“True Obie” Gets Sacked


Recently dismissed Head Football Coach Jeff Ramsey coaches his team on the sideline. The administration’s decision to let Ramsey go was clouded in mystery and came as a surprise to all.

Nate Levinson and Rose Stoloff

Long time Oberlin Head Football Coach Jeff Ramsey’s dismissal last Friday, just weeks after finishing his 15th year with the College, was shrouded in mystery. His departure came as a surprise to many who had grown to love and respect Ramsey during his long tenure.

The football team was informed of Ramsey’s departure that afternoon. “Eric Lahetta — he’s the head of football operations — called a meeting earlier in the day for the team and most of the team showed up for the meeting. [Director of Athletics and Physical Education] Natalie Winkelfoos came in and broke the news to us and said they had to let him go,” said junior offensive lineman Rory Kaip.

Winkelfoos said she was “not at liberty” to discuss the details surrounding Ramsey’s dismissal, nor were the rest of the Athletics department staff. However, there is speculation among the team members that the decision came in response to Ramsey’s repeated failure to post winning records.

“They really didn’t give specifics, but they basically alluded to the fact that we just haven’t had a winning season under Coach Ramsey, which was a difficult situation, so it’s understandable,” said Kaip.

Though Ramsey, like many former Oberlin coaches, struggled to achieve winning results, he is credited with strengthening the program and shaping it into what it is today.

In the nine years before Ramsey’s arrival, the football team had won only three games, and despite his meager returns, he was the second winningest coach in the team’s history.

“What he did with the football program is truly remarkable. Jeff was able to revive a program that was literally dead, and brought life back into it. His hard work, passion and accomplishments will never go unnoticed,” said Lahetta.

Because he had been the head coach for so long and was beloved by players, the decision to let Ramsey go came as a surprise to many Yeomen.

“I thought it was really sudden; no one expected it,” said Kaip. “From what I can tell, everybody on the team and all the coaches had this preconception that Coach Ramsey had the job as long as he wanted it.”

Upon hearing the news, players were stunned. Many were upset and some expressed anger at the decision.

“In that meeting no one spoke up because people were more shocked than anything. It took a while for it to sink in,” said senior captain Kyle Kessler. “Anytime a decision like this gets made, it affects us a lot more than just as players. Coach Ramsey was a good coach and he also taught guys had to be good men.”

Kaip agreed. “It definitely hurt a lot,” he said.

Though the decision elicited mixed reactions, players agreed that the administration did the right thing in keeping their reasoning under wraps.

“The administration is in a hard spot when they decide to make a decision like that,” said Kessler. “Maybe they could have informed players about it beforehand and asked them for their opinion, but then again, that’s just going to spread. So I think they did the right thing in letting us know right away and not having other people tell us.”

Jay Anderson, who was previously an assistant coach for the team, will act as the interim head coach as the Athletics department conducts a national search for a replacement. The department hopes to make a final hiring decision by February. The team has faith that Anderson and the rest of his staff will be able to do a good job coaching the team during this transition.

“The coaches that are still here are doing a phenomenal job, despite the turnover,” said Kaip. However, a transition in leadership will be difficult, regardless of Anderson’s abilities. Though the decision was emotional for all players, according to Kessler, there are even more implications for first- and second-year players.

“For underclassmen, I think the priority is different. Yes, you do know him since you’ve spent at least one season with him, but the question becomes, ‘What’s my place on the team? A new coach comes in; what’s his scheme going to be? Do I want to play here still?’ I’m not going to say anyone’s going to quit or transfer because of that. But there are different priorities between upper- and lowerclassmen.”

Regardless of who the next head coach is, they will look to do something Ramsey never could: coaching the team to an above .500 record. Finding a coach who can achieve this level of success and also mesh with Oberlin’s culture may prove difficult.

“I hope they bring in the right person for Oberlin,” said Kaip. “It’s a very different job than any other football coaching job. It’s tough to recruit for Oberlin because you have to have a high GPA, high test scores, which, with football players, is tough.”

Ramsey’s absence will be felt by more than just the players he is leaving behind.

“He was a great face around campus,” said Kessler. “I haven’t met a single person on campus who didn’t like him. He was a true Obie.”