December, 19 2014
Calling a great team a “dynasty” can be a subjective label. Trying to determine which dynasties might be the greatest of them all can become even more subjective.
But in the sport of college football, and certainly in Division III, one would have a difficult time matching the accomplishments of the Mount Union Raiders since winning their first national title in 1993.
This Saturday, Mount Union will attempt to win their 12th national title in 22 seasons. The sheer numbers they have amassed over the past two decades are mind-boggling: 12 titles, 18 appearances in the championship game, an 196-2 Ohio Athletic Conference record, with their last regular season loss back in 2005 (when they dropped a 21-14 decision to Ohio Northern).
When you win that many games, great win streaks are just part of doing business. After losing an overtime game to Rowan in the 1999 playoffs, Mount Union won 55 straight before losing to Saint John’s in the 2003 Division III championship game. That OT loss to Rowan was the only defeat between 1996 and the 2003 title game, a streak where the Raiders went 109-1. Winning national titles has become so routine the team once returned to campus and realized they forgot to bring home the trophy.
The man responsible for this dynasty is Coach Larry Kehres. Kehres became head coach at Mount Union in 1986, and retired after the 2012 season. His career record is 332-24-3, a winning percentage of .929. There are no secrets to the success at Mount Union, as Kehres’ simple philosophy involves common coaching traits such as preparation, consistency, accountability and responsibility. He felt what most motivates players is their desire to become better players. Therefore he only asked his players to complete tasks that helped them reach that goal.
When he stepped down after the 2012 season, he remained the school’s athletic director, and handed the coaching reins to his son, Vince.
While Mount Union is every bit a dynasty, Division III has room for two dynastic programs. The Raiders opponent Saturday is Wisconsin-Whitewater, who has won the national title five times since 2007. This will be the ninth title game between the two schools since 2005.
Kent Stephens is the curator and historian at the College Football Hall of Fame and Chick-fil-A Fan Experience. Kent has been a part of the Hall staff since 1990 when it was located in Kings Island, Ohio. He relocated with the Hall to South Bend, Ind., and moved to Atlanta in 2013, becoming the only member of the staff to serve at all three locations.