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Greeting the New Year

Here we are in the second week of a new year and by now ‘life adjustments’ should be taking a firm hold. That left-over sauerkraut has no doubt been removed from the refrigerator, Christmas decorations taken down and your mind has mastered writing down 2019 on your checks and daily correspondence. As we pass from

Here we are in the second week of a new year and by now ‘life adjustments’ should be taking a firm hold. That left-over sauerkraut has no doubt been removed from the refrigerator, Christmas decorations taken down and your mind has mastered writing down 2019 on your checks and daily correspondence.

As we pass from the old year to the new one, there are always a lot of ‘old wives tales’ floating about regarding things that you should or should not do as the calendar flips. This year I came across a couple of new ones that I had never heard before. One cautioned that you should never do laundry on New Year’s Day. The rationale — If you wash clothes on New Year’s Day, you will wash someone out of your life; or whatever one does on New Year’s Day, that one will do it the entire year. Whoa, Nellie, that alone is reason enough to stay clear of the washing machine on day one!

Another one reasoned that as midnight on New Year’s Eve approaches you should stand on your left foot. Then when the new year officially arrives, you should switch to your right foot, so as to get the new year off on the right foot!

I have no idea as to how National Football League coaches may have greeted the new year but for six of them, the new year saw them standing in the unemployment line. It is not uncommon for some coaches to receive a ‘pink slip’ the day after the regular season concludes but this year the cost of losing came at a high price.

The so-called ‘Black Monday’ meant the end-of-the-line for Arizona’s Steve Wilks, gone after one season after finishing with the league’s worst record at 3-13; Cincinnati’s Marvin Lewis, after 16 years as the league’s second-longest-tenured coach but winless in seven playoff appearances; Miami’s Adam Geise, out after three years; Denver’s Vance Joseph, two years with losing records; the New Your Jets Todd Bowles, after four years with no playoff appearances; and Tampa Bay’s Dirk Koetter sent packing after three years. Other than Lewis none of the disposed of coaches were well known by the average fan.

Additionally the Atlanta Falcons, after a very disappointing 7-9 season, retained head coach Dan Quinn but their offensive, defensive and special team coordinators all were shown the door as the result of the team’s underachievement. Elsewhere both Green Bay and Cleveland are looking for new head coaches after mid-season firings left interim bosses minding the store.

Certainly, some of the men were on the hot seat before the final curtain came down on the season but sports, like life itself, can put one in the position of not knowing when it is that they will stop doing something they love to do.

While attending a recent festive party centered on the NCAA’s semi-final football playoffs, a conversation ensued with a guest who the day prior had spent her last working day before retirement. She talked about the memories she had, the workplace friendships she had made, the retirement party and how she enjoyed her daily duties. She knew when her last day was and was looking forward to the next adventures in her life.

That thought was on my mind as I ‘couch-potatoed’ my way through the New Year’s Day televised football games. Unlike the aforementioned NFL coaches, both Penn State’s quarterback Trace McSorley and Ohio State’s coach Urban Meyer had seen this January 1 day coming with the realization it could be the last day they spend doing something they truly love to do.

While he no-doubt dislikes the reference, McSorley became the ultimate over-achiever who lifted the spirits of the entire University and its’ fan base from the depths of the NCAA related sanctions to the heights of New Year’s Day bowl games and a Big Ten Conference championship. The 27-24 loss to Kentucky was not the way he envisioned going out, but no one could have questioned his desire or love of what he had achieved while wearing the Nittany Lion colors.

His Citrus Bowl start marked his 100th game as a high-performing quarterback. He was 55-5 as a starter at Briar Woods High School in northern Virginia, where he won three state titles. At PSU he finished up 31-9, tying Tony Sacca for the most starts in the school’s history.

Along the way, McSorley owns Nittany Lion career records for completions, passing yards, passing touchdowns, total offense, rushing TDs by a quarterback, TDs responsible for, 300-yard passing games and 200-yard passing games. Perhaps coach James Franklin’s great accomplishment was to change McSorley from a Vanderbilt recruit to a collegiate career in State College.

As for Meyer, love him or hate him, the man won football games. Coaching for 33 years, 17 years as a head coach where he posted a 187-32 record — his teams won three national championships. While at both Florida and Ohio State questions arose about how he handled things and those problems and reported health issues led him to retire from coaching after what he described as ‘a bucket list’ win in the Rose Bowl.

Some speculation exists as to whether Myer will ever coach again. Following the Rose Bowl victory, the 54-year-old Meyer told reporters, “I don’t believe that’s going to happen. I’m going to enjoy tonight. I don’t believe I’m going to coach again.”

So at the dawning of 2019, if you are enjoying what you are doing savor every day of the experience. Most would like to see their passion conclude like McSorley and Meyer — not like the six NFL coaches on ‘Black Monday.’

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