Mickey Mathews‘ big moment was in 2004 when he led the Dukes to the National Championship. The Dukes were led by quarterback, Justin Rascati and running back Raymond Hines. Mathews and JMU became the first team to ever win three straight playoff games on the road and win the National Championship. JMU defeated the University of Montana 31-2. This was JMU’s first and only National Championship.
KC Keeler: Former Delaware head coach
KC Keeler is the former Head Coach of the University of Delaware and is currently working for ESPN3 as a broadcaster. Keeler was born on July 26, 1959 and grew up in Emmaus, Pennsylvania. Keeler attended Delaware and played linebacker for the Blue Hens from 1978-1980. Upon graduation, Keeler signed a free agent contract with the Philadelphia Eagles, but was cut before the 1980 season. Before retiring from professional football he would earn tryouts again with the Eagles and with the Philadelphia Stars and Jacksonville Bulls of the United States Football League.
Keeler’s coaching career began in 1981 when he was hired as an assistant coach with Amherst College. In 1986, Keeler left Amherst and became an assistant at Rowan University where he would be named the Head Coach in 1993. Keeler spent nine seasons with Rowan and left the university with an 88-21-1 record. In his nine seasons, Keeler led the team to the playoffs seven times, including five trips to the Division Three National Championship game. Keeler was never able to capture the championship crown but his impressive record led him to being hired by is Alma mater.
Longtime Delaware Head Coach, Tubby Raymond retired in 2002 paving the way for Keeler. With huge shoes to fill, Keeler brought his no-huddle, spread offense to the Blue Hens. In 2003, Keeler’s second season, the team achieved a 15-1 record and won the FCS National Championship, the first since 1979. The Blue Hens rolled through the playoffs outscoring their opponents 149-23 in the four game series.
Keeler brought an attitude to Delaware that is used to being seen on the campuses of Alabama or Texas. He became a celebrity around Delaware. Keller held endorsement deals, appeared in commercials, was named “Delawarean of the Year” in 2004 by Delaware Today, and was forced to sign an agent in 2003 to help handle all of his affairs. Keeler was known for always wearing sunglass on the sideline, even during night games. Keeler also attacked criticism that was brought on from being an FCS school. He was quoted saying “We’re the LSU; we’re the Georgia, the Florida of Division 1-AA…Everybody wants to come to school here”.
Keeler coached the Blue Hens from 2002-2012. He posted a career record of 86-52 and on June 19, 2008 was granted a 10 year contract extension. However, following a 5-6 record in 2012 he was fired. There were a number of factors that led to Keeler’s firing. Although he led the Blue Hens to their first National Championship victory since 1979 and two other appearances in the big game (2007,2010) Keeler had up and down results. In his eleven seasons he only led the team to the playoffs four times and had four season at .500 or worse. Keeler’s “big time” attitude began to rub fans the wrong way and late in Keeler’s career Delaware experienced a historic drop in attendance.
Since being let go, Keeler has been working as an analyst with ESPN3. In a recent interview with Lehighvalleylive.com, Keeler expressed his interest in getting back into coaching.
There is no confirmation that Keeler would be interested if JMU made the call but it seems like a program that he would have interest in. Keeler has familiarity with JMU having coached Delaware in the same conference. With only four hours separating the two campuses the recruiting areas covered some of the same regions, so Keeler would be able to get right back to his old relationships. For Keeler, JMU offers that “big time” atmosphere that he could excel in. The opportunity to be the coach to bring JMU up to the FBS also has to be attractive for Keeler.
Unlike the last coaching profile, Keeler might have more interest in JMU then JMU has in him. In what has come out so far JMU seems to be after a young head coach and so far a majority of the candidates have little to no head coaching experience. However, Keeler does bring some qualities that JMU is looking for. Keeler is an excellent recruiter. While at Delaware he was listed as one of the best recruiters in the nation by American Football Monthly. Keeler also brings the “fire” and the up tempo offense JMU seems to be looking for. Delaware might not have been able to handle Keeler’s attitude but this is something that the JMU fan base has been ready to see.
Personally I view Keeler as a great hire for JMU. I think he brings the right attitude to the table to fire up a deflated JMU football program. What some might have viewed as cockiness I view as confidence. A lot of people have said that they don’t want JMU to hire a retread. My question is why not? Keeler’s career coaching record is 174-73-1 and he has been to eight national championship games in twenty years of coaching. The only fear I have is that Keeler might be out too long and his time to come back is over. Once you are out of the game for a few years your connections go cold. In my opinion this is the last chance for Keeler before it is too late. As an avid JMU alumni and an avid JMU football fan I would love to stick it to Delaware, snag their former coach and win the National Championship in 2014; all things we could do with the hire of Keeler.