Head Coach, University of Missouri-Rolla
Kirby Cannon was named the Football Impendent Alliance 2005 Coach of the Year after leading the Miners to a 7-4 mark in his seventh season as the head football coach at UMR.
Cannon came to UMR with the task of rebuilding a Miner program that went through a difficult stretch during the 1990s. The Miners went 3-8 last season, which included a victory over No. 23-ranked Central Missouri State, while facing a schedule that included three teams that made the NCAA Division II playoffs. The Miners showed annual improvement in their play during Cannon's tenure while playing in the powerful Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association through the 2004 season.
Cannon, who had been an assistant coach at Western Illinois University prior to his selection as the Miners' head coach in December 1998, played against the Miners while at Southwest Missouri State University (now Missouri State University) and coached against UMR as an assistant at Truman State University.
A native of Alexandria, Mo., Cannon faced the Miners as a quarterback at MSU, where he received his bachelor's degree in physical education in 1981. He began his coaching career that year as well as the defensive coordinator at Ozark High School in southwest Missouri and helped lead that team to its first playoff appearance in school history.
After that two-year stint, Cannon went into the collegiate ranks as a graduate assistant coach at Iowa State University with his primary duties being his work with the tight ends and special teams. Cannon, who also completed work on his master's degree at ISU in 1985, spent one of those two years as the head coach of the junior varsity program and one year as acting recruiting coordinator.
His next position was as the defensive coordinator at North Central College in Naperville, Ill., where he helped a struggling program improve to a 19-18-1 mark over the next four years -- the school's best four-year record in 30 seasons. That helped him get the position of defensive backs coach at Northeast Missouri State University (now Truman State) in 1989. He was elevated in 1993 to defensive coordinator.
While at Truman, Cannon also served as recruiting coordinator and helped bring in players that led the Bulldogs to a record of 42-22 over a six-year span and to three appearances in the NCAA Division II playoffs. Truman State finished second to Division II power Pittsburg State in the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association in each of the playoff years.
When Bulldog head coach Eric Holm left Truman State after the 1994 season, Cannon followed him to Northern Michigan University to serve in the same roles for the next two years. Northern Michigan had winning seasons during both of those years and had a two-year record of 14-6.
Prior to his arrival at UMR, Cannon was an assistant coach at Western Illinois University, primarily coaching the defensive backs. Over that span, WIU was ranked second in NCAA Division I-AA in 1997 and reached the national semifinals in 1998, falling in that round to eventual runner-up Georgia Southern.
While at MSU, Cannon played quarterback for the Bears' football team and pitched for the baseball team. He held the school record for career pitching wins (25) until it was broken in 2003 by Philadelphia Phillies draft choice Brad Ziegler. He received his bachelor's degree in physical education from the university in 1981.
At UMR, Cannon will work on the defensive side of the ball for the fourth straight season after working with the offensive backs during his first three seasons at the helm of the Miner program.
Cannon and his wife, Lisa, have one son (Josh).
Articles by Kirby Cannon:
Principles of an Attacking Defensive Line
Rebuilding Programs: Four Phase Approach
Biography and photograph courtesy of University of Missouri-Rolla.