Laycock’s legacy

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September 24, 2009

11:20 PM

Saturday night, William and Mary Head Coach Jimmye Laycock will prepare for the 30th league opener of his College career. He will descend from his plush office on the top floor of the $11 million football center that bears his name and address his team in a luxurious, brand new locker room. He will emerge from the Northwest gate at Zable Stadium onto a state-of-the-art turf field for a game that will be contested in front of a sold-out crowd and under a modern lighting system installed just four years ago. His Tribe will take on Delaware as the no. 5 ranked team in the nation, and a week later their contest against no. 2 Villanova will be broadcast on national television.

Laycock’s 30th season at the helm of the College is shaping up to be a banner year, and a fitting coda to the career of a man who is synonymous with Tribe football. The 61-year old Virginia native and College graduate is the fourth winningest active coach in the FCS and holds seven playoff appearances. He ranks fourth in career CAA victories and is outlasted in tenure by only three other coaches in all of Division 1. Two of those individuals go by the names of Paterno and Bowden. Over 30 seasons, he has transformed the College from an underfunded, inconsistent program into the class of the FCS.

“He is William and Mary,” former player Tom Dexter ’91 said. “He epitomizes what William and Mary is: integrity, consistency and a high level of expectation.”

Laycock has come to be defined as much by the program he has built as his on-field record. What follows is a portrait by those who have experienced him best.

Early years

I certainly didn’t come here with the idea of staying 30 plus years. That was never in the game plan. But I got here and you kind of take it one year at a time. I never came up with any long range plans other than to do the best I could every year. And next thing I know, a lot of years had passed.

You wouldn’t even believe the way it was then. We didn’t even have a locker room, didn’t have a practice field, didn’t have cones to put out at practice. The first spring I was here, our [game] field was all torn up and we had our spring scrimmage over on the intramural field. We only had one quarterback who took snaps for both teams. He took 90 snaps and, if he went down, we were done. We only had 40-some players.

I don’t have to do every little thing now. Back then I stuffed the ticket envelopes for the away games. I’ve probably mellowed a little bit. I probably delegate more stuff now, but I’m still coaching, I get involved. But it’s harder and harder with all the stuff you have to do to maintain a relationship with all the players.

— Jimmye Laycock

If you look back over his career, he’s certainly been consistent when it comes to the management of the program. He’s always gone out and gotten the best kids he can who are still going to graduate. He runs a disciplined program from the standpoint that he tries to instill values into his players that go way beyond football.

— Terry Driscoll, athletic director

I think everybody I’ve ever been with has affected me. It started with the guys I played for, Marv Levy and Lou Holtz. I had the chance to work with other people like Bobby Ross, Frank Beamer, Ralph Friedgen. I never tried to say ‘I’m going to be like this guy’, but some of the things you learn consciously, some of the things are ingrained subconsciously.

— Jimmye Laycock

Off the field

The most impressive thing is the balance between what’s accomplished by the program in competing, and then what these people are doing after they leave. His legacy to the institution would not only be a perfect football program, but finding people who can come, play and then be very representative of the College after they graduate.

— Terry Driscoll

What he does in terms of preparation is not only applicable to the football field, but to everyday life. You realize as soon as you go in that he has extremely high expectations for every kid in that program – whether they’re a scholarship kid or a walk-on. We knew exactly what was expected of us and that was productivity; doing things right and doing them at a very high level.

— Tom Dexter ’91, former player and Vice President at Merrill Lynch

The best thing about being at a place as long as I have is that I get to see the whole process with individuals – recruiting, playing and then them coming back five years, ten, fifteen years later and seeing how they are and how they’re doing. That is probably the most rewarding thing that has come out of being here.

— Jimmye Laycock

The lure of the BCS

He’s had many opportunities: Boston College, SMU, Navy, Duke a bunch of people have come after him. It’s never been about financial resources, it’s been about the right type of program for him.

— Terry Driscoll

It was never something that I felt like I had to make a move for the sake of making a move. That wasn’t what I was in it for. I wanted to enjoy it, I wanted to be around good people and I wanted to have an opportunity to win. It can be very financially rewarding if you hit it big, but you’ve got to sit back and look at why you’re in it and what you can accomplish and what kind of influence you can have on people.

— Jimmye Laycock

It’s really him deciding whether it’s the right thing for him to do. The motivation is not going to be financial or he would have left a long time ago. He had to decide if this program was committed to providing the support to win at that level. There was some aspect of those positions that he didn’t feel was consistent with how we wanted to do things. At the end of the day, none of those positions met what he thought he needed.

–Terry Driscoll

Personality

It’s seldom that he tells a joke, but when he does he gets us all excited because it’s a rare occasion. You definitely want to stay out of his office, because if you’re in his office, that means you have a problem.

— D.J. McAulay, senior wide receiver

I feared him, but I had tremendous respect for him early on. When I still see coach today, I get a little nervous. I have that feeling that I better have my stuff together.

— Tom Dexter

A professor told me once that he acts the way he does because he doesn’t want you to take advantage of his kindness. He is the way he is, but he’s in your corner, he wants the best from you. I’d personally say he’s getting nicer as he gets older. Maybe I’m getting older and understanding him more, but yeah, he’s getting nicer.

— D.J. McAulay

The Laycock Center

I’ve always had an understanding at William and Mary of which things to fight and which things not to fight. I kind of waited until it got to the point where we just had to have something. When we were able to get this, I really think it speaks for the whole tradition and history and success of William and Mary football over the years.

— Jimmye Laycock

He had a tremendous amount of influence, because he’s a function over fashion kind of guy. There were a lot of things that were very frilly and those went by the board very quickly. It was about how we make this aesthetically an attractive building, but more importantly that it functions for a purpose.

— Terry Driscoll

He knew exactly where he wanted the toilet seats, much less the coaches offices.

— Tom Dexter

On retirement

I don’t see that in the future anytime soon. I’m healthy and I’m doing good. I enjoy being in this facility. I don’t have any timeframe on [retirement] whatsoever. I’m going to keep going until I figure out when it’s time to stop. We look at it from year to year, and as long as there is the commitment here to working hard and being as good as we can be within the parameters of the school, I’m good with that.

— Jimmye Laycock

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