Hatfield to step down as Rice football coach? (updated)
KRIV-26 reported last night that Ken Hatfield would be announcing he is stepping down at Rice.
The Chronicle's Moisekapenda Bower reports that a press conference has been scheduled for 11 am. Beyond that, the column is mostly useless speculation:
According to sources, Hatfield orchestrated the news conference on his own and without input from his superiors, fueling speculation he will not resign despite steering the Owls to their worst season since 1988.
Hatfield could return with his staff intact, but that scenario would seem improbable considering the Owls have suffered through seven losing seasons since 1998.
Hatfield, initially viewed as an ideal fit for Rice after leading the Owls to a share of the 1994 Southwest Conference title in his first season, has drawn the ire of alumni and supporters.
Many cite his age (62), antiquated option offense and ineffective defense as reasons why Hatfield should resign or be fired.
Maybe Bower should have called KRIV for a quote?
We'll find out if Mark Berman's sports department scooped everyone again in a half-hour or so.
UPDATE: Berman's station swings...
Rice coach Ken Hatfield said Tuesday he was looking forward to next year's opening game against UCLA, denying a local television report that he would resign as head coach.
"I think we're set to have a good football team. I feel good about the youth," Hatfield told a news conference Tuesday. "We'll see where we go from here."
UPDATE 2: Bower posted an update following Hatfield's press conference that sounds a little more certain than the earlier Chronicle reporting:
[S]ources indicated that Hatfield is in negotiations regarding a buyout of the five years remaining on his contract. While Hatfield, 55-78-1 at Rice, gave every indication that he will return, it is highly probable that he will resign sometime this week.
Here are two paragraphs that illustrate the ongoing problems at the Chronicle:
But after stating that nothing would change, not his coaches nor his schemes, Hatfield became belligerent and confrontational when asked by a reporter if maintaining a status quo would benefit Rice football.
"Yes I do," Hatfield snapped. "(I base that on) my experience in coaching for 40 years.
The paragraph that frames the Hatfield quote is nonsensical. Imagine this question, as Bower framed it: "Will maintaining a status quo benefit Rice football?" "Yes I do," Hatfield snapped?!
Somebody really needs to read these things before they go to print. If Bower wrote that, then an editor should have caught it. If an editor changed it, that's worse. In any case, it only illustrates the Chronicle's ongoing problem with basic editing.
UPDATE (11-30-2005): Now Bower reports that Hatfield is definitely stepping down:
Less than 12 hours after defiantly saying he and his staff would return for a 13th season on South Main, Ken Hatfield resigned as Rice football coach Tuesday night.
According to several sources, Hatfield and school officials have only the details of the agreement to complete. Hatfield had five years remaining on his contract, with the buyout for his dismissal worth roughly $1.7 million. An official announcement is pending.
It looks as if Berman's station scooped everyone after all. Never doubt Berman.