In only the fourth year of the university’s football program, Lyall guided the Saints to a 6-4 record, including a 5-1 slate in MSFA Mideast play, as SHU Football claimed its first-ever conference championship, shared with co-champion Marian University.
During his time in charge of Siena Heights and before that at Adrian College, Lyall has been a regular traveler with Global Football, appreciating the value in taking his teams overseas to bond in preparation for the new season ahead. In May, the Saints traveled to Italy with Global Football and to conclude a successful cultural visit, beat the Italian National Team coached by former NFL coach John Mackovic 35-3 in Viterbo.
Lyall has been a member of the coaching staff for the NCAA Division III Team Stars & Stripes all-star squad at the Tazón de Estrellas and before that the Aztec Bowl in Mexico, organized annually by Global Football.
“I feel privileged to know Jim Lyall and to have shared so many amazing times and places together,” said Global Football President Patrick Steenberge. “He is a true Renaissance man! It seems he and I went to different schools together. It is long overdue for him to gain this type of recognition.”
Lyall traveled four times with Global Football when he was head coach at Adrian University, before staring the football program at Siena Heights, posting an 8-1 record in his first season and then guiding the Saints to a 9-11 record during their first two varsity campaigns. He has 40 years of collegiate coaching experience, including the 23 as a head coach.
“I am very excited that the coaches in our league, the MSFA east, would honor our program with such an award,” said Lyall. “My staff deserves all the credit for preparing our team week in and week out to play and win a Championship in the toughest NAIA league in the country.”
Lyall was the head coach of NCAA Division III Adrian from 1990-2009, compiling a record of 103-92-1, including a 55-25 stretch during his final eight seasons. In 1997, his Bulldogs won a Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association Championship. The Cleveland, Ohio, native was a defensive lineman for four seasons (1970-73) at the University of Michigan, where he played for legendary coach Bo Schembechler. During that time, the Wolverines won three Big Ten Conference titles and had a record of 31-1-1 – their only loss coming in a 13-12 Rose Bowl defeat to Stanford on New Year’s Day, 1972. As a senior, Lyall was awarded the Champion of the Year award by the Michigan coaching staff.
Underlining the Saints success in 2014, a total of seven Siena Heights football players were named to the All-Mid-States Football Association Mideast League First Team and Matt Kohn was recognized as MSFA Mideast Assistant Coach of the Year. All-MSFA Mideast First Team players include six seniors: tight end Donovan Campbell, offensive lineman Gauge Aebersold, return specialist Raphael Dunson, linebacker Trent Bragg and defensive linemen Kyle Connors and C.J. Marious; and redshirt-freshman defensive back Darius Price.