Former football coach Drake, 48, dies

Beth Rankin

Credit: Beth Rankin

Former Kent State Assistant Head Football Coach Mike Drake died Friday. Drake, 48, succumbed to lymphoma cancer he had been battling since 2003.

Drake began his career at Kent State as an assistant coach and offensive coordinator. During his tenure Drake’s offense was one of the top rushing units in the nation. He was an instrumental part of Kent State’s 2001, season, the football team’s first winning season in 14 years.

Beyond his contributions on the field, Drake made an impact on the players’ lives, Athletics Director Laing Kennedy said.

“Mike was a very effective football coach and a very creative offensive teacher,” he said. “But he was more than a good football coach — he was a wonderful person.”

Following the 2003 season, Drake underwent stem cell transplants, forcing him to give up coaching. Drake continued working with the football team as an academic counselor and a sideline reporter for the Kent State Radio Network.

“Many students wouldn’t have reached the heights they did without Mike,” Kennedy said.

Drake was well known for the “zingers” he used to motivate students.

“There’s a message that is on the board outside his office that was so typical of Mike,” Kennedy said. “The message says, ‘Go to class, do the assignments or I’ll be calling you.’”

Drake was able to spend some final moments with the football team before he died. The football team arrived on campus for training camp Aug. 9.

“The players would spend nights in the hospital with Mike,” Kennedy said. “We were grieving with Mike for some time before he died.”

Drake is survived by his wife Patty, his daughters Abby and Hannah and his son Michael.

Contact on-campus reporter Amanda Garrett at [email protected].