Thursday, March 24, 2005

It's Official: Kevin Higgins to coach the Citadel

You heard it here first that Higgins was interviewing there, and now it's official - former Lehigh head coach Kevin Higgins will be taking over the head coaching duties at the Citadel.

First of all, congratulations on Kevin Higgins getting this great opportunity at the Citadel to bring their football program back up to the standards of Furman, Georgia Southern, Appalachian St., and Wofford. I have little doubt that the Citadel will have exactly zero regrets about this hiring down the road. There will be a lot of folks up at South Mountain, too, who will be following with interest and rooting for that football program to succeed.

To Citadel fans, you have got a great coach - one who had a transformative effect on the Lehigh program. Here's hoping that he can do the same for the Citadel as well.

For Lehigh, this couldn't be a better opportunity for the Engineers (or other Patriot League schools) to schedule some games with a member of the SoCon. Here's hoping that it can be pulled together soon!

Here's the official releases:
Official Press Release from The Citadel
Statement from Lehigh Athletics

And here are your quotes (including my post from 2 days ago):
[LFN] When Higgins became head coach in 1994, the Patriot League was a football conference which was a wannabe Ivy league. Now, Patriot League schools are regularly recognized in the Sports Network Top 25. Coach Higgins is one of the big reasons why this is the case... Not only did he preside over what could be called a Lehigh dynasty in the late '90s, he brought respect to Lehigh and Patriot League football. Teams who took Higgins' teams lightly during the playoffs more often than not found themselves exiting the playoffs.

Major General John Grinalds, USMC Ret., President of The Citadel: "Kevin Higgins is the right coach at the right time for Citadel football. He understands The Citadel's interest in having a team that will make alumni proud -- not only for the way they play in Johnson Hagood Stadium but also for the way the players conduct themselves as cadet-student- athletes."

"I share the excitement of the team, the Corps and The Citadel family for the leadership that Kevin Higgins will bring to our football program."

Les Robinson, Director of Athletics on the hiring of Kevin Higgins as The Citadel's 23rd head football coach: "I am extremely confident in the man we have hired. It is my opinion he is the best available college head coach in the country. I feel comfortable and great about the person we hired."


Kevin Higgins, on The Citadel: "The Citadel had exactly what I was looking for in its academics, history and football are all a very important part of the institution. Discipline is very important to football success. What greater place to coach at than at a military school where discipline is stressed."


“Kevin and I have remained extremely close since his departure from Lehigh over four years ago,” said current Lehigh head coach Pete Lembo, who succeeded Higgins on the sidelines at Goodman Stadium. “His experience in Detroit was very fulfilling and now he moves on to the next big challenge in his career. I know he is excited to build a strong football program at The Citadel. He and his family will be an outstanding addition to the Charleston community."


Nice statement by Coach Lembo. It's obvious that everyone in the Lehigh family is very happy for him.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Kevin Higgins to the Citadel?

Former Lehigh head coach coach Kevin Higgins, recently let go by the Detroit Lions as quarterbacks coach, is reportedly being interviewed for another I-AA head coaching position at the Citadel.

CSTV has the whole scoop here:
Robinson to interview 4 in Charlotte

Citadel athletic director Les Robinson will not just be watching basketball at the NCAA Tournament in Charlotte this weekend.

Robinson said Friday that he will interview up to four candidates for the job of the Bulldogs' head football coach while he's in Charlotte.

He declined to name those candidates, but two of them could be Rice offensive coordinator Scott Wachenheim and former Lehigh head coach Kevin Higgins, according to sources at The Citadel. Neither coach could be reached for comment Friday.

...

Higgins, 49, had a 56-25-1 record in seven seasons as head coach at Lehigh from 1994-2000, including teams that won or shared four Patriot League titles. His last three teams at Lehigh posted records of 12-1, 10-2 and 12-1.

Higgins left Lehigh for an assistant coaching job with the NFL's Detroit Lions, where he coached quarterbacks for three years and wide receivers for one year. He was let go by the Lions last month and has been in the running for a couple of NFL assistant coaching jobs.

Higgins succeeded Charleston Southern athletic director Hank Small as the head coach at Lehigh, and Higgins coached at Small's alma mater, Gettysburg College, from 1981-84. Higgins also was an assistant at Richmond from 1985-87.


A nice summation of Higgins' career, but it really doesn't do justice to what Higgins was able to accomplish here at Lehigh during his tenure. When Higgins became head coach in 1994, the Patriot League was a football conference which was a wannabe Ivy league. Now, Patriot League schools are regularly recognized in the Sports Network Top 25. Coach Higgins is one of the big reasons why this is the case.

Not only did he preside over what could be called a Lehigh dynasty in the late '90s, he brought respect to Lehigh and Patriot League football. Teams who took Higgins' teams lightly during the playoffs more often than not found themselves exiting the playoffs.

Personally, I think the Citadel would be fools to not hire Coach Higgins if they had the chance. The question is, would Coach Higgins be in a good position to succeed there? The Citadel is in the Southern Conference, with perennial powerhouses such as Appalachian St., Georgia Southern and Furman. In the past nine years, only twice have the Citadel had a winning record. The last coach was at the helm only 1 year before he went to the New York Jets as an assistant.

By the weekend, we should probably know if Higgins is going there. Stay tuned...

Monday, March 21, 2005

Holy Cross and Bucknell Leave NIT and NCAA Tourney With Highest Honors

Although Wisconsin had to rally to beat Bucknell on Sunday, and St. Joe's was battling with Holy Cross to the very end on Monday, there are no shortage of smiles coming from athletic directors all around the Patriot League. In the span of a week, the Patriot League went from "Why are these guys in the tournament?" to "Why shouldn't there have been 2 Patriot League teams in the NCAA tournament?"

What a turn of events! Congratulations to Bucknell and Hoy Cross, who may just have ushered in a new era of Patriot League basketball!

Permit me to go on about basketball for another moment longer..

What will happen because of this?Bucknell will without a doubt be in a "Bracket Buster" game on ESPN during the regular season... guaranteed. Next year will feature 5 teams (Holy Cross, Bucknell, American, Lehigh, Colgate) who all have a chance to compete for the PL title -- with 3 teams returning 5 starters, in Lehigh, Bucknell, and Holy Cross.

I'm especially encouraged not only by the upsets, but in both Bucknell's loss to Wisconsin and Holy Cross' loss to St Joe's tonight, that they were close games and they played tough the whole way through.

I invented a word tonight: surgence. If there's such a thing as a resurgence, then why not a surgence? Patriot League Basketball was mired at a certain level since its inception. But now, with NIT and NCAA wins, this could spell a surgence into a different level of basketball. This could be really special!

Coming soon: NFL Draft, Spring Football, and Kevin Higgins to the Citadel?

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