The late Lincoln coach probably imagined the full home grandstand, people lining the track and the color splash of jerseys.
He probably imagined the view from midfield on the new FieldTurf field. The black end zones with gold lettering spelling out the school's name looked nice.
Howard could be forgiven the indulgence of envisioning a victory lap around the newly paved track.
All of that came to pass at Howard's funeral Tuesday, though he probably never imagined taking that victory lap in a hearse.
Nor could he imagine such a somber hush in a packed Lincoln Memorial Stadium. One heard no marching band scaling up for its game-night show, no cheerleaders revving voices and spirits.
One saw Howard's players in home-black jerseys and his coaches in black game polos and khakis.
Jersey-clad players from other schools numbered enough to make up a Class 6A opponent, but none sprawled on the turf for warmups. At times, all that moved were orange goal-post flags flapping in the southwesterly breeze.
That was the setting as family, friends, colleagues, players and a community — including a Waffle House crew that served Howard often — bid him farewell. This just four days after the 48-year-old coach died of a heart attack during Lincoln's season-opening victory at Etowah.
The home team formed a black-and-gold human tunnel from the south goal posts.
Players from other teams nearly filled the expanded visiting grandstand. Teams represented included B.B. Comer, Leeds, Ohatchee, Oxford, Pell City, Piedmont, Pleasant Valley, Ragland, Saks, Talladega County Central, Vestavia Hills and Winterboro.
The Vestavia Hills contingent, which came with assistant coach and brother Mike Howard, wore dress shirts and ties. The rest wore game jerseys.
All watched somberly as Howard's staff carried his casket through Lincoln's player tunnel to midfield.
Then Howard's family filed into one section of chairs on the field. They included daughter Linzy, just out of the hospital after battling flu symptoms. She wore a cheerleader uniform.
Howard's team family filled the other section of chairs on their new field.
They heard team chaplain Whitt Hibbs address the dash between the dates Feb. 20, 1961 and Aug. 28, 2009, dates to be engraved on Howard's head stone. The dash, he said, represented a life lived in compassion and faith.
Hibbs talked about the new field and fresh new look to Lincoln's stadium.
"The mastermind behind the vision is Coach Howard," he said.
Rev. Jason Grissom touched on the "brevity of life" and Howard's many facets, including "dreamer" and Lincoln Golden Bear.
Howard's pastor, Eastaboga Baptist Church's Rodney Prickett, mimed as he told of Howard rocking during sermons. Then the pastor ran down the list of Linzy's five favorite things about her dad:
He was "hilarious."
He was the "best Christian."
He "took me everywhere I wanted to go."
He was "committed to finishing what he started."
His family was "most important to him."
Prickett then remarked about the recycled tire pellets that form the base of Lincoln's new synthetic field and how much Howard would have enjoyed coaching a game on it.
Then again, Howard is "walking on streets of gold," Prickett said, drawing applause.
The most heart-wrenching moment came when Lincoln senior Ethan Owens broke down while singing the closing song. He gathered himself as the music played on then finished.
The service also featured Linda Williamson, a Howard family friend, singing the gospel song "Well Done."
Fittingly, the service concluded with players and coaches from all teams in attendance lining the outer edge of the field, facing outward. They stood attentively as the hearse slowly rounded the track to surges of applause.
Howard's victory lap came two days before Lincoln is to play its first home game on the new field. The Golden Bears play host to Cleburne County on Thursday.
Joe Medley is The Star's sports columnist. He can be reached at 235-3576 or email@example.com.