PC Football Coach Kelley Steps Down

Kevin Kelley on the sidelines. ©Mitchell Mercer

Kevin Kelley on the sidelines. ©Mitchell Mercer

For the third time in nearly a year, Presbyterian College is looking for a new football coach.

Coach Kevin Kelley announced the resignation Saturday afternoon on his Twitter account. The leadership change was later confirmed in a press release sent out by the school. He finishes his only season with the Blue Hose with a 2-9 record.

Although disappointed that he is leaving PC, we respect his decision to step down and wish him nothing but the best moving forward”

— AD Rob Acunto

“I have decided to leave Presbyterian College to pursue other football interests. I am proud that we were #1 in the Country in passing and #3 in the country in total offense at a school without scholarships, and the 1st practice being only 4 weeks before the 1st game.

“I am so appreciative of Presbyterian College president Matt vandenBerg and AD Rob Acunto for the opportunity I had and for all the support I was given. I am so thankful to the coaches, players, staff and my family as well,” Kelley wrote on his post.

Kelley came to Clinton after a successful stint as the head coach of Pulaski Academy, a private school in Arkansas, where he was dubbed as “the coach who never punts” for his philosophy of “going for it” on fourth down, attempting two-point conversions after touchdowns and using onside kicks each time.

The unique approach garnered his team nine state football championships as well as 2016 USA Today High School Coach of the Year honors and praises from football coaches everywhere, including New England Patriots Coach Bill Belichick.

After having rejected offers to be an assistant coach at Power-Five programs in the past, the Arkansas native took his first collegiate coaching job with PC. Rob Acunto, Blue Hose athletic director, stated he was sad to see Coach Kelley leave.

“Although disappointed that he is leaving PC, we respect his decision to step down and wish him nothing but the best moving forward,” Acunto said.

At first, it appeared that the Kelley philosophy would translate well to the college game.

The Blue Hose outscored their first two opponents 152-46, quarterback Ren Hefley threw a record ten touchdown passes in a game, and freshman receiver Jalyn Witcher became a strong contributor on offense.

But the PC team was unable to capitalize on this early success, proceeding to lose their next nine games due to interceptions, “confused” defense, and just generally being out-coached. 

Despite the adversity, PC’s vandenBerg said he is still committed to winning a championship for the program. 

“Change can be difficult, but it can also present important opportunities for growth and continued improvement,” vandenBerg said.

Change can be difficult, but it can also present important opportunities for growth and continued improvement”

— President Matt vandenBerg

 “Our PC community is resolutely and passionately committed to the success of our student athletes and our football program. We will invest the time, energy and resources required to continue to build on our championship culture. We believe our best days as a football program and a college are ahead of us.”

PC Board of Trustees Chairman E.G. Lassiter, who is expected to play a key role in hiring the next coach along with vandenBerg and Acunto, echoed the sentiments.

“I see Matt (vandenBerg) and Rob (Acunto) working tirelessly every day in service of all of our student athletes and athletics programs,” Lassiter said. “They are committed to success both on and off the field.” 

The Blue Hose have had shaky times at best in NCAA Division I football after transitioning from DII in the mid-2000s. Since winning a South Atlantic Conference championship in 2005, the school has only had four winning seasons, alongside two winless seasons overall and five winless seasons in conference play.

It was unclear at press time who is at the top of the PC coaching wish list. Nor is it known if Kelley will be taking an assistant coaching job at another school or heading back to the high school ranks.