Whenever Bob Warming slyly smiles at the referee after a questionable call, it’s just Bob being Bob.
Whenever his on-field adjustments can be heard through the thick glass of the press box, it's Bob being Bob.
And whenever the Penn State men’s soccer head coach complements all of his players in a postgame interview, despite being asked only about a particular individual, it’s just Bob being Bob.
Maybe that’s why he's one of the best player-focused coaches in the country.
“He’s really competitive just like all of us, and you can see the drive to want to win from him,” freshman defender Shane Campbell said. “A lot of coaches will just sit off on the sidelines and let the players play, but he wants to help us learn.”
Winning and success on the pitch is something that's simply second nature to Warming.
In his three-plus decades as a head coach, the Nebraska native has been nominated for national coach of the year six times, and he won the award in 2008.
Warming is also only one of two active coaches in Division I to take two different programs to the College Cup, collegiate soccer’s Final Four.
At the end of the 2011 season, Warming ranked fifth among active coaches and 12th all-time in Division I victories (411).
With this year’s Nittany Lions (9-4-3, 3-1-2 Big Ten), Warming has extended that winning record and continued to build his legacy on the sidelines.
“These boys are really lucky to be honest with you,” Lions’ assistant coach Chad Duernberger said. “They get an opportunity to work with a guy who’s one of the best in the country. He doesn’t act like it, but all these guys know how good he is.”
As a coach at any level, tallying victories and avoiding defeat is clearly a key component of the job, and Warming has fulfilled it.
“During the game, if he sees something he doesn't like, he’s going to change it, you know, and he’s going to make that known,” senior defender Brian Forgue said. “He has no problem making switches on the fly.”
But winning isn’t everything, and there’s more to it for the Lions’ head coach of three seasons.
What makes Warming such a valuable coach is his personality and presence for his players off the pitch.
“He’s like a fatherly figure to everybody on our team. He’s so personable you can come talk to him about whatever,” Campbell said.
And in terms of recruiting, he used the same level-headed and accessible nature to gain the trust of not only the players, but also their parents.
“Coach probably played the final factor for me [to come here] to be honest,” Campbell said. “When I got here and coach Warming talked to me and especially my parents, we felt comfortable with me being here and playing for him, and that was the biggest thing.”
A part of Warming’s philosophy as a coach involves the “life experience.”
While winning games is important, the seasoned coach has always preached that this "life experience" transcends all other things.
For example, with a week off in-between a Sept. 6 game against West Virginia and the team’s matchup on Sept. 14 versus Albany, Warming took the players out to Bald Eagle State Park. There he rented some kayaks, and followed that up with a barbecue — an experience that helped with team bonding early in the season.
“Sometimes those kind of experiences at the end of your Penn State career are ones that you’ll remember more than a lot of the games,” Warming said.
While the team obviously gets its work done, there’s even time for fun and games during practices — an attempt by Warming to lighten the mood and get his players mentally ready.
An example of this is a game the team participates in before practice called “rondo.”
Duernberger said about 10 to 12 players circle up with two in the middle, each player quickly passes the ball to another person in the circle. If a player gives the ball away to one of the two guys in the middle, they have to go in and chase for a while until they win it back.
“There’s a lot of yelling. There’s a lot of camaraderie, and it gets everyone psyched to play,” Forgue said. “That attitude is infectious, and it starts at the top.”