Big-league coaches are sometimes grown on farms, too. On a recent Monday evening Blumling was sitting over a beer in the kitchen of his old two-story frame house in the industrial suburb of Bellaire, Ohio when he was asked whether he, too, would like to "get a shot." (Lou's associates often hint that some year he may coach a team whose name's reference is to some industry other than iron—like steel, for example, or oil or even meat-packing.)
He is eager to answer in one word. "Definitely," he says, and the hunger shows. Then caution or modesty emerges. "In some capacity," he says.
"It's not that I'm anxious to be a big man. Even here, Mike Valan goes up to the country club, and that's fine for him. His friends are up there. I stay down here where I belong. I don't try to rise above my class.
"The main reason I want to make the big time is my wife. I'd like to give her some of the things she's done without. In the past four years, if my wife had been the type to be a complainer or want this and that, I couldn't have remained in this. A coach has to have a certain kind of woman.
"The club almost folded again this spring. That would have been bad trouble for me. I'd passed up a college job to take the Ironmen head coaching position, and it was too late to get another. Believe me, it had me worried. Here I sit with a wife and four kids and no job. You never know for sure whether the team is going to be here. You don't know what kind of security you're going to have for your family. But you don't yourself mind, as long as it's football."
That was the end of the conversation, and it was now time for Lou Blumling's weekly break from football, the bowling hour. He picked up a bag and strode out the screen door across the tiny backyard and down to the alley, where his kids were tossing around a football.
In a minute he was back, smiling sheepishly. With scarcely a word he set down the briefcase full of yellow cards with football diagrams and picked up the bowling bag instead. He grinned weakly and walked out again, looking preoccupied.