Much Beloved Kentucky Coach Dies
Some very tough news came this morning to the Kentucky football program as offensive line coach John Schalarman passes away at 45. He had been battling cancer for two years and was still coaching the Cats up until a few weeks ago. Let’s take a look back at the life of Coach Schlarman.
— Kentucky Football (@UKFootball) November 12, 2020
A Home Grown Player
Schlarman came to Kentucky in 1993 as an all-state offensive lineman out of Highlands High School in Fort Thomas, Kentucky. He played from 1994-1997 first under Bill Curry and his final year under Hal Mumme.. The offensive guard started all four years while in Lexington and was named All-SEC following his senior season. After graduation, Schlarman went into coaching working as a defensive line coach at Bourbon County High School in Paris, Kentucky for two years.
He returned to Lexington in 2000 as a graduate assistant working with the offensive line. However, in 2002 he took on the responsibility of coaching the tight ends for a Kentucky team which went 7-5. Unfortunately, the Wildcats were on probation and ineligible for a bowl game. He got his first head coaching job at Campbell County in northern Kentucky 2003. After two years there he took a job at Newport where he went 19-6 in two years. In addition, he was named district coach of the year in 2005.
From 2007-2012 Schalarman coached the offensive line at Troy helping the Trojans win or share four Sun Belt titles. During his time there they had one of the nation’s most productive offenses. Furthermore, he coached eight first-team All-Sun Belt selections.
The Big Blue Wall
In 2013 Schlarman became an original member of Mark Stoops’ staff and Kentucky. Over time he helped build “The Big Blue Wall” which has become synonymous with the Wildcat offensive line. During the last four seasons, Kentucky broke numerous school records including single-season records for most rushing yards, rushing touchdowns, and yards per attempt. In 2016 and 2019 the Wildcat offensive line were semi-finalists for the Joe Moore Award given to the nation’s best offensive line. How they didn’t win it last season is still a mystery to most of the Big Blue Nation.
Behind the “Big Blue Wall” Kentucky’s had a 1,000-yard rusher in each of the last four seasons. Stanley “Boom” Williams, Benny Snell, and Lynn Bowden all went over the mark. Snell did it three straight years and left school as the all-time leader in rushing and touchdowns.
During the summer of 2018, Schlarman was diagnosed with cholangiocarcinoma, one of the rarest and hardest to treat forms of cancer. It forms in the bile ducts that carry digestive fluids and connects the liver to the gall bladder and small intestine. Even while he was receiving treatments he continued to coach and missed very few practices. As a result, he was an inspiration to his players and fellow coaches.
About a month ago his health took a turn for the worse and coached his final game against Tennessee. The Cats won the game 34-7 getting their first win in Knoxville since 1984. Following the game Coach Stoops presented Schlarman with the game ball.
— Kentucky Football (@UKFootball) October 17, 2020
Again Kentucky offensive line coach John Schlarman passes away at age 45 from cancer. He leaves behind a wife LeeAnne and four children. He will be remembered for his skill as a coach and his fighting spirit. The Cats head into their game on Saturday against Vanderbilt with heavy hearts but will remain #SchlarmanStrong.