N.C. State football coach Dana Bible looks to 'finish this thing off well'

jgiglio@newsobserver.comDecember 31, 2012 

— The labels apply, but Dana Bible bristles at them anyway.

Football coach.

Quarterback genius.

Cancer survivor.

Good guy.

Bible, who will lead N.C. State in the Music City Bowl on Monday against Vanderbilt, is all of those things – but that’s not how he defines himself.

“I’m Nancy’s husband, I’m Adele and Logan’s dad,” Bible said in reference to his wife and two children.

When you get a second chance at life, you tend to be concerned less with what other people think of you, even when it’s good, and more about what’s important in your life.

Bible, N.C. State’s interim coach since Nov. 25, does not particularly value attention or credit for the quarterbacks he has groomed, two currently in the NFL – Atlanta’s Matt Ryan and Seattle’s Russell Wilson – and one on his way – Wolfpack senior Mike Glennon – rather people and the relationships from 35 years in the coaching business.

The bowl game in Nashville with the hometown Commodores is not about Bible, he said, or former coach Tom O’Brien, who was dismissed after leading the Wolfpack to a 7-5 record in 2012 and a third straight bowl game.

“It’s about the people who have been through a lot the past five weeks, the players and the coaches still here,” Bible said. “We need to finish this thing off well.”

The result of Monday’s game does matter, Bible said. O’Brien, who’s in Charleston, S.C., called Bible on Sunday to remind him of their bowl record together, 8-2 at Boston College and N.C. State – the best winning percentage for a head coach in bowl history.

‘Never showed signs of weakness’

O’Brien and Bible, who both played prep football in Cincinnati, worked together for 14 years, eight at Boston College and six at N.C. State.

O’Brien hasn’t spoken to the media since his exit from N.C. State at the end of November, but he responded to an interview request on Sunday to talk about Bible.

Bible, 59, survived a 40-day hospital stay and months of chemotherapy from his bout with acute promyelocytic leukemia in 2009. Depsite the physical toll of the cancer and the chemo treatments, Bible did some of his best work with Wilson and Glennon.

Wilson, who has led Seattle to the NFL playoffs as a rookie starter, and Glennon, who has posted consecutive 3,000-yard and 30-touchdown seasons, have helped the Wolfpack win 24 games since the start of the 2010 season, one of the best stretches in school history.

But Bible’s star pupils are not what O’Brien wanted to talk about Sunday.

“He’s a tremendous coach and a great guy,” O’Brien said Sunday. “What he doesn’t want you to know is he still goes back to the UNC and Rex (cancer centers) and tries to help out, in any way he can, with people going through the same thing he went through.”

Understandably, Bible does not talk about how close he came to death. He does admit he got a second chance at life and he’s trying to make the most of it.

He has inspired a group of N.C. State players to start a nonprofit organization, Uplifting Athletes, to raise money for leukemia treatment and research.

He has set an example for Glennon, who’s projected to be one of the first quarterbacks taken in the next NFL draft, for how to deal with true adversity.

“He never showed signs of weakness,” Glennon said. “There were days when you could tell he wasn’t feeling his best, but it didn’t prevent him from coaching with the same emotion.”

‘He’s very intense’

Don’t confuse Bible’s perspective on life, or his compassion, for softness. There’s a requisite honesty to molding quarterbacks, particularly ones who excel in the NFL, and there’s no shortage of that from Bible in the film room or on the practice field.

“Make no mistake, he demanded a lot of Matt, Russell and Michael,” O’Brien said. “He was hard on them but you don’t get to the level of where Matt is and Russell is and, hopefully where Michael will be, without a push.”

Glennon said Bible’s unflinching evaluations are not for everyone. Bible often tells his quarterbacks: “You might not like me, but you won’t be able to say I didn’t get the most out of you.”

“He’s very intense,” Glennon said. “He’s not afraid to speak his mind, but I think every player on the team respects that about him.”

Bible downplays his role in the development of Ryan, Wilson and Glennon.

“They’re doing great because of their work and their commitment,” Bible said. “I was just a small part of it along the way.”

Bible’s being modest, both Glennon and O’Brien insist. There’s no way the players would have advanced, especially so early in their NFL careers as Ryan and Wilson, without Bible. But there’s another reason Bible deflects attention when talking about specific players.

“It’s great to watch the success that both Matt and Russell are having,” Bible said, “but I’ll be honest, I take a lot of pride in all the players I’ve coached.”

Giglio: 919-829-8938

News & Observer is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service