EKU's Kidd says his 39th season will be his final

Tuesday, October 1, 2002

RICHMOND, Ky. -- After nearly four decades prowling the sidelines and 310 victories, Eastern Kentucky coach Roy Kidd still is determined not to bask in the glow of his accomplishments.

Kidd, the third winningest active coach in NCAA football, said Monday that he will retire at the end of the season after 39 years at the school.

"It's been a great 39 years," an emotional Kidd said during a campus news conference. "This is harder than anything I've ever done."

Kidd, 70, owns a 310-121-8 record and trails only Penn State's Joe Paterno (330) and Florida State's Bobby Bowden (327) among active coaches.

Last season, he joined an elite fraternity of college coaches with 300 victories, a club that also includes coaching greats Eddie Robinson, Pop Warner, Paul "Bear" Bryant and Amos Alonzo Stagg.

He also has led the Colonels to two Division I-AA national championships, 16 Ohio Valley Conference titles and 24 straight winning seasons.

In typical unassuming fashion, however, Kidd refused to acknowledge that he had done anything extraordinary.

"It makes me feel awful good to think that my name would be up there with people like Bear Bryant, who recruited me, and be included in that category with guys like Paterno and Bowden," he said.

"But that's not me. Roy Kidd didn't do that. A lot of very good players and coaches did that."

Kidd's hands trembled a bit as he sat with his wife, Sue, in front of a packed auditorium while President Joanne Glasser spoke about his legacy.

"All his victories, championships and honors only begin to reflect the impact he has had on our university, the Commonwealth of Kentucky and beyond," Glasser said.

"It is his players, and their successes, who offer the best testament to Coach Kidd's unique ability to help young men make the most of their time here and in their lives beyond this campus."

Kidd's players were stunned to hear the news during a Sunday night meeting. Most of them assumed they were simply going to watch film from Saturday's 55-0 victory over Glenville State.

"None of us expected anything like that," junior safety Pierre Wright said. "I guess he wanted to leave the next coach in line a lot of good players to work with.

"It's hard to really express in words because he's meant so much to the game. When I saw the tears in his eyes, it hurt more than I thought it would hurt."

Kidd, an Eastern Kentucky graduate from Corbin, Ky., who has been the school's head football coach since 1964, said he had been contemplating retirement for more than a year.

He said he met with Glasser and interim athletic director Jack Lengyel several times over the last few weeks to assure them that he was comfortable with the decision.

"I talked to people I know about retiring, and they told me that when you're ready, you'll know," he said. "Well, I know.

"There's no big reason. I just know that it's time to let go. And that's tough -- it's tough to let go of something you love doing."

Kidd has coached 55 All Americans at Eastern Kentucky and has had 41 players go on to either sign or play in the National Football League.

The school won or shared 11 Ohio Valley Conference championships from 1981 through 1994 and played in 16 of the first 18 Division I-AA playoffs.

Kidd's teams reached the Division I-AA national championship game four straight years, claiming the title in 1979 and 1982 and finishing as runner-up in 1980 and 1981.

Since 1994, however, Eastern Kentucky has won only one conference title and reached the playoffs only once. The Colonels are 3-2 this season entering Saturday's home game with Tennessee-Martin.

Kidd said he'll have no problem finding ways to spend his free time next season. He said he will continue to live in Richmond and support the program any way he can.

"Everybody keeps telling me the best time to play golf is in the fall," he said. "Well, I'm going to find out.

"... And I'm looking forward to getting in the stands and second-guessing the heck out of the new guy."

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