Less than 24 hours after the Wildcats fell to Southeastern Louisiana, 31-19, in the season finale, head football coach Ken Collums was relieved of his duties, and special teams coordinator and linebacker coach Mark Ribaudo was named interim head coach.
“I’m disappointed I didn’t get to finish what I started,” Collums said. A big part of what we did here was try and create a movement of men, who will change their part of society through their future families as husbands and fathers.”
Saturday night’s loss dropped ACU’s record to 2-9 overall and 2-7 conference play, giving it a conference record of 5-13 the last two years. However, Collums began his stint at ACU with winning seasons of 7-4 and 6-5, which resulted in a four-year contract extension at the end of 2013. His release comes with one year left on the contract.
Director of athletics Lee De Leon said the decision is effective immediately and the national search for a new coach will be underway as soon as possible.
“This is an extremely difficult decision because Ken Collums is an incredible man and incredible coach, a great leader and he’s done a lot for our program,” De Leon said. “He’s led us through a very difficult time, and we are so grateful and will be forever grateful for coach in his sacrifice and commitment to ACU.”
Collums first started coaching at ACU in 1998-99 as a quarterbacks and wide receivers coach, before leaving for Central Arkansas. He returned in 2005 as the offensive coordinator, before being promoted as the program’s 19th head coach Dec. 23, 2011. Collums leaves the Wildcats with 24-32 record all-time as a head coach.
“I just want to be obedient to the next chapter that God has ready for me and my family,” Collums said.
De Leon said the shift in direction wasn’t just about the record, the decision included an overlook of the whole program.
“This isn’t just about wins and losses, this is something we had to evaluate all aspects of the program and after doing that analysis we made a decision to go in a different direction.”
De Leon also said the university has enlisted Eastman & Beaudine, Inc., a coaching search firm, to take care of logistics and assist in the process.
With regard to the new head coach, De Leon said he and his team of five will look for four things, a strong Christian, structure and discipline, excellent recruiting skills and most likely someone with Texas ties.
“I think I have high expectations, but I think our expectations are realistic,” De Leon said. “What’s going to be expected of the new coach is to come in and build great relationships, understand ACU, understand West Texas, embrace who we are and how we’re different, to love our student athletes and invest in them as individuals, not just as athletes and to have high expectations.”
De Leon said the Wildcats essentially have a two week head start because of their ineligibility and lack of a bye week, and he is optimistic about the search.
“Abilene Christian is a football school and we’ve always placed an extreme amount of importance on our football program and so it is important to me for us to be successful and I think we can do that at this level. I think we have a great product, this is a great job and the future for ACU football is extremely bright.”
Whoever is hired will inherit a new stadium, playoff eligibility and full funding from a scholarship standpoint. De Leon said he hopes to replace Collums as soon as possible, but does not want to rush the process.
As of now, news regarding the status of other coaching positions has not been released.