Yes, age is just a number. Of course in the case of Weber State football coach Ron McBride, his number is that of an offensive lineman.
Last week he turned 72.
He's 72, but boy oh boy, is he a YOUNG 72.
Coach Mac still has a youthful enthusiasm for the game.
Last weekend his Wildcats spanked Idaho State, giving him a late birthday present. Afterward, receiver Shaydon Kehano put into words what so many current and former McBride players feel about their coach.
"He means a lot to us because he gave us all a chance," he said. "It makes us play hard for him and we want to win for him."
It's true, even at age 72 -- making him old enough to be their grandfather -- Mac still has a knack for inspiring his players. They look at him and sometimes they laugh because his glasses are crooked or the legs to his sweatpants are unzipped and it seems as though he might trip and fall right there on the sidelines, but they've always felt a connection to him, they always trust him.
"I'm in it for the players and not for myself," McBride said. "I really don't have a big ego about this profession. I just know that you've got to be humble because there are no geniuses."
Mac certainly is one of a kind. But really, none of this is new information. I've written many times about McBride, his age and his ability to bond with his players.
Still, after last weekend's victory I was struck by his competitive spirit. Even at 72 at fire burns within him -- and I'm not talking about acid reflux.
See, the greatest athletes and coaches are often motivated not by a need to win but by a contempt for losing.
It's not so much that they fear it, because there seems to be an understanding that losses come with the territory. Instead, it's simply that they don't like how losing feels and they become determined to keep defeats to a minimum.
Longtime Utah Jazz coach Jerry Sloan, a good friend of McBride's, was exactly the same way.
He would readily admit victories are great, but they're easily forgotten. The losses, however, stay forever.
Consequently, McBride, Sloan and so many others are motivated by the sweet relief of not losing much more than the thrill of victory.
It sounds sort of sick, doesn't it? Like maybe an hour or two on the therapists' couch would not be a waste of money. But then again, it's motivation that separates the good ones from the great ones. And if the motivation is a desire not to lose, well, so be it.
"Saturday's are never fun because it's gut-wrenching," McBride said. "Sometimes you sit over there and you ask yourself, 'What the hell am I doing?'"
Even after beating Idaho State 39-12, McBride still had a memory of the Wildcats' Oct. 1 loss at Eastern Washington.
"It's like a nightmare," he said of the 27-21 loss, recalling with great animation a play that, had it gone the right way, would have given the 'Cats a victory.
"Those are the things you see," he said.
They say a person's memory is one of the first things to go, but that's doesn't appear to be the case with McBride. At least not when it comes to losses.
Goodness, he still becomes feisty at the thought of the 1992 Copper Bowl, the game in which his University of Utah team lost to Washington State, 31-28.
It was Utah's first bowl appearance in 28 years and the Utes had a chance to tie the game with a late field goal but kicker Chris Yergensen missed it.
"The one where Yergensen missed the 17-yard field goal," he said as his eyes grew larger. "Yeah, I remember that."
A year later Yergensen nailed a 55-yarder to beat BYU in Provo, 34-31. But oddly enough, Mac didn't bring that up.
It's not like he doesn't remember that win, after all it helped secure his spot in Utah sports folklore. But in Mac's mind, he expects to win every time he steps onto the field.
Those darn losses, though, they'll haunt him forever ... maybe longer.
Jim Burton is the Standard-Examiner's sports columnist. He also covers the Utah Jazz and the NBA. He can be reached at 801-625-4265 or at email@example.com. He tweets at http://twitter.com/jmb247