John Kadlec...affectionately known as Mr. Mizzou.
Oct. 5, 2005
On a bright, sunny day in early September, John Kadlec sits in his office fully reclined in his black leather chair and stares out his window. It's only fitting that "Mr. Mizzou," as his peers affectionately call him, relaxes at Mizzou Arena.
He wears an official University of Missouri collared polo shirt with the tiger logo squarely covering his heart, fitting for a man who has spent the majority of the last 58 years of his life sporting the Missouri black and gold.
Kadlec began his life as a tiger in 1947, when Head Coach Don Faurot recruited him to play offensive and defensive line. Little did Faurot know that Kadlec's career would earn him preseason All-American honors and All-Conference honors following the 1949 season.
"The university gave me an opportunity when I was just a kid out of high school and they were the school that came after me and wanted me to play football at Missouri," Kadlec said. "So, I owe a lot to the University of Missouri and Don Faurot and the way they handled me all these years."
While most players leave their teams upon graduation to begin a life of their own, Kadlec would remain on the team for far longer than most--albeit in a coaching role. He began his coaching tenure in the fall of 1951 as a graduate assistant under Faurot while he earned his master's degree. He coached the freshman squad until 1954 when he moved up to varsity.
"When I graduated, I had a chance to go on the staff here at Missouri, so I feel very, very deeply because they gave me the opportunity to succeed and to have the enjoyment out of my occupation that I've had," Kadlec said.
"I don't think that I would have had that opportunity to be where I am today if not for the university. I wouldn't have a lot of the pleasures of the university and the great friends I have."
'54 was a banner year in Kadlec's life. Not only did he move up to coach the varsity team, he also married Dolly and settled down to begin his life in Columbia. Dolly and John now have four grown children (Judy, Peggy, Johnny and Joan). They also have four grandchildren (Joe, David, Melanie and Katherine).
"If not for the university giving me a chance and keeping me in their family, I probably wouldn't even have the great family I do," Kadlec said.
After spending a short stint at Kansas State from 1960-1966, Kadlec returned to his alma mater at the request of new Head Coach Dan Devine to assume the duties of offensive line coach. During this time, Kadlec experienced the most success the Missouri football program has ever known. In 1968, the Tigers beat Alabama in the Gator Bowl and a year later played in the Orange Bowl against Penn State.
"I've got 20 or 30 unbelievable stories I could tell you about the big games we played back then," Kadlec said.
One of his favorites happened while he was coaching under Al Onofrio when the Tigers took on No. 2 Ohio State in Columbus.
"Woody Hayes was the coach and 85,000 people were there and we were down 21-7 at half and they were just running all over us," Kadlec recalled. "Coach Onofrio made an adjustment at halftime to put all 11 men within five yards of the ball because Woody Hayes isn't going to throw the football. He was a tough old coach and he loved to run and wouldn't throw it. He says he's not going to throw the ball with a 21-7 lead."
So, all the defensive backs and safeties are within five yards of the ball, and Kadlec recalls that all they had to do was throw the ball once for an easy touchdown. Fast forward to the middle of the fourth quarter and it's 21-14, yet Hayes is still pounding away.
"With five minutes to go, we got the ball at our 20," Kadlec said. "Time's clicking and we get to their 1-yard line with four or five seconds to go and we score. I walk up to coach Onofrio and said `let's get a tie and get the hell out of here.' But he says we didn't come this far to tie, we're going to go for two and win the game. `I said, Oh, Jesus.'"
So, Missouri lines up and a penalty was called as the OSU linebacker tackled the tight end. Next play, Pete Willis runs it in and Missouri wins the game with no time on the clock, 22-21.
"It's customary for the coaches to meet at midfield and shake hands and I'm walking out there with Coach Onofrio and Woody Hayes just runs past him and goes to the officials and goes after them," Kadlec said. "That night we're a party at Coach's house and his son answers the phone and it's Woody Hayes. Of course, coach didn't believe Johnny but he got on the phone and he said `Al, you beat me fair and square, we did hold that guy and I apologize for not shaking your hand after the game but I want you to know congratulations.' That's pretty good, but Woody had a hot temper."
Kadlec's highly successful coaching career at Missouri came to an end after the 1977 season and he spent the next eight years as the Kansas State Director of Development before returning to Missouri in 1986 as Director of the Tiger Scholarship Fund.
"I started out coaching with Coach Faurot and he would have to rank as my top guy because he gave me all kinds of opportunities," Kadlec said. "I was very fortunate, I don't think any assistant coaches have coached for three college Hall of Fame guys like I have. Coach Faurot, Dan Devine and Al Onofrio. They were all great coaches and wonderful men and wonderful people to work with."
Kadlec continued, "Out of those four, I can't really say one stands out. But Don Faurot really gave me the opportunity and brought me up as a pup. He kind of raised me. My experiences here, with these coaches has been wonderful."
Since 1995, Kadlec has been the Tiger Radio Network's color analyst, giving him the rare perspective of watching Missouri football as a player, coach and journalist.
"I always get a little butterflies when I go on the radio," Kadlec said. "It's kind of like playing football. You always get butterflies before a game and even when you're coaching. If you don't, there's something wrong with you because you always want to do a good job and you have anxiety."
On Saturday, Kadlec will be joined by many of his former players and friends as he gets honored for his time and contributions to the University of Missouri. Already part of the Missouri athletics Hall of Fame, this is a special honor for Kadlec. Especially since former players, many of whom he has kept in touch with throughout the years will be there to share the special moment with him.
"I am very humbled by it and it's really a nice thing that they're doing this for me and I really appreciate that," Kadlec said. "But, you see, I don't feel like I've done anything for the University. I've done what I was being paid for. You're supposed to work hard and you're supposed to be loyal to the University and you're supposed to be nice to people and the alumni and fans because they're the one paying the bill. But I'll take it, let's put it that way. It's a wonderful thing and my family is very moved by it and I'm very appreciative for what they're doing for me."
As a matter of fact, Kadlec doesn't even think he should be honored necessarily. He thinks of it in a different light.
"I've been very lucky that the University came my way and I think and I hope that I've taken advantage of the opportunity that they gave me," Kadlec said. "I'd have to say that I owe them, they don't owe me a thing. They gave me an education and they gave me the friends I have and it's been a privilege and I'm very fortunate that I came here. It's been a big privilege for me to be out in front with the University of Missouri. I'm very, very proud of this school."
That's good to hear from "Mr. Mizzou."
-Written by Missouri Media Relations Student Assistant Jeremy Lynn
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