Podcast Wysock-Reid

Thaddeus Stevens football coach Joe Wysock talks with LNP's John Walk during an podcast taping November 16, 2017.

Joe Wysock has long understood the need for adjustments. And we’re not talking about the football fan’s well-worn notion of what happens at halftime.

No, for Wysock, it was making sure the plan fit the players, instead of trying to force the opposite. Or realizing that unchecked, outward emotion was not always in his team’s best interest.

That gives you some idea of why Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology has enjoyed two decades of football success. But now Wysock is making another adjustment — this time, to his lifestyle — which means the Bulldogs are in need of a new head coach.

After a playing career that took him from McCaskey to the University of Miami to the New York Jets, and then to numerous coaching stops in Lancaster County and elsewhere, Wysock, 66, says he’s ready for some surf fishing in Delaware. Still, he’ll likely miss some things about coaching, not the least of which is recruiting.

That’s right, recruiting … considered a necessary evil by more than a few coaches, but something he says he enjoyed.

“My favorite saying is from (former Michigan State coach) Duffy Daugherty,” Wysock said. “He said, ‘If coaching is the most important thing, then why isn’t my second team as good as my first?’

“You’ve got to be able to expedite the learning process without confusing them. That’s where the coaching aspect comes in. But if you can recruit the players, it makes the learning process a lot quicker.”

At Stevens, being a two-year school, recruiting and coaching have always come with the extra challenge of limited development time. No redshirt seasons, and huge roster turnover every year. Yet it seems Wysock’s path was destined to reach there. First, as an assistant to George Burke in 1982, as Wysock completed his teaching certificate requirements, then again in 1999 as offensive coordinator for Ron Zangari.

During these last 20 years, including the last 11 with Wysock as head coach, the Bulldogs have gone 130-63. They’ve won or shared eight Seaboard Conference titles in that span.

“I think number one was, we weren’t real fancy,” he said. “We wanted to be a triple-option team and we stuck with that philosophy on offense. Defensively, same thing. … We had to be flexible offensively and defensively, and at the same time, try to keep it simple enough.”

Wysock also did some self-coaching as the years passed, particularly regarding his sideline manner.

“I probably went through a number of headsets,” he admitted. “It got to the point where I didn’t even use a headset and relied on the coordinators. I tried to be a little less emotional, I guess, but still keep the intensity.”

He remembers the credo of Carl Selmer, his coach at Miami in the 1970s: “Never sacrifice aggressiveness for technique.” At the same time, he supports today’s efforts to make the game safer. And even at times when that support may waver, he understands its importance.

For a guy who played guard in a time when defensive linemen could use the head slap, and who is sure he played through concussions, that’s not small talk.

“If we can land a person on the moon, we can make a safe helmet,” he said. “And the tackling techniques they’re teaching now … let’s face it, the money that’s involved in football now, from college to the pros, they can afford to make it safer. And it will survive. … You can’t take everything out of the game, but it will survive.”

Whatever comes next, Wysock will be looking on as a fan. However, as a man with seven grandsons, he may even return to coaching yet again.

“Maybe I’ll just come out of retirement and coach basketball,” he said, chuckling.


• Connect with Jeff Young, a former LNP sports editor, at youngjeff212@gmail.com.