Toledo Blade: Hillsdale coach draws vision from Dungy

Article published March 08, 2010
Toledo Blade, Dave Hackenberg


Keith Otterbein has been head football coach at Hillsdale (Mich.) College for eight seasons. And for just as long, his wife and three kids have climbed aboard the team bus and traveled to road games.

“I’ve wanted to take the dogs along too, but I had to draw the line somewhere,” he said, laughing.

Otterbein has been drawing plenty of lines, serious ones, for some time. And a lot of his inspiration came from Tony Dungy, the former NFL head coach who will appear tomorrow at Central Catholic High School.

Otterbein believes that “life isn’t a practice round; you get one chance to do it right.”

So, once a rising young coach with the dreams of many coaches, Otterbein decided that quality of life was more important than a million-dollar paycheck. He decided that doing his job well under a tiny spotlight at Hillsdale – like last season’s 10-3 record and Division II playoff berth – was just as important as doing it well under the giant arc lights at, say, LSU. He decided that being a man of faith was more worthwhile if worn on his sleeve to possibly affect others.

And if he ever wavered, Dungy was there to provide what Otterbein calls clarity.

The Hillsdale coach has the same access as the rest of us to Dungy’s written words, first through Quiet Strength, which was written while Dungy led the Indianapolis Colts to their Super Bowl win in February, 2007. More recently, Dungy has authored Uncommon, which he’ll discuss tomorrow at Central Catholic.

Otterbein, who plans to be there, has also enjoyed a pipeline to Dungy through Howard Mudd, a Hillsdale alumnus who served as offensive line coach with the Colts.

“I’ve watched the way coach Dungy has handled the ups and downs, being forced out in Tampa Bay, being the face of a tremendous organization in Indianapolis, how faith helped him deal with the death of his son,” Otterbein said.

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