KCAC Football Media Day will never be the same.
I have attended nearly all of the events since their inception in the early 1980s and nobody has been more enjoyable of a speaker than Friends’ Monty Lewis.
I can remember one year when about five coaches had spoken before Lewis, all basically giving their talking points in an unenthusiastic monotone, downplaying their teams to the point of “woe is me, we’re not going to win a game.”
So when Monty took to the podium, he was all fire and brimstone.
“Why so somber? It’s time to bust this joint up,” the cheery Lewis said. “Let’s have some excitement here.”
And Lewis went on to say he expected his team to win the championship, because at the time that’s what the Falcons did. He didn’t want to give his team the mindset that he didn’t believe in them. He told it like it was.
That occurred several years ago and Lewis has always been the coach I want to hear from most. He’s honest, passionate and nobody was a bigger booster of the KCAC and its place on the national scene.
But Wednesday, word came out of Wichita that after 14 years — nearly all of them winning ones — Friends University decided that it was time for a change. According to a report from The Wichita Eagle, Lewis’ dismissal had nothing to do with his won-loss record. It wanted to go in a “new direction.”
In a conference where coaching turnover occurs on a regular basis, when you get a good one you shouldn’t let him go. I’m sure there’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes that I don’t know about, but the public persona of Lewis was that he was a players coach as he always had good-sized rosters and you didn’t see a mass exodus of players after one year. He had a lot of four-year players and recruited the Wichita area heavily.
Lewis’ teams were known for their physicality. You can ask any coach in the KCAC a trademark of a Monty Lewis-coached team and they’ll tell you the Falcons generally leave a team bruised once the game is over. He generally had among the biggest offensive and defensive lines in the KCAC and his teams played smash-mouthed football.
Maybe Lewis became too “old school” for Friends. When you prepared for the Falcons you knew what you were going to get. They were going to pound the rock straight ahead behind their big offensive line and defensively they were going to pound you.
I don’t get to know too many KCAC coaches personally because I only see them at Media Day and when they play McPherson College. I might see some at basketball games, but more often than not they’re recruiting at that time.
But Lewis would always come up to me at Media Day and ask how I’d been and how things were in McPherson. Also, I would have a nice conversation with him before and after the Bulldogs’ games with the Falcons and he would shoot it to me straight if his team didn’t play well.
The KCAC lost one of its great ambassadors Wednesday. Here’s to wishing him the best in whatever the future holds for him.