Reno to be named next coach

Tony Reno, above, is expected to become Yale's next head football coach.
Tony Reno, above, is expected to become Yale's next head football coach. Photo by Harvard Athletics.

After three seasons away from Yale, Tony Reno is coming back home.

Yale will officially introduce Reno, who is currently a defensive backs and special teams coach at Harvard, as the 34th head coach of its football program today at 4 p.m. The announcement came 22 days after former head coach Tom Williams formally announced his resignation amid controversy over his history as a Rhodes Scholarship candidate.

Two sources with knowledge of the search process confirmed Wednesday evening that Reno has been tapped to fill the vacant spot. Earlier this week, reports emerged in the press that UConn defensive coordinator Don Brown was offered the Yale job. However, Brown withdrew his name from consideration within hours of the reports surfacing.

Four Yale players said they have not heard an official announcement yet. Three Harvard players reached Wednesday night said they have not been informed of any changes in the Crimson coaching staff.

Reno served under former Yale head coach Jack Siedlecki from 2002-’08, spending the first five seasons as the defensive backs coach. Yale’s passing defense ranked third in the nation in both the 2007 and 2008 seasons.

In 2006, Reno helped to guide the Bulldogs to a share of the Ivy League Championship, their first since 1999, as well as Yale’s last win over Harvard in The Game in 2006. The next year, he was promoted to assistant head coach.

After Siedlecki retired following a disappointing 6–4 season in 2008, Reno left Yale for archrival Harvard. For the last three seasons, Reno coached the Crimson’s defensive backs as well as its special teams. The Crimson have won all three Games that he had coached.

While Reno has never been a head coach or coordinator at the Division I level, his popularity among former players may have helped to strengthen his candidacy. His hiring comes at a crucial time for the Bulldogs’ recruiting process. According to Yale Director of Athletics Tom Beckett, the University is supposed to host recruits for its next class of Bulldogs this weekend and next weekend.

Reno graduated from Worcester State College in 1997 and was a three-year starter at free safety for the Division III program. He gained his first coaching experience as the defensive ends coach for King’s College in Pennsylvania from 1997-’98. He then returned to his alma mater, where he worked as a secondary coach and defensive coordinator until he joined the Bulldogs for the 2003 season.

Georgetown head coach Kevin Kelly and Lehigh offensive coordinator Dave Cecchini were also interviewed for the job. Kelly withdrew his name from consideration early Wednesday evening.

Reno will inherit a 5–5 team that this season fell short of its aspiration of an Ancient Eight title and suffered its worst defeat, 45–7, against Harvard in 29 years. The Bulldogs will graduate eight players on defense in May, including linebacker and former captain Jordan Haynes ’12, who led the Ivy League in tackles this past season. Linebacker and captain Will McHale ’13, along with defensive backs Kurt Stottlemyer ’13 and Nick Okano ’14, the remaining three starters, will form the core of the new defense.

On the other side of the ball, the Elis will lose two dynamic playmakers in quarterback Patrick Witt ’12 and Alex Thomas ’12. But the team will also feature the deepest receiver corps in the league, led by Chris Smith ’13. The Bulldogs will also return five starting offensive linemen and tailback Mordecai Cargill ’13, who had a career-high 530 rushing yards last season.

Reno has two sons, Dante and Vince, and a daughter, Angelina, with his wife Toni. He will be Yale football’s third head coach in five years.


  • JackJ

    Is Yale a Division One school? I thought they were an FCS category school which is the old 1AA. So it really wouldn’t matter if Reno has no Division One experience would it?

  • eli1

    Technically FCS and BCS are two subdivisions of Division 1. Obviously the BCS classification is a better brand of football but coaching in the FCS would still be considered Division 1. I like the hire here, but I am a little apprehensive about Reno’s lack of experience as an OC or DC. Anyway, I like the youthful exhuberence of Reno and hope he is able to recruit tirelessly to get the Bulldogs back on top.

    • Frashizzle

      You’re actually referring to FCS and FBS. BCS refers to the bowl selection system of FBS and, more commonly, to a subgroup of FBS conferences as well as the independent Notre Dame, which receive an automatic bid to BCS bowl games.

      • eli1

        Sorry I meant FBS…you are correct.

  • observer

    Perhaps plucking an assistant from the Harvard staff, despite his lack of OC or DC experience, will help Yale turn things around. Three years on Tim Murphy’s staff must have taught him something about winning!

  • wyldebill

    Being on Yale’s staff in ’06 and ’07 when we went 17-3 might have “taught him something about winning” too.

    • observer

      Ah, but Yale lost to Harvard in 6 of the 7 years Reno spent as a Yale assistant coach.

      Perhaps his subsequent experience on the Dark Side, when Harvard beat Yale 3 times in 3 tries, taught him a lesson or two he can apply during his second New Haven tour of duty.

  • Mikelawyr2

    Bring. The. Playbook.

  • wyldebill

    It’s hilarious that Tony Reno’s wife is Toni Reno.

    Arguably more significantly is that our new HC was Harvard’s special teams coach. While our kick return game was strong under Williams, the field goal kicking was awful (it was absurd to demote Tom Mante in ’09), and our failure to cover Penn’s “bloop kickoff” this year was a big factor in blowing that huge game. Let’s not even start about “4th and 22″. I am encouraged that specials can become a huge Bulldog strength under Coach Reno.

  • EliFBfan

    Williams had less to do with Yale’s kick return team than did Chris Smith