For the past two decades, Mount Union College has achieved success that’s unrivaled across all college football programs. Under the commanding leadership of head coach Larry Kehres, the Purple Raiders raid has included 16 undefeated regular seasons, nine D-III National Championships and a .956 winning percentage–an all-time best among all divisions.
Locking in talented players is only one key to sustaining such ridiculous results. Here, Kehres dispels a few misconceptions about D-III football and explains the importance of character.
STACK: How does D-III football recruiting differ from D-I?
Larry Kehres: The most significant difference is that in D-III, we don’t [offer] athletic grants, aids or athletic scholarships. That doesn’t [mean]extensive recruiting [isn’t involved]. Division I and II [colleges] have dead periods…times when the coaches can’t contact athletes. We don’t have dead periods in D-III, so recruiting is an ongoing, year-round process.
STACK: What are some misconceptions about D-III football?
LK: There are not many good players in D-III; that’s a misconception. There [are] lots of good players. One of my former players [Pierre Garcon] is playing for the [Indianapolis] Colts.
The notions that [D-III] athletes really aren’t very good; [that] anybody could [play]; [that] it doesnt take very much time; [and that] you dont have to be committedthose are all misconceptions. The qualities that make the Ohio State Buckeyes a good football team are the same that make a D-III football squad excellent.
STACK: What role does character play on the field?
LK: Character is critically important. If a team can keep the number of social problems and academic issues it faces to a small number, then the team and coaching staff [can] concentrate on preparation for games. There are opportunities on the field that young guys have, to react inappropriately [to] a call by an official [or] toward an opponent. Possessing good character helps you make a good decision, avoid a problem [or] sometimes avoid a penalty.
STACK: How important is character off the field?
LK: You can make critical errors involving alcohol, drugs, things that really kind of alter your life. Off the field, good character puts good men in the right place at the right time. Bad character does the opposite.
STACK: In terms of character, what are some of your likes and dislikes?
LK: Little things make [a] big [difference], in my view. Players [should] learn to be prompt [and] sit in the front of a football meeting or the front of a classroom. You don’t need [to wear] a baseball hat in a football meeting room, [or] in a classroom. Learn the basics about being a good student.
STACK: Talk about leadership.
LK: Players look at coaches for leadership; then [younger] players look at older players. So, I think it’s critically important that the starters and upperclassmen[ set] good examples.
There are lots of little things individuals do that show what types of leaders they are. The adage we always hear individuals [use is], Lead by example. If you’re a senior player, show younger players the appropriate way to handle yourself.