AROUND THE IVIES: Harvard-Yale Will Be A Statement Game

Around the Ivies

At what point does rock truly hit bottom?

For the Yale football program, that’s not an easy question to answer.

Things started turning dramatically downhill last season, when Bulldogs head coach Tom Williams—apparently jealous over the attention his quarterback, Patrick Witt, was getting over his Rhodes interview vs. The Game “dilemma”—decided to state that he too had faced a similar decision during his time as an undergraduate at Stanford.

There was only one problem: Tom Williams is about as trustworthy as a New Haven street after sundown, and the New York Times later reported he actually hadn’t been a Rhodes candidate at all.

Not sure what was going through Williams’ head here. Did he not realize the Rhodes Committee maintained basic standards of record-keeping or that the Times employed fact-checkers? Was he actually referring to the “Roads Scholarship,” a $500 offer by Pat the Digital Vagabond for any talented traveler/writer/photographer to go to the Burning Man Festival? Or, like Leonard in Memento, could he just not remember anything before a certain date?

No matter Williams’ explanation, nobody was surprised by his dreadful decision-making skills. This was the same guy who just two years earlier thought it would be a good idea to call a fake punt on a 4th-and-22 from his own 25-yard line with a three-point lead and 2:25 to go in the 2010 edition of The Game, helping the Crimson pull off a dramatic comeback win.

If you Google “Harvard Yale fake punt,” terms like “ghastly fake punt faux pas,” “idiocy in the Ivy,” and “the absolute worst coaching decision ever” come up in titles of articles on the first three pages alone, which pretty much sums things up. Being surprised by “resume-gate” after that decision would have been like being surprised by the Petraeus affair if two years ago he had decided to randomly invade Sweden.

But the strange ménage à trois between Yale football, the Times, and the Rhodes committee was not over yet, as the following week the paper reported that the Rhodes Trust had learned of sexual assault accusations against Witt and had decided to suspend his own application unless Yale re-endorsed him.

Taking a page out of Williams ol’ “Pinocchio Playbook,” Witt told the media he had withdrawn his Rhodes application on his own, when in reality the committee had already taken the liberty of doing that for him.

Here again, Google tells the whole story. When you search “Patrick Witt Yale,” articles come up entitled “Sex Smears and the Rule of Law at Yale,” “Pat Witt and Yale’s Disastrous Failure,” “Yale QB’s Deception over Rhodes Scholarship is an Embarrassment,” “Yale’s Unforgiveable Silence on Patrick Witt,” and, worst of all, “Tom Williams (American football) Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.” So yeah, you guys might want to try out Bing for a bit.

Anyway, Williams resigned and Witt went on to work for the Romney campaign, which to nobody’s surprise apparently found the ability to grossly misstate the truth to be a positive job qualification. No word on what Witt plans to do next; perhaps Yale alum and fellow truth-slayer Fareed Zakaria is looking for an intern.

Meanwhile, after making the worst pair of calls since the ones Mel Gibson made to his girlfriend, Williams was unable to find even a coordinator job. Instead, he became the safeties coach at UTEP. Upon hiring Williams, Miners head coach Mike Price said that “The fact that he was head coach at Yale brings status and prestige to our program,” which is kind of like Trek hiring Lance Armstrong as its spokesperson and saying “The fact that he was a professional cyclist brings status and prestige to our program.”

In September, the El Paso Times reported that Williams gave the team a passionate speech to motivate it before its game at Wisconsin. The Miners lost that contest and five of its next six after that, proving once again that Tom Williams is about as good a motivator as the “You Can Do It” guy from ‘The Waterboy.’

Of course, both Williams and Witt were just following in the treasured Yale legacy of destroying one’s reputation. The trend began in 1692, when Elihu Yale was removed as President of Madras on corruption charges. In 1999, American Heritage magazine rated Elihu the most overrated philanthropist in American history, which remains the only time to this day anything related to Yale College ranks first on a “best in America” list.

Back in the present, the Bulldogs, as usual desperately trying to be Harvard, hired Crimson assistant Tony Reno to be their next coach.

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