In 1964, the administration at Eastern Kentucky University took a chance by hiring a young football coach to lead their program. EKU hired 33-year-old Roy Kidd, a former quarterback for the Colonels, and 2003 College Football Hall of Famer, to be the head coach. And it was one of the best decisions the university ever made.
“They offered me the job, and I was very excited,” Kidd says. “My wife asked me what they were paying me, and I said I didn’t know.”
Kidd’s first two seasons at the school were average, but in year three, he started to build the foundation for what would become a powerhouse.
“I put a little more discipline in the program,” he says of one of the changes he made. “The players were there to get an education, so I made sure they did that. We were able to get a lot of good players, and that helped.”
Kidd’s team starting competing for the Ohio Valley Conference championship nearly every season, but had yet to become a regular competitor on the national level. That changed in 1978, when EKU went from Division II to Division I-AA.
“When we went to I-AA, we jumped from 38 or 40 scholarships to 70, so we were able to recruit more kids and more full scholarship kids, and that’s when our program took off,” he says.
And take off it did. EKU appeared in four straight NCAA Division I-AA Championship Games from 1979-82 under Kidd. The Colonels won national championships in 1979 and 1982. Kidd felt a sense of pride in the accomplishment, but he had also expected success in the program.
“When I took the job, I told my wife that we were going to win here,” Kidd says. “I wanted alumni, administrators, athletic directors to be proud. We had good coaches and good players and that made all the difference.”
Kidd would remain as EKU’s head coach for 39 seasons. In his next-to-last season in 2001, Kidd reached a milestone that only 12 coaches in the history of college football have reached, winning 300 games. Kidd joined a list that included legends of the game like Bear Bryant, Pop Warner, and Amos Alonzo Stagg.
“It meant a lot for the program and the kids, it wasn’t just me,” he says of his milestone accomplishment. “It was for the university and the people around it. I remember some of the tough losses as much as the wins.”
These days, Kidd still lives in the Richmond, Ky., community where EKU is located. And he gets to see a reminder of his coaching legacy each time he drives past Roy Kidd Stadium, the home of the Colonels’ football program.
“That’s a heck of an honor,” he says of the stadium being named in his honor. “Every time I go by there and see my name, it makes me feel very good. To think that the university and Board of Regents thought enough of me to name a stadium after me while I was still coaching is something.”
Kidd, now 83 years old, still enjoys going to EKU practices and games. “I go to all the home games,” he says. “I still love the university and I’m here if the coaches ever need anything.”
Kidd hopes that he taught his players not just about football, but about life. “Football is a lot like life,” he says. “You’re going to have your ups and downs. You’re going to get knocked down, but you have to get back up.”