Troy says Blakeney has built a legacy

Courtesy: Troy University
Courtesy: Troy University

TROY, AL - Troy University football coach Larry Blakeney is fond of saying that winning ball games is how his paper gets graded on an annual basis.

For 20 years, Blakeney has been a straight A student at Troy University, piling up victories and post-season appearances. The Hall of Famer entered the 2010 season with more wins than all but three other coaches in the history of college football in Alabama.

While those victories on the field over the years are important, it is the victories off the field that have made the Trojans' coach most proud. Through his 20 seasons at Troy, and 41 seasons overall as a football coach, Blakeney has made an impact on the lives of thousands of young men.
That is the part of the job of which he is most proud.

"We've been very blessed to have some success along the way and that always greases the wheels as far as making things better in terms of championships and postseason," Blakeney said. "That is how our paper is graded, but it is about people, and it is about kids, trying to help them cross that bridge from boyhood to manhood. We've been able to get that done a high percentage of the time."

Like most coaches who have been in the business for a long period of time, the wins all seem to blur together. Victories over Marshall, Missouri and Oklahoma State elevated the Troy program, but it is the losses, on the field and off, that linger.

"I remember some of the losses more," Blakeney said. "The 1995 game against Georgia Southern when we lost in the first round of the playoffs, that is maybe the worst feeling I ever had in coaching. I think I let things get fouled up at the end of the game. I can tell you exactly what happened to this day, so I know that one must have been important."

The tough times that come with the loss of a single game are nothing compared with the tough times Blakeney went through during his first year at Troy. As a first-time college head coach, Blakeney took over a program in transition from Division II to Division I-AA, but he also had a dark cloud hanging over his head.

During that first year his reputation took a serious hit by allegations of wrong-doing from his time as an assistant at Auburn. Blakeney was vilified by the media in the state and made to appear as if he was all that was wrong with college football. The truth, which has never truly been written about, is the entire situation was blown out of proportion.

" It was a mistake, but it wasn't that bad of a mistake," Blakeney said. "It wasn't something that deserved all of the scrutiny it has received over the years and all of the regurgitation that wasn't very pleasant for my folks. It was really a minor deal that turned into a major deal. I think if we had been as adequate, compliance-wise, where I was then as where we are now, that never would have happened."

Blakeney said the most important part of the entire ordeal for him was that he found out that Troy University, particularly Chancellor Jack Hawkins, Jr., and then director of athletics Ken Blankenship, was willing to stand behind him.

"The people at this university stood tall throughout that ordeal, especially Dr. Jack," Blakeney said. "The AD was Ken Blankenship and Mr. Red Williams had been the interim AD prior to that, and Coach (Pat) Dye. We basically took a bullet and lived to tell about it, but that was because of good people like that."
Dr. Hawkins said he never had a moment of doubt.

"It has always been my belief that you never turn your back on someone you believe in," Hawkins said. "From the outset we believed in Coach Blakeney and that belief has been confirmed many times over with his outstanding service to our student-athletes and to this University."

On the field over 20 years, Blakeney has said that being head coach at Troy University has been like having three different jobs.

INFORMATION SOURCE: Troy University Athletics