Ventnor’s Roman Will Coach Playoff Game Today
The Penn State scandal rocked the college football world, but it almost helped a dream come true for Ventnor native and Holy Spirit graduate Greg Roman (Class of '90).
The current San Fransisco 49ers offensive coordinator was one of the finalists to replace legendary coach Joe Paterno, who was fired in November.
"Sometimes they do call you and you need to decide if it’s the right fit for your future and your family," Roman said in an interview on 97.3 ESPN radio. "I spoke to Penn State and had some discussions with them about a month ago and found everyone involved on their end to be extremely intelligent, extremely focused on finding the best person they could under the unique circumstances there at Penn State."
But this time it wasn't meant to be.
After two months of searching, the Nittany Lions finally decided to hire New England Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien as their next head coach on Jan. 7. While Roman has been coaching out west since 2009, when he was on the Stanford’s staff, the opportunity to be closer to the Jersey Shore was very enticing.
"Being back east and setting up camp and being down the shore for the summer, that would be my routine so that's a very unique opportunity at Penn State," Roman admitted. "But I love where I'm at right now. I love the (49ers) organization here. I love how it's structured. I love how we interact. I love how we solve problems."
While Roman loves where he is, his mind is set on reaching his goal of becoming a head coach someday.
"I've coached in college at Stanford and in the pros for 14 years in the NFL, so it's more about the individual opportunity, the people you're surrounding yourself with,” Roman said. “A job like Penn State is a lifetime job. That's a job if I were to become the head coach there, I wouldn't leave.”
Now the South Jersey native must concentrate on getting his 49ers past the New Orleans Saints this Saturday to reach next weekend’s NFC Championship game.
"This year so far has been a lot of fun but very challenging with the lockout," Roman explained. "I'm really thrilled that we have been able to advance to try to achieve our goal, which is the Lombardi Trophy. The playoffs are all about finishing first, we are putting everything into winning this Super Bowl."
The 49ers had a surprising 13-3 season and had a first-round bye, which has made Roman a hot name for head coaching jobs around the country (he was also a candidate for the Tulane vacancy). Roman, 39, knows that if he works hard his time will come, so he isn’t disappointed about the Penn State job and is focused on leading the 49ers to the Super Bowl.
However, as soon as the season is over, he will be right back home in Ventnor to help around the house.
"I will definitely be home when the season is done," Roman said. "I am sure my mom has some things to fix around the house over in Ventnor. I'll be out on a ladder fixing something or digging up the garden."
Roman, who began working in the NFL with the Carolina Panthers back in 1995, has been all over the coaching map. This includes a stint with his alma mater, Holy Spirit, in 2008 as offensive coordinator.
Given a choice, coming back east is where he would like his road to end.
"I think about the day-to-day for my family," Roman stated. "I’ve coached high school, college and NFL. It’s all about the best fit and it’s something I would consult with Jim (49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh) on. But my family lives in Ventnor and I have a lot of roots in the surrounding area, so does that make the east coast more appealing? You’re darn right it does."
When he was growing up and playing at Holy Spirit, the team’s field didn't have lights yet. Now Roman’s light is shining bright as ever as a star in the coaching scene.
While he did not get the Penn State job, there is no doubt that when a coaching job in college or the NFL comes up Greg Roman's name will be mentioned again. He has worked too hard for it not to.
"When you do a really good job and are committed to doing the right thing, great things will happen and that's just where I am at,” Roman said.
One thing is for sure, he probably won't have to mow lawns anymore like he did to make money growing up in Ventnor.
"You never know," Roman said with a laugh. "I could be on the back of the truck going down Winchester Avenue getting ready to mow some laws and I would enjoy it."
The more likely scenario is he will be standing on freshly cut grass, ready to lead his football team on the field. Good things come to those who wait.