NEW YORK: Longtime Mount Union coach Larry Kehres joined a College Football Hall of Fame class that included iconic player Peyton Manning and coach Steve Spurrier at the National Football Foundation’s awards banquet on Tuesday night in Manhattan.

After the class picture of the latest Hall of Fame inductees was taken, Manning made his way over to Spurrier for another handshake and some chit-chat before heading off in opposite directions to do media interviews.

The former Tennessee quarterback and former Florida coach had a one-sided rivalry that helped define an era of Southeastern Conference football. Manning set records in Knoxville, Tenn., and won just about every award short of the Heisman Trophy, but his teams never beat Spurrier’s mighty Gators.

Famous for his zingers, Spurrier said on the rare occasion he runs into Manning these days, there is no trash talk. There’s just mutual admiration and the chance to talk ball with one of the best quarterbacks the coach has ever seen. The secret to beating Manning was really no secret at all, Spurrier said.

“We just got ready to play the best we could,” Spurrier said. “Offense. Defense. Just seemed to work out. They didn’t have their best game a lot and it seemed like we always played well.”

More inductees

The rest of the players in Hall of Fame class included Marshall Faulk of San Diego State; 2004 Heisman Trophy winner Matt Leinart of Southern California; Bob Crable of Notre Dame; Kirk Gibson, the National League MVP in 1988 and former Michigan State receiver; Bob McKay of Texas; Dat Nguyen of Texas A&M; Mike Ruth of Boston College; Brian Urlacher of New Mexico; and Adrian Peterson of Georgia Southern.

Strong foundation

Kehres, who led Division III Mount Union to 11 national titles and a .930 winning percentage in 27 seasons, was also joined by Danny Ford, who coached Clemson to its first national championship at the age of 33.

“I think I had a good foundation in learning from a good coach [Ken Wable] who is in the audience today,” Kehres said in an interview with Holly Rowe. “And he taught us to plan and prepare thoroughly. And I served as an assistant for him for 11 years. And I think that foundation that makes you a good teacher in the classroom also makes you a good coach.

“You have to be prepared. You have to measure each day by the performance of players. In other words, have they learned what you were attempting to teach them? And I was taught that, and I have always benefitted from it. And I think my Union players benefited from the foundation I received from him.”

Player and coach

Spurrier became the fourth person to be inducted into the hall as both a player and a coach. Spurrier started his head coaching career at Duke from 1987-89 and credited his time there with allowing him to understand what it took to have a winning team.

He went on to coach at Florida, where he also won the Heisman in 1966, and went 122-27-1 with the Gators, including a national title in 1996.

After a brief stint with the Washington Redskins, he returned to college with South Carolina and became its winningest coach, too.

Manning played four years at Tennessee, passing up a chance to leave early and be a high draft pick. He finished with 11,201 yards passing and 89 touchdown passes and was second in the Heisman Trophy voting in 1997.

He follows in father Archie Manning’s footsteps to the Hall of Fame.

They are first father-son duo to be inducted into the College Football hall. Archie Manning was a star at Mississippi before going on to a long and successful NFL career, mostly with the New Orleans Saints.