On surviving 30 years in a tough profession: “There aren’t too many lifers (coaching football) these days. At Penn, even on our darkest days (‘when we would lose two games in a season,’ Geesman said with a precocious snicker), we were able to laugh. Who else can say that every day, for 30 years, they were able to laugh? That’s what kept us around.”
On the addition of a sixth class to the tournament field: “The sixth class and the ‘tradition factor’ (in which a team that has success two years in a row is moved up a class) are both good for football.
“If you weren’t a mega-school (in Class 5-A) or a Catholic school (in the other classes), your chances of winning a state title were slim and none. Last year, there was a significant drop in attendance at the state finals. When you can pick the champs in Class 1-A through 4-A before the first practice, people will get tired of that.
“Penn will be with Chesterton, Portage and Valpo (in its 6-A sectional). It could hurt money-wise. Penn (fans) always travels well, but I’m not sure how those others will travel.”
(Note: The bye week in the 6-A and 5-A 32-team tournaments will be the week between the semistate and state finals, which means only two teams in each class will be impacted).
On his philosophy running a program: “I just asked three things out of my players: Prepare hard, practice hard, play hard. After that, let the chips fall where they may.
“All I could do was have the players ready and give them a plan. The magic is with the players. They’re the ones who will win the game.”
On his staff: “There were no egos on our staff. Everybody had input. I remember (assistant) Dave Janicki’s first meeting. I said, ‘What do you think, Dave?’ He said, ‘I’m just sitting here listening.’ I said, ‘You’re getting paid to speak up.’ After that, he always came with ideas. We never discouraged input. We always listened.
“Heck, if the lunch lady in the cafeteria came up with a pass play, I’d scribble it down and give it a look.”
On a prediction for this season: “Look out for the Kingsmen, they could be special.”
Now, wait, isn’t that the sort of expectation he used to hate?