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
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

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

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. 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.[2]


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.[3] 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

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.[4]

Notable players

Notable players that Hatfield coached 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."[5] 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 ConferenceStanding 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 2–9–11–6T–8th
1981 Air Force 4–72–57th
1982 Air Force 8–54–3T–3rdW Hall of Fame Classic
1983 Air Force 10–25–22ndW Independence1513
Air Force: 26–32–112–16
Arkansas Razorbacks (Southwest Conference) (1984–1989)
1984 Arkansas 7–4–15–3T–3rdL Liberty
1985 Arkansas 10–26–2T–2ndW Holiday1212
1986 Arkansas 9–36–2T–2ndL Orange1615
1987 Arkansas 9–45–2T–2ndL Liberty
1988 Arkansas 10–27–01stL Cotton1312
1989 Arkansas 10–27–11stL Cotton1313
Arkansas: 55–17–136–10
Clemson Tigers (Atlantic Coast Conference) (1990–1993)
1990 Clemson 10–25–2T–2ndW Hall of Fame99
1991 Clemson 9–2–16–0–11stL Florida Citrus1718
1992 Clemson 5–63–57th
1993 Clemson 8–3[n 1]5–3T–3rdW Peach[n 1]23[n 1]24[n 1]
Clemson: 32–13–119–10–1
Rice Owls (Southwest Conference) (1994–1995)
1994 Rice 5–64–3T–1st
1995 Rice 2–8–11–67th
Rice Owls (Western Athletic Conference) (1996–2004)
1996 Rice 7–46–2T–2nd (Mountain)
1997 Rice 7–45–3T–2nd (Mountain)
1998 Rice 5–65–3T–3rd (Mountain)
1999 Rice 5–64–34th
2000 Rice 3–82–6T–6th
2001 Rice 8–45–3T–4th
2002 Rice 4–73–5T–6th
2003 Rice 5–75–3T–4th
2004 Rice 3–82–69th
Rice Owls (Conference USA) (2005)
2005 Rice 1–101–7T–5th (West)
Rice: 55–78–143–50
      National championship         Conference title         Conference division title or championship game berth


  1. 1 2 3 4 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.

Coaching tree

Assistant coaches under Ken Hatfield who became NCAA head coaches:

See also


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