Search begins for a new football coach at Williams

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WILLIAMSTOWN — Williams College athletic director Lisa Melendy says she has an idea of what she's looking for in a football coach.

Melendy is beginning the search to replace Aaron Kelton, who stepped down Wednesday after six seasons at the Eph helm.

"I think we're looking for what we're looking for in all of our Williams coaches," she said. "Somebody who understands teaching and coaching at a small liberal arts college, who's a teacher first.

"He's going to put together a staff. It's a big program, and he needs to be able to put it all together."

Melendy said a search committee will be formed and she will lead the committee. The athletic director said it will be a "national search."

It's a search that also got a little more crowded on Thursday when Division III Union announced that head football coach John Audino announced his retirement. He had been at Union since 1992.

As to where the new Williams coach will come from or what the experience level is, Melendy said she would be open to anyone who fits the profile. But each of the last three Williams head coaches came from the ranks of assistants.

When Bob Odell left after the 1986 season, he was replaced by Dick Farley who was an assistant on Odell's staff. Farley retired after the 2003 season and was replaced by assistant coach Mike Whalen, now the athletic director at Wesleyan.

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Whalen left for his alma mater after six years and was replaced by Kelton, who had been the defensive coordinator at Division I-FCS Columbia.

"We have found over time with our hires across all of our coaches, that we've had successes with coaches for whom this was their first head coaching job, or for who had prior experience," said Melendy. "We're really looking for the right fit, the right candidate."

There may be a large pool of applicants to select from. It could rival the pool of candidates Melendy said she had when Williams hired Kevin App as men's basketball coach. When App was hired, Melendy called it "perhaps the strongest pool we have had for any search."

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And while the job is in the process of being posted, message board chatter and internet searches of coaches could make the pool searching for a coach very strong.

Among the possible candidates are two former Williams players who have had fairly successful stints as head coaches.

Kevin Gilmartin is 20-8 in three seasons as the head coach at Division III Salve Regina. He was a wide receiver at Williams and graduated in 1994.

Kevin Morris was the head coach at UMass from 2009-11, just prior to the Minutemen's entry into the FBS subdivision. Morris, who graduated in 1986 from Williams after playing defensive back and baseball, has 30 years of coaching experience, including a stint as head coach at Worcester Polytechnic Institute and as the offensive coordinator at Yale. He is the offensive coordinator at Division I-FCS Monmouth.

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Playing the "Six Degrees of Williams" game, another possible candidate could be Columbia defensive backs coach Jon Poppe. Poppe joined Al Bagnoli's staff in New York City after spending time on Tim Murphy's staff at Harvard. Poppe, who was a three-year starter at Williams at defensive back and graduated in 2007, was an assistant at Harvard for four years.

Another college coach with a Williams degree on his wall is Princeton running backs coach Sean Gleeson. Gleeson, a standout quarterback at Williams, graduated in 2005. He has been the offensive coordinator at Fairleigh Dickinson.

At Princeton, he works under offensive coordinator James Perry, a former quarterback at Brown who was recruited there by current UMass coach Mark Whipple. Perry was Farley's offensive coordinator at Williams from 2002-04.

Taking one step away from Williams, Harvard offensive coordinator Joel Lamb and Dartmouth quarterbacks coach Chris Rorke could be potential candidates.

Lamb's father Tom grew up in Adams and coached Doug Flutie at Natick High School. Joel Lamb has NESCAC experience, as he was the quarterbacks coach at Amherst before going to Harvard.

Rorke was the offensive coordinator at Trinity for five seasons. His athletic director at Dartmouth is former Williams College athletic director Harry Sheehy.

Contact Howard Herman at 413-496-6253.


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