By Scott Linesburgh
Record Staff Writer
STOCKTON – Gary Barlow’s personal style and choices as a leader are the byproduct of the many football coaches he has encountered along the way.
He learned the fundamentals of football from legendary Tracy High coach Wayne Schneider. He became a strong collegiate offensive lineman under the tutelage of Bob Cope and Walt Harris at University of the Pacific, and learned how to handle personnel as an assistant under Jack Jordon at Delta College.
He also witnessed how you can encourage a young player even in a moment of disappointment during an encounter with NFL Hall of Famer Bill Parcells.
Barlow, the head coach at Delta College, spoke about these experiences and his team on the latest episode of The Record’s 209 Overtime podcast. The Mustangs (0-1) had a tough opening day against Butte College, but hope to rebound when it hosts top-ranked College San Mateo at 1 p.m. Saturday at Delta’s DeRicco Field.
San Mateo (1-0) beat College of Siskiyous 42-0 last week and is ranked No. 1 in the state in this week’s California Community College Sports Information Association (CCCSIA) poll. Delta lost to Butte 49-7.
Barlow is in his 18th year as Delta’s head coach, and he has had many mentors to draw from, including current NFL coaches Jon Gruden (Oakland) and Hue Jackson (Cleveland), who were assistants when he was at Pacific.
″(It has been) kind of an interesting path. A lot of friends along the way,” Barlow said during the podcast. “Just a lot of interesting personalities and coaching styles along the way.”
None made more of an impression than Schneider, who went 224-59-4 during 24 seasons with the Bulldogs and is the namesake of Tracy High’s stadium.
Barlow did not play youth football, because he was over the size limit. He suited up for the first time in high school, and put his pads on wrong. But Schneider straightened everything out.
“He just had something about him that as a player you knew was special,” Barlow said. “And you knew that you better listen to this guy because he’s going to put you in the best position you can have to have success.”
Barlow went on to play a season at University of Wyoming, Delta and two seasons at Pacific before leaving in 1989. He had a free-agent tryout with the New York Giants and was released, but had a memorable conversation with Parcells.
“Coach Parcells took me in the office and said ‘you are not playing at the same level our starters are playing, but you are good enough to keep playing. Don’t be discouraged,’ ” Barlow said. “I always appreciated that. He probably had to do that hundreds of times during the course of his career, and I felt like he took the time with me like he never had to do it before.”
Barlow kept going and earned a spot with the Barcelona Dragons of long-gone NFL Europe. An ankle injury ended his playing days, and he always felt he’d eventually go into coaching.
This week, he knows it’s not an easy task. Barlow acknowledged his team is an “underdog” against San Mateo, but he and the Mustangs plan to take their best shot and enjoy their home opener.
“It’s exciting for us to get this year’s team at home on a Saturday and play in front of our home crowd. Players get excited when their friends and family come out and support them,” Barlow said. “San Mateo has been very powerful over the past 10 years. ... It’s definitely going to be a challenge for us to come out with a victory, but that’s certainly what our plan is.”