The other person in the history of the world who has won as many football games at Coast Guard Academy has a gymnasium named in his honor. "John Merriman Gymnasium" greets guests who choose to partake of basketball or volleyball at the military hamlet by the Thames.
The other guy tied the school record over the weekend.
Except that the event passed without a whisper.
Nobody asked Bill George about it. George didn't volunteer it, either.
But that's Bill George.
You'd never know he's the best football coach in the history of Coast Guard Academy.
OK. Some old timers who worship at the altar of Otto Graham would protest. And all due respect to Graham, Mr. Merriman and even the late Bill Schmitz, who led the Bears to the NCAA playoffs.
But they never negotiated the number of barriers, blockades, barricades and boundaries that George experiences daily just trying to do his job. And just so the poohbahs are aware: He's not the one complaining about it. He just wins. With usually something other than the better team.
"I'm the luckiest person on the face of the earth," George said one day not too long ago, noting he has a wonderful wife, Nancy, little daughter, Lila, and a great staff around him. "Does that sound like Lou Gehrig?"
George uses the puckish sense of humor to stay sane coaching football at a military academy. There are academic obligations. Military obligations. Weight and body fat restrictions (try recruiting linemen who can't pinch more than an inch). Admissions policies that would make Harvard blush.
Sorry, boys. Otto never dealt with this stuff. Not to this level, anyway. It's never been as difficult to win at Coast Guard as it is now. And Bill George keeps winning. In anonymity.
George wouldn't know how to be a self-promoter. Too bad, in a way. Maybe more people would know him and what he's doing at a place that cannot connect the dots between how athletes, forced into quick-time decision making, become proficient leaders.
Full disclosure: George's accomplishment, tying Merriman for career victories last Saturday, would have made more headlines had the government shutdown not kept sports information director Jason Southard home.
George, nonetheless, earned victory No. 48, an exhausting 41-38 test of endurance over Western New England. He'll get the record perhaps as early as Saturday when the Bears play at Curry, where there are no weight restrictions, body fat restrictions, academic restrictions or military obligations.
And that's kind of the point. That's who the Bears play every week. They are the perpetual underdog. And since George and his staff transformed what they did and how they did it a few years ago, they've made us forget what underdogs they are.
Take, for example, the Parents Weekend game two weeks ago against Nichols.
Coast Guard employed a defensive end named Aaron Black: 220 pounds. Young Aaron was lined up against Nichols right tackle Joe Richardson. Mr. Richardson: 6-foot-8, 351 pounds.
Black personified what befalls the Coast Guard linemen weekly. He was outweighed by an entire person. Think about someone you know who might weigh 130 pounds. Maybe Renee Montgomery of the Connecticut Sun. And yet, Black and teammate Andrew Gathy (about the same weight) negotiated Mt. Richardson.
Gathy: "Size might be a metric for some people, not for us. We have skill. That's why we're able to play D-line at 215, 220."
Then there was freshman quarterback Derek Victory, making his first varsity start, 2,500 people watching. Except that while every other quarterback in the country practiced football all week, Victory was practicing chemistry in the same time slot.
"But I still got an hour of football in," Victory said.
Their attitudes reflect what George and his staff teach. No excuses. Figure it out. It's real-time decision making under difficult circumstances that sports teach better than anything else.
"When I say we have the toughest group of guys, we really do. We really can't move on Sundays," senior Nick Phillips said. "Honest to God. But you get to the trainers' room, get that done, do your schoolwork and get back at it on Monday. It's just a mentality. The underdog mentality is something we embrace. If we're not the underdog in a game, we're definitely going to be smaller."
Gathy: "It's not easy waking up at 6 and staying up till midnight doing homework and still trying to play a sport where you need your body behind you. As you get older, I'm 21 and I feel like I'm 50."
George, now a little north of 50, forges on. Husband, dad, anonymous coach who is going to win more than all the others.
"I listened to Dick Vermeil speak a year ago on a stage in front of 5,000 coaches," George said recently. "He said, 'I can tell you a lot of things, but this is the simplest: You need big people to play defense and if you don't have them, you can't play it.' He said the first building block is stopping the moving force coming at you.
"I'm thinking, 'oh, boy. This is Coast Guard,'" George said. "We're going to be smaller. Things are going to happen. I tell (the players) continually that the chances of us blowing a team out are rare because of the weight differences. Every game is going down to the wire."
This is the opinion of Day sports columnist Mike DiMauro.