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Ken Hatfield

Ken Hatfield
Sport(s) Football
Biographical details
Born (1943-06-06) June 6, 1943
Helena, Arkansas
Playing career
1961–1964 Arkansas
Position(s) Defensive back
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1968 Tennessee (assistant freshmen)
1969 Tennessee (freshmen)
1970 Tennessee (WR)
1971–1977 Florida (assistant)
1978 Air Force (OC)
1979–1983 Air Force
1984–1989 Arkansas
1990–1993 Clemson
1994–2005 Rice
Head coaching record
Overall 168–140–4
Bowls 4–6
College Football Data Warehouse
Accomplishments and honors
3 SWC (1988–1989, 1994)
1 ACC (1991)
AFCA Coach of the Year (1983)
Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year Award (1983)
Amos Alonzo Stagg Award (2015)

Ken Hatfield (born June 6, 1943) is a former American football player and coach. He served as the head football coach at the United States Air Force Academy (1979–1983), the University of Arkansas (1984–1989), Clemson University (1990–1993), and Rice University (1994–2005), compiling a career college football record of 168–140–4.


  • Playing career 1
  • Coaching career 2
    • Air Force Academy 2.1
    • Arkansas 2.2
    • Clemson 2.3
    • Rice 2.4
    • Football coaching philosophy 2.5
  • Notable players 3
  • Controversy regarding homosexual players 4
  • Head coaching record 5
  • See also 6
  • Notes 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9

Playing career

Hatfield is a graduate of the University of Arkansas, where he starred at defensive back for the 1964 team that won a share of the national championship. Among his teammates were such pro football luminaries as Jimmy Johnson and Jerry Jones. He is a member of the Sigma Chi fraternity.

Coaching career

Air Force Academy

Hatfield began his college head coaching career at the United States Air Force Academy from 1979 to 1983. He gradually rebuilt a program that had struggled through most of the 1970s and laid the foundation for its success in the 1980s and early 1990s under his offensive coordinator and successor, Fisher DeBerry. By his final year, the Falcons were ranked 13th in the country by the Coaches' Poll and 15th in the AP Poll—their first appearance in a final poll since 1970.


Hatfield then moved to his alma mater, Arkansas, where he compiled a 55–17–1 record from 1984 to 1989. His teams won two straight Southwest Conference titles in 1988 and 1989, a feat that the Razorbacks had not accomplished since his playing days. In 1989, Hatfield became the first former player to coach his alma mater in the Cotton Bowl Classic. Arkansas's Southwest Conference championship that season is the program's last conference title to date.

Hatfield had a somewhat frosty relationship with longtime Arkansas athletic director Frank Broyles, even though Broyles had been his coach during his playing days. Broyles had a reputation for being very hands-on with the football program he had built into a national power as head coach from 1958 to 1976. As good as Hatfield's last two Razorback teams had been, he lost several recruits after 1987 when rival coaches claimed he was in Broyles' doghouse. When Broyles signed a new five-year contract in early 1990, Hatfield left for Clemson University without even visiting the campus. Later, when Hatfield was asked if Broyles had been a factor in his abrupt departure from Fayetteville, he replied, "His name is on the (athletics) building down there. Let that be my answer."[1] Ironically, the coach Hatfield succeeded at Clemson, Danny Ford, would eventually become the Razorbacks' coach in 1993.


Hatfield coached at Clemson from 1990 to 1993, compiling a 32–13–1 record. In his second season, 1991, he led the Tigers to their last Atlantic Coast Conference title in the pre-championship game era. He also worked to clean up the program's image; the Tigers had been slapped with probation for NCAA violations under Ford.[2] However, Hatfield was never really accepted by Clemson's fans. A common saying among Tiger fans during this time was "Howard built it. Ford filled it. Hatfield killed it."

Largely due to this discontent, school officials refused to grant him a one-year extension on his contract after the 1993 season, even though the Tigers had rebounded from 5–6 in 1992 to a solid 8–3 record that year. Angered at what he saw as a lack of support, Hatfield resigned at the end of the regular season.[3]


Soon afterward, Hatfield was hired at Rice University, where he compiled a 55–78–1 record before resigning on November 30, 2005 following a 1–10 season.[4] He only had three winning seasons in 12 years. Although the Owls were bowl-eligible in those three winning seasons, they weren't invited to a bowl in part because of the school's small alumni and fan base. Rice is the second-smallest school in Division I FBS and often had to play schools 10 times its size or more (and in some cases, with more freshmen than it has students), a major reason why he wasn't as successful as he had been at his previous stops. In his first year, despite a losing overall record, he managed to lead the Owls to a share of the SWC title.

Football coaching philosophy

One of the few remaining proponents of the conservative triple-option offense in college football, Hatfield compiled a 168–140–4 record as a head coach.

On Nov. 25, 2014 It was announced that Hatfield was chosen as the recipient of the 2015 Amos Alonzo Stagg Award.[5]

Notable players

Some of the notable players that he helped coach include

Controversy regarding homosexual players

In 2002 while coaching at Rice University, Hatfield was quoted in November 1 issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education that he "would not necessarily kick a player off the team for being gay, he probably would think hard about it."[6] In the article, he cited his religious beliefs as the motivation for his stance. Soon after the publication, Hatfield apologized for his comments and, though many student groups called for his firing, he continued to coach the Owls until 2005.

Head coaching record

Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs Coaches# AP°
Air Force Falcons (NCAA Division I-A independent) (1979)
1979 Air Force 2–9
Air Force Falcons (Western Athletic Conference) (1980–1983)
1980 Air Force 2–9–1 1–6 T–8th
1981 Air Force 4–7 2–5 7th
1982 Air Force 8–5 4–3 T–3rd W Hall of Fame Classic
1983 Air Force 10–2 5–2 2nd W Independence 15 13
Air Force: 26–32–1 12–16
Arkansas Razorbacks (Southwest Conference) (1984–1989)
1984 Arkansas 7–4–1 5–3 T–3rd L Liberty
1985 Arkansas 10–2 6–2 T–2nd W Holiday 12 12
1986 Arkansas 9–3 6–2 T–2nd L Orange 16 15
1987 Arkansas 9–4 5–2 T–2nd L Liberty
1988 Arkansas 10–2 7–0 1st L Cotton 13 12
1989 Arkansas 10–2 7–1 1st L Cotton 13 13
Arkansas: 55–17–1 36–10
Clemson Tigers (Atlantic Coast Conference) (1990–1993)
1990 Clemson 10–2 5–2 T–2nd W Hall of Fame 9 9
1991 Clemson 9–2–1 6–0–1 1st L Florida Citrus 17 18
1992 Clemson 5–6 3–5 7th
1993 Clemson 8–3[n 1] 5–3 T–3rd W Peach[n 1] 23[n 1] 24[n 1]
Clemson: 32–13–1 19–10–1
Rice Owls (Southwest Conference) (1994–1995)
1994 Rice 5–6 4–3 T–1st
1995 Rice 2–8–1 1–6 7th
Rice Owls (Western Athletic Conference) (1996–2004)
1996 Rice 7–4 6–2 T–2nd
1997 Rice 7–4 5–3 T–2nd
1998 Rice 5–6 5–3 T–3rd
1999 Rice 5–6 4–3 4th
2000 Rice 3–8 2–6 T–6th
2001 Rice 8–4 5–3 T–4th
2002 Rice 4–7 3–5 T–6th
2003 Rice 5–7 5–3 T–4th
2004 Rice 3–8 2–6 9th
Rice Owls (Conference USA) (2005)
2005 Rice 1–10 1–7 T–5th (West)
Rice: 55–78–1 43–50
Total: 168–140–4
      National championship         Conference title         Conference division title
#Rankings from final Coaches Poll.
°Rankings from final AP Poll.

See also


  1. ^ a b c d Hatfield resigned after the regular season. Tommy West coached Clemson in the Peach Bowl. Clemson credits the 1993 regular season to Hatfield and the Peach Bowl to West.


  1. ^ Murphy, Austin. Not exactly Hog Heaven. Sports Illustrated, September 21, 1992.
  2. ^ Hanley, Brian. Clemson gets "Real McCoy". Chicago Sun-Times, December 30, 1990.
  3. ^ Clemson coach quits. The New York Times, November 25, 1993.
  4. ^ "Head football coach Ken Hatfield resigns".  
  5. ^
  6. ^ White, Dee. Coach Hatfield and the Loneliest Athletes November 7, 2002

External links

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