BY JEFF FALK
The coaching profession may or may not be Joe Buehler’s so-called ‘calling’.
What is clear is that everyday when Buehler wakes up he doesn’t dread going to work, he looks forward to it. And when that is the case, it almost always means someone is using his or her skills, talents and abilities the way they were intended to be used.
As the Lebanon Valley College football program’s offensive coordinator, Buehler is head coach Jim Monos’ right-hand man. The Palmyra native has been coaching – in some form or another and on one level or the other – for most of his adult life, and he’s not sure there’s anything out there that would make as happy professionally.
That, my friends, is known as contentment.
“The staff we have is such a great staff,” said Buehler. “And that’s a credit to Jim (Monos) and the men he hires. It’s what makes it fun. I tell everyone that in 2012 I had four bad days, the four days we lost football games. Every other day has been great. I just genuinely enjoy what I’m doing.
“When I leave Lebanon Valley College, my hope is it will because I’m retiring,” Buehler continued, “whether it’s as the offensive coordinator or another position. I have no interest in going anywhere else. A lot of guys bounce around to other schools and are constantly looking to move up. That’s not for me. My children are going to graduate in central Pennsylvania.”
A 1989 graduate of Lebanon Valley College and a former lineman for the Flying Dutchmen, Buehler has been a member of Monos’ staff for the past nine seasons, the last four of which Buehler has served as LVC’s offensive coordinator. Prior to that, Buehler served as Palmyra high school’s head coach from 1996 to 2002.
Buehler, who is specifically responsible for mentoring the Flying Dutchmen’s offensive line, has also served as an assistant coach at Lebanon High, Milton Hershey, Cedar Cliff and Palmyra.
“First of all, you’re in charge of the offense during practice,” said Buehler of his duties as offensive coordinator. “You’ve got to make sure all of the offensive coaches are on the same page. And you’re required to install the offensive game plan during the week. Ultimately, for me on game day, it’s my responsibility to call plays. Jim Monos has been an offensive coordinator, so if he makes suggestions, I take his advice.
“What we do, which is very healthy,” Monos added, “we grade our (video) tape by position. When we’re finished, we come together, and make sure we’re seeing the same things.”
When he was first hired, Buehler didn’t necessarily aspire to become the Flying Dutchmen’s offensive coordinator. He simply had a desire to be a part of Monos’ staff, and since then the head coach has rewarded Buehler’s loyalty.
“Ironically, when Jim came to me about it, I tried to talk him out of it,” said Buehler. “Jim was running the offense. But he was adamant that he wanted to spend more time being the head football coach.
Buehler’s loyalty to Monos stems from the fact that the latter was instrumental in Buehler getting his first big break in the coaching profession. Before Buehler got the head job at Palmyra, Monos spoke to the district’s school board on his behalf.
“I think we have a really good relationship,” said Buehler of Monos. “He was my mentor. I played for him. Most of the great things in my life he’s been a part of. And he’s been a friend.
“There are a lot of decisions made on a daily basis, but ultimately those decisions fall to the head coach,” Buehler added. “It falls on his shoulders. The relationship with players is different. Before I was a head coach in high school, the kids would share a lot of funny stories with me. But when I became a head coach, those stories stopped. But when there’s a problem at home, they go to the head coach.”
The challenge of coaching on the college level is just another source of Buehler’s contentment. For Buehler, scholastic coaching was fun, but collegiate coaching is serious fun.
“What I prefer is being involved with the college game,” said Buehler. “I could stay in this position for 20 years. Would I like to be a head coach if the circumstances were right? Yes. But for all the kids, this is their passion. They’re highly intelligent. They’re mature. That’s not saying they don’t make mistakes. But at the high school level, coaches are expected to be more than head football coaches.
“Every second of my day revolves around football,” Buehler continued. “It’s my passion, so that makes it awesome.”
Lebanon Valley College’s entire offensive philosophy is predicated on its ability to run the football. Over the last four years, under Buehler’s guidance, the Flying Dutchmen’s ‘O’ lines have ranked among the best in the Middle Atlantic Conference, in both rushing proficiency and pass protection.
“My dream, from the time I graduated from college, was to coach,” said Buehler. “When the opportunity at Lebanon Valley College came up, I needed to re-assess my goals. At the time, it’s where I wanted to be. This school has made it happen for me.”
As Buehler’s role and involvement with the program have increased over the past few years, so has the success that the Flying Dutchmen has experienced on the field. With Buehler providing support, the Monos-led Flying Dutchmen have gone 29-14 over the last four seasons, one of the best stretches in LVC football history.
“We felt like we had a pretty good football team at the line of scrimmage,” said Buehler of Lebanon Valley’s 6-4 2012 campaign. “But we weren’t sure about other positions. Yes, I would say the season was a success. Would I say we reached all of the goals we set at the beginning of the season? No. We kind of limped to the finish line.”