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Tuesday, May 28, 2024

It’s Laycock’s last game as Tribe football coach. These are what his rivals have to say

William and Mary coach Jimmye Laycock (right) and former JMU coach Mickey Matthews have had some legendary matchups on the football field and the golf course. WYDaily/Courtesy of Tribe Athletics)
William and Mary coach Jimmye Laycock (right) and former JMU coach Mickey Matthews have had some legendary matchups on the football field and the golf course. WYDaily/Courtesy of Tribe Athletics)

If words paint the perfect picture, then the brushes used to describe Jimmye Laycock’s 39-year coaching career at the College of William & Mary would be respect and admiration.

“I have a lot of respect for (him), a lot of respect for him,” said former Villanova coach Andy Talley, who faced Laycock 26 times, the most of anyone. “He’s a good guy and he did it right. He put William & Mary on the map. He’s an icon.”

Laycock’s biggest state rival was Mickey Matthews, the James Madison coach from 1999-2013. They squared off 16 times, with the Dukes winning 12 of them, including an NCAA semifinal playoff game in 2004.

“As the years went by, I think we developed a really healthy respect for each other, and that kind of developed into a friendship,” Matthews said.

New Hampshire coach Sean McDonnell probably is Laycock’s closest friend in the coaching world.

“The first thing that you think about and comes to mind when you talk about Jimmye Laycock is just the integrity, the character, the way he handles himself and the program,” said McDonnell, who won just three of his 14 matchups with Laycock.

McDonnell admitted it took him a few years to get to know Laycock.

“Early on, I watched him from afar,” he said. “I didn’t have a great relationship with him. We had a coaches’ relationship, shake hands after games and stuff like that.”

For Matthews, his relationship with Laycock also took time to develop.

“We got after each other. There was no love lost,” Matthews said of the matchups between the Dukes and the Tribe. “Neither one of us lacked for confidence. That could be interesting.”

Laycock, who was an offensive-minded coach (he was the offensive coordinator at Clemson from 1977-79 before being named the Tribe’s coach in 1980), reached the NCAA playoff semifinals with a strong passing game (2004) and a strong running attack (2009). The latter team also had one of the best defensive units in the country, giving up just 12.1 points a game.

“That’s an indication of a good football coach,” Matthews said. “He was intelligent enough to make the adjustments to compete.”

All three said you had to be on top of your game when facing Laycock’s teams because he was always on top of his.

“His teams were always disciplined (and) well-coached across the board,” Talley said. “You were not going to outcoach him.”

Said McDonnell of Laycock’s teams: “First, they’re disciplined. They’re not going to make a whole lot of mistakes and beat themselves. Second of all, they’re going to be sound in whatever they do.”

The Tribe are on track to finish in the nation’s top 10 in fewest penalties per game for the eighth consecutive season.

“That’s coaching,” Matthews said.

All three will miss going head to head with Laycock, but their relationships aren’t coming to an end. Matthews and McDonnell plan to continue seeing Laycock on the golf course. Talley, who is not much of a golfer, would prefer to run into Laycock on the 19th hole.

“I’d sit down and have a drink with him anytime and talk old school (football),” Talley said.

In August, Jimmye Laycock announced this would be his last season as coach of the William & Mary football team. His 39th season in charge of the Tribe will come to an end Saturday at Zable Stadium against the University of Richmond.

The game starts at 2 p.m.


John Mangalonzo
John Mangalonzo
John Mangalonzo ( is the managing editor of Local Voice Media’s Virginia papers – WYDaily (Williamsburg), Southside Daily (Virginia Beach) and HNNDaily (Hampton-Newport News). Before coming to Local Voice, John was the senior content editor of The Bellingham Herald, a McClatchy newspaper in Washington state. Previously, he served as city editor/content strategist for USA Today Network newsrooms in St. George and Cedar City, Utah. John started his professional journalism career shortly after graduating from Lyceum of The Philippines University in 1990. As a rookie reporter for a national newspaper in Manila that year, John was assigned to cover four of the most dangerous cities in Metro Manila. Later that year, John was transferred to cover the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines. He spent the latter part of 1990 to early 1992 embedded with troopers in the southern Philippines as they fought with communist rebels and Muslim extremists. His U.S. journalism career includes reporting and editing stints for newspapers and other media outlets in New York City, California, Texas, Iowa, Utah, Colorado and Washington state.

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