Archive for Thursday, August 12, 2004

Richard to be inducted into Hall of Fame

August 12, 2004

Legendary Baker University football coach Charlie Richard will receive the highest coaching honor available posthumously Saturday with his induction in the College Football Hall of Fame.

"Absolutely, it's the highest honor," said Nancy Richard, his wife. "If he were alive, he would be embarrassed by it all. He would give full credit to his team, and rightfully so.

"We're very excited about it and proud," she said.

Richard, who died Dec. 13, 1994 of a heart attack while in his Baker football office, won 123 games during his 14 years as head coach of the Wildcats, more than any Baker coach ever. He also led the Cats to the NAIA championship and his teams were perennial combatants in the playoffs almost every year.

Richard will be enshrined with a host of other college football greats Saturday in South Bend, Ind., and for a coach, it just doesn't get better than that.

"It really doesn't," said Dan Harris, Baker athletic director who coached with Richard for many years. "We're talking about a NAIA level school being honored with the elite. I'm excited about this and proud to be involved. I coached with Charlie for many years and I'm excited about the trip on Thursday.

"Barry Sanders. Hayden Fry. It's an enshrinement that last a lifetime," said Harris. "Baker will be in the hall forever. It's amazing.

Along with Sanders, the Wichita native who went on to star at Oklahoma State and in the NFL with the Detroit Lions, Fry, the winningest coach at the University of Iowa, and Richard, there will be 18 others enter the hall. Some of the others are Joe Thiesmann of Notre Dame and Washington Redskin fame, Ricky Bell, USC, Jimbo Covert, Pittsburgh, Jerry LeVias, Southern Methodist and Roger Wehrli, Missouri.

Harris is amazed by the whole process and the players and coaches to be inducted. But, he's like Richard's wife when it comes to what the late coach would think about it all.

"He'd be pretty humble about this, to tell you the truth," said Harris. "His family will be there and they've lived through the trials and tribulations of being a coach's family. This will make it all worthwhile."

Harris' affiliation goes way back with Richard, who gave him his first job after graduating from William Jewell in 1968. That first job was in Moberly, Mo.

"He hired me right out of college, so I was associated with him for a long time," said Harris, who eventually made the move to Baldwin with his long-time mentor.

"It was special to come here and work with Charlie and now go to the hall of fame and know I worked with the best of the best is quite an honor," he said.

There will be a lot of Baker Orange in South Bend Saturday for the enshrinement at 7:30 p.m. and all of the other events during the two-day celebration that starts Friday.

"I've had a lot of conversation with alumni from all over the country and they are going and are proud to be associated with Charlie and the ceremonies," said Harris. "They take a lot of pride in what they accomplished with Charlie's guidance.

"A lot of our Baker family from here is going and a lot of people from the Baldwin community are going," he said. "I didn't know that until a couple of weeks ago."

Harris will be leaving Thursday, as are many others from Baldwin, while others will head there Friday and some on Saturday.

"It's exciting, emotional, full of anxiety not knowing what to expect," Harris said of the trip and enshrinement. "I leave Thursday for South Bend and I'm looking forward to it."

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