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AFM Magazine

Open Door Policy

A look inside a coach\'s office: Larry Kehres
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One of the nicknames for basketball hall of fame player Larry Bird is ‘Larry Legend.’ In Alliance, Ohio, there is another 'Larry Legend': Mt. Union College’s Head Coach Larry Kehres. Quite simply in his 19 years at the helm of the Purple Raider football fortunes, he has built one of the most successful programs in college football.

Kehres' teams have won 14 Ohio Athletic Conference Championships while posting 13 undefeated regular seasons. Under Kehres, the Raiders have won over 100 regular season games in a row and seven Division III national Championships. During the last 13 regular seasons, his teams have posted a phenomenal 129-2 overall record.

A native of Diamond, Ohio, Kehres graduated from Mt. Union in 1971. An assistant coach at the school for 11 seasons, Kehres took over as head coach prior to the 1986 season. In addition to his duties in football, Kehres also serves as an Associate Professor in Human Performance and Sports Management as well as being the school’s full-time Athletic Director.

We spoke to Coach Kehres about his years at Mt. Union but more specifically about his office. What has it been like and what goes on behind the scenes. What is the inner-workings of a day like for Coach Kehres? Included is an intimate look inside a coach’s den...

AFM: What was it like the first time you stepped into your office knowing you were now in charge of the Mt. Union program?

LK: I knew what to expect... I had the office next door when the previous coach – Ken Wable – retired. He had been my coach and I was an assistant under him for 11 years. He left the program in good shape after 26 years at Mt. Union. I approached the position with great respect and dignity for the football program.

AFM: Tell me how the office is used – do you have staff meetings there, do recruits visit, do you use it to watch tape?

LK: I have a lot of one-on-one staff meetings and recruits visit often with their parents. There are only three chairs so four or more is a crowd... I have a computer as well and a TV/video player so I’m able to watch of lot of player highlight tapes.

AFM: Have you had over the years any unusual anecdotes you can share?

LK: I have the door always open and it’s a relatively informal place... students are always coming by and asking everything from ‘where are the racquet balls? to how do I get into the gym?’... that’s the life of an athletic director...
I do recall on three different occasions I spoke to students that wanted to go out for our football team but had not played in high school. In each case the students were somewhat apprehensive but I told them the rules they would have to follow... in each case it was a positive experience for the students. We don’t cut any players that want to play but they are required to follow team principles and rules. In recruiting we see so many great athletes we always try to find the hidden gem that may help us...

AFM: Over the years have you had any unusual or interesting visitors?

LK: Dom Capers, a Mt. Union guy and head coach of the Houston Texans has stopped by and I’ve learned a lot from him....The former head of the secret service, Brian Stafford, also stops by... he was a teammate of mine although we overlapped in years at Mt. Union. He is a member of the Board of Trustees.

AFM: What coaches have influenced you over the years?

LK: Early on, Woody Hayes was a direct influence on my was Don Nehlen who was head coach at Bowling Green when I was a GA – I loved his energy and enthusiasm. Bill Walsh has also influenced me a great deal. I read an article he wrote on why the 49ers were so successful in drafting late-round players-like Joe Montana and Charles Haley. His point was that his staff thoroughly examined game tapes of all players and didn’t just rely on the combine scores and times. Their philosophy was to have each player attempt to play up to the potential of his highlight reel.

AFM: What are some of your personal and professional memorabilia in your office?

LK: It’s a busy office with many action photos of the Mt. Union teams as well as many awards we’ve won over the years. I also have a picture taken in 1914 that shows a panoramic view of our stadium.

AFM: If you were allowed to take only one item from your office, what would it be?
LK: A picture of myself and my wife, Linda.

AFM: What have you enjoyed most about the job?

LK: One of the most enjoyable parts of the job is seeing former players become successful in life but also seeing players become successful as coaches. Many of them have gone on to be successful in our’s also enjoyable having my son Vince on our staff. Many former players have coached here.

AFM: If you could invite any three coaches into your office for a philosophical football discussion, who would they be?

LK: Vince Lombardi, Paul Brown, and Bob Knight. I respect Coach Knight and his teams always play hard.

AFM: If you could be a GA again and learn from one coach, who would it be?

LK: Paul Brown...he was brilliant in many ways-operationally and organizationally. I would have said Bill Walsh but Walsh, earlier in his career, was on Brown’s staff.

AFM: What thoughts or advice would you give to the person that eventually will replace you?

LK: I wouldn’t give them any – they shouldn’t try to do what I did but be their own man. I’m not trying to be pretentious but I don’t really need to give advice but would certainly be there to help if someone wanted it.


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