There was little mystery left, but the people gathered anyway near the entrance of the Shangraw Athletic Complex on Saturday.
Those in attendance knew the bust hidden under the blue sheet was of legendary Warriors football coach Frank Girardi, but as school President Dr. James Douthat pointed out, there was still a mystery about it.
"For a career they describe as decades-long, is it the young Frank Girardi, the mid-career Frank Girardi, or the retired Frank Girardi," Douthat said during his speech prior to the unveiling of the bust Saturday. "Notice I did not say old, I said retired."
RALPH WILSON/Sun-Gazette Correspondent
Former Lycoming football coach Frank Girardi was honored Saturday in a dedication ceremony at Person Field where a bust of the coach was unveiled.
On a day in which Lycoming celebrated homecoming, in front of a throng of former players, former assistant coaches, family and friends, Girardi watched as his grandchildren removed the blue cloth to reveal a bust boasting a big smile, and a hat with the script 'L' on the front for which he became famous.
"Yup, that's him," one of Girardi's former players quipped as the sheet was removed.
"It's hard. Oh man, it's hard," Girardi said as tears began to well in his eyes and he tried to find the words to express what Saturday's ceremony meant to him. "To see all the people that are here and so many of the kids that I coached and to have all my friends here - I have high school buddies here - It's just a wonderful, wonderful day."
The former Lycoming players in attendance spanned the four decades in which he was at the helm of the Warriors. After the ceremony concluded he posed for picture after picture with former players, including three offensive linemen from the 1997 national runners-up that towered over the Williamsport High School graduate.
The way he saw it, it was the least he could do to pose for every picture possible with the student-athletes who helped created the program, which made Lycoming a household name nationally in the NCAA. During his speech he continually thanked all the former players and coaches in attendance for helping get the program to where it is today.
"Individual commitment to a group effort, does that sound familiar?" Girardi said standing behind the podium. "You all bought into it and helped build a program that's one of the best in Division III football."
Girardi said he believed when he took over the program in 1972 that he could help turn the program around. But expecting 257 career victories and two trips to the national championship game was nothing that ever crossed his mind.
"To do what we've accomplished, and I emphasize we, it took the administration, the players and the coaches and so many people that got involved and got behind it," Girardi said. "There's a lot of people that helped me get to this point.
"This is a day I certainly will never, ever forget."
The bust was created by Thomas Marsh of Orange, Va., and is 1 1/2 times life-size, according to a press release from Lycoming College. It stands 27 inches high and weighs approximately 250 pounds and sits atop a 4 1/2-foot high concrete pedestal. A plaque on the front of the bust lists Girardi's accomplishments as a coach at Lycoming, and a plaque on the back lists the names of the major donors who contributed to the $1.1 million fund drive to install Field Turf at David Person Field.
"We're delighted to be able to do this," Douthat said. "This kind of recognition is much-needed for this institution."