Meet New University of Delaware Head Coach Dave Brock
Fightin’ new hen: The new coach brings an aggressive approach to football and academics. Can he continue—and even improve upon—the program’s storied success?
Photo by Ron Dubick
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In the parlance of his profession, Dave Brock admits that he outkicked his coverage when he married the former Karen Crockett in 1996. The University of Delaware’s new head football coach calls his wife “an absolute saint,” adding, “I’m the luckiest man in the world.”
His work history provides some proof for both those claims. In 17 years, Brock and his family have moved seven times as he climbed the assistant coaching ladder. And as his experience grew, so too did the Brock brood. In six years at Hofstra, Henry, Kate and William were born. Next came Maggie, born during a two-year stay at Temple. Richard came along in the two years at North Carolina. Subsequent stops at Kansas State, Boston College and Rutgers were uneventful, family-size-wise. (Brock left for a better job in every instance except North Carolina, where a new coach let him go.)
Now he’s at UD, and Brock, his family, and every Blue Hen fan are hoping this job—his first as a head coach—will be the longest-lasting and most successful move of his rather peripatetic career.
If history is an indicator, he should be here for quite a while. Since 1940, Delaware has had just four head coaches: Bill Murray, Dave Nelson, Harold “Tubby” Raymond and K.C. Keeler. Murray, Nelson and Raymond are enshrined in the College Football Hall of Fame. (Georgia Tech is the only other school to place three consecutive coaches into the Hall.) Keeler met a different fate. After 11 seasons, he was fired on Jan. 7, becoming what is believed to be the only head football coach in UD history to be let go.
The announcement by new Athletic Director Eric Ziady shocked most fans. Which is not to say all were unhappy with the decision. Keeler amassed a record of 86-52 and took the team to three FCS (Football Championship Series) title games—winning one —but the former Blue Hen linebacker ran what more than one fan saw as a vanilla and predictable offense and a bend-but-don’t-break defense. And last year’s team went 5-6, ending with another loss to archrival Villanova by a lopsided 41-10 score.
Fan support had fallen off. Home attendance dropped from 20,684 in 2010 to 19,018 in 2011 and 18,542 last season, the lowest figure since 1997.
Ziady, who was senior associate director of athletics for business operations at Boston College before coming to UD, said that soon after his arrival on Nov. 1, he “sensed” issues with the program’s direction, and his concerns grew as he conducted an evaluation. He emphasized that no improprieties or NCAA violations contributed to the firing.
While praising Keeler’s achievements and saying he was “part of some of the greatest moments in the program’s history as a player and as a coach,” the AD added: “But sometimes, you just need a new direction.” In an interview in May, he said there were “a number of issues” that influenced his decision, and “the direction of our program was not a direction I wanted to continue going in.”
In a statement immediately after he was fired, Keeler took the high road. After saying he was “tremendously disappointed and obviously disagree with the decision,” he thanked the university for giving him his “dream job,” adding: “Delaware was truly like family to me. I wish the university the best going forward. I am a proud Blue Hen and always will be.”
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