New name emerges as Citadel begins interviews for football coach

As The Citadel prepares to interview candidates for its vacant head football coaching job, a new name has joined the list of prospective coaches.

The website footballscoop.com reported Friday that former Delaware coach K.C. Keeler is among five coaches The Citadel has asked to interview. If that report is accurate, Keeler joins a list including Navy assistants Ashley Ingram and Chris Culton, Air Force assistant Clay Hendrix and Lenoir-Rhyne head coach Mike Houston, all previously reported by The Post and Courier to be on the Bulldogs' short list.

Sources indicate that those five are not the only coaches who will be or already have been interviewed. The Citadel is searching for a successor to ex-coach Kevin Higgins, who resigned after nine seasons last week to become assistant head coach at Wake Forest. Bulldogs athletic director Larry Leckonby has said he would like to have a coach in place in the first week of January.

Three of the five coaches expected to be interviewed are assistants with experience at military schools; the other two have been head coaches but have not worked at a military school.

Here's a look at five prospective coaches:

Keeler, 54, was head coach at Delaware from 2002-12, compiling a record of 86-52 with three FCS championship game appearances. The Blue Hens won the title in 2003 with a record of 15-1.

In 2008, Keeler signed a 10-year contract extension that would have kept him at Delaware through 2017. But he was fired after a 5-6 record in 2012 and worked last season for NFL Films and for ESPN3.com. Keeler often brought in transfer quarterbacks to run his offense, including Ravens QB Joe Flacco, who transferred to Delaware from Pitt.

Ingram, 40, is in his sixth season at Navy, where he coaches centers and guards. He was a finalist for the head coaching job at Austin Peay last spring, leading to a promotion to running game coordinator at Navy. The native of Iron City, Ga., is a 1996 graduate of North Alabama and also has coached at Rhode Island and Bucknell.

Culton, 36, is in his 11th season at Navy, where he coaches the offensive line after previously coaching fullbacks in the Midshipmen's option offense. He graduated in 2001 from Georgia Southern, where he was a student-assistant for four years after suffering a neck injury as a freshman football player. He's also coached at Rhode Island. Navy's team is in Fort Worth, Texas, preparing to play Middle Tennessee State on Monday in the Armed Forces Bowl.

Hendrix, 50, is in his seventh season at Air Force, where he is associate head coach, offensive coordinator and offensive line coach. He's a 1986 Furman grad and coached 19 years for the Paladins, helping Furman to six Southern Conference titles and the 1988 national title. The native of Commerce, Ga., also coached at North Carolina State.

Houston, 42, just finished his third season as head coach at Division II Lenoir-Rhyne, leading the Bears to a 13-2 record and an appearance in the national championship game. The 1994 Mars Hill graduate has been named South Atlantic Conference coach of the year twice, and has a record of 29-8 in three years at Lenoir-Rhyne. He was defensive coordinator at Lenoir-Rhyne for four years and also coached on the college level at Brevard. A year ago, Lenoir-Rhyne extended his contract through the 2016 season.

Brevard coach Paul Hamilton, a Charleston native who has been a head coach at Elon and East Tennessee State, has extensive experience with the triple-option offense, and has been an assistant at The Citadel, Wofford and Air Force, also has applied for the job.

Leckonby also has said he would interview an internal candidate, thought to be offensive line coach/ offensive coordinator Bob Bodine.

Earlier this week, former Citadel coach Charlie Taaffe, 63 and the offensive coordinator at Central Florida, ruled out a return to the Bulldogs.

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