Coaching legend Larry Kehres stepping down at Mount Union

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Normally we here at CFT have next to nothing — if that — to do with the Div. III level of college football.  Larry Kehres, though, is not the norm when it comes to that level, or any other level for that matter.

In a surprise announcement Wednesday morning, Mount Union (Ohio) confirmed that the legendary long-time head coach has decided to step down from his post.  The decision is effective immediately.

The 63-year-old Kehres has been the head coach at his alma mater for 27 years and has been at the school for the last 39.  He will remain on as the athletic director.

“The best part of the job was developing relationships with players and continuing those relationships following their graduations,” commented Kehres. “Coaching the Purple Raiders has been a tremendous experience for my family.  We have shared many great experiences with our players, fellow coaches, trainers and their families. We plan to continue to enjoy working with Mount Union coaches and athletes.”

Whether the Purple Raiders continue to enjoy the unparalleled success the D-III football program had under Kehres remains to be seen.

The raw stats involved in Kehres’ 27-year run are stunning and mind-boggling.  Kehres finishes his career with a 332-24-3 (.924) overall record, with the winning percentage ranking No. 1 in the history of college football at any level (No. 2? Notre Dame’s Knute Rockne at .881).

The Purple Raiders won 11 D-III national championships (1993, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2012) under Kehres, losing in the finals five other times as well as in the semifinals four times. To go along with the national success was conference supremacy, with the Purple Raiders claiming 23 league titles, including the last 21 in a row.  Mount Union lost a total of eight conference games with Kehres on the sidelines, and just two since the beginning of the 1992 season.

Perhaps most amazingly, Mount Union finished the regular season undefeated 21 times during Kehres’ 27 years at the school, and haven’t lost a non-playoff game since 2005.

During Kehres’ time at the school, the Purple Raiders went on 54- and 55-game winning streaks.

“Coach Kehres has been an incredible success, not only in winning football games and national championships at an unprecedented level, but also in positively shaping the lives of countless student athletes,” Mount Union president Dr. Richard Giese stated. “His impact on Mount Union has been dramatic, and the entire Raider family will clearly miss him on the sideline.  Larry, his wife Linda, and the Kehres family are a special part of the fabric that makes Mount Union unique, and we are indeed grateful.  We are pleased that Larry will still be leading our entire, highly successful athletic program as director of athletics, and we are appreciative for both what he has done and what he will continue to do for Mount Union.”

The person who will have the unenviable task of stepping into Kehres’ shoes is an individual who is quite familiar with both Larry Kehres the coach and Larry Kehres the person.

In conjunction with Kehres’ retirement, the school announced that Vince Kehres, the now-former head coach’s son, will take over for his father.  The younger Kehres played for the Purple Raiders and has spent the past 13 seasons on his dad’s coaching staff, the last eight as defensive coordinator.

“Obviously Mount Union football has been a part of my entire life,” stated Vince.  “I have a passion for coaching and working with young men and I can think of no better place to do that then at Mount Union.  I promise this program will continue to uphold the values and ideals that have made Mount Union what it is in the world of college football,” said Vince Kehres.  “Our mission remains the same — bring quality young men to this place and allow them the opportunity to grow and be successful on and off the field.”

Wazzu statement: ‘The tragic news today surrounding Tyler Hilinksi is devastating to all’

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Tuesday night, the Pullman Police Department confirmed that 21-year-old Washington State quarterback Tyler Hilinski was found dead in his apartment of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.  Very early Wednesday morning, the football program and athletic department released statements addressing the devastating developments.

HEAD FOOTBALL COACH MIKE LEACH
We are deeply saddened to hear the news of Tyler’s passing. He was an incredible young man and everyone who had the privilege of knowing him was better for it. The entire WSU community mourns as thoughts and prayers go out to his family.

INTERIM ATHLETIC DIRECTOR John Johnson
The tragic news today surrounding Tyler Hilinski is devastating to all. Tyler was a tremendous individual, great friend and teammate, and he will be deeply missed. Our hearts go out to his family and friends.

Earlier tonight, the football team was brought together and informed of the tragedy. There, they were met by campus and department counseling and psychological services, including athletics’ on-staff clinical psychologist and a licensed mental health counselor, along with WSU Athletics medical team. The university will continue to coordinate and provide ongoing counseling care for all student-athletes as long as needed.

Washington State QB Tyler Hilinski found dead in apparent suicide

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There is utterly tragic and horrific news coming out of Pullman Tuesday night.

According to the Pullman Police Department, Washington State quarterback Tyler Hilinski was found dead at his apartment late Tuesday afternoon of what was described as an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. “A rifle was discovered next to Hilinski and a suicide note was found,” the police stated in a release.

Police officers were called to the residence at 7:30 p.m. ET (4:40 p.m. local time) for a wellness check after the redshirt sophomore failed to show up for a team activity earlier in the day.

Hilinski was just 21 years old.

As of this posting, there’s been no official response from the football program regarding the passing of Hilinski.  Wednesday, the university had been expected to announce the new athletic director replacing Bill Moos, Florida Atlantic’s Pat Chun; because of the football player’s death, that press conference will be rescheduled for a later date.

In place of Luke Falk, Hilinski started Wazzu’s Holiday Bowl loss to Michigan State.  With Falk off to the NFL, Hilinski was expected to be the Cougars’ starting quarterback in 2018.

Our thoughts, prayers and condolences go out to all of those impacted by Hilinski’s way-too-early passing.

Former Nebraska OL coach Mike Cavanaugh hired by Syracuse

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Dino Babers has added a very experienced trenchman to his Syracuse coaching staff.

The school confirmed Tuesday that Babers has hired Mike Cavanaugh as his next offensive line coach. In a coaching career that spans 32 seasons, Cavanaugh has been a line coach in some form or fashion for 31 of them.

“Mike has an outstanding track record of teaching and developing quality offensive linemen,” Babers said in a statement. “He’s done it successfully at every level in college as well as the pros. This was an opportunity to add someone whose knowledge and experience will greatly enhance our staff and benefit our players.”

The past three seasons, Cavanaugh was the line coach at Nebraska. At the FBS level, he’s also served as a line coach at Oregon State (2005-14) and Hawaii (1999-2004).

From 1997-98, Cavanaugh was the assistant offensive line coach for the NFL’s San Diego Chargers.

“I’d like to thank Coach Babers for this opportunity and for welcoming me into the Syracuse family,” Cavanaugh said. “He and his staff have coached some of the most prolific offenses in college football. I’m excited to learn from them and to be part of the championship-caliber program they are building at Syracuse.”

The 2018 season will mark the first time since 2004 Cavanaugh is not a part of a Mike Riley-coached staff.

Kevin Stepherson one of four dismissed by Notre Dame

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At least in South Bend, Kevin Stepherson‘s freefall is complete.

According to 247Sports.com, Stepherson, along with three other Notre Dame football players — sophomore running backs CJ Holmes and Deon McIntosh as well as junior defensive tackle Brandon Tiassum — have been dismissed from the Fighting Irish program.  No specific reason or reasons for the dismissals were given.

Stepherson was one of four Irish players who were suspended for the team’s Citrus Bowl matchup with LSU, with the wide receiver’s suspension stemming from a handful of off-field issues.

Dec. 15, Stepherson was arrested for shoplifting.  The day before that arrest, Stepherson was pulled over on a traffic stop and charged with marijuana possession, driving without a valid license and speeding (he was clocked doing 80 in a 60 mph zone). To make matters worse, at the time of his twin arrests the receiver was already on probation for a marijuana-related arrest in August of 2016.

Adding to the off-field issues, Stepherson was suspended for the first four games of the 2017 season for reasons unrelated to the arrest in August of 2016.

At the time of the second suspension, Stepherson led the Fighting Irish in receiving touchdowns with five and yards per catch at 18.9 despite missing one-third of the regular season because of the first suspension.  His 19 receptions and 359 receiving yards were both good for third on the team.

Another of the players who were dismissed, Holmes, was arrested along with Stepherson in the shoplifting incident.  Holmes ran for 32 yards on eight carries this season.

McIntosh was the fourth of the four players suspended for the bowl game.  At the time of his suspension, McIntosh was third on the team in rushing with 368 yards and five touchdowns.

Tiassum played very sparsely this past season, and wasn’t looking at much more playing time in 2018.