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Mizzou's Greatest, #51: John Kadlec, Mr. Mizzou

UPDATE FROM BILL: Mr. Kadlec passed away on October 29, 2014. We are bumping this post back to the front page to commemorate and celebrate the life of a man whose personality, character, and kindness helped to define Missouri Football, and whose mere presence tied past to present for decades.

The Savitar

Introduced into the Missouri Hall of Fame in 1996 and to the Wall of Excellence at Rock M in 2011, John Kadlec has contributed to Mizzou as a player, coach, broadcaster and athletic executive in his 50-plus years of association with the school.

Kadlec was present and either a player, coach, administrator or broadcaster at the following:

  • Mizzou upseting Doak Walker & SMU in 1948
  • Frank Broyles succeeding Don Faurot
  • Dan Devine succeeding Broyles
  • Orange Bowl 1970
  • Upset #2 Nebraska in 1973
  • Upset #5 Nebraska in 1974
  • Upset #2 Alabama in 1975
  • Upset #8 USC in 1976
  • Upset #2 Ohio State in 1976 (#76)
  • Flea Kicker
  • Brad Smith's debut ("We have a quarterback")
  • #1 in 2007
  • Greatest Homecoming Ever in 2010

He is an intergral part of Missouri's football history.

Hall of Fame Bio: A fixture in Mizzou athletic circles for more than 40 years, Kadlec, a native of St. Louis, was an all-conference linemen in 1950, and was the first to be pictured on the MU media guide that same year. He served as an assistant football coach at Mizzou under Don Faurot, Frank Broyles, Dan Devine, and Al Onofrio, and has been a Tiger administrator since 1986. He also served two terms of duty at Kansas State, as an assistant football coach under Doug Weaver, and as the Wildcats' chief fund-raiser. Kadlec currently serves Missouri as special assistant to the athletic director, and as color commentator on the Tiger Network.

Bob Broeg's Ol' Mizzou: A Story of Mizzou Football was written over 40 years ago, but Kadlec was a huge part of the book, giving the author stories, quotes and verification.

Kadlec, son of a Czech truck driver from St. Louis, went on to become a topflight guard at Ol' Mizzou after an unforgettable varsity debut as a green freshman at St. Louis U. He came out of the game, vomiting, suffering the granddaddy of upset stomachs and for good reason. There being no training table, he naively had polished off at home before the night game a meal of sauerkraut and spare ribs.

When Coach Dukes Duford left St. Louis U., so did Kadlec, recommended to Faurot by Duford. Faurot got him a summer job, but the pudgy kid was homesick for St. Louis even before he was past Wentzville on the then three-hour drive down narrow old Highway 40 in Columbia.

He was given tuition and fees and a 50-cent-an-hour job as a dummy chaser, hauling the heavy apparatus in and out of the field house for practice. He paid $15 a month for a room and $32 a month for a meal ticket. Now, eating with the current varsity at the athletic training table, he considers Missouri athletes the best fed anywhere and quotes professional scouts who visit the campus. The truth is, John not only is prejudiced but also indiscriminate. There are some who say that John would eat anything that would not eat him first.

As a sophomore he ran afoul immediately of Faurot by permitting himself to get into a 50-cent blackjack game on a trip. The coach had a nickel limit. Faurot walked in and--.

"I said to myself, 'Oh, my god.'" Kadlec remembered with proper histrionics. "I wasn't thinking of the coach. I was thinking of my pop. He'd wonder what I was doing playing for a half-buck in the first place."

Kadlec could not believe the time Faurot and the Tigers put in at practice, from 3:30 to 6:45 p.m. To make the Split-T dive play work at the goal line, Faurot would insist that his No. 1 unit score against a 15-man defense. And then, John recalled, Faurot would wind up doing sprints and chin-ups with the players.

"I was a little scared of him, but he was concerned about the players," said Kadlec, remembering the coach fussing to make certain Catholics like Kadlec had fish on Friday and inviting parents to eat with the players on the road.

He was a player for Faurot, an assistant for Faurot, Broyles, Devine and Onofrio, a fundrasier for Woody Widenhofer and Bob Stull and a color commentator for Larry Smith and Gary Pinkel . . . .

From a 2005 profile: "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."

You are the greatest, Coach Kadlec!

(H/Tip to Bill C and his Wall of Excellence Post from 2011)