By Sean Greene 10:26pm, January 7, 2013Delaware head football coach K.C. Keeler was fired Monday after 11 seasons in Newark.
The former linebacker replaced Tubby Raymond as head coach in 2002, leading Delaware to the I-AA National Championship in 2003.
Keeler amassed a record of 86-52 in his eleven seasons, including three trips to the title game, but only led the Blue Hens to the playoffs once in the past five years.
Delaware finished 5-6 after winning their first four games last season. The four game losing streak to end the season was the program's worst since 1967. The move was made by new Athletic Director Eric Ziady, who took over that position in October.
"A lot of different things over the course of time led me in the direction to have some serious concerns about the direction of the program in the future. As I learned and listened and got my arms around the entire program and the state and direction, it led me in the direction of the decision (Monday). "
Delaware only drew 20,000 fans to Delaware Stadium for one game this season, Maine, after doing so twice in 2011 and three times in 2010, the last time they made the I-AA tournament. By comparison, Delaware's smallest home crowd in 2003 was 20,485, the year K.C. Keeler won the title.
Ziady says that "we still average more fans than a lot of I-A schools in the smaller conferences. The opportunities to grow this back, to get some of these fans back, is obviously going to be a big goal of myself, my staff, and the new coaches' staff."
The move comes at a curious time, as Delaware's last game was on November 17, while National Signing Day for new recruits is Wednesday, February 6. Ziady says he hopes to have Keeler's replacement named in the next few weeks.
Despite making the tough decision, Ziady made it a point to wish Keeler, who played on the 1979 Division II National Championship team, well.
"Coach Keeler has been a part of some of the biggest moments in Blue Hens football history as both a player and a coach. We sincerely wish him well, but we're looking forward to a new direction."
WDEL's calls to K.C. Keeler's house requesting comment were not returned immediately.
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