Youngstown State Football Coach Jon Heacock formally resigned his head coaching position on Sunday, just 24 hours after a terrific road win that sealed a winning season. To say that Heacock just did not care would be the furthest thing from the truth.
Heacock came on board in 1992 as the defensive coordinator for Jim Tressel. When Tressel left Youngstown State to accept the Ohio State University job in 2000, Heacock was selected to be the new head coach of the Penguins. The switch would ultimately draw constant comparison to the Tressel days, a record nobody would have an easy time duplicating.
Tressel made the Division I-AA playoffs 10 times in 15 seasons while at Youngstown State. He also won the big prize, a national championship, four times in those 10 appearances. Heacock only got into the playoffs in 2006, and leaves YSU with a 60-44 record.
“I’ve known Jon since my senior year on the football team in 1991, and he has always been a genuine, caring person for the Youngstown State program and the community,” said Ron Strollo, Executive Director of Intercollegiate Athletics. “I would want Jon, as well as our fans and supporters, to know that we appreciate the tremendous challenges and expectation of being the Head Football Coach at Youngstown State. He fulfilled those duties in a manner that would make every Penguin fan proud. Our best wishes and gratitude are extended to Jon and his family for their many sacrifices on behalf of this institution.”
Heacock, the conference coach of the year in 2005 and 2006, will have success somewhere else. Look for him to accept a defensive coordinator position at a different school for next season, perhaps a major Division I program in the Midwest.
The thing that made Heacock genuine to so many was his very strong moral and faith based attitude. His players are proof that ‘buying in’ to what Heacock was teaching was never hard or abrasive. Senior Brian Mellott even commented in a recent interview, “To see some of the people who came here until the time they left was quite a transition. I am not badmouthing anyone, but you should have seen some of these guys when they first got here. Their behavior and attitude were transformed into respectability, and that is a testament to him [Heacock].”
Sometimes a move like this benefits both parties. It marks a fresh start for the institution as well as the people seperated from it. Hopefully, Heacock can prosper from this seemingly mutual divorce and succeed at some capacity wherever it is that he lands. Also, Youngstown State, suddenly a school in transition, can select the best replacement as the last bolts of the Jim Tressel era come off of the machine, or are they?