Jessai Flores

In a game against the University of Pennsylvania on October 23, 2021, Tony Reno recorded his 50th career win as head coach of the Yale football team. That accolade, held by only five other coaches in Yale’s history, has been nine years in the making. 

Reno took over as the Bulldogs head coach on January 12, 2012. Within six short years, the Massachusetts native brought home his first Ivy League championship. The Blue and White had not captured a share of the Ivy title since 2006, and had not won an outright championship since 1980, when Reno was six years old. Entering the 2017 season, Reno’s Bulldogs were projected to finish fourth in the conference. Reno navigated his team to a 9–1 record and 6–1 conference record, the only loss coming by a single point at Dartmouth. Reno’s team finished ranking 24th in the FCS after securing the Ivy title at home in a 24–3 beatdown of Harvard.

In 2019, Reno captured his second Ivy title in three years and his third victory over Harvard in four tries. Team 147 went 9–1 overall and 6–1 in the conference, again only dropping a game to Dartmouth on the road. Since taking over as head coach, Reno has only posted two losing seasons and finished worse than fourth in the conference only once.

Reno’s hiring in 2012 marked his return to New Haven after a three-year absence. In 2003, the Worcester State graduate joined former head coach Jack Siedlecki’s coaching staff as the wide receivers coach. The following year, he transitioned to lead the Bulldogs’ defensive backs, given his collegiate experience as a safety. In 2009, Ivy rival Harvard identified Reno’s talent and hired him as their special teams coordinator and defensive backs coach. The Crimson went undefeated in Reno’s final year with the team.

“I’ve been fortunate to have some great players and some great assistant coaches,” Reno reflected after his 50th milestone win. “The success we’ve had, they’ve been a huge part of it and like I say all the time, I’m just a small piece in a great organization here. I’m very proud of what we’ve built and even more excited [about] where we’re going to take it.”

Reno also said that he hopes to carry on the legacy of College Football Hall of Fame coach Carmen Cozza, who won 10 Ivy League championships and 179 wins over his 32-year career as the Bulldogs’ head coach.

“Looking back at the history of Yale football and what Coach Cozza was able to do, it’s a goal of mine to be able to honor that and build on it, and just keep chasing greatness week in, week out, year in and year out,” Reno said.

Coach Reno won his first game as the Bulldogs’ head coach in the 2012 season opener against Georgetown.

Nader Granmayeh '23 is a former staff writer who covered football and softball for the Yale Daily News.