Remembering Jim Sweeney

The death of Fresno State coaching legend Jim Sweeney has brought a legendary outpouring of emotion, but the biggest public display of remembrance is still to come.

Details have not been released, but the university said a memorial service will take place in Bulldog Stadium. That could happen next Saturday, according to early reports. **UPDATE: As noted in our latest blog entry, the tribute is set for next Saturday at Bulldog Stadium.

Remembrances also were planned at today’s Fresno State home softball and women’s basketball games.

Word of Sweeney’s passing at the age of 83 spread quickly Friday night, first through social-media forums and platforms such as Twitter and Facebook.

The internet boom was still a ways off during the coach’s heyday in a career that spanned first from 1976-77 and then 1980 until his retirement in 1996. But sites such as Twitter provided the perfect online gathering place for mourners, many of whom hailed Sweeney as much for his off-the-field mentoring as his successes on it.

Ex-Fresno State and NFL star fullback Lorenzo Neal echoed the thoughts of many: “Jim Sweeney was so much more than a coach to me, he was a man that I loved, respected and taught me how to win on and off the football field.”

Sweeney’s rah-rah coaching style offered entertainment and excitement for Valley media during his career, including our own Andy Boogaard.

“Journalism 101 says don’t grow too fond of those of whom you report. Really?,” Andy tweeted at the end of a long day and night in which he wrote much of The Bee’s package of stories on Sweeney’s passing “I’m hurting. And I don’t apologize.”