Former Yale assistant becomes 34th head coach

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Tony Reno is the Bulldogs' first head coach to come from Harvard. (Photo by Michael Marsland)

 Anthony (Tony) Reno, an assistant coach at Harvard the last three seasons and a former Yale assistant coach, has been named the Joel E. Smilow ’54 Head Coach of Yale Football.

The 34th head coach of the Bulldogs has a history of transforming his charges into nationally recognized units.

Reno, the Harvard special teams coordinator and defensive secondary coach from 2009 to 2011, helped engineer last fall’s undefeated Ivy League Championship team, which earned a No. 14 Football Championship Subdivision National Ranking. Three of his Crimson special teams units were ranked statistically among the nation’s top 20 in 2011.

“I want to thank President Levin, Tom Beckett [director of Yale Athletics), the entire Yale community and alumni for this opportunity,” said Reno. “I take great pride and honor in becoming the leader of the men of Yale. Protecting and building upon the tradition and success of the Yale football program is paramount to me.”

A 37-year-old Oxford, Massachussetts, native and a 1997 Worcester State College (WSC) graduate, Reno helped develop 10 All-Ivy players and an All-American over the last two seasons in Boston. His defensive backs enabled the Crimson to lead the league in scoring defense while earning national rankings in numerous categories.

His first head coaching job — in his second stint at Yale — includes taking over a program that was 5-5 overall and 4-3 in Ivy League play last fall.

Reno, who spent six years in New Haven and rose to assistant head coach under Jack Siedlecki, helped the Bulldogs win a 2006 Ivy title. He was Yale’s wide receivers coach in 2003 and the defensive secondary leader from 2004 to 2008. His 2003 receivers played an integral role in the Blue’s No. 2 national ranking in total offense. When he took over the Eli defensive backs, they helped the defense rise to new heights. The 2007 and 2008 Bulldogs were No. 1 in FCS scoring defense, while 14 of his players earned all-league honors during his Yale tenure.

“Yale has offered `first-time leadership opportunities’ to many. Tony brings a background of numerous exceptional qualities that will serve him well as Yale’s new head football coach,” said Beckett. “I have always been impressed by Tony’s passion for the game and for the young men who play this game. He has an extraordinary ability to connect with people. He is an outstanding coach, and I am very excited about working with him and the future of Yale Football.”

A 2002 AFLAC/Coach Magazine National Assistant of the Year Award winner, Reno served as Worcester State’s defensive coordinator from 1998 to 2002. The Lancers, who made two post-season appearances and went 27-5 with Reno as defensive coordinator, were 2001 ECAC Northeast Champions and made it to the title game the following year.

Reno, whose first job was defensive assistant coach at King’s (Pa.) College for the 1997 season, earned a degree in history before completing a master’s of science in health education from WSC in 2000. As a player at WSC, Reno was a three-year starter at free safety, and his team was league champion his last two seasons. His 1996 team led the nation in scoring, rushing, and pass efficiency defense.

The new Yale gridiron leader replaces Tom Williams (16-14, 3 years), who resigned on Dec. 21. Reno becomes the first head coach of the Yale team from Massachusetts since Ted Coy ’10 in 1910 and the first who left the Harvard staff to take the job with the Bulldogs.

“We will build a tough, physical, hard-nosed football program with leaders on the field and in the community. Yale has always been a special place to me and my family, and we look forward to returning to New Haven and becoming a part the Yale community,” said Reno.

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