OGDEN — Over the past several months, college football’s coaching fraternity has embarrassed itself with a couple of Rose Bowl-sized scandals. And yet, Weber State assistant coach Ted Stanley knows a different side of the business, even though he understands it’s not perfect.
Jerry Sandusky abused children at Penn State while reports indicate longtime head coach Joe Paterno and his bosses did little, if anything, to stop him.
Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino was involved in a motorcycle crash that later exposed an extramarital affair between the 51-year-old coach and an athletic department employee.
And, locally, newly hired head coach John L. Smith abruptly left WSU before coaching a single game to take Petrino’s vacated post at Arkansas.
Stanley acknowledges those occurrences, but also knows a softer side of the profession.
“A lot of people take shots at college football, but you know what? The football community is really strong,” said Stanley, 42. “In the long run, when the chips are down, they’re going to step up an do the right thing nine times out of 10.”
The community — both at Weber State and nationally — has stepped up in a variety of ways to support Stanley, whose wife Jocelyn died in June, just four days after giving birth to the couple’s daughter, Emmerson.
Stanley said Jocelyn, 35, was a bright, vibrant, energetic person with a strong work ethic. She worked her way up from inner city Cleveland to prestigious Grinnell College in Iowa and onto law school at Iowa. She settled in as a litigator at the firm of Vorys, Sater, Seymore and Pease in Columbus, Ohio, while her husband served as head coach at Division III Kenyon College.
In June, just a few months after Ted resigned to take an assistant’s job at WSU, Jocelyn was healthy, happy and anxious to deliver a baby into the world. However, shortly before her July 1 due date, she began to experience complications from eclampsia. She delivered healthy baby Emmerson on June 21. Despite experiencing seizures and cardiac arrest during labor, Jocelyn was able to hold and recognize her baby for a brief time.
She died June 25.
“If you go back a year ago at this time, my life was totally different,” said Stanley, who coaches WSU’s tight ends. “You couldn’t be in two more different places than now and a year ago.”
A year ago, Stanley was the head coach at Kenyon, whose football team had lost 24 in a row. Fed up with all that losing, the Salt Lake City native resigned in February and took a job at Weber State.
In April, when Smith left to follow Petrino at Arkansas, it left uncertainty for his assistant coaches who remained in Ogden. However, when Jody Sears was promoted to head coach, he retained the staff and plowed forward toward the 2012 season.
Late in June, Stanley returned to Ohio to be with Jocelyn as her due date approached.
A week later, his life changed forever.
Now a single father as well as full-time football coach, Stanley — a self-professed “grinder” — is juggling work and parenthood. He and Emmerson live in Salt Lake City with Ted’s mother. They also get help from his father, Ted, a doctor at the University of Utah, as well as a number of friends, family members and well-wishers.
In addition, Stanley continues to work diligently at WSU, where friends from the athletic department, the football staff and even his players have offered unconditional support.
“People want to reach out, they want to help,” he said.
Stanley said one of his players, who is married and living on a scholarship check, came to him and said, “What can I get you?”
“I’m like, ‘Man, you worry about your wife. You don’t make any money. I’m going to be fine,’ ” Stanley said. “But it’s (been) that kind of atmosphere.”
Beyond the people at WSU, Stanley received calls and text messages of condolences from former teammates, players and coaches around the country. And he continues to receive encouragement and support.
This season, the Wildcats are wearing a small decal on their helmets bearing the letters JS, for Jocelyn Stanley.
Stanley has plenty of help when it comes to meeting little Emmerson’s needs, and like so many first-time fathers, he’s happy just holding her and watching her grow each day. But at heart he’s also a football coach, and he remains devoted to helping the Wildcats full time.
Sometimes, Sears has to tell him to get out of the office or the film room and go home.
“He’s a grinder and you’ve got to be able to say, ‘Whoa’ sometimes,’ ” he said. “It’s a responsibility I have to the whole staff and the whole department, in my opinion. We’ve chosen a profession that’s very unforgiving and it is a grind, but we have to keep in mind what’s important.”
Given the events of the past few months, Stanley is well aware of just how fragile life can be. He has seen firsthand how it can change, seemingly in an instant.
He also has seen the faithfulness of friends, family and football fans whose passion for the Wildcats goes beyond waving a purple flag.
“I’m lucky,” Stanley said. “People sometimes look at me funny when I say that, but I’m really, really lucky. I’ve had an awesome life up to this point. I’ve got a beautiful daughter, I’ve got hundreds of people pulling for me; I’m truly living a blessed life.”