Slippery Rock coach Mihalik teaches more than football
College Football Videos
Football coaches like to call themselves teachers and to some extent they are, once you get past the yelling and cursing and the occasional scholarship withholding.
Slippery Rock coach George Mihalik, however, is the real thing, a genuine college instructor right down to his doctoral degree and tenured professorship.
“I tell players, ‘I walk the same walk you do,' ” he said. “We both go to class, we both have to prepare for class.”
In his 26th season at The Rock, as the school is known, Mihalik shares his “ideal scenario” with his players.
“I tell them that on graduation day I want you to go across the stage with a diploma in one hand and a championship ring in the other,” he said.
Mihalik, 61, teaches one class in the fall called Security in the Workplace, and two classes of Management and Integration of Safety in the spring. On Saturday, he and Slippery Rock delivered some hard lessons, creating a workplace dangerously insecure and unsafe to Indiana (Pa.).
Facing the top-ranked defense in NCAA Division II at the time, Slippery Rock dealt IUP its first loss, 42-16, before a pleasantly stunned home crowd. Even Mihalik acknowledged a touch of surprise.
“When you're going against the No. 1 defense in the nation, you just hope you're going to be able to move the ball,” he said.
Slippery Rock moved indeed, at warp speed from their spread, no-huddle offense. They gained 676 yards, the most ever against IUP and more than three times what the Crimson Hawks, ranked seventh at the time, were yielding this season.
“We all had a connected day,” said senior quarterback Nigel Barksdale, who threw for 425 yards and two touchdowns. “We all played as one.”
“I think it's so hard for the opponent to replicate our offense during the week,” Mihalik said. “It's something they don't expect. ... It was very obvious they were struggling with the tempo and their players' ability to stay on the field. It looked like some of their players were fatigued.”
IUP was holding opponents to six points per game. On the other side of the ball, the Crimson Hawks came in averaging 204 yards on the ground but managed just 59, its lowest output in nine years.
On Monday, IUP fell to 22nd in the poll. Slippery Rock remained unranked. Both teams are 5-1 overall, 2-1 in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference West, with much to be decided.
A former starting quarterback for Slippery Rock, Mihalik, who grew up in Ebensburg, is trying to reach the playoffs for the first time since 1999. He is No. 1 in career wins at the school, his legend firmly established. In 2011, N. Kerr Thompson Stadium became Thompson-Mihalik Stadium.
“I think he's an icon here,” athletic director Paul Leuken said. “He's looked up to so much, as a faculty member as well as a coach. People respect him. He does things the right way.”
Bob Cohn is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.