This fan attended Colgate basketball games in the days when the joke was that the fans were introduced at the beginning of games rather than the players because it took less time. This was at the beginning of the Bruen era. The level of basketball sometimes could be disappointing in those days, but Jack was always entertaining. This fan will never forget the occasion in which one of the officials called Jack for a technical (Jack sometimes would let the officials know of his displeasure). The next time that official called a foul against Colgate, he looked over at Jack ready to call another technical if need be. Jack clapped his hands in mock applause at the call. You've just got to love a guy like that.
Jack was not only entertaining; he was a good coach. Under his leadership the Colgate basketball program was turned around. His teams won, and the once empty stands were filled.
In recent days, the stands were filled, not just with those wanting to watch Colgate basketball, but with those wanting to express their support of and affection for Jack. He joked that they were there just because they had heard that he was going to buy them drinks. Even during these most difficult days of his life, his humor never failed him or those around him. Humor was the way Jack helped others face his terminal illness. When telling his players a few months ago of his pancreatic cancer, he told them that when it's your time to go there are two options.
"You go up there or down there," he said, pointing to the heavens and down below. "I'm going down there. That's where all my friends are."*
Mark Twain wrote, "Everything human is pathetic. The secret source of Humor itself is not joy but sorrow. There is no humor in heaven."
If Twain was right and Jack was wrong about his assessment of his final destination, he has no need of humor now for he has Joy. The rest of us still need humor to help us cope. For that we will ever be thankful to Jack.
*This version of the quote originally appeared in the Syracuse Post Standard. The December 21 edition of the Post Standard contains this version:
"When you're sick," he told his players at Cotterell Court, "only two things can happen. Either you get better or you get worse. If you get better, no problem. If you get worse, only two things can happen. Either you live or you die. If you live, no problem. If you die, only two things can happen. Either you go to heaven or you go to hell. If you go to heaven, no problem." And then Jack, a former bartender who knew something about timing, paused for effect. "And if you go to hell," he announced, "hey, all your friends are there."