Friday, December 20, 2013
Kevin Higgins is stepping down as the head football coach at The Citadel to accept a position at Wake Forest.
Higgins will join the staff of new Wake Forest head coach and longtime friend Dave Clawson. Higgins will be the assistant head coach and wide receivers coach for the Demon Deacons. The position reunites him with Clawson, who served as offensive coordinator under Higgins at Lehigh during the 1994 and 1995 seasons.
A national search for Higgins’ successor will begin immediately.
Clawson was named head coach at Wake Forest last Tuesday after leading Bowling Green for the past five years. The Falcons won the Mid-American Conference title and a berth in the Little Caesars Bowl earlier this month with a victory over previously undefeated Northern Illinois in the championship game.
Higgins departs The Citadel after nine seasons and leaves the program in solid shape. The Bulldogs have won 12 games the past two seasons, and their nine Southern Conference victories are the most in any two-year span since the early 1990s.
The Citadel returns 13 starters including eight on defense from its 2013 squad and is coming off two of its finest recruiting years in recent history.
“I am so thankful for the nine seasons at The Citadel,” Higgins said. “I would like to thank General Rosa, (athletic director) Larry Leckonby, the coaches and players for making our time here so enjoyable. I have never in my life been associated with so many loyal and supportive alums as we have at The Citadel.
“On behalf of Kay and our family, I would like to say thank you for allowing us to make an impact in the lives of those at The Citadel and the Charleston community. We will be Bulldog fans forever.”
Leckonby also had kind words for Higgins. “While I am sorry to see Kevin leave The Citadel, I wish him and his family all the best as he embarks on this new chapter of his life and career,” Leckonby said. “He has been an outstanding coach and role model for his players during his time here as well as a true ambassador for The Citadel.”
The Bulldogs went 5-7 (4-4 in the SoCon) in 2013 but ended the year by winning their final three games against FCS competition, highlighted by a victory over playoff qualifier Samford. Five of their six losses to FCS opponents came by a touchdown or less.
The 2012 campaign proved to be one of the best in recent Citadel history. The Bulldogs won seven games, only the second time the program has reached that plateau (both under Higgins) since 1992, and went 5-3 in the SoCon. The Citadel jumped out to a 3-0 start that included wins over Top 10 opponents and perennial FCS powers Georgia Southern and Appalachian State.
The victory over Georgia Southern, which was ranked third in the nation at the time, marked the highest-ranked team the Bulldogs had defeated since a win over No. 1 Marshall in 1988. Following the win over Appalachian State, The Citadel was ranked No. 10 in the country by The Sports Network, and the team spent a total of four weeks among the nation’s elite.
The Citadel also continued its development in the triple option offense, averaging 300.6 yards per game on the ground to rank fourth in the nation after placing third the previous season at 286.6 yards per contest. The Bulldogs have also led the country the past three years in fewest penalties committed and fewest penalty yards surrendered.
Higgins was named the SoCon Coach of the Year following the 2012 season, the first Bulldog mentor to earn that title since 1990, and he was a finalist for the Eddie Robinson FCS Coach of the Year award.
Higgins finishes his Citadel career with a record of 43-58. He has an all-time record of 99-83-1 in 16 seasons overall including a mark of 56-25-1 in seven seasons at Lehigh.