CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- John Beilein, a teacher of life and basketball for 38 years, isn't likely to take a moment to soak it in if Michigan wins the national championship tonight.
The former West Virginia men's basketball coach, who led the Mountaineers to the cusp of the Final Four in 2005 before his team frittered away a 20-point lead to tonight's adversary - Rick Pitino and Louisville - can complete the path from Newfane (N.Y.) Central High School to national champion by beating the top-seeded Cardinals in Atlanta.
The Mountain State will be watching.
During Beilein's five years with the Mountaineers (2002-07), he never stopped teaching and never stopped touching lives. His playing career also took place in West Virginia, at Wheeling College - now Wheeling Jesuit - from 1971-75.
Journalist Henry Brooks Adams once wrote, "A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops."
In my conversations with people who've had interactions with Beilein - as either part of his staff or the media who covered him at WVU - he has left an indelible mark. He is a beloved figure here with considerable lasting influence.
The explosion of adulation on Twitter after Michigan ousted Syracuse in the semifinals Saturday night alone might prove that.
There are also these stories from people - all state natives - who crossed paths with Beilein at WVU or Michigan.
Chris Richardson, a WVU graduate and former part-time sportswriter for the Daily Mail, is an assistant basketball coach at Division II Delta State in Cleveland, Miss. He covered WVU while Beilein was there and has had multiple run-ins with Beilein on the road recruiting and at different Final Four sites.
Beilein might not always remember Richardson's name, but he knows the face, the person and the story.
"He's always nothing but gracious, nothing but complimentary about his time at West Virginia," Richardson said during a phone interview from Atlanta, site of this year's Final Four. "He always remembers that I was a reporter at WVU and he wants to know what I'm up to.
"He's a special guy when it comes to people skills."
Adam Fletcher, a 2005 graduate of St. Albans who played his hoops at Miami University in Ohio, was an assistant strength coach at Michigan for two seasons. Fletcher just completed his first season as the strength coach at Towson University in Maryland.
"You won't find a better guy in the business who does things the right way and if you're around him long enough it's pretty impressive how he manages that on a daily basis," Fletcher said. "Whenever I was up for the Towson job, one of the better things I had going for me was John Beilein went out of his way to call for me for that position.
"I saw him at a closed practice (at the Final Four on Friday) and it was like he just saw me yesterday.
"With all the stuff you see going on now in college basketball, the reports you see in the paper and on television, you know something like that would never happen in his program. He's always doing the right thing."
Mark Richmond is a University of Charleston assistant who worked as a student manager for Beilein at WVU. He witnessed Beilein's meticulousness when it came to everything, on and off the court.
"He's a mastermind. He's got everything down to a science," Richmond said. "Every practice is perfectly planned and everyone knows their role. I actually can't believe how much he's evolved at Michigan. He's running so many simple things and he's come around and changed with the game, which is why he's in the Final Four now."
Coaches often talk about plays that even out over time. Richmond thought about that during Michigan's come-from-behind win against Kansas in the Sweet 16, when Trey Burke hit a 28-foot 3-pointer with 4.2 seconds left of regulation.
Seven years ago, Texas guard Kenton Paulino hit a game-winning 3-pointer in the Sweet 16 to eliminate the Mountaineers from the NCAA Tournament.