For the first time in more than two decades, Bloomsburg coach Danny Hale can make fall travel plans that have nothing to do with football.
One of Division II's most successful coaches is retiring in June. Hale, 66, seemed pretty comfortable Tuesday with moving on to his next job.
"Full-time grandfather? For right now, that's my goal," Hale, who has 11 grandchildren, said in a phone interview.
He's certainly earned the break after becoming a fixture in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference following 20 years at Bloomsburg, where he compiled a school-record 173 victories. He led the Huskies to 11 PSAC Eastern Division titles and eight NCAA playoff berths.
Counting his five years at West Chester, Hale has 213 career victories, which was good for fifth among active Division II coaches at the end of 2012. Hale is 13th on the Division II all-time list topped by Ken Sparks of Carson-Newman.
The wear-and-tear that comes with aging factored into a decision that Hale had been pondering for a while. Hale said he still tries to play racquetball and ride mountain bikes in his spare time, but it's taking time to recover from aches and pains.
Plus, Hale has endured what he called a series of minor health issues in recent years, including knee replacement surgery and a virus infection that left him deaf in one ear.
"All these things play on you on the field," Hale said. "Also, I'm at a point when I'm being realistic. I am on the other side of the slope. Life's short, don't stay too long."
During his tenure, Hale has seen the PSAC grow into a 16-team league. Recruiting has become tougher, too, with Lehigh and Bucknell - nearby FCS teams in the Patriot League - now offering football scholarships starting for 2013. Western PSAC teams increasingly are heading east to look at recruits.
And Penn State has picked off players who were looking at Bloomsburg, deciding to go with to go with coach Bill O'Brien's beefed-up walk-on program which aims to help fill depth following scholarship reductions as part of NCAA sanctions.
PSAC schools individually decide on scholarship limits which are privately funded. Bloomsburg has about 10 full-time equivalent scholarships, less than one-third of the 36 permitted in Division II.
Yet Bloomsburg has remained very competitive. The Huskies finished 10-2 last season, and second in the PSAC East (6-1) behind Shippensburg.
"I still see us in the hunt. This is a great school with a lot to offer," said Hale, who boasted that the Huskies' football facilities were top-notch for Division II.
Assistant head coach Paul Darragh will be interim head coach in 2013, and the school said a national search for a permanent successor will take place later this year.
Hale plans to devote more time to being spiritual adviser for prison inmates, something he's been involved with since 1996.
He also may become a "snowbird," and visit grandchildren in Florida. But Hale plans to stick around Bloomsburg, as well, to help raise funds and take in some games - only from the hill with his family rather than on the sideline.