Alma coach announces retirement

More news about: Alma
Jim Cole
Jim Cole

Jim Cole has announced his retirement as head coach of the Alma football team. Cole, who just finished his 21st year at the helm of the program, will remain with the college in a continuing teaching and administrative role.

The Scots were 2-8 this past season, the team's fewest wins since a 2-7 season in 1993.

“I entered Alma College as a freshman in 1970 and have been blessed with my association with this place,” said Cole. “I will always treasure my relationships with my players and colleagues. I will continue to celebrate the accomplishments and nurture the dreams and goals of the Alma student-athletes and work to further the mission of Alma College in new and different ways.”

Cole, named Alma’s head football coach in 1991, achieved an overall record of 114-90. He earned his 100th coaching win on Sept. 6, 2008, when Alma defeated Bluffton 49-0 at Bahlke Field. His 21 years as head coach is the third-longest tenure of any football coach in MIAA history. His 30 years on the Alma sidelines as an assistant and head coach is the longest stint at the same school of any active collegiate coach in Michigan.

“Jim Cole has had an outstanding run as head coach of our football program,” said Alma president Jeff Abernathy. “I am grateful for his service to the college and community. Coach Cole has taught generations of young men the value of teamwork and leadership, and his legacy will live long at Alma College and in all of the alumni he has helped to learn and grow here at the college.”

In 2004, Cole led the Scots to the MIAA title and a berth in the NCAA Division III national playoffs, the second time in three years the Maroon and Cream advanced to the NCAA postseason.

Cole also led the Scots to MIAA titles and berths in the NCAA Division III national playoffs in 2002 and 1999. The 1999 squad was the first Scots team in school history to advance to the NCAA Division III playoff.

Under Cole’s tutelage, 63 Alma football players earned first-team All-MIAA honors. In addition, Alma had a Gagliardi Trophy winner in Josh Brehm in 2006, honoring the top all-around student-athlete in Division III football. Five earned All-America honors.

Three Scots won MIAA Most Valuable Player awards during Cole’s years as head coach. In addition, Alma student-athletes won the Pete Schmidt Memorial Scholar-Athlete Award in two out of the 10 years the award has been given out. Several other players were honored as Academic All-Americans and NCAA Post-Graduate Scholarship winners.

A former All-MIAA and All-District quarterback for the Scots, Cole drew on the championship experiences of playing for the 1970, ’71 and ’72 MIAA co-champions and coaching the 1988 co-champ’s defense. He was a graduate assistant for Central Michigan’s 1974 national championship team and a volunteer coach during the Chippewas’ 1990 Mid-America Conference title run. His women’s track teams at Alma won or shared seven consecutive MIAA titles from 1985-91.

A national search for a successor will begin immediately.