Ken Hatfield

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Ken Hatfield
Hatfield c. 1994 as Rice football coach
Biographical details
Born (1943-06-06) June 6, 1943 (age 80)
Helena, Arkansas, U.S.
Playing career
Position(s)Defensive back
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1968Tennessee (assistant freshmen)
1969Tennessee (freshmen)
1970Tennessee (WR)
1971–1977Florida (assistant)
1978Air Force (OC)
1979–1983Air Force
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)

Kenneth Wahl Hatfield (born June 6, 1943) is an American former college 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 head coaching record of 168–140–4.

Playing career[edit]

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.[1] His punt return for a touchdown helped Arkansas beat the #1 Texas Longhorns, 14-13, in the 1964 game in Austin. Hatfield was a first team All-American punt returner for the 1964 season. Among his teammates were future Dallas Cowboys head coach Jimmy Johnson and future Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones. He is a member of the Sigma Chi fraternity.

Coaching career[edit]

Air Force[edit]

Hatfield with Air Force

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. On January 2, 1989, Hatfield became the first former player to coach his alma mater in the Cotton Bowl Classic. Arkansas's Southwest Conference championship in 1989 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."[2] 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. He did much to clean up the program's image in the aftermath of sanctions from the Ford era.[3] In his second season, 1991, he led the Tigers to their last ACC title in the pre-championship game era. 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 (Clemson's first losing season in 16 years) to a solid 8–3 record that year and a Peach Bowl appearance. Angered at what he saw as a lack of support, Hatfield resigned at the end of the regular season.[4]


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.[5] 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[edit]

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 November 25, 2014 It was announced that Hatfield was chosen as the recipient of the 2015 Amos Alonzo Stagg Award.[6]

Controversy regarding homosexual players[edit]

A story in the November 1, 2002 issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education quoted Hatfield saying that he "would not necessarily kick a player off the team for being gay, he probably would think hard about it."[7][8] In the article, he cited his religious beliefs as the motivation for his stance.[8][9] Soon after the publication, the Rice University faculty unanimously voted to repudiate Hatfield's comments, and Hatfield apologized for his comments.[10][11] He continued to coach the Owls until 2005.

Head coaching record[edit]

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 (Mountain)
1997 Rice 7–4 5–3 T–2nd (Mountain)
1998 Rice 5–6 5–3 T–3rd (Mountain)
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 or championship game berth


  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.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Ken Hatfield". Rice University. Archived from the original on February 20, 2006. Retrieved November 17, 2018.
  2. ^ Murphy, Austin. Not exactly Hog Heaven. Sports Illustrated, September 21, 1992.
  3. ^ Hanley, Brian. Clemson gets "Real McCoy". Chicago Sun-Times, December 30, 1990.
  4. ^ Clemson coach quits. The New York Times, November 25, 1993.
  5. ^ "Head football coach Ken Hatfield resigns". Rice University. December 1, 2005. Retrieved March 29, 2010.
  6. ^ "葫芦岛敢媒工艺品有限责任公司".
  7. ^ White, Dee (November 7, 2002). "Coach Hatfield and the Loneliest Athletes". OutSports. Archived from the original on December 4, 2002. Retrieved November 17, 2018.
  8. ^ a b Jacobson, Jennifer (2004). "The Loneliest Athletes". In Rothenberg, Paula S. (ed.). Race, Class, and Gender in the United States: An Integrated Study (6th ed.). New York: Worth Publishers. p. 249. ISBN 0716755157.
  9. ^ McTaggart, Brian (October 31, 2002). "Rice coach feels heat over quotes about gays". Houston Chronicle. Archived from the original on November 13, 2002. Retrieved November 17, 2018.
  10. ^ "Discrimination has no place at Rice – period". Rice News. Rice University. October 31, 2002. Archived from the original on March 1, 2003. Retrieved November 17, 2018.
  11. ^ "Faculty votes unanimously to repudiate statement". Rice News. Rice University. November 7, 2002. Archived from the original on February 24, 2003. Retrieved November 17, 2018.

External links[edit]