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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Yale's Football Coach Resigns Amidst Controversy About Resume Misrepresentations

You can read the story here.

My friend Jeff from Philadelphia (not to be confused with Jeff from Manhattan) and I used to wonder over beers whether what some people were telling us about their backgrounds was true. Among the questions were "did this guy really play there?" and "was he all-league?" Some of the boasting we dealt with was before the age of the internet, which has enabled all of us to instantly check someone out. And there were occasions where what we were told differed from the truth. And how did we find that out? Because on occasion we once would come across someone about whom it was well-known that he played there, and we would ask, "well, then, you must know so-and-so, who played there at the same time." When you get met with a blank stare and a "I don't know him," well, you start to wonder.

As Jeff from Philadelphia would have said, "Well, as [former President and Michigan football All-American] Gerald Ford used to say, 'everyone is an All-American more than 50 miles from where he grew up.'" That held true say 20, 20+ years ago, but you would have figured that people who might have been wont to embellish or outright lie would have stopped such behavior because, well, it is easier to check out. That said, the checker outers, as they were, are busier than ever, and, well, most people don't want to assume that they are being lied to, especially by as accomplished a guy as Tom Williams was when he applied and got the Yale head coaching job. It makes one ask the question, "why did do this; did he really need to do it?"

Williams became unmasked when a big wire story circulated that his QB bagged a Rhodes Scholarship interview to skipper the team against Harvard in The Game. It didn't take a Yale graduate to connect the dots between the QB's goal and the coach's representation that he had interviewed for a Rhodes. Heck, that's a pretty cool, feel-good story for a sportswriter to write in so many ways. Except when it didn't exist. Then that same writer gets a pretty hot story to write about how someone claimed to be something that he wasn't.

Why do people do this? Who do they think that they are impressing, and should we let ourselves get impressed by things other than competencies, character and personality? Should that Rhodes cache made one bit of difference for Yale to determine whether to hire Tom Williams as its coach? Probably not. Better yet, would he have gotten the job had he not mentioned that lie on his resume? Probably. (Of course, it's also surfaced that Williams claimed that he was on the 49ers' practice squad 18 years ago, when in truth he was at a 3-day tryout camp).

This is a sad day in so many ways.


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