The cumulative years of coaching experience within the SWC took a massive hit inside a week once the 2018 season ended. Longtime Brookfield coach Rich Angarano retired after 20 years at the helm, ending one of the most consistent careers in the state.
And the longest tenured coach in the conference who helped build his own program and enjoyed success is hanging up his headset, too.
Rob Tynan concluded his 27-year career at Joel Barlow following his team’s Thanksgiving game against Weston. The Falcons finished this season 5-5; Tynan reached the decision last spring and told his team before the season began as to avoid any potential distraction.
“Honest truth I was tired; it’s a coaching cliché but the losses hurt so much than wins,” said Tynan. “The last 41 years of my life — whether it was player or coach — has been in football. I just looked at my family and thought it’s time to try to do something else.”
Tynan — who has worked at the school in security for more than two decades — was a wide-eyed 24-year-old when he took the reigns with the Falcons in 1992, and times were dim. Just 18 players made up the program and the team had won less than five games combined within a five-year stretch.
“A lot of that has to do with the kids, and buying in to get into the weight program,” Tynan said. “We weren’t physical enough back in those early years to compete. Getting that going and the thought of conditioning, and even explaining to the parents if you don’t want your kid to get hurt, come to the summer workouts.”
Athletic Director Michael Santangeli — who was one of the first notified of the decision back in the spring — would know all too well about Tynan’s impact. The Barlow graduate was a captain his senior year, Tynan’s first with the school, and returned after college to be an assistant coach for eight seasons.
That pattern continued as many former players returned to the school to join Tynan’s staffs.
“He’s one of the most knowledgeable football coaches I’ve ever been around in either high school or college,” Santangeli said. “He came into Barlow when it was a real (down period) and he worked to build it up and it’s much more successful now.”
His legacy will be the undying commitment to the triple option offense, one that’s received several facelifts over the years. Opposing coaches over the years often spoke of the difficulty of preparing for the attack on a week’s notice.
It’s a philosophy that didn’t change despite a host of programs transition into pass-heavy offenses with varying degrees of success.
“Rob is a class act,” said Angarano. “He’s always been a great competitor and you can see by his teams he’s done a lot for his kids he’s coached. You don’t put 27 years into a high school program without having an impact on the players.”
Tynan almost saved his best for last, though. The Falcons went 9-4 in 2017 to earn the SWC Division II championship before making their farthest run in states. Barlow upended Sheehan and SMSA before falling to Killingly in the Class M final, a first appearance for the school. Barlow reached the semifinals in 2013 before a loss to St. Joseph.
“I will say our best teams always were the teams that were the closest-knit,” Tynan said. “If the kids were such close buddies, they would put on that kind of pressure on each other as friends to not screw up. Winning does help excitement obviously. … going to the state final and what it did for the communities of Easton and Redding was phenomenal.”
He didn’t rule out a return to the sidelines in some capacity after some time away from the grind.
“I don’t know; I might do it for a year and my wife might tell me to get out of here,” Tynan joked. “I have a bunch of kids playing in college and I’ve never seen them. I’ve been to four college games in my entire life. Might I get back into it? Absolutely. Might I not? Absolutely.”
More than a quarter century after beginning his journey, Tynan leaves the Falcons in a much healthier position than when he arrived.
“He’s been going at it for 27 years; coaching football is a huge commitment,” Santangeli said. “He’s never had a fall where he’s enjoyed being with his family. He’s gotten to the point where he’s done everything for the program.”