Written by Hillsdale Daily News Correspondent James Gensterblum
Hillsdale College’s 37-35 defeat of Michigan Tech at Muddy “Waters” Stadium on Saturday marked a significant milestone in the career of head coach Keith Otterbein.
The victory was Otterbein’s 100th win as a head coach, making him just the second active head coach in the GLIAC to win that many games (the other is Bernie Anderson at Northern Michigan, who achieved the mark in 2007).
“It means something to me, certainly,” Otterbein said after the game. “If you’ve had enough success as a coach to hang around long enough to get 100 wins, then it means that you’re doing something right. And to get my 100th against a quality team like Michigan Tech and in a game that was a pretty big one for our team this season makes it even more meaningful.”
Otterbein is now 100-78-3 at the D-II level, including a 40-39 at Hillsdale College.
Otterbein, who is entering his eighth year as the Chargers’ head coach after a nine-year head coaching stint at Ferris State, also found special meaning in the coach he defeated to achieve his 100th win, Tech coach Tom Kearly.
“Tom and I were GAs (graduate assistants) at Central Michigan back in the day together, and several of our assistants and staffers both here at Hillsdale and there up in Houghton were also GAs at the same time,” Otterbein said. “We’re all still good friends, and we talk to each other on the phone all the time, so to have them all here was nice.”
Otterbein also said that having Kearly on the sideline was ironic.
“When Tom first got hired up at Tech, they were rebuilding and it was a struggle for him to get wins,” Otterbein said. “His first win was against my team, actually, and after it happened I sent him the game ball and signed it so he would have something to remember his first victory. And now, several years later, I beat him for my 100th win, and I get my game ball to display in my office, so it’s a little bit of sweet revenge.”
Otterbein’s players were definitely proud to be a part of the moment.
“When I was first recruited here, Hillsdale was struggling to get three, four wins,” senior receiver A.J. Kegg said. “Coach sold me on the program, and said I would have a chance to be part of something special if I was willing to work hard enough. So to be able to get to this point is a big deal for all of us I think.”
“It’s vindication for the players that chose to come here and for Hillsdale College to have something like this happen, but more than that it’s vindication for Coach,” said senior offensive lineman Jared Veldheer. “It’s proof of his coaching ability, his leadership, and his character that he was able to get to this point and we’re all glad we were a part of it.”