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A week after football coach Jack Siedlecki announced his retirement, the Yale Athletics Department is already hard at work searching for his replacement, and a decision could be reached on a new coach in a matter of weeks.In an interview Tuesday, Athletics Director Tom Beckett disclosed for the first time the process in which administrators will select the 33rd leader of Yale’s historic football program. Four advisory committees — one of football players, another of alumni, a third of Yale officials, and the last of officials in the Athletics Department — have been appointed to lead the search, he said.
“We asked each committee to create the perfect coach,” Beckett said. “After they describe the best fit for football at Yale, we’ll work hard to find candidates who meet the description.”
Beckett noted that after a list of possible replacements is created, each committee will have an opportunity to visit with candidates. After these meetings, the groups will assess the potential coaches and submit their findings to Beckett’s office. The athletics director will then take these briefs to University President Richard Levin, who will ultimately make the new appointment.
Beckett declined to release the names of the members of each committee, saying that the search would garner more honest, productive involvement from committee members if they were not subject to scrutiny during and after the process. He would only say that each committee has fewer than 10 members.
“We want the committees to be a manageable size to ensure quality discussion about the post,” he said.
Current Yale football players staff the student committee, Beckett said. These members span various grades, including players from both sides of the ball. For the alumni committee, meanwhile, the Athletics Department tapped most of its members from the Football Association. While Beckett said the majority of alumni members were former football players, the list also includes other former athletes and friends of the football program.
There were fewer details about the makeup of the final two committees. Although the Athletics Department group is made up of current assistant coaches, Siedlecki himself will not take part in the search for his replacement. Beckett stated that it was Siedlecki’s decision not to be take part in the search.
“Siedlecki asked that the process go on without his involvement,” Beckett said. “He understands that this is a difficult time for everyone.”
The director of Yale Sports Publicity, Steve Conn, said in a telephone interview on Monday that the Athletics Department’s goal is to have a permanent head coach in place by the New Year. Still, in the interview, Beckett emphasized that he has neither received nor set any deadline by which to make a decision.
“We want to be absolutely thorough,” Beckett said. “That is the most important thing, no matter how long it takes.”
Cornerback Casey Gerald ’09 echoed Beckett, “As a football alum, I would hope that the Athletics Department does as thorough of a search as they possibly can so that we can be sure to select the best coach possible — one that this great program deserves.”
The new head coach will inherit a team in transition; the Bulldogs will lose over 30 seniors, 14 of them starters, to graduation.
That transition will likely include a change of offensive philosophy with the graduation of one of the most prolific tailbacks in Ivy League history, Mike McLeod ’09. Thus the passing game may be next year’s forte, as starting quarterback Brook Hart ’11 will return along with the bulk of his receivers. The hiring of an offensive-minded head coach may be the logical decision to complement the pieces already in place.
Although there have been no formal announcements about candidates on Yale’s radar, some players have suggested Rick Flanders, the defensive coordinator and architect of the nation’s top scoring defense each of the last two seasons, could be a good choice to succeed Siedlecki.
“There is certainly the possibility that someone could come up [from the current staff],” Beckett said. “Like I said, we’re looking for the absolute best fit for Yale football, and we’re not ruling anyone out.”
If the new hire is indeed someone outside of Yale’s ranks, it remains to be seen whether current assistants, most notably Flanders, would remain on the staff.
“[The players] just want a coach whose goal is to win football games and a coaching staff that is willing to put the time in to bring us to the top,” receiver and returner Gio Christodoulou ’11 said.
Meanwhile, as the Athletics Department searches for a new coach, the football program must also continue its current affairs — most importantly, recruiting the class of 2013.
The Athletics Department has not selected an interim coach for the team at this time. In the interim, Beckett said major decisions affecting the football program will fall to him.
But all nine assistant coaches have also taken on additional responsibilities. Many of the assistants are working to maintain contact with recruits, and Anthony Reno, Siedlecki’s assistant head coach, has assumed the top role in recruitment.