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Q&A with Tony Reno

Tony Reno and Handsome Dan. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)
Tony Reno and Handsome Dan. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)

10 Weeks Into The Job

Tony Reno, the newly appointed Joel E. Smilow '54 Head Coach of Yale Football, began recruiting the moment he accepted the job. The new leader of the Bulldogs has been spotted rented cars in Tampa, San Francisco, San Diego, Atlanta, Austin, Cleveland, Chicago and Houston, just to name a few. 

It's been two months since he was re-introduced in New Haven and Yale fans are wondering what progress has been made with the returning student-athletes as well as the class of 2016, and what it's like running one of the most storied programs in college football.

Yale Sports Publicity Director Steve Conn sat down with Reno to discuss the early days of the new regime.

Q: It's only 10 weeks into your first head coaching position, so it might not be fair to ask just yet. Has it been everything you anticipated, and what have been the biggest surprises?


A: The first few months have been a balancing act.  In two weeks, we had to put together a recruiting class, hire a staff and get aquainted with the current Yale players.  It was a whirlwind tour but we have been able to hit the ground running in all areas.


Q: What are you hearing about Yale football from prospects and their families when you are on the road?


A: The tradition of Yale football is unlike any other in college football.  People from all across the United States connect to our great game through Yale.  The unparalleled academic reputation of our university stands for itself, and these facts have helped create excitement about Yale Football.


Q: You played and coached at Worcester State and have recruited and coached at Yale and Harvard. You've had success at all of these places while bringing in motivated kids who share your philosophies. What's the best way to characterize the type of student-athletes you want playing for Yale?


A: The common thread among championship teams is that they are made up of tough, physical football players who can handle adversity.  It is hard to win football games, and we will recruit players who will push themselves mentally and physical to achieve greatness.


Q: Renown for his work with college athletes, Emil Johnson, Yale's strength & conditioning coach, has been working with the Bulldogs in the weight room, on the stairs and other places in Payne Whitney Gym since they came back from winter break. What are they focusing on and how are they accomplishing what you want done?

A: Coach Johnson is an exceptional strength coach.  In my opinion one of the top in the nation at what he does.  Our focus is to improve the functional strength and speed of our players.  Emil does a great job of challenging our players every day and giving them the tools to be successful.


Q: How will people describe Yale teams under Tony Reno after they've seen the Bulldogs for a few seasons, and what do you hope they will say about their head coach?


A: It is our goal to produce tough, physical football teams that can handle adversity.  We will be prepared mentally, emotionally and physically for each game.


Q: Yale has a football program rich in tradition, success and significant personalities. How does the past impact your plans, and are there things players, alumni and fans might see in the Bulldogs that celebrate its storied existence?


A: We will embrace the unrivaled history of Yale Football.  You will see our program reach out to our alumni and preserve the traditions that make Yale Football unique.

Q: You've been a winner on both sidelines in The Game while coaching in nine consecutive editions. What have you learned about the schools and the rivalry from the unique perspective?


A: The Yale-Harvard Game is a Bowl Game for both schools.  The schools are passionate about the rivalry and the players and coaches look forward to the stage each year.  It is an honor to play or coach in this great rivalry series.