Alliance, Ohio -- President Bush and his beleaguered minions could learn a lot from Larry Kehres, who is also coming off a bad week, although not nearly as bad as Bush and Cheney, not to mention Scooter Libby and Karl Rove.
Kehres is one of the most successful football coaches in the country. His Mount Union College Purple Raiders had won 110 straight regular season victories, dating back to 1994, before losing to Ohio Northern last Saturday by a 21-14 score. During 20 years as head coach, Kehres has averaged only one loss per year, just 12 of them in regular season play in the Ohio Athletic Conference, while winning a half-dozen NCAA Division III championships.
What's the secret to his success, I asked him Friday night as he prepared his team for what he hopes will be the start of another long winning streak when Mount Union hosts Baldwin Wallace College at Parents Day on Saturday.
"I always try to get the assistant coaches who work with me to understand that if there's no learning by the kids, there's no teaching," said the 56-year-old Kehres, whose 29-year-old son Vince is one of the assistant coaches. "I've tried hard to get the coaches to accept that as the only measure of performance, and there are just no excuses accepted. If there's no learning, there's no teaching."
And Kehres isn't making any excuses for his team's dramatic loss last week. Kehres, who describes himself as "not very emotional" and not prone to giving fiery halftime speeches, says he told his chastened players after their rare loss that "a lot of times we've earned a victory, but this time we earned a loss and Northern Ohio earned a victory. If you've practiced well and prepared well and you still lose, then you have to give credit to your opponent. You have to respect the game of football and the other team."
Maybe there's a lesson here for the Bush White House, which is clearly facing its worst crisis. The lesson: No excuses accepted for lying to grand juries or the American people about why we went to war in Iraq, and perhaps give grudging credit to special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald for being better prepared than the White House spinmeisters.