Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Quarterbacks, Faith, Family, Football, Coach Kehris
(Dept. of Forgotten Drafts - 3/2/07)
Last night's banquet featured Mount Union head coach Larry Kehris, nine-time National Championship winner, 148-2 in 15 seasons, and eight-time NCAA Coach of the Year.

Look at that again: Nine national championships. His 21 year win rate is .920--the best in college history; his winning streaks are the two longest (55 games, 54 games). This is an astounding accomplishment.

Naturally, the huge, huge question is: how? One championship takes skill, determination and luck. Two take skill, determination, and luck squared. But NINE? And this isn't Tiger Woods nine. Coach Kehris fields a different set of individuals each season. What can be done that consistently?

First, Coach looks like an academic Jim Tressel. His glasses dangle from a granny-chain around his neck. His voice is soft. You might mistake him for the finance professor. Here's what he says:
1) "I work with the quarterbacks. They control the game, so I work with them. " OK, that makes sense. Not sure what he whispers in their ear, but it must work.
2) "We practice faith, family, football. In that order.

"It happens all the time. In the spring, or early summer, a kid comes up and says, 'Coach...my sister wants to get married Oct. 5. It's the big game with ___.' Young ladies do that. Here's what we tell the players: 'Go To The Wedding. This isn't rocket science. You have one or two sisters. Hopefully they get married once. Go. Have fun.'"

We live 30 miles from Massillon High, 70 from Heinz Field, 145 from The Horseshoe. We've seen a few dedicated and victorious football programs. I can't tell you why Coach Kehres loves winning so much. But you can now see why his players love winning--because they love him as he loves them.

Go forth. Take care of those on your team. +

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