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A good man gets his papers

Boy, did that microphone jump. Odd, sometimes, what your memory coughs up.

Joe Novak smacked the table and the microphone jumped, and then he smacked it again and it jumped again. This was 14 years ago, or thereabouts. Novak's Northern Illinois Huskies had just rolled Bill Lynch's Ball State Cardinals, extending the nation's longest losing streak and making Lynch's dismissal that much more a certainty. And Novak, with a passion that spokes volumes about how well regarded Lynch is within the coaching fraternity, was defending the Ball State coach.

"Bill Lynch is a good coach," Novak said, smacking the table. "He's a good coach."

I'm remembering this now, with the news coming out of Bloomington that Lynch has been fired again, this time by Indiana.

I'm remembering it because a day after his Hoosiers gave him their vote of confidence -- their first Bucket win in West Lafayette since 1996 -- IU showed Lynch the door. It had to happen; he was 3-21 in his last 24 Big Ten games, and he did that at precisely the same time Indiana was pouring beaucoup bucks into upgrading its football facilities. So call this purely a business decision, as so much of big-time college football is these days.

Do not, however, call it a referendum on the man. Lynch might have failed at something just about every coach for the last 120 years has failed at -- making IU respectable on the football field -- but watching the way his kids played for him Saturday, and the way they mobbed him and his staff mobbed him and family and friends mobbed him afterward, spoke to something much more profound.

It was the same thing Joe Novak smacking that table spoke to, all those years ago: The measure of a man's success sometimes isn't as concrete as wins and losses and how much of a financial return he can generate. Sometimes it's more than that.

Something to think about.

Ben Smith's blog.

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