E.J. Mills, the former defensive coordinator for the Amherst College Lord Jeffs, has accepted the interim position as the college's Head Football Coach for the 1997 season. Following the season, a national search for a permanent head coach will begin in which Mills is expected to be a candidate.
This will be Mills's first position as the head coach of a varsity football team. He has served as the Amherst defensive coordinator for the last four seasons, and a defensive coordinator and secondary coach at Ramapo College of New Jersey in 1992. He also headed the junior varsity program at the University of Albany for two years, while also acting as the varsity secondary coach.
The 30-year-old Mills is replacing Jack Siedlecki who yesterday accepted the position of Head Football Coach at Division I-AA Yale.
"The opportunity to be a head coach at Amherst College," noted Mills, "is an honor and a position that doesn't come around every day. For me at this point in my career, this is the best thing for me to do.
"I have a strong loyalty to the guys in the program," Mills continues. "We've started something good, but the work is not done. Either you get better or worse, but you don't stay the same. We've set high expectations for ourselves and everyone's committed to the mission to attempt to make things even better."
In 1996, the Lord Jeffs finished their best season since the undefeated year of 1984. With a 7-1 record, Amherst posted seven convincing wins before falling to archrival Williams in the last minute of the season. While the Jeffs have avenged seven of the eight losses the team suffered in 1992 before Siedlecki took over, the "unfinished business" of which Mills speaks is to defeat Williams for the first time since 1986.
"All the parties involved are in great support of E.J.," commented acting athletic director, David Hixon. "The players, Jack Siedlecki as he was leaving, the administration and the department all strongly endorse E.J. in this interim position. All the pieces fit together and ties it together with continuity."
Under Mills as defensive coordinator in 1996, the Jeffs led all of Division III football in scoring, allowing only 8.4 ppg (67 in eight games). Amherst was also the only school in the NESCAC to allow fewer than 2,000 yards (1,653).
Mills is a 1988 graduate of the University of Dayton in Ohio, where he earned a degree in history and secondary education.