A legacy on, off the field: Trojans head football Coach Larry Blakeney in his 20th season at the helm
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.”
On the field over 20 years, Blakeney has said that being head coach at Troy University has been like having three different jobs. He started out as a coach in Division II, then was a coach in Division I-AA and is now a coach at the highest level of the game, the Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly I-A). At each level the challenges have been somewhat different but, at each level, the Trojans have risen to answer those challenge as well.
“I thought all along that when I got a head job I wanted to get to the Division I-AA level at minimum. Of course we were still Division II when I got here, and that was a good experience as well.”
Since moving to Division I-A in 2001, and joining the Sun Belt Conference in 2004, the Trojans have advanced to bowl games in five of the seven years in which they were eligible, and went unrewarded in another season when the team was bowl eligible.
Still, the wins on the field have been overshadowed over the years by the relationships Blakeney has built throughout the community, with University staff, his players and the public at large.
Another aspect of Blakeney’s tenure as head football coach at Troy University has been the growth of the University and the football programs’ contribution to that growth.
“The elevation of our athletics program from Division II to Division I was never about athletics, it was about advancing the University,” Dr. Hawkins said. “By any measure, the success of our athletics programs has validated that decision. Millions of people around the world know about Troy University because of the success of our football program, and that is a tribute to Coach Blakeney.”
Hazel is director of athletics media relations for Troy University.