By Paul Haynes
We will be welcoming back almost 30 former Kent State captains for our annual Captain's Breakfast on Saturday morning before our Homecoming game with Northern Illinois.
The list includes Richard Mostardi (1959), George Jenkins (1962), Jerry Bals (1963), Pat Gucciardo (1965), Ron Swartz (1966-67), Frank Dreier (1970), Arthur Gissendaner (1974), Art Daniels (1976), Mike Whalen (1977), Darryl Hoyett (1977), Mike McKibben (1977-78), Ben Batton (1979), Moe Clemmons (1980-81), Charlie Grandjean (1981), Jerry Grisko (1982), Darren Brown (1982), Scooter McGruder (1983), Louis Jefferson (1985), Mike Percher (1986), Ray Carroscia (1989), Brian Dusho (1993), Lance Hansen (1996), Bob Hallen (1997), Jose Davis (1998-99), Brian Hallett (2001), Fritz Jacques (2007), Spencer Keith (2010), Chris Anzevino (2011) and Luke Batton (2012).
The tradition we are trying to build with the Captain's Breakfast means a lot because it brings back guys who are leaders from our past.
Our team read a book this summer called the Traveler's Gift that talked about the importance of seeking wisdom. Any time you can get some insight like we will get on Saturday from guys who have been here, who know this place and still have a lot of passion for it, that is extremely valuable.
We also want our guys to really understand the history of Kent State and to hear it from the people who lived it. Too often I listen to people talk about the negative things that have happened in the history of Kent State football. It upsets me to hear to them talk about how bad football was here because it devalues the work and the passion of a lot of people.
There are a lot of good coaches and players who came through here who don't get brought up in the conversation about Kent State football just because of some of the records of our past teams. A lot of guys came through here and played in the NFL or went on to success in other areas.
Having so many captains come back shows the pride they still have for Kent State. We have just about every era coming, from the 50's through the 2000's. Those captains will sit amongst our guys and tell stories, and that's what I want. We've had Pat Gucciardo talk in front of our team, and he almost comes to tears because he has so much passion for this place.
Our young people are not yet in touch with that past the way they need to be.
The Captains' Breakfast is something we did at Ohio State, and Darrell Hazell brought it here to Kent State. I'm glad he did, and it was important to me to keep that tradition alive.
The most impressive memory I have about those Captains' Breakfasts at Ohio State was that Gary Moeller came back every year. Gary Moeller is Michigan through and through, having coached there as both an assistant and a head coach for almost three decades. But before that he was a student and a captain at Ohio State in the early 1960's.
Gary Moeller may bleed Michigan blue, but he was a captain at Ohio State and that is a part of his life that will always be there. It brings him back to Columbus every year.
I want our guys to have that same feeling for Kent State.
To me, being voted a captain by your piers is a big deal. It's not a popularity contest.
I missed an opportunity here at Kent State back when I was named captain. I didn't realize how important that honor was until after I left Kent. I think about it every time I see our record from those years. Sometimes you are named captain and you don't know what to do with it. Other guys take it too far and they want to make speeches every five minutes. To me, that's not what being a captain is about. The best captains are the guys who lead by example and then say something when it needs to be said.
When you look at our current captains like Dri Archer and Roosevelt Nix, they are guys who lead with their actions. They don't talk. It's not in their nature. Phil Huff is the same way. Pat McShane is that way, too.
There really aren't any talkers in this crew this year, and that's fine. I never liked guys who want to stand up and talk. I never liked player meetings or anything like that, because then guys go out and practice hard for one or two days and then slide back to normal.
If you want to be successful, you have to change your lifestyle. If your lifestyle isn't changing, then you aren't going to be successful.