BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — From 1991 to 2014, Larry Blakeney led the Troy Trojans football program, winning more games than any other coach in Sun Belt Conference history.
Blakeney, who grew up in Gordo and has been inducted into both the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame and the Troy Sports Hall of Fame, was recently announced as a candidate for the 2023 College Football Hall of Fame, his second time to be on the ballot.
Blakeney said that while it means a ton to him to be nominated for Hall consideration, it would mean even more to be inducted, not just for him, but for all those who helped him along the way.
“It would be a great honor for me, my family, my staffs, former players and all the guys I coached with and against. I think it’s sort of a family award. All the people that have been involved in your life all the way back to high school,” he said.
Before he began his coaching career, Blakeney was the first sophomore quarterback to start for Ralph “Shug” Jordan at Auburn University.
“You know, I had a lot of fun. I started as a sophomore, got beat out six or seven games in and then played a little bit and then backed up as a junior. I think I got hurt in my true senior year and during that time we had Pat Sullivan coming along as a freshman,” Blakeney said. “So I just asked Coach Jordan to move me over to defense, let me try safety or whatever. And he let me in. And I caught punts and actually punted one time in the game. I had a good, broad experience,” he added.
Blakeney said he had the opportunity to play for some great coaches, some Hall of Famers themselves.
“My high school coach, Tommy White, he played at Alabama and he was he was a great one. Baseball-wise, I would say Guy Morton, he’s a guy I played for. He was very important in my baseball life,” Blakeney said. “Of course coach Jordan and that staff I mentioned at Auburn.”
Blakeney was a part of several key moments in Troy’s history, including the team’s first year in the Sun Belt when they beat No. 17 Missouri in 2004. He also earned his first bowl game win in 2006, beating the Rice Owls 41-17 in the New Orleans Bowl.
“Just being able to take that program from Division 2 to Division 1-AA to Division 1, I thought they were crazy, but we found a way to compete and do some good things and make a name for the program…we had a good time at Troy, made a lot of friends and it was just home you know,” he said.
Blakeney left his mark at Troy, including the football field being named after him.
“That’s a pretty big honor,” he said. “I told the chancellor ‘Don’t be trying to take that off the field,’ but I’m really honored with that.”
These days, Blakeney tries to spend as much time with his friends and family as he can.
“We got six grandkids and we try to see them all within a week, 10 days time… we try to be good examples, good parents and grandparents you know. A lot of friends you know, I’ve been blessed with friends and I really enjoy that,” he said.
Voters for the College Football Hall of Fame will have until June 30 to vote. The Hall’s newest class of inductees will be announced early next year.