Lodinews.com

default avatar
Welcome to the site! Login or Signup below.
|
||
Logout|My Dashboard

Remembering Bob Mattos: More than just a coach

Print
Font Size:
Default font size
Larger font size

Posted: Tuesday, March 16, 2010 12:00 am | Updated: 9:48 am, Fri Jul 9, 2010.

My former football teammate, George Visger, sent me the e-mail this weekend that I had been dreading for months. Bob Mattos was dead.

The tears started flowing down my face almost instantly.

The former Stagg High and Sacramento State head football coach succumbed to brain cancer at the age of 68 at his home in Rancho Murieta on Sunday morning.

Mattos was a well-known figure in local prep football circles and his Delta Kings football teams of the late 70s were generally regarded as some of the best in the state, a fact that Lodi and Tokay high schools knew only too well.

I first became aware of Mattos in July, 1976 at the Lions Club High School All-Star football game where a trio of Stagg players — Visger, Jack Cosgrove and Fred Douglas — were my teammates on the North squad.

All three of them spoke glowingly of Mattos, about his sense of family, his devout dedication to his players and his seemingly endless work ethic. That struck a chord with me and I found myself wishing I had played for him.

In 1977, after starting on the defensive line at Fresno City College for two years, I was offered a football scholarship to the University of the Pacific by Chester Caddas. But Caddas was later fired and my scholarship offer rescinded by the Tigers new head coach, Bob Toledo.

Unsure of what my next move was, I was sitting at home in Morada trying to decide what I wanted to do when the doorbell rang.

It was Mattos.

He had just been named the Sacramento State head football coach and was taking over a program that had been 0-10 the season before. After spending just a few hours talking with Mattos, I knew I was headed up the freeway to Hornet Stadium.

His enthusiasm was contagious, his intensity and his belief in his program unbridled. Visger, Cosgrove and Douglas were right. Mattos was a player's coach, the kind I would do anything for just to get an approving smile, a pat on the butt and a "good job" out of him.

I called Mattos the "Little General." He was maybe 5-8 on a good day with that jet-black hair and piercing stare, always carrying that clipboard and whistle around his neck. He revived the Sacramento State program from scratch.

And I was with him from the beginning, starting on the Hornets defensive line for him his first two seasons through those lean, early rebuilding years. He began with virtually nothing. Just an old brown desk, a couple of plastic chairs, a file cabinet and a lumpy, ancient brown sofa in a small office not much bigger than a walk-in closet.

By the time he had finished in 1992, he left Sacramento State as its all-time winningest coach and had raised hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars for the football and other athletic programs. Hornet Stadium became the crown jewel of the campus.

But Mattos' impact on me went beyond football. The day he convinced me to strap it on for him at Sacramento State, I was almost convinced that as a totally deaf student I would not get a fair shake either on the football field or in the classroom.

Mattos told me that my deafness would not be an issue and that he was willing to work with me. He kept his word, and in doing so, he validated me as being a person with something valuable to contribute to society. That education was priceless. And Mattos made it happen.

One day in the offseason, Mattos found me alone on my 20th birthday. I had been given a birthday cake by some friends, but I had nobody to celebrate it with. Mattos insisted that I come to his house in Stockton and have a party with him, his wife Maureen and young son, Doug. When I left that night, Mattos had tears in his eyes. So did I.

I saw Mattos two years ago, when he was inducted, along with Visger, into the Stagg Athletic Hall of Fame. He looked great and was happy to see me. I was thrilled to see my old coach who had meant so much to me.

Mattos told me he was proud of me and what I had done with my life. We left each other with tears in our eyes, just as we had done 30 years before.

Tonight, when I get on my football-scarred knees to pray for Mattos, the tears will start flowing again. But that is OK. I know the Little General would have understood. Rest in peace, Coach.

Rules of Conduct

  • 1 Use your real name. You must register with your full first and last name before you can comment. (And don’t pretend you’re someone else.)
  • 2 Keep it clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually oriented language.
  • 3 Don’t threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
  • 4 Be truthful. Don't lie about anyone or anything. Don't post unsubstantiated allegations, rumors or gossip that could harm the reputation of a person, company or organization.
  • 5 Be nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
  • 6 Stay on topic. Make sure your comments are about the story. Don’t insult each other.
  • 7 Tell us if the discussion is getting out of hand. Use the ‘Report’ link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
  • 8 Share what you know, and ask about what you don't.
  • 9 Don’t be a troll.
  • 10 Don’t reveal personal information about other commenters. You may reveal your own personal information, but we advise you not to do so.
  • 11 We reserve the right, at our discretion, to monitor, delete or choose not to post any comment. This may include removing or monitoring posts that we believe violate the spirit or letter of these rules, or that we otherwise determine at our discretion needs to be monitored, not posted, or deleted.

Welcome to the discussion.

6 comments:

  • posted at 4:19 pm on Thu, Mar 18, 2010.

    Posts:

    Rick: I know this had to be a difficult story for you to write - I am so sorry for this devastating, personal loss. Your words have honored and memorialized a man who is much to be admired for the positive impact he made on many people, who like yourself, are beneficiaries of Coach Mattos' extraordinary character and integrity. His spirit lives on through you and all those he touched, and may you in turn pass it forward and make a difference in the life of a young man or woman who may need validation, that uplifting approving smile, or that crucial "good job." Peace... d.

     
  • posted at 2:03 am on Thu, Mar 18, 2010.

    Posts:

    Didn't know Mr Mattos...but, if guys like Rich, Cogito and the others I know speak this highly of him, it is quite a testament for him. Good job Rich. Thank you Bob.

     
  • posted at 5:10 am on Wed, Mar 17, 2010.

    Posts:

    BEING ON THE RECEIVING END OF A COUPLE OF THOSE POUNDINGS, I CAN TELL YOU FIRST HAND HOW COMPLETELY DOMINATING AND WELL COACHED THOSE '75-'76 STAGG TEAMS WERE. I EXPERIENCED NOT ONLY HOW TALENTED THEY WERE, BUT ALSO HOW WELL THEY DEFINED ABSOLUTE TEAM WORK. THANK YOU COACH MATTOS FOR MAKING THOSE TEAMS ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE BALL FEEL GOOD ABOUT THEMSELVES WITH YOUR POST GAME COMPLIMENTS. IM SURE YOU ARE TALKING FOOTBALL WITH COACH PRESS RIGHT NOW. GOD BLESS YOU. GEORGE, RICK, JACK, FREDDIE HAD A GREAT EXPERIENCE AS YOUR TEAMATES AS WELL LIONS ALL STAR GAME SUMMER OF '76

     
  • posted at 5:12 pm on Tue, Mar 16, 2010.

    Posts:

    As a member of the class of 76 at Stagg High, I can honestly say, that was the most talented football team this area has ever seen. Along with Visger, Cosgrove, and Douglas, Steve Brown went to UOP, and Pat Bowe played for Stanford. You had the Davis twins, Mark and Matt, playing inside linebackers. All these guys were big, fast, and talented. I had moved to Stockton from a section championship team my Junior year. All I had to do was to walk in the last period weight training class to know that these guys played at a whole new level. I had never played 2nd string in my life until my Junior year, and I didn't want to be a backup again, so I decided not to play for the Delta Kings. But I never missed a game. They were an amazing squad. They beat 9-0 Lodi in the best high school game I've ever seen, on their way to an undefeated, section championship season. There were over 20,000 fans at UOP to watch the game. Mattos was our neighbor. Great guy. What a great legacy to a great coach to have you guys remember him. Thanks.

     
  • posted at 3:23 pm on Tue, Mar 16, 2010.

    Posts:

    I have fond memories of Coach Mattos who supported me while Class of 1975 A.A. Stagg Senior High School Student Union President on having critical student government votes instead of faculty members making important financial decisions for the student body in our controversial senior year that succeeded for the benefit of our school's athletic and other programs. He led the A.A. Stagg Senior High School Delta Kings varsity football team to three league championships, mostly if not all with undefeated records if memory serves correctly, dominating offense and defense, earning a rating of third best among high school football programs in the Golden State. One game sticks out in my mind with a Central Valley rival: Score 72-0. More importantly, I remember how proud Coach Mattos was of all his Delta King football players of every ability and how kind he was to those who did not play first string or make the cut for the team (me). After Stagg he went on to college and professional level football leagues where he succeeded as well. Coach Mattos was a wonderful leader, loved by all that knew him (even rivals), and will be greatly missed. Rest in peace, Coach.

     
  • posted at 2:13 pm on Tue, Mar 16, 2010.

    Posts:

    RickWell done brother. You not only made Coach and his family proud, but myself as well. It is an honor to have played for Coach Mattos AND to call you my team mate and friend.You played for Coach and my brother Mel at Sac State. I pray Coach saves a spot on the line for us next to Mel.Your brotherGeorge Visger

     

Poll

Loading…

Video

Your News

News for the community, by the community.

Featured Events

Mailing List

Subscribe to a mailing list to have daily news sent directly to your inbox.

  • Breaking News

    Would you like to receive breaking news alerts? Sign up now!

  • News Updates

    Would you like to receive our daily news headlines? Sign up now!

  • Sports Updates

    Would you like to receive our daily sports headlines? Sign up now!

Manage Your Lists