever we can be, about filling the Yale Bowl and about always remembering that the Cantabs have nothing on the Elis.

If we can’t prove that on the football field this year, we won’t despair. There’s always next year.


  • yale 08


    Williams will NEVER get the Stanford job.

    Ivy League coaching jobs are dead ends. Where guys go to collect a nice paycheck and retire…

  • ’96

    Way to go guys. Nothing like throwing in the towel before the game. Who wrote this, Cole Hamels?

  • pj ’63

    I have been watching football for 60 years and Coach William’s call on 4th and 22, has got to be THE most idiotic I have ever seen. Nothing short of nauseating.

    To quote Williams himself: “The argument that I hear is that there aren’t enough qualified African-American coaches out there,” Williams said. “But the question is: How hard are you looking?”

    Today he made the absolutely clear, “not hard enough”.

    He should NEVER be allowed to coach another Yale game.

    Peter Jeming

  • Agreed

    He should be fired.

  • Richard

    The header here reads:

    “It has been too long since Yale beat Harvard. We hope for a victory on Saturday, but we are also ready to give Tom Williams some time.”

    Williams got some time, an entire afternoon of sunshine and glorious autumn air and lots full — and Bowl seats occupied.

    Time’s up. Good-bye Mr. Williams, now git !!

  • Trumbull ’99

    All of you whiners who want to fire the coach for one bad call need to take a chill pill and give Williams time to get his arms around a program that was broken long before he arrived (just ask some football alums). Yeah, we lost. And three out of three people die. Deal with it, regroup and move on.

  • robert99

    Time to do what you know in your heart you have to do, Tom.

  • Recent Alum

    #6: Siedlecki was fired despite (i) a much stronger performance by the team over the last year than what we have seen this year and (ii) a history of the team having been highly successful under his leadership. Interesting how you seem to call for a vastly different standard for Williams — why is this?

  • Skull & Bones ’74

    Perhaps all the bad karma surrounding the Yale fotball team and its futile attempts to score one more point than Harvard is related to Yale’s failure to educate W when it had its chance.

  • BD4Ever

    Trumbull ’99: You state “a program that was broken long before he arrived (just ask some football alums).” To you and all others trashing Siedlecki: what exactly was broken about the program?? Let’s have some anti-Sid specifics. I don’t live in New Haven anymore so I have no way of knowing; I’m simply curious. We all know he lost 7 of his last 8 vs. Harvard. Something new, please, solid information and not just speculation?

  • Yale ’08

    Siedlecki was fired because he ran one play for 8 years. And against the majority of the Ivy League that didn’t figure it out, it worked. Except against Harvard who zoned in on our RB running up the middle like the last ten play calls.

    What I saw for the first time in years was a team that finally had a workable passing game and a defense that actually wanted to play. I am all with being patient with Coach Williams. After all, Coach Harbaugh inherited a 1-11 squad and look at where they are now.

  • TonyLyndellWilliams

    “The New York Times” story also reported that Witt enrolled in three high schools and two colleges in order to find a place where he could start at quarterback.

    Sign of the times I guess.