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Yale coach called on Rhodes Scholarship bluff

Graham Watson
Dr. Saturday

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Patrick_Witt

As Yale quarterback Patrick Witt weighed the decision of interviewing to be a Rhodes Scholar or playing in this week's game against Harvard, he leaned on his coach, Tom Williams, who said he'd gone through a similar situation while at Stanford.

Only he didn't. Not really. Not even a little bit.

In the multitude of articles written about Witt's decision over the past few weeks, Williams has claimed he also wrestled with interviewing for a chance to become a Rhodes Scholar or going to San Francisco 49ers minicamp.

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"I followed my dream to play NFL football," Williams told Bloomberg News. "I have no regrets about it at all."

But that never actually happened. Well, he did play in the NFL, but there was never any Rhodes Scholarship interview.

According to the New York Times, the Rhodes Scholarship Trust said it has no record of Williams ever applying for a scholarship. Standford, Also, was not able to immediately confirm Williams had applied for a Rhodes Scholarship, even though those names are kept in a database. However, Williams said he applied for a Rhodes Scholarship while at Stanford, the school endorsed his application and that he withdrew his name before the finalists were announced. He's claimed this in multiple interviews over the years and even on his resume.

In essence, Williams is to Yale what George O'Leary was to Notre Dame.

"I wasn't trying to confuse anyone or make it sound different than it was," Williams told the New York Times. "I was in the preliminary stages at Stanford and I had to decide, but the interview wasn't official."

But even that isn't true. The Times cites an email from the Rhodes Scholarship Trust that says that not only did not one by the name of Tom or Thomas Williams apply for the scholarship during the years Williams would have had eligibility, no male with the last name of Williams even advanced to the final interview stage:{YSP:MORE}

On Wednesday, Williams, a history major and linebacker at Stanford, said that although he was attracted to the prestige of the Rhodes, he had always wanted to play football for a living. He said he decided to apply for the scholarship after talking to Cory Booker, now Newark's mayor, who had been an older teammate and mentor who won the Rhodes.

"Where I grew up, all the guys dreamed about playing in the N.F.L," said Williams, who was born in Fort Worth. "No one grew up with a thought about being a Rhodes scholar."

Witt said earlier in the week that he would not comment on his decision to forgo the interview, though it's clear Williams had some influence and it's easy to see why. Witt is a history major just like his former coach. And while Witt has not publicly expressed interest in playing in the NFL — though he did start his collegiate career at football powerhouse Nebraska before transferring to Yale for academics — Williams would be the perfect person to know exactly what he's going through.

Or, at least, that's what he thought.

Witt, 22, probably isn't going to change his decision in light of this news, and luckily for him he's eligible to reapply for the scholarship until he's 24. He also was offered a job with The Boston Consulting Group, a management consulting firm, after interning with them in Los Angeles this past summer.

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Graham Watson is on Facebook and Twitter: Follow her @Yahoo_Graham.

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