June 6, 1943|
|Coaching career (HC unless noted)|
|1968||Tennessee (assistant freshmen)|
|1978||Air Force (OC)|
|Head coaching record|
|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.
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.
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." 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. 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.
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. 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 Southwest Conference title and a victory over the rival Texas Longhorns on national TV.
Football coaching philosophy
Notable players that Hatfield coached include:
- RB Barry Foster (1987–1989 at Arkansas)
- S Steve Atwater (1985–1988 at Arkansas)
- DE Wayne Martin (1985–1988)
- S Brian Dawkins (Clemson)
- DE N. D. Kalu (Rice)
- LB Larry Izzo (Rice)
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." 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
|Air Force Falcons (NCAA Division I-A independent) (1979)|
|Air Force Falcons (Western Athletic Conference) (1980–1983)|
|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|
|Arkansas Razorbacks (Southwest Conference) (1984–1989)|
|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|
|Rice Owls (Southwest Conference) (1994–1995)|
|Rice Owls (Western Athletic Conference) (1996–2004)|
|Rice Owls (Conference USA) (2005)|
|National championship Conference title Conference division title|
| #Rankings from final Coaches Poll. |
°Rankings from final AP Poll.
- List of NCAA major college yearly punt and kickoff return leaders
- List of presidents of the American Football Coaches Association
- Murphy, Austin. Not exactly Hog Heaven. Sports Illustrated, September 21, 1992.
- Hanley, Brian. Clemson gets "Real McCoy". Chicago Sun-Times, December 30, 1990.
- Clemson coach quits. The New York Times, November 25, 1993.
- "Head football coach Ken Hatfield resigns". Rice University. December 1, 2005. Retrieved March 29, 2010.
- White, Dee. Coach Hatfield and the Loneliest Athletes outsports.com November 7, 2002