With 193 victories over his 40 years with the Carnegie Mellon Tartans, head football coach Rich Lackner has more than demonstrated his ability to create and maintain winning teams. His success earned him the title of 5th most winning coach in Division III football. Essential Pittsburgh’s Paul Guggenheimer caught up with the coach to talk about his long-standing career.
“The level of intensity that I display during a football game is incredible, and I love to win,” Lackner said.
Despite his love of victories, the coach said he takes just as much pride in the academics of his student athletes. CMU is ranked 8th nationally for its 44 Academic All-American Award recipients, an award given out to student athletes that keep high grades.
“I think the Academic All-American award is the best and most significant award a young man can receive simply because he has proven himself on the football field and in the class room,” Lackner said. “It truly is a great honor.”
While CMU athletes may do well academically, Lackner says it’s not always easy. His students face challenges managing their time between football and class work. The coach said his athletes often turn to him for advice.
“I have some credibility with the boys simply because I can talk the talk and walk the walk,” Lackner said. “I went to school here, so I understand those academic challenges, the pressures, the time commitment and what it takes to be a successful student athlete here at Carnegie Mellon.”
Although he has never managed to see a player go on to become a professional football player, Lackner said he is just as proud seeing his athletes become engineers, doctors, lawyers and great future fathers.
Despite his successful record and long career history, Lackner says he never quite gets the same attention as Division I coaches. However, this is just fine by him.
“I’m not one who seeks attention and looks for attention,” Lackner said. “When the time comes and I’m ready to retire, hopefully I’m remembered as a coach who did right by all the players and was fair.”
Lackner does not know when he will retire, saying he will do it when it feels right. That may take a long time though, as Lackner says coacing the game keeps him feeling young and excited.
“I’ve often said ‘I’m 59 years old, but at 4:30 in the afternoon, I turn into a 20 year old again.”
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