Kehres takes place among the greats

NEW YORK — Larry Kehres from little Mount Union had the biggest coaching resume at the College Football Hall of Fame induction ceremonies Tuesday.

“This gentleman is, to me, maybe the best coach that’s ever lived,” ESPN reporter Holly Rowe said.

Kehres joined former Florida coach Steve Spurrier and Clemson coach Danny Ford as the newest inductees into the Hall of Fame.

“I’ve gotten to cover him five national championships for Mount Union,” Rowe said. “He was the coach at Mount Union from 1986 to 2012, the winningest coach in college football history among every division of play. He lost only 24 games in 27 seasons at Mount Union.”

While building a small-college power in Alliance, Kehres guided the Purple Raiders to a 332-24-3 record and 11 NCAA Division III national championships in his 27 years as head coach.

The former Mount Union quarterback was glad to see his head coach, Ken Wable, at the National Football Foundation’s awards banquet Tuesday.

“I think I had a good foundation in learning from a good coach,” Kehres said. “And he taught us to plan and prepare thoroughly. I served as an assistant for him for 11 years.

“I think that foundation that makes you a good teacher in the classroom also makes you a good coach. You have to be prepared. You have to measure each day by the performance of players. In other words, have they learned what you were attempting to teach them? And I was taught that, and I have always benefited it from it. And I think my Mount Union players benefited from the foundation I received from him.”

Mount Union has had only three coaches over the last 56 years (Ken Wable 24 years, Larry Kehres 27 years and his son Vince Kehres the last five years).

Larry Kehres is still Mount Union’s athletic director and will be watching the Purple Raiders play in the national semifinals for a 23rd straight season Saturday afternoon at Wisconsin-Oshkosh.

Players in the Hall of Fame class included Tennessee’ all-time leading passer Peyton Manning; Marshall Faulk of San Diego State; 2004 Heisman Trophy winner Matt Leinart of Southern California; Bob Crable of Notre Dame; Kirk Gibson, the National League MVP in 1988 and former Michigan State receiver; Bob McKay of Texas; Dat Nguyen of Texas A&M; Mike Ruth of Boston College; Brian Urlacher of New Mexico; and Adrian Peterson of Georgia Southern.

Spurrier became the fourth person to be inducted into the hall as both a player and a coach. Spurrier started his head coaching career at Duke from 1987-89 and credited his time there with allowing him to understand what it took to have a winning team.

“The offense had to play close to perfect just about every game,” he said. “We couldn’t play stupid and have touchdowns called back to have any chance to win. We had outstanding offensive guys. Defense was a little light, but they played their hearts out. So whatever kind of coach I became, I think I learned it at Duke University.”

Spurrier went on to coach at Florida, where he also won the Heisman in 1966, and went 122-27-1 with the Gators, including a national title in 1996. After a brief stint with the Washington Redskins, he returned to college with South Carolina and became its winningest coach, too.