Jim Peal has been the strength coach at a lot of places. And the places that employed Jim Peal as their strength coach have won a lot of games.
He was at The Citadel from 1988-99, overseeing the entire athletic department. He helped the football team reach the I-AA playoffs in 1988, 1990 and 1992, winning the Southern Conference championship and finishing the regular season ranked No. 1 nationally in the latter season. In 1990, he also helped The Citadel become the first military school to reach the College World Series. Peal was named the Southern Conference Strength Coach of the Year in 1995 and was a nominee for national honors in 1995.
He got the strength program off the ground at Buffalo as they prepared to move from Division III to Division I-AA before arriving at Butler in 2003.
Tasked with overseeing all 19 of Butler's teams, he was a force behind the basketball team's back-to-back runs to the NCAA National Championship game. Peal has also aided the football team to claim a share of the Pioneer Football League title in 2009 and 2012.
How many other strength coaches can say they've helped a team reach No. 1 in football, make the College World Series and appear in the Final Four?
A career like that, which also includes four years as an offensive lineman at Miami (Ohio) and stops at Tennessee, Kansas State and Evansville, touches a lot of lives. That's why Tuesday's news that Peal is battling colon cancer is so galling. He is scheduled for emergency surgery on Friday and, if you feel compelled to help or offer support, you can. A Facebook page has been set up in his honor: I Have Coach Peal's Back.
This much is true about Jim Peal: he's been a lot of places, helped a lot of teams win a lot of games, helped a lot of young men learn a lot about life and had a lot of other people's backs along the way.