If you were asked to rack your brain about coaches with the highest win percentage in college football, names like Urban Meyer (.851), Nick Saban (.781), and Chris Petersen (.816) may immediately come to mind before digging into the past with names like Knute Rockne (.881), Barry Switzer (.837) and Tom Osborne (.836).
What each of those coaches have managed to do is extremely impressive, but one coach stands atop the mountain when it comes to all-time win percentage – Mount Union’s (D-III – OH) Larry Kehres (.929). Kehres build Mount Union into a national powerhouse, going 332-24-3 from 1986-2012 complete with 11 national titles and 23 Ohio Athletic Conference titles, including an impressive run of 21 straight from 1992-2012.
Kehres joined the Mount Union staff as an assistant in 1974, first serving as an assistant and offensive coordinator for 11 seasons before getting the nod to lead the program he played quarterback for in the late 60’s and into the early 70’s. Little known fact about Kehres as well worth sharing – he actually started the swim program and served as its head coach for 13 years as well when he first arrived at Mount.
Today, Adam Rittenberg of ESPN published a piece on how Mount Union became the mdoel day cradle of coaches under Kehres leadership, churning out FBS coaches like Ed Warinner, Alex Grinch, and young head coaches in Matt Campbell and Jason Candle, as well as a host of other coaches that have passed through the school. The article is a great read, so head here to read the entire piece.
One short note that really caught my attention was something Kehres admitted midway through the article when he was asked why he never left Mount Union, even as bigger schools with much deeper pockets and more resources pursued him.
The answer he gave is a lesson in humility for us all.
“I was probably fearful of failing if I had left. What are the other coaches going to spot? What’s our weakness? I lacked a little bit of the confidence that might cause you to spring forward and take on a bigger challenge.”
A coach that won over 300 games, double digit national titles, and mentored some of the best coaches in the game today still had some doubts about himself and his approach and was always looking for a unique edge. Isn’t that something?
His decision to stay time and time again as other schools gauged his interest meant he built one of the most impressive sports dynasties ever created, and when he stepped aside to focus on his role as the athletic director in 2012, his son Vince stepped in and has not only kept the train rolling, but has also found a way to build on the legacy of the football program as well.