Jimmye Laycock | College of William & Mary

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Team: College of William & Mary
Organization: NCAA Football
Position: Head Coach
Hometown: Hamilton, Virginia

Biography

Few schools feature a better match at the helm of its program than William & Mary has with Jimmye Laycock. In a tenure that will stretch into its 39th season this fall, Laycock has worked hand-in-hand with the university’s world-class academic tradition to fashion a program that is a point of pride for the campus, alumni and community.
                
On June 21, 2008, W&M dedicated the $11 million Jimmye Laycock Football Center with a ceremony that featured more than 500 friends and alumni of the program. While the building carries his name and stands as a strong symbol of what Laycock has meant to the Tribe, it makes a stronger statement about the school’s commitment to football and the program’s proud tradition. The state-of-the-art center provides W&M with one of the finest facilities in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) and, paired with Laycock’s steady leadership, gives the Tribe the necessary resources to compete at the highest level.

As the architect of what is easily the most extended run of success in W&M’s 125-year football history, Laycock has never compromised academic standards for athletic success, as his program earned recognition from the NCAA in each of the first seven seasons the organization awarded outstanding academic achievement. When Laycock, a 1970 grad, 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. Few could have predicted that W&M would produce nearly five times that amount of seven-win seasons over the next 38 seasons.

The accumulated successes, both on and off the field, have led to an era of unprecedented interest and support for his program. In addition to the consistent growth in attendance, evidence of this is illustrated by the $28 Zable Stadium renovation project that was completed during the summer of 2016. The rejuvenated stadium, which includes and upper deck, luxury suites and a spacious state-of-the-art press box, provides an enhanced game day experience for both student-athletes as well as Tribe alumni and supporters.
                
During Laycock’s remarkable tenure, the fans at Zable have consistently been treated to a winner on the field, as the program’s mentor ranks second in wins among all active active D-I (FCS and FBS) coaches. Laycock also ranks second all-time among conference head coaches in league wins with 109.
                
Laycock has made the home turf in Zable Stadium into unfriendly territory for opponents as the Tribe has won 69.3 percent of its games (134-59-1) in Williamsburg during the last 34 years. During that impressive stretch, W&M has totaled 10 undefeated regular season home campaigns.
                
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 Payton Award, given annually to the nation’s top offensive player in the FCS ranks, consensus first team All-America honors, as well as the A-10’s Offensive Player of the Year and Scholar-Athlete of the Year. With seven all-league recognitions in 2017, the Tribe has produced an astounding 255 all-conference selections since 1993. Former All-American running back Jonathan Grimes accounted for 11 of those honors, as he became the most decorated player in conference history in 2011. Former All-American cornerback B.W. Webb nearly matched that impressive when he finished his career in 2012 with nine postseason all-conference honors.
                
While Laycock has accumulated tremendous success throughout his storied career, many of the highlights have come in the recent past. Most recently, the 2015 squad won a share of the CAA title, advanced to the NCAA Playoffs Second Round and finished the year ranked 12th nationally. The 2010 season was especially remarkable for several reasons, not the least of which is that the team finished the regular season as CAA Co-Champions and earned the nation’s No. 2 overall seed for the NCAA Playoffs. Additionally, the Tribe defeated three top-10 teams during the regular season (including knocking off No. 1, No. 2 and No. 8 in the span of five weeks). It reached a school-record No. 1 national ranking in the Nov. 8 Sports Network Poll and went on to finish in the top 10 in the final poll. All of this success came despite the fact W&M was forced to shuffle three different quarterbacks into the starting line-up due to injury. For his efforts, Laycock was named as the AFCA Region I Coach of the Year.
                
The 2009 campaign was a memorable journey for the Tribe's faithful, as well. W&M equaled a school record with 11 victories and advanced to the NCAA Semifinals for the second time in school history. En route to being ranked as high as third nationally in the final polls, the Tribe led the nation in rushing defense by surrendering just 61.14 yards per game - a school record. Additionally, W&M ranked second nationally in total defense (229.79) and scoring defense (12.07), while it ranked third in sacks (3.43) and eighth in tackles for a loss (8.00). Laycock also became part of the exclusive 200-win club as he became just the 13th FCS head coach to reach the milestone with the NCAA Quarterfinal victory at top-ranked Southern Illinois.
                
Prior to the ‘09 season, the 2004 campaign highlighted Laycock’s resume as W&M established a school record for wins (11), won the Atlantic 10 Football Conference’s (now CAA) automatic NCAA bid, hosted a NCAA semifinal game before a standing-room-only crowd at Zable Stadium in front of a national television audience and finished the year with a school-record No. 3 final national ranking. Along the way, a bevy of school single-season records fell – total points (486), total yards (6,044) and home wins (seven), to name just a few.
                
However, none of these achievements spoke more succinctly to Laycock’s approach than the program’s 100 percent official NCAA graduation-rate report for all student-athletes receiving athletics aid in 2004. This showed W&M graduated all of its scholarship football players who entered the program as freshmen during the 1997-98 school year. The Tribe not only carried the highest graduation rate in the conference, but also was far and away the top figure of any team ranked in the final national top 25 for that season. To prove this lofty number was no fluke, the team repeated the feat just two years later, as the 1999-2001 cohort also graduated at 100 percent.

When looking at the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision, the Tribe’s stellar 230-129-2 (.640) record against fellow FCS foes during Laycock’s career also confirms the success of his formula. W&M also owns a 109-93 mark in league play.
                
The 2001 campaign stood as a testament to Laycock’s program’s stability, as the team rebounded from a then nine-year low 5-6 record in 2000 to post an 8-4 mark, claiming a share of the Atlantic 10 crown and earning a spot in the NCAA Division I-AA Playoffs.
                
The 1996 campaign is another prime example of how Laycock has perpetuated a winning tradition within W&M’s rigorous classroom standards, as he led a youth-laden squad to a quarterfinal showing in the NCAA playoffs, a 10-3 overall record (7-1 in league play), the Tribe’s first Yankee Conference Championship (now CAA), and a No. 5 national ranking.
                
While Laycock has developed a reputation for producing a prolific and intricate offensive attack, as evidenced by the fact that W&M has averaged nearly 400 yards of total offense per game during his 38-year tenure, the long-time head coach has also overseen one of the nation’s top defensive units in recent years. The Tribe ranked second nationally in scoring defense in both 2009 (12.1) and 2013 (14.0), while it ranked sixth in 2010 (16.7).
                
Prior to the deep playoff runs in recent years, the 1990 season stood as the benchmark for the Tribe program. That season, Laycock was honored by his peers as Coach of the Year in Region II and the state of Virginia for guiding the Tribe to 10 wins and an appearance in the quarterfinals of the Division I-AA playoffs.
                
That 1990 squad, ranked No. 7 in the final NCAA poll, refashioned many pages in the school record book. W&M led the country in total offense by averaging almost 500 yards per game and claimed the Lambert Cup for I-AA supremacy in the East. Even the Virginia General Assembly passed a resolution commending Laycock’s accomplishments. The Tribe’s 1996 squad led the conference in both total offense and defense en route to earning its own Lambert Cup and ECAC Team of the Year honors.
                
After some lean years early in his tenure, Laycock’s teams began building respectability among all opponents. After a pair of 6-5 seasons, W&M carved out a 7-4 mark in 1985 and a national ranking of No. 16. The winning ways continued in 1986 with a 9-3 record and a No. 8 final ranking. In that season, the Tribe advanced to the I-AA playoffs for the first time and had three players drafted by the NFL.
                
Although W&M dipped to a 5-6 mark in 1987, the Tribe recovered to post a 6-4-1 overall record in 1988. That memorable season climaxed with a trip to Japan and a 73-3 victory over the Japanese College All-Stars in the first Epson Ivy Bowl. The Tribe returned to the NCAA Playoffs in 1989 with an 8-2-1 regular season record.

The Tribe is well represented in the pro ranks, as seven former Tribe players were on NFL rosters during the last year: Chris Durant (Los Angeles Chargers), Connor Hilland (Miami Dolphins), DeAndre Houston-Carson (Chicago Bears), Tre McBride (New York Jets), Luke Rhodes (Indianapolis Colts), Jerry Ugokwe (Tampa Bay Buccaneers) and B.W. Webb (New York Giants).

Since 2009, W&M has produced six NFL Draft picks - a figure that leads the CAA and ranks second nationally in the FCS. Additionally, the impressive total ranks third in the state of Virginia (behind only Virginia and Virginia Tech). DeAndre Houston-Carson became the most recent selection in 2016 when he was drafted by the Chicago Bears in the sixth round. Other recent Tribe players to be drafted include: Tre McBride (Tennessee Titans, seventh round, 2015); B.W. Webb (Dallas Cowboys, fourth round, 2013); Adrian Tracy (New York Giants, sixth round, 2010); Sean Lissemore (Dallas Cowboys, seventh round, 2010); Derek Cox (Jacksonville Jaguars, third round, 2009).
                
In addition to the draft picks, 14 additional Tribe players have signed free agent contracts after their senior season since the conclusion of the 2004: Lang Campbell (2005, Cleveland Browns), Dominique Thomspon (2005, St. Louis Rams), Adam O’Connor (2007, Carolina Panthers), Drew Atchison (2008, Dallas Cowboys), Mike Potts (2008, Pittsburgh Steelers), Jonathan Grimes (2011, Houston Texans), Alex Gottlieb (2011, Detroit Lions), Jerome Couplin III (2014, Detroit Lions), Jasper Coleman (2015, Houston Texans), Mike Reilly (2015, Cleveland Browns), Luke Rhodes (2016, Tampa Bay Buccaneers), Jerry Ugokwe (2017, Indianapolis Colts), Chris Durant (2018, Los Angeles Chargers) and Connor Hilland (2018, Miami Dolphins).
                
In addition to producing a number of professional standouts, a number of Laycock’s former players have gone on to accomplish tremendous success as NFL coaches. The most prominent of those is Mike Tomlin (’95), who became the youngest head coach to win a Super Bowl in NFL history when he guided the Pittsburgh Steelers to the title in 2009. Sean McDermott (’98) was hired as the Buffalo Bills head coach in January, 2017, while Alan Williams (’92) is the Detroit Lions defensive backs coach and previously held the title of defensive coordinator for the Minnesota Vikings. Additionally, Michael Clemons (’87) was one of the CFL’s most explosive players after a brief stint in the NFL and currently holds the position of Special Advisor for the Toronto Argonauts.
                
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 he was soon switched to quarterback where he completed 96 of 218 career passes for 1,366 yards.
                
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 quarterback’s 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 year, defeating Ohio State 17-15 in the 1978 Gator Bowl. At that time, 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 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.
                
Laycock is married to Deidre Connelly, a sports psychology consultant at W&M. They have three children: Michael, a Captain in the U.S. Army; Mimi, a 2014 graduate of W&M, teaches for Teach for America in the Baltimore, Md., school system; and James, a recent graduate of Longwood University.
                
Laycock’s daughter Melanie is married to Doug Johnson and is a school administrator in Atlanta, Ga. The couple has two daughters, Grail and Nolan.

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