Larry Kennan | Univ. of the Incarnate Word

Team: Univ. of the Incarnate Word
Organization: NCAA Football
Position: Head Coach
Hometown: Pomona, California

Biography

From the moment he came on board at Incarnate Word in mid-December of 2011, Larry Kennan has had a major, positive effect on the Cardinals football program.  He has provided leadership and direction to a program in the transitional phase of Division I and the results are starting to play out on the field.

On the day of his hiring UIW Director of Athletics Mark Papich was prophetic.  Said Papich at the time: “...in support of the university’s vision of expanding our brand Larry Kennan provides the experience we need....he gives Incarnate Word name recognition through his ability to reach into the NFL as well as the collegiate ranks....”

It only took Kennan two seasons to show a significant upgrade in the product on the field for UIW.  The 2013 season proved to be the most successful in the program's short history.  A 6-5 record, the first winning season for the program, and a few milestone victories along the way made it a season to remember. 

The 2013 Cardinals posted the first two shutouts in school history and accumulated more school records along the way than can be reasonably written down.  The two biggest wins of the season came on the road at McMurry when the team battled back from an 11-point fourth quarter deficit to win 47-43 and give Kennan his first road victory at UIW.  The next came the following week at home when the Cardinals came back from a 10-point fourth quarter deficit to defeat Abilene Christian, 34-31.  ACU had defeated UIW, 40-6 just three weeks earlier in Abilene.

One of the most important decisions Kennan made in 2013 was to hire former Heisman trophy winner Ricky Williams as the running backs coach.  The addition of Williams to the staff brought instant recognition to the program and played a major role in the recruiting process for a number of players.

The 2014 season was one that went bad from the start with the loss of starting quarterback Trent Brittain in the first quarter of the first game to a season-ending injury.  An already daunting schedule that included national champion North Dakota State plus three other playoff teams became nearly untenable.  Despite the loss of Brittain and a few other starters to season-ending injuries, Kennan remained upbeat and the Cardinals improved throughout the season.

Kennan started four different quarterbacks during the season before finally settling on Jordan Scelfo.  Scelfo provided the team some stability over the final four weeks of the season when the team played their best ball of the season. 

One of the high points of the 2014 season for Kennan and the Cardinals came off the field.  The program appeared on ESPN's College GameDay program when they traveled to North Dakota State.  The entire experience and the national exposure proved to be something great for Kennan and the program despite the outcome of the game.

Kennan patrolled the sidelines in 2012 for the first time since 1997, however he remained close to the game during that time.  He was executive director of the NFL Coaches Association based in Washington D.C. for the 13 years prior to becoming the head coach of the Cardinals.  Those years combined with his 16 seasons as an NFL coach means he knows just about everyone who has walked the professional sidelines for the past three decades.

The Cardinals were only 2-9 in Kennan’s first year at the helm, but there were a number of firsts for the program.  The “Forever First” class completed their eligibility and the 2012 class set a record with 25 seniors.  The team played a game in Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, TX.  Devan Avery became the first UIW player to play in a postseason all-star game when he went to California for the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl.  Tight end Andrew Mocio became the first receiver in school history to earn all-region honors.  Avery and Mocio also participated in UIW’s first Pro Day in the Spring of 2013.

He has been an NFL offensive coordinator, a quarterbacks coach, a tight ends coach and a wide receivers coach.  He owns a championship ring from the Los Angeles Raiders Super Bowl XVIII win.  And, he was the head coach of the London Monarchs when they won a World Football League championship in 1991.

And perhaps most attractive of all for prospective Cardinals, he is a quarterback guru.  During his tenure with the NFL Coaches Association he kept his hand in by tutoring quarterbacks as they prepared for their professional careers.  The list of students includes Tim Couch, Chad Pennington, Drew Brees, Tony Romo, Byron Leftwich, Eli Manning, Alex Smith, Drew Stanton and T.J. Yates to name a few.

Prior to his career in the NFL, Kennan was an offensive coordinator for three years at both Nevada-Las Vegas and SMU.  He took over as head coach at Lamar University in 1979 and spent three years in the Southland Conference.  His LU squad set 38 team or individual awards in his first year when they posted a 6-3-2 record.  His biggest win at Lamar was an 18-17 win over defending SWC champion Baylor in 1981.  He went 13-17-3 before moving on to the NFL.

Considering all of that, what Larry Kennan wanted to do was coach.  And when the first opportunity came with 2012 spring drills at UIW he openly admitted to being “excited."  He recalled that on the first day when the clouds broke and the sun came out he knew all was good.

Kennan was hired in December of 2011 and he has continued to sign better and more highly touted players each year.  He is laying the groundwork for a program that will be successful in the short and long run.

And, when he leads his staff to conferences and clinics, the doors open because people know Larry Kennan and they want to talk football with him.  And that’s good because he knows the game, he is immersed in it and he is back doing what he wants to do--coach.

Kennan enters his fourth season with the Cardinals with a record of 10-23 and he is 34-41-3 in eight years as a head coach.

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