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75 Guys?

Williams football won last week, to avoid going 0-3 for the first time since 1987.

“The first three quarters, we were still on our heels, still questioning what we were doing, not believing in what we’re doing or in each other,” said Whalen. “In the fourth quarter, something good happened for us, and all of a sudden we came together and 75 guys were on the same page believing in themselves and their teammates.”

There are 75 Ephs on the football team? What is this, Nebraska? Back in the day, the football team was large but included a JV, I think, which played some Saturday morning games. Is there still a JV? Do all 75 players travel to away games?

Lest the members of the Quarterback Club start to complain that Coach Whalen is not doing as well as legendary coach Dick Farley, it should be noted that this is only the beginning of the era of fewer tips, especially of the “low-band” type that the football team thrived on. The reason that Williams football did so much better in the 1990’s then it will going forward is not that Farley is a much better coach than Whalen (although he might be). The key fact is that Williams used to let in a lot of big, fast guys with sub-1200 SATs who knew how to play. Without that admissions advantage, Williams football will not do nearly as well.

For the record, I am a fan of the changes that Morty has made with regards to tips and admissions. See previous discussion here, here, and here.

By the way, did you know that Williams has a “Football Recruiting Coordinator”? Your tuition dollars at work.

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#1 Comment By Jeff Zeeman On October 14, 2005 @ 6:55 pm

75 is now the maximum number of football guys that all Nescac schools can carry on their rosters, and most of the schools (I know Williams, Amherst and Trinity for sure) always have 75 at the start of the season. In light of injuries, player physical development over time at the college level, and the sheer number of guys who get on the field, a team really couldn’t have many fewer than 65 or without playing lots of physically immature underclassmen.

Trinity’s football team has achieved a level of dominance that even Williams never did, thanks to the best coach in the league (as Williams once had) but, more importantly, thanks to an apparent willingness to allow academically questionable athletes in.

Williams athletics is now right where it should be — it still dominates in the Sears Cup, but not because of lower standards — the sports that Williams accumulates the bulk of its points in year in and year out, namely Cross Country, Track and Field, Swimming and Diving, Tennis, and Women’s crew, do not require nearly the sort of admissions concessions that sports like Football, Basketball, Hockey, Baseball and Lacrosse do. In fact, many elite students also compete in those sports, in particular, cross-country and track and field. Williams is pretty much mediocre in the big-time recruiting sports now: overall, Football etc. will probably finish, in the aggregate, barely over .500 this year. That is because schools like Trinity, Midd, and from what I hear, now Amherst are willing to bend to let in a few extra top athletes for the super high-visibility sports.

Trinity, as one example, has had three Div-I bball transfers in recent years, and currently has transfers from UHouston, UConn, Colgate, and UVA all playing major roles on its football team. Of course, Trinity has much lower SAT’s than Amherst or Williams to begin with, so a kid with a 1050 wouldn’t stand out nearly as much there. But I think Williams is doing it the right way — encouraging excellence in student-athletes in the sports where visibility might not be as high, but the students are able to benefit from the experience of competing at the highest level.

Does this mean Williams may never win another championship in men’s basketball or go undefeated in men’s football? Perhaps. But, at least in hoops, if they can attract 3-4 stars with 1300 plus SAT’s (very doable based on past experience) at least the basketball team has a shot.

One other issue that may, in the long run, compromise Williams athletics: the sorry state of the athletic facilities. The weight room is a joke compared to Amherst, Middlebury, or many high schools, and several other athletic facilities are badly in need of some fixing up. The fact that the weight room is like it is, despite the huge bucks coming in for the campaign, are a not so subtle signal about the current administration’s feeling about athletics as a campus priority.

#2 Comment By Current Eph On October 14, 2005 @ 7:07 pm

The 75 people on the Williams Varsity Football roster includes those play on JV. The JV games are usually played on Sunday morning games. The Ephs have relatively the same number of players as Amherst and Trinity, and though all of these teams have more players than a team like Bowdoin, it’s a totally acceptable size for a nescac team.

By the way, Nebraska has more like 124 players, not 75, and a plethora of assistant coaches (17 to Williams 10). And for many of the Williams Assistant Coaches, football is not a year-round commitment like it is for the Huskers coaches, at least 5 of them are coaches for another sport (2 are even head coaches).

#3 Comment By frank uible On October 14, 2005 @ 8:02 pm

Football – now there is something that is near and dear to me – and, of course, makes a true and major difference in the scheme of things! The foregoing is so full of errors, omissions and misleading propositions (along with a few incidental truths) I haven’t the time or inclination to straighten it, but at any rate you are now on notice of my objection to any and all of it.

#4 Comment By Anonymous On October 15, 2005 @ 12:45 am

On Athletic Tips and Investment Banking Jobs:

I think that there is a huge misconception as to what kind of people at Williams get Investment Banking Jobs. By reading the posts, I got the feeling that some of you put the following rationale on having Tips athletes:

The Tips are more likely to be interested
in the I-Banking jobs; thus, if acceptetd to these jobs, the athletes will have a higher earning expectancy; thus, they will give large gifts to Williams.

But, there is a bit IF in this reasining:namely, in “if acceptetd to these jobs.”

As an Eph who recently went through the hell of the interview process, I can say that people who get the top I-Banking jobs do not come from the left tail of the SAT/GPA distributions. Sure, most of them are not in the top 10% of the class; I guesstimate, however, that the overwhelming majority of them has a decent GPA in 3.0 to 3.7 range. I happen to know a large number of the people who inteviewed for these jobs, and I would not used an adjective “stupid by Williams standards” to describe any of them.

My point is that very few Tips have GPA goodenough to get an interview with these firms (to get an interview in the first place, you need to submit your resume with the GPA/SAT scores on it). Probably most people who get these jobs are atletes; very few of them are actually tips.

Thus, the argument that college admits TIPS to be able to reap the financial benefits from them later on does not hold, as an overwhelming majority of them will not get an exorbitantly paying jobs anyway.

You might argue that TIPS contribute to the athletic image of the school, which in turn attracts the athletic-minded smart students, which in turn translates to more investment bankers….
However, I personally think that this link is tenuous.