(1990-1993): Hatfield came to Clemson in 1990 from Arkansas, his alma mater, where he was an excellent 55-17-1 (when they were in the Southwest Conference). He had the unenviable task of following a legend, taking over after Danny Ford’s forced resignation earlier that year. Coach Hatfield fought an uphill battle against lofty expectations throughout his four seasons in Tigertown. These expectations were a product of Ford’s past success and the persistent frustrations over the circumstances of his resignation.
Despite the general malcontented malaise that settled around his program, Hatfield’s resume includes many notable accomplishments. His overall record of 32-13-1 (.707) at Clemson ranks sixth in both total wins and winning percentage. His 1991 team won what would prove to be the program’s last ACC title until 2011. His 1990 team boasted the nation’s best defense by nearly every statistical measure. His teams compiled a 22-3-1 home record across four seasons. Nevertheless, because these came on the heels of the program’s greatest era, and because that era ended with such a travesty he never received the administrative or fan support one might expect.
Hatfield went 19-4-1 in his first two seasons at Clemson. In 1992, they struggled to a 5-6 record, but rebounded to 8-3 in 1993. Despite this, the administration did not extend Hatfield’s contract so, like Jess Neely, he left for Rice where he’d coach for nine years, but only post three winning seasons.
Due to the challenging circumstances, Ken Hatfield may be one of the underrated coaches in Tiger history, but he comes in at #8 in our ranking of the greatest Clemson football coaches of all-time.