Table of Contents Table of Contents
Previous Page  31 / 68 Next Page
Show Menu
Previous Page 31 / 68 Next Page
Page Background

to perennial champion started with that

first recruiting class. Girardi sat in living

rooms promising that first class they’d

have a winning season by the time they

graduated from Lycoming. At its surface,

it didn’t seem like too bold of a promise.

But in the 1960s, the Warriors had just

one winning season under head coach

David Busey. (Busey actually posted

four winning seasons in his tenure from

1954-1966, including three winning

seasons in a row from 1956 to 1958.)

Lycoming went 2-6 each of Girardi’s

first two seasons and 3-6 his third

year. But he kept his promise to those

players in his first recruiting class. As

seniors, that group finished 6-2 with

only a 14-0 loss to Albright and a 7-0

loss to Upsala blemishing the record.

It was a proud moment for Girardi. He

had seen the growth in the program

over the first three seasons, but this was

the culmination of the changes he had

made, his first steps toward making the

program relevant.

“In 1974 I saw the light at the end of

the tunnel. I think we lost three or four

games by less than a touchdown that

year. Then we had that winning season

their senior year,” Girardi said. “From

that point, that’s where we set the bar.

So let’s increase our level of expectation.

When you increase that level of

expectation, now you increase the level

of achievement. Now our goal is to win

championships and get to the national

playoffs. And if we’re good enough, let’s

see just how far we can go. But at first, I

just wanted to survive.”

Those teams from the 1970s still hold

a special place in Girardi’s heart. He saw

what those kids put themselves through

to help him build the program. It’s no

surprise when it was announced he had

been selected for the College Football

Hall of Fame, the first phone call he

received at his home while he and his

wife Lynn watched the announcement,

was from a player from one of those

squads from the 70s.

Part of the culture change when

Girardi began at Lycoming was to

create a family atmosphere among the

football team. He valued loyalty and

always wanted to make sure he was

approachable to all of his players. It’s

why when any recruit came to visit

the Williamsport campus, he invited

them all in to his office to sit down for a

meeting with him.

He had a way of

motivating you

to go the extra

mile because you

wanted to succeed

for him.

I think he had

a really unique

ability to interact

with people and to

make everybody

feel special.

He had a way of

making everybody

feel important, not

just the great ones.

Girardi addresses the crowd at the unveiling of his bust, which stands inside the Shangraw Athletic Complex, on Oct. 20, 2012.