Was it only a year ago that I wrote this after Williams lost the first two football games of the season?

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.

Williams is now 7-0, having not lost a single game since I made that prediction. Tomorrow, they go for a perfect season against Amherst. Good luck!

But, having enjoyed my crow, I have to ask: What the heck is going on? How can Williams significantly tighten admissions standards for football players (don’t forget that this year’s set of football tips had an average SAT of over 1400) and still win so many games?

1) Whalen is a genius coach who can do more with less. Most other coaches would be losing lots more games. [I have heard no evidence of this.]

2) All the other schools have tightened eligibility to a similar degree. [This has happened to some extent, with both Amherst and Wesleyan joining Williams in going to 66 tips, but I haven’t read that significant changes have been made across NESCAC.]

3) Football recruiting is hard (or our football recruiters are not so good). You may think that applicant A with 1200 SATs is a much better linebacker than applicant B with 1400 SATs. In the old days, Williams would accept A and reject B. (We only need so many linebackers.) But, it turns out that B was every bit as good as A so, when the College prevented you from accepting A, you haven’t really lost out.

4) Williams football’s yield is up significantly. We used to lose a lot of good players to Ivy League teams. The College now does a better of job of convincing those kids that starring at Williams is better than playing back-up at Yale.

5) The last 13 games have been a fluke. More losses are inevitable.

I really don’t know what the answer is. Informed commentary welcome.

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