Sunday October 21, 2012

Ask former Williams College assistant football coach Renzie Lamb about Dave Clawson and you'll get a comment like a movie review blurb.

"He was an intellectual, physical, great player," said Lamb of the former Eph defensive back, who is now the head football coach at Bowling Green.

Clawson brought his Falcons to Foxborough on Saturday to play the University of Massachusetts. It was homecoming for the Minutemen and a homecoming of sorts for Clawson, who graduated from Williams in 1989 and played for Hall of Fame coach Dick Farley.

The Falcons coach is in his fourth season at the helm, taking over after one season as the offensive coordinator at Tennessee. He was not retained when the Volunteers changed their entire football staff.

Clawson is rebuilding at Bowling Green, just as Charley Molnar is building a program at UMass.

At 0-5, UMass fans are undoubtedly unhappy with how the Minutemen have fared in their first Mid-American Conference season. Clawson said that the perception of the league among coaches is different than its perception among fans.

"It's very good football," he said. "It's very competitive. I think a lot of the schools are very similar in terms of size and academic programs. It's a very balanced league. From top to bottom, one to 13, it's probably as tight as any conference I've been in."

UMass moved from the Colonial Athletic Association to the MAC. Clawson moved from the CAA, where he was the head coach at Richmond for four seasons, to the MAC via the SEC.

"The biggest difference is, obviously, the 22 scholarships," he said. "The schools in this league have more depth because you have basically a whole football team on scholarship.

"My last two teams in Richmond had seven or eight pros on them. Those kids certainly could have played here. UMass has also had great players. Some of the better CAA teams could be competitive on this league. But those 22 more scholarships is a lot more -- and establishing the depth is important."

For the record, Clawson has been the coach of the year in the Patriot League at Fordham, in the Atlantic 10 (now the CAA) at Richmond and the national Division I-AA coach of the year in 2005. He obviously knows what he's talking about.

"I always enjoy [coming back to New England]. I spent four years of my life there," he said. "When I worked at Fordham, we would play at Holy Cross and Brown. When I was at Richmond, we'd play New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Northeastern, Maine and UMass. A lot of my friends from college still live in the New England area."

Clawson said he still talks to Farley every couple of weeks, and has been keeping an eye on the soon-to-happen Weston Field renovations.

"I remember they used to use the field as the driving range in the summer for Taconic," said Clawson with a laugh.

The Bowling Green coach was a three-year starter at defensive back for Farley.

"He was a very smart defensive back," Lamb said. "He was in lock step with Dick. He was one of Dick's proudest accomplishments."

To reach Howard Herman:
hherman@berkshireeagle.com,
(413) 496-6253.
On Twitter: @howardherman.