Troy fortunate to have a long line of successful coaches

Published 3:00 am Wednesday, October 12, 2016

As I was sitting in my seat watching Troy beat New Mexico State at Veterans Memorial Stadium I could not help but be proud of the quality of college football program we have right here in Troy, Alabama. A Division I football team right our own backyard and perhaps the best marching band in America to go with it.

As I look back to when I was growing up in Troy you were much more award of high school football than the team at the college. The administration at the Troy State Teacher College was not supportive of football as they were for basketball. The big reason was football did not win and basketball did. Win or lose, and most of the time we lost I still loved to go to the games.

I loved the Red Wave. There was a hole in the fence on the visitor side of the field so going to the games when I was 12 years old didn’t cost me anything.

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The only winning team in 10 years was the 1964 team, which finished with a 6-3 record. Things would change in a hurry when then president Ralph Adams hired a young high school coach named Billy Atkins to coach the Red Wave football team in 1966.

All he did in six years was go 44-16-2, win a National Championship in 1969, go 9-1-1 in 1969 and win four conference championships.

He left after the 1971 season and Troy hired a high profile coached named Tom Jones. Jones was an assistant coach for “Shug” Jordan at Auburn, but his claim to fame was his incredible high school record at Robert E. Lee in Montgomery. I want to say he lost only 11 games in 10 years.

He was here only two years, but he won a Gulf South Conference Championship for the Troy State Trojans in 1973.

In comes Byrd Whigham, another outstanding high school coach from South Florida. He was also an assistant coach at Auburn and Georgia. He went 6-4 in 1974 and 1975.

Charlie Bradshaw then came out of retirement to coach the Trojans from 1976-1982, with his best season coming in 1976 when the Trojans came in first going 8-1-1 and winning the Gulf South Conference Championship.

In 1983 Troy hired a young coach named Chan Gailey. Gailey, a former Florida quarterback when 19-5 in two years and lead the Trojans to their second National Championship in 1984. Gailey left troy and joined the pros in Denver, he later became head coach of the Dallas Cowboys.

Gailey’s top assistant Rick Rhoades took over the program in 1985 and went 28-7-1 including two GSC championships and Troy’s second National title in Division II in 1987. Led by a 5’7” quarterback named Mike Turk, Troy’s most productive Wishbone teams compiled a 47-12 record in five years.

Robert Maddox took over for Rhoades in 1988 and had a three-year record of 13-17.

In 1991 Troy hired former Auburn assistant Larry Blakeney and the rest is history.

Blakeney took Troy from Division II to Division I-AA to Division IA. In his 24 years, which is unprecedented, his overall record was 178-113-1 with eight conference championships, 8 trips to the Division I-AA playoffs and five bowl games. What a great job he did at coaching football at Troy.

Now we have a new regime, one that’s hungry for wins and there is no doubt in my mind that Troy’s winning tradition will live on.

Yes! What a wonderful place to live if you love college football!