RICHMOND, Ky. (LEX 18) — Sometimes the career move you don’t make ends up being the smartest decision. And if you’re Roy Kidd, the career move you don’t make is the one that ultimately saves your life.
“I was offered the Marshall job, and I didn’t take that,” the College Football Hall of Fame member said. “That might’ve been a mistake looking back on it. But if I had taken that job, I’d have been in that wreck,” he continued.
The wreck the long-time EKU football coach is referring to was the 1970 plane crash involving members of the Marshall University football team. All 75 people on board were killed when the flight home crashed in West Virginia.
Kidd turned down that job. Decades later, he narrowly missed out on becoming UK’s head coach in 1990 when the school agreed to hire Bill Curry, who was coming off a 10-win season at Alabama. It all worked out for the best. Kidd grew up in Madison County and spent 38 years as the Colonels head coach. He won 314 games (10th all-time), two national championships, 16 OVC championships, and ten times he was named Coach of the Year. There were other offers through the years, but he stayed in Richmond.
“It’s always been home. I went to school here,” he said of his reason for shunning other job offers.
At 89-years of age coach, Kidd’s mind is still sharp as a tack. He moves well, he speaks well, and his hearing doesn’t seem to be impaired – at least not very much. And he still loves coming to EKU practice from time to time where current players 70 years his junior will stop, shake his hand, and even take a coaching tip or two.
“It tickles me. I love when my former players come around,” Kidd said.
Jake Johnson and John Revere are two of those players. Johnson is now the program’s defensive coordinator under Walt Wells, who also worked for Kidd years ago.
“Coach was like that father figure to us,” Johnson said. “There were things you could talk to him about if you needed something. But he’s the guy who also showed you, tough love.”
Revere got an earful of that sort of “love” during a game at Middle Tennessee State in the 1970s when the coach thought he may have been showboating a bit.
“I was going into the endzone. After I caught it, I had (the ball) up, and the ball kind of slipped out of my hands. Of course, I maintained control and scored,” Revere explained of that scoring play.
“Then I came to the bench, and he came over and said, ‘I just want you to know one thing. If you had dropped that ball, you’d be walking back to Richmond!’”
Revere laughs about that story. They could even laugh a little about it back then because they won that game. They won a lot of games here. In 38 years, there were only two sub .500 seasons, and they won at least seven games 32 times. And while that was important to the players then, it’s not what they most remember about their coach now.
“The people I deal with certainly understand the magnitude of the impact coach has had on this university, and community and even the state,” Revere said.
“If you weren’t doing the right things, he’d pull you aside and let you know about it,” Johnson added. “But you wanted that. As a player, you wanted a coach who’d stay on you. And he was happy to oblige,” he said while laughing.
And now they’re happy anytime they get to visit with this living legend, whose likeness in the form of a statue sits on one end of the stadium. A stadium that also happens to be named in his honor.
“That was a big thrill when they did that,” Kidd said.
They enjoyed 38-years-worth of thrills off the bypass in Richmond, thanks to the coach. Most of those years were nearly lost to a job with another university in a neighboring state. Had he taken that job, he’d have likely been killed at the age of 38.
It was the best career move Roy Kidd never made.