Not long after then-athletic director Ron Guenther informed Lou Tepper that he was out as head football coach after going 25-31-2 in five seasons, Tepper called him back to tell him how he felt.
Only that 1996 exchange didn’t go the way you — or, for a while, Tepper — might think it would.
“Ron Guenther fired me a few weeks before the season ended, but allowed me to coach the final games and that was a blessing. The team had real closure, as did the staff. We cherished each day of practice, knowing it would be our final ones together.
“As for anger, yes, we had been promised that ‘no matter what, no matter what, no matter what,’ our staff would return in 1997. Losing our job was like losing a child. You invest so much in their lives and then are separated.
“I was bitter for about a month and then heard a minister speak on Ephesians 4:31 about the command to forgive as Christ has forgiven us. I phoned Ron Guenther and told him that while I did not agree with the decision, I forgave him.
“Shockingly, I did it thinking I was helping Ron. The release of bitterness, however, freed me to be my positive self again.”
In 2015 at age 69, Tepper retired his whistle after 48 years roaming football sidelines. He had four college coaching stops post-Illinois — at LSU (defensive coordinator); Pennsylvania Division II programs Edinboro and Indiana (both as head coach); and Buffalo (as coordinator).