Jack Siedlecki
File:Jack Siedlecki 2008.jpg
Siedlecki in 2008
Biographical details
Born (1951-07-23) July 23, 1951 (age 69)
Johnstown, New York
Playing career
Position(s)Running back, linebacker
Head coaching record
Accomplishments and honors
1 Freedom Football (1992)
1 NESCAC (1996)
2 Ivy (1999, 2006)

Jack "Sid" Siedlecki (pronounced /sɪdˈlɛki/ sid-LEK-ee; born July 23, 1951) is an American football coach. He was a head coach in college football for 21 years for Worcester Polytechnic Institute (1988–1992), Amherst College (1993–1996) and Yale University (1997–2008). He led his teams to championships in the Ivy League (Yale in 1999 and 2006), the Freedom Football Conference (Worcester Tech in 1992), and the New England Small College Athletic Conference (Amherst in 1996). He was selected as the American Football Coaches Association District I Coach of the Year after the 2006 season.

Early years[edit | edit source]

Siedlecki was born in 1951 in Johnstown, New York. His father, John Siedlecki, was the son of Polish immigrants and served as the head football coach at Johnstown High School for 20 years and later served as the school's principal.[1][2]

Jack was the youngest boy in the Siedlecki family and became a three-sport star at Johnstown High School, playing tailback on the football team, pitcher on the baseball team and point guard on the basketball team. Siedleck's high school basketball coach later recalled that Siedlecki was not a good shooter, but had great vision as the team's point guard: "He could see things unfold before they happened. Some people are born with that ability to see things. Jack was."[2] The same coach recalled Siedlecki's performance as tailback in a game against future NFL linebacker, Ted Jornov:

"Jack kept taking these unmerciful poundings from Jornov. He would carry the ball for five yards and Jornov would crunch him. But he'd get up, every time. He must have carried the ball 25 times. That night, Jack Siedlecki showed me what kind of guy he is. He took a physical beating, but he just kept getting up. It was remarkable. ... We won because of Jack. He was the heart and soul of the team."[2]

He next attended Union College in Schenectady, New York, where he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in history in 1974. He played at the running back and linebacker positions for the Union College football team and also played as a pitcher for the school's baseball team.[1]

Assistant football coach[edit | edit source]

After graduating from Union College, Siedlecki worked as an assistant football coach for 12 years at the University of Albany (1976–1979), Wagner College (1980), and Lafayette College (1981–1987). He began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Albany and later noted that his responsibilities there were unlike any other program: "Everybody who walks out of here is exposed to what it takes to be a college coach."[3] He recalled that the assistants at Albany earned $2,500 to $3,000 a year, and five coaches shared one house for which they paid $225 per month in rent. To support himself, Siedlecki also taught at a local Catholic elementary school, worked as a building supervisor three nights a week and coached junior varsity baseball.[3] After one year at Wagner, Siedlecki spent seven years at Lafayette and served as both defensive and offensive coordinator.[4] Siedlecki and Harvard head coach Tim Murphy were roommates as assistant coaches at Lafayette.[1]

Worcester Tech (WPI)[edit | edit source]

In January 1988, Siedlecki was hired as the head football coach at Worcester Polytechnic Institute.[4][5] In five years at Worcester, Siedlecki compiled a 36–11–1 record. His 1990 team went 8–0–1, and his 1992 team compiled a 9–1 record.[1] The 1992 team also made the school's first appearance in the NCAA Division III playoffs and won the inaugural title of the Freedom Football Conference.[6] Siedlecki was chosen as the 1992 AFCA Kodak District I Coach of the Year.[1]

Amherst[edit | edit source]

In January 1993, Siedleck was hired as the head football coach at Amherst College. At the time, he said that he had "a great deal of pride" in the winning program he had built at Worcester but added, "Personally and professionally this is a great opportunity. Amherst is one of the finest schools in the country and it will truly be an honor to work there."[7]

At Amherst, Siedlecki replaced Jim Ostendarp, who had been the head football coach at Amherst for 32 years. Siedlecki inherited a program that had gone 0–8, 0–7–1, and 1–7 in the three years before he was hired.[8] Siedlecki's defensive coordinator at Amherst, E. J. Mills, later recalled the first practice at Amherst:

"Two of the players came over the hill and down onto the field about five seconds after the rest of the team had lined up. Jack just started to shout. He yelled, 'Are you kiddin' me! We're trying to turn this thing around and we've got guys late for practice? We're gonna get it done! We're not gonna tolerate this! No excuses! Hundred-yard sprints! Everybody! Now!' The whole team started running; they ran and ran and ran. They must've done about 25 or 30 sprints in a row. I don't think anybody was ever late after that. Jack Siedlecki's legend at Amherst was established on that first day."[9]

The New York Times reported that "Siedlecki performed miracles at Amherst," turning a program that had won one game in three years into a consistent winner.[8] In four seasons as the head coach of the Amherst Lord Jeffs, Siedlecki compiled a 20–11–1 record. His 1996 team finished with a 7–1 record and won the New England Small College Athletic Conference championship. He was named the American Football Coaches Association District I Coach of the Year after the 2006 season.[1]

Yale[edit | edit source]

In December 1996, Siedlecki was hired as the 32nd head coach of the Yale Bulldogs football team.[8][10] He replaced Carm Cozza, the winningest coach in Ivy League football history.[8] Yale's football team had finished 2–8 in 1995 and had not had a winning season since 1991 when Siedlecki took over.[9] Siedlecki noted, "I've been at good academic schools. I want to be with the best student athletes. It's fun to coach guys who have that kind of intellect. I like those kinds of guys."[8] At the news conference announcing his hiring, Siedlecki responded to questions suggesting he had been a second choice to Dick Jauron:

"Whenever jobs like this open, very good people get involved. I feel tremendously important to be standing here today. Maybe I'm the last guy standing I don't care. I'm the new head coach at Yale."[9]

In his first three years as Yale's head coach, Siedlecki turned the program around from a 1–9 record in 1997 to 9–1 and a share of the Ivy League championship in 1999. Siedlecki was named the New England Sports Writer's 1999 Coach of the Year for leading the school's turnaround in football.[1]

In September 2000, Yale became the first college football team to win 800 games. In Siedlecki's 12 years at Yale, his players have been selected as first team All-Ivy League players on 34 occasions.[1]

In 2006, he led Yale to a share of the Ivy League championship after finishing 8–2 (6–1 in conference games); the 2006 team defeated Harvard by a score of 34–13.[1] In 2007, he led Yale to a 9–1 record and was named 2007 New England Coach of the Year by sports writers.[1]

At the end of November 2008, less than a week after a 10–0 loss against Harvard and a 6–4 season record, and amid criticism from students and alumni, Siedlecki announced his retirement from coaching after 12 years at Yale.[11][12][13][14] Siedlecki, who agreed to remain at Yale as an assistant athletic director, said at the time, "In my 12 years at Yale I feel I have always tried to do what is best for Yale football and the student-athletes that our staff has brought here. I feel this is what is best for Yale football at this time."[11] Siedlecki compiled a 70-49 record as Yale's head football coach.

Wesleyan[edit | edit source]

In the summer of 2010, Siedlecki decided to come out of retirement to become the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Wesleyan University. He stated, "It’s an ideal coaching job at this stage of my career. It’s Division III, it’s a really idyllic place, and it’s going to be a big challenge. They haven’t won the Little Three in 40 years." [15]

Personal[edit | edit source]

Siedlecki and his wife, Nancy, have three children: Kevin, Jackie, and Amy.[1] Siedlecki's wife once told a reporter that her husband had an "obsession" with football, and Siedlecki did not disagree. He noted, "I'm basically football and family; those are about the only things in my life. I love the game. I love coaching." [9]

Head coaching record[edit | edit source]

Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs
WPI Engineers (Freedom Football Conference) (1988–1992)
1988 WPI 4–4
1989 WPI 8–2
1990 WPI 8–0–1
1991 WPI 7–3
1992 WPI 9–2 1st
WPI: 36–11–1
Amherst Lord Jeffs (New England Small College Athletic Conference) (1993–1996)
1993 Amherst 3–5
1994 Amherst 5–3
1995 Amherst 5–2–1
1996 Amherst 7–1 1st
Amherst: 20–11–1
Yale Bulldogs (Ivy League) (1997–2008)
1997 Yale 2–8 1–6 7th
1998 Yale 6–4 5–2 T–2nd
1999 Yale 9–1 6–1 T–1st
2000 Yale 7–3 4–3 T–3rd
2001 Yale 3–6 1–6 T–7th
2002 Yale 6–4 4–3 T–3rd
2003 Yale 6–4 4–3 T–2nd
2004 Yale 5–5 3–4 T–4th
2005 Yale 4–6 4–3 T–4th
2006 Yale 8–2 6–1 T–1st
2007 Yale 9–1 6–1 2nd
2008 Yale 6–4 4–3 4th
Yale: 71–48 48–36
Total: 127–70–2
      National championship         Conference title         Conference division title
Indicates BCS bowl, Bowl Alliance or Bowl Coalition game.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 "Jack Siedlecki". Yale University. http://www.yalebulldogs.com/sports/m-footbl/mtt/siedlecki_jack00.html. Retrieved 2010-06-01.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "The kid from Johnston finds a home at Yale". The Yale Herald. 1999-10-01. http://www.yaleherald.com/archive/xxviii/1999.10.01/sports/p21.html.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Donna Cassata (1984-06-30). "Albany; the coaching factory". The Gettysburg Times.
  4. 4.0 4.1 "Bloomsburg Hosts PSAC Mat Tourney This Week". Tyrone Daily Herald. 1988-01-29.
  5. Bob Monahan (1988-01-29). "SIEDLECKI IS NAMED TO REPLACE WEISS AS FOOTBALL COACH AT WPI". Boston Globe.
  6. Jeanne Albanese (1992-12-17). "Colgate Considers Berndt: The former Temple Coach and WPI's head coach interview this week for the head football coach's job". The Post Standard (Syracuse, NY).
  7. "SIEDLECKI TO LEAVE WPI FOR AMHERST CHALLENGE". Worcester Telegram & Gazette. 1993-01-22.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 William N. Wallace (1996-12-20). "Siedlecki Eagerly Takes Over at Yale". The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/1996/12/20/sports/siedlecki-eagerly-takes-over-at-yale.html.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 Randall Beach (October 1997). "Can Jack Siedlecki "Get It Done"? After 32 years under the guidance of Carm Cozza, the Yale football team has a new leader. His specialty is turning losers into winners". Yale Alumni Magazine. http://www.yalealumnimagazine.com/issues/97_10/siedlecki.html.
  10. "Siedlecki taking over as Yale gridiron boss". Daily Herald (Chicago). 1996-12-20.
  11. 11.0 11.1 Jorge Castillo (2008-12-01). "After loss in Game, Siedlecki retires". Yale Daily News. http://www.yaledailynews.com/news/university-news/2008/12/01/after-loss-in-game-siedlecki-retires/.
  12. Jorge Castillo (2008-11-26). "AFTER 12 YEARS, SIEDLECKI STEPS DOWN". Yale Daily News. http://www.yaledailynews.com/news/university-news/2008/11/26/after-12-years-siedlecki-steps-down/.
  13. "No baker's dozen for Siedlecki as Yale coach retires". espn.com (AP wire story). 2008-11-26. http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/news/story?id=3728570.
  14. "Yale Coach Siedlecki retires". UPI. 2008-11-26. http://www.upi.com/Sports_News/2008/11/26/Yale-Coach-Siedlecki-retires/UPI-36931227725143/.
  15. "Siedlecki finds new home at Wesleyan". NH Register. 2010-04-29. http://www.nhregister.com/articles/2010/04/29/sports/ssolomon042910042910.txt.

External links[edit | edit source]

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