Friday, June 21, 2024

William & Mary football coach Jimmye Laycock to retire at end of upcoming season

Tribe football coach Jimmye Laycock. (courtesy

Jimmye Laycock, who has been the head football coach football coach at William & Mary for 38 seasons, will retire at the end of the Tribe’s 2018 campaign, he announced Sunday.

Laycock is the nation’s longest-tenured Division I head football coach and is ranked second in career wins among all active DI coaches with 245 victories.

“Coaching the William & Mary program is a tremendous honor,” Laycock said in a news release. “I have always taken a great deal of pride in leading my alma mater and have been grateful for the opportunity to work with such tremendous young men.

“Any success we have had is shared among all the great assistant coaches and the thousands of outstanding student-athletes who have come through our program,” he added. “This was obviously a difficult decision, but the time was right to make this announcement. That being said, I can assure you that the coming season has my full attention and preparing this team will have my complete focus.”

Laycock’s career accomplishments include 10 NCAA playoff appearances, five conference titles and 24 winning seasons. Additionally, he guided W&M to the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) semifinals twice — in 2004 and 2009 — and finished a season with a national ranking 13 different times.

In 2010, W&M climbed all the way to No. 1 during the regular season before earning the No. 2 seed in the NCAA FCS Playoffs.

He enters the 2018 season with a 245-189-2 career record.  When Laycock returned to coach his alma mater prior to the 1980 season, he inherited a program that had won six or more games in a season just four times in the previous 25 years. Under his guidance, W&M would produce nearly five times that number of seven-win seasons over the next 38 seasons.

“It is rare that one individual can have such a monumental impact on a university, but Coach Laycock has left an indelible mark on William & Mary,” said  Samantha K. Huge, W&M athletics director. “We owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to Coach, and his tenure stands as a testament to the principle of Tribe Athletics that excellence in athletics and academics go hand in hand.

“The contributions of his former players to their communities and to the world are his greatest legacy. We look forward to celebrating his contributions throughout the fall, though I am confident Coach will be focused on his team and leading them to a successful 2018 campaign.”

In 2008, W&M recognized Laycock’s impact by naming the program’s $11 million football center in his honor.

“From his days as a player through his decades coaching the Tribe, Jimmye Laycock has been a seminal figure for William & Mary Athletics and in the life of the community,” said President Katherine A. Rowe. “His teams’ successes on the field and his full embrace of the university’s rigor forged an enduring legacy of winning with integrity. All of us at William & Mary are grateful to Coach Laycock for his lifelong dedication to his alma mater.”

Individual accomplishments under Laycock have been plentiful, as he has helped 45 players earn 125 All-America honors at W&M and coached 11 Academic All-Americans. Former quarterback Lang Campbell is one of the most honored, as the 2004 season saw him earn the prestigious Walter Payton Award, given annually to the nation’s top offensive player in the FCS ranks, and consensus first team All-America honors, as well as the Atlantic 10’s Offensive Player of the Year and Scholar-Athlete of the Year. With seven all-league recognitions in 2017, the Tribe has produced 255 all-conference selections since 1993. Former All-America running back Jonathan Grimes accounted for 11 of those honors, as he became the most decorated player in conference history in 2011. Former All-America cornerback B.W. Webb nearly matched that impressive when he finished his career in 2012 with nine postseason all-conference honors. Both Grimes and Webb went on to post successful professional careers in the National Football League (NFL).

Overall, 40 former Tribe players have signed professional contracts in the NFL since Laycock took the helm in 1980. More impressively, the Tribe’s six NFL draft picks since 2009 ranks second in the entire FCS and behind only Virginia and Virginia Tech in the Commonwealth. The Tribe is well represented in the pro ranks, with seven former William & Mary players on NFL rosters during the last year.

Laycock’s connection with the NFL doesn’t end there, as his influence is also evident in his vast coaching tree that extends into the highest levels of football. Two of his former players are currently head coaches in the NFL — Mike Tomlin (Pittsburgh Steelers) and Sean McDermott (Buffalo Bills). Laycock’s coaching tree also includes Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Quinn, who served as an assistant on W&M’s staff in 1994.As a 1970 graduate of W&M, Laycock played football under two legends of the game. For three years, he learned the details under the watchful eyes of Marv Levy, the legendary former head coach of the Buffalo Bills. In his last season, Hall of Fame coach Lou Holtz schooled Laycock in the finer aspects of psyche and motivation. As a sophomore, Laycock was a starter in the defensive secondary, but was soon switched to quarterback.

Laycock’s first full-time coaching position came at The Citadel as the offensive backfield coach under Bobby Ross, who went on to coach the NFL’s San Diego Chargers and Detroit Lions. In 1975, Memphis State tabbed Laycock as its quarterbacks coach and he helped the Tigers to consecutive 7-4 records.

In 1977, Laycock traveled to Clemson to serve as offensive coordinator for three years.  During his tenure, he helped the Tigers fashion records of 8-3-1, 11-1 and 8-4. Clemson played bowl games in each season, defeating Ohio State 17-15 in the 1978 Gator Bowl.  Laycock coached two-time All-ACC performer Steve Fuller, the Tiger quarterback who later played in the NFL, and Dwight Clark, an All-Pro receiver for the San Francisco 49ers.

A native Virginian, Laycock played football, basketball, baseball and golf at Loudoun Valley High School, where he won 12 letters and has since had his number retired and has been inducted into the school’s Athletics Hall of Fame. Laycock was also inducted into the Hampton Roads Sports Hall of Fame in the fall of 2010.

Bryan DeVasher
Bryan DeVasher
Bryan DeVasher is the managing editor-digital of WYDaily. A resident of Hampton Roads for more than two decades, he has worked for news organizations in Virginia, Illinois, Missouri and Indiana. He most recently was a member of the public relations staff for Virginia State Police.

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