WDEL Blog: WDEL Sports

The K.C. Keeler surprise

The University of Delaware has fired its football coach. K.C. Keeler was told he would not come back for 2013 and beyond even though he has 5 years remaining on a very hefty contract.

It's shocking because Delaware never fires a football coach...and because an argument can be made for retaining him as well as firing him, so it wasn't a development anyone (especially Keeler, according to his quote) saw coming.

The record is what it is...86-52 in 11 seasons, a National Championship in 2003 and title game appearances in 2007 and 2010. The record also shows Keeler and the Blue Hens failed to make the post-season in 4 of the past 5 years, the 4-8 record in 2008 was the most losses ever by a Blue Hen team in one season, four straight losses to end the 2012 season, the longest losing streak since 1967 and a program that has had more downs than ups in Keeler's tenure...however, when it was up it was really up.

What the record doesn't show is a large number of injuries in 2012 that made it almost remarkable that the team finished at 5-6. And Keeler was confident he had a lot of talent returning and 2013 could be a rebound year.

But for every positive there is a negative. Keeler's offense had gotten stale and predictable...acknowledged by him with the release of offensive coordinator Jim Hofher. Keeler always boasted about his team speed but it had become apparent that many teams in the conference had passed him by in that regard. And Keeler's offense was very conservative, after saying at the start of his tenure his teams would attack as soon as they got off the bus.

Keeler had continued the tradition of recruiting high quality student-athletes...his kids stayed out of trouble and graduated although the word was, the graduation rate had been trending toward the bottom of the CAA.

So what does all this mean? I can see both sides of the coin. Athletic Director Eric Ziady wanted to make a statement, possibly, that winning would be more important in Newark, but frankly, as much as I enjoy winning, I think that the slippery slope of making winning too important is too easy to reach. And no one would be as loyal to the program as Keeler, a former Delaware linebacker.

Do I think he should have been fired? Not really. In fact, if Ziady really wanted to see if Keeler was the right guy to continue with, I think he should have given him 2013 to see if there was a rebound with a healthy squad.

I think Ziady (and Harker) tried to lay all of Delaware's football problems at Keeler's feet...but there is so much more...inadequate and aging facilities, an aging and shrinking fan base, made worse by the administration's high-handed methods of getting more money in the form of donations to secure the best located season tickets and other cost increases...and on and on.

One of the big problems for Delaware was the fact that the school was way behind the 8 ball on its facilities...while schools like JMU were renovating, expanding and improving their stadiums and other facilities, UD waited until the economc slump hit before realizing it had a need...by then, donations would prove to be difficult to come by. So many of the problems for the faltering attendance can be blamed on the administration...the lack of winning can be blamed on Keeler.

K.C. Keeler will land on his feet whenever he wants to return to coaching...and he no doubt will get a healthy buyout from his contract. Good luck to him.

Posted at 10:56am on January 9, 2013 by Big Don Voltz

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Comments on this post:

Thu, Jan 10, 2013 4:56am
Maybe he can interview for the Eagles head coach position?

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