Fri 6 Jan 2017
When I first arrived at Williams in September 1986, Williams had an experienced and well-respected head football coach, named Bob Odell. I did not see any of the games that season (or really any others during my time in Williamstown) because I was always playing rubgy on Saturdays, but I always tried to make it to the Williams-Amherst game. In November 1986, I saw Williams lose 10-7 to Amherst. Little did I know that that game would be the last Williams loss to Amherst for 14 years, and would also be Coach Odell’s last game. Bob Farley took over in 1987, and had an amazing run as the head coach.
I really hadn’t given Coach Odell much thought in decades until a few weeks ago, when I ran into someone who, spotting me in a Williams sweatshirt, told me he had been recruited by Coach Odell, though he ended up going elsewhere. We chatted for a while, and he said that Bob Odell was the runner-up for the Heisman trophy when he played in college. That really surprised me, so I poked around for a while and found that indeed Bob Odell, then a running back at Penn, had finished second in the Heisman Trophy in 1943. Turns out he also won the Maxwell Award in 1943 as college football player of the year.
I assume that Coach Odell’s extremely accomplished playing career was known to many when I was at Williams, but it was news to me. Are there other long-standing Williams employees with prestigious professional awards which are little known on campus?
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