Blogs > Jim Collins' Editor's Notebook

Jim Collins is editor emeritus of The News-Herald and also serves as executive in residence at Lakeland Community College. His popular weekly column appears each Sunday in Comment in The News-Herald.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Adding some names to list of 'finest coaches'

Bill Tilton, who does an exceptional job of covering scholastic sports for the paper, wrote a masterful put-down the other day of people who think that just because an area football team is loaded with talent, “anybody” could coach it.

The idea, of course, is preposterous. “Anybody” couldn’t coach a football team, and Bill pointed out all the reasons in a withering assault on the know-it-alls.

He gave three prime examples of individuals who can coach a football team – Steve Trivisonno of Mentor, Tiger LaVerde of Kirtland and Mark Iammarino of Chagrin Falls.


Which brings up two observations of my own.

I was seated at a Mentor Chamber of Commerce luncheon not long ago with Pat Snee, whom I have known since he was a kid. Pat was a terrific quarterback at South High.

Ed McIntire, son of coach Vic McIntire, was also a terrific quarterback – at North High. Interestingly, both Pat and Ed went to Yale, both got their degrees and both got jobs as advertising salesman at The News-Herald when they graduated. I don’t know how much you want to read into that. Whatever you wish, I guess. But I digress.

Pat was at the luncheon for a reason. He now teaches English at Mentor High and is president of the teachers’ union, which sponsored the event. So when he went to the lectern to assert his appreciation for the large turnout, he found it prudent to point out that when he played for South his team thrashed Mentor. It warmed the cockles of my Willoughby Union heart.

When he came back to the table we talked of his days quarterbacking the Rebels.

“Wasn’t Jimmy Theiling one of your receivers?” I asked. Jim’s wonderful parents, Jim and Irene, are dear friends of mine and their son was all-Ohio in football.

“Yes,” Pat replied. “And the other receiver was Mike Frisina.”

Well, that says it all. A high school quarterback could not have a better pair of targets than those two. While several Browns’ receivers in recent memory, including current memory, have made a career of dropping passes, Jim and Mike never dropped anything that was in their vicinity.

I began thinking of Bill Tilton’s column. “Who was your coach?” I asked Pat, as if I didn’t know.
“Jim Chapman,” he said. Of course he was! Bill might now have to expand his list to four.

Chapman was not only an outstanding coach at South, he went on to Case Western Reserve and turned a miserable football program into a huge winner. Must have had something to do with the coach.

Now for my second observation. I ran into Howard Eckert at breakfast last Sunday. Howie was the official timeclock keeper for Browns games for 25 years. He knows as much about football at every level, from Fairport Harbor to college to professional, as anyone I know.

I asked him if he had read Bill Tilton’s column on coaching and he said of course he had. He reads everything in The News-Herald’s sports pages.

But he answered my question about high school coaches in an oblique way.

“I went to a Mount Union playoff game the other day,” he said. “I drove down to Alliance with Dick Crum.”

I got his point. Dick Crum was probably the equal of anyone who ever coached high school football in Northern Ohio. Or Central Ohio, or Southern Ohio, for that matter.

Dick coached at Mentor. But so did someone else who came quickly to mind.

“How about Lee Tressel?” I asked Howard. “Doesn’t he belong on the all-time list of great area coaches?”

I don’t mean to encroach (a common football term) on Bill Tilton’s territory, but I have now expanded his list to six — three of his and three of mine.

That may be a bit presumptuous on my part. Bill may want to keep his list at three. That’s up to him.
Crum and Tressel were winners everywhere they went. Too bad about Lee’s boy, Jim, whose baby-sitter when his dad coached at Mentor was Betty Lou Hackenberg.

Jim Tressel attained a measure of coaching success of his own — until he looked the other way at Ohio State when some of his players were getting into trouble.

But since Urban Meyer is from Ashtabula, here’s hoping he can get the Buckeyes’ football program back on track again.


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