Always close to the game

Forty-three consecutive years of coaching at either the college or high school level qualify Mike McClure as a football lifer.

What a life it’s been.

The coaching road well-traveled began and, in all likelihood, will conclude at Franklin Community High School for McClure, 64, who now works for first-year head coach Chris Coll — a former Franklin College receiver who was one of then-Grizzlies head coach McClure’s captains in 1989.

“Working with Chris has been a lot of fun,” said McClure, the Grizzly Cubs’ quarterback coach. “It sort of ties everything in my career together.”

McClure maintains a youthful enthusiasm for helping prepare a team for that week’s game. Starting in 1975, he’s been a head coach at four different Indiana high schools and one college, and an assistant for two high school and two college programs.

Football is more than wins and losses to McClure. It’s making memories with people who in many cases become lifelong friends.

“Simply put, it’s a lot of fun,” he said. “You don’t do it for all these years if you’re not having fun. I love to be around coaches. The relationships I’ve had throughout those various experiences have been great.

“The same thing with the kids. The Xs and Os part of it is fun, but the relationships you can build is kind of neat. It’s kind of hard to get away from.”

Coll is the fourth Franklin coach McClure has worked for since graduating from Franklin College in 1975.

The man who hired him, former Grizzly Cubs coach Larry Trueblood, used the I-formation offense much like his successor, Indiana Football Hall of Fame inductee Duffy Hagist. McClure more recently worked for Adam Reese (flexbone triple option) before helping the program’s quarterbacks transition to Coll’s spread offense.

Separating tenures as a Franklin assistant coach were five head coaching jobs — Morristown (1981), Franklin College (1989-97), South Bend Adams (1998-2001), Elkhart Central (2002-04) and, yes, Franklin (2005-08).

Coll played his first three seasons of college football for the legendary Red Faught at Franklin College. McClure was Faught’s defensive coordinator for two seasons before being elevated to head coach in 1989.

“The first thing that comes to mind is Mike is a great person, a caring person,” Coll said. “Beyond that, he just has so much coaching experience. Our philosophies in coaching the passing game have the same roots.”

“I know the things I believe in, and Mike is the same way. It’s given me a lot of freedom as a head coach that I wouldn’t have had.”

McClure, who is also the assistant athletic director at FCHS, leaves school at 3 p.m. to walk to the stadium for practice.

He does so enthusiastically. How, McClure wonders to himself, can he work with Coll and the other Franklin assistants to make the program a little bit better than it was yesterday?

McClure, who turns 65 in January, embraces the challenge of helping grow a football program that hasn’t experienced a winning season since 1996.

The man who has taught everything from biology to physical education to health to weight-training classes at Franklin isn’t talking retirement, either, as a coach or administrator.

“At times you think, ‘This is quite hectic,’ but I think I would just miss it,” McClure said. “I think about (retirement), but it’s not time yet.”

The McClure file

Name: Mike McClure

Age: 64

Born: Crown Point

Family: Wife Teresa; daughters Heather, 41, and Brooke, 37; seven grandchildren

High school: Griffith (1971)

College: Franklin College (1975)

Major: Physical education and health

At a glance

WHERE HE’S WORKED

The coaching résumé of Franklin assistant Mike McClure:

1975-80;Assistant at Franklin

1981;Head coach at Morristown

1982-86;Offensive coordinator at Hanover College

1987-88;Defensive coordinator at Franklin College

1989-97;Head coach at Franklin College

1998-2001;Head coach at South Bend Adams

2002-04;Head coach at Elkhart Central

2005-08;Head coach at Franklin

2009-13;Assistant at Whiteland

2014-17;Assistant at Franklin

Author photo
Mike Beas is a sports writer for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at mbeas@dailyjournal.net.