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Former APSU quarterback program's 17th head coach

Coming home to Austin Peay State University, Rick Christophel was introduced during a press conference March 23 as the Governors new head football coach.

Christophel, the 17th person to lead the football program, succeeds Carroll McCray, who resigned in February to become an assistant coach at Furman University after leading the Govs to a 3-8 mark. Christophel takes over a football program that will return to OVC play in 2007 for the first time since 1996.

Its good to be home, Christophel told about 150 Govs supporters, students, faculty, staff and reporters.
Coming home to Austin Peay State University, Rick Christophel was introduced during a press conference March 23 as the Governors new head football coach.

Christophel, the 17th person to lead the football program, succeeds Carroll McCray, who resigned in February to become an assistant coach at Furman University after leading the Govs to a 3-8 mark. Christophel takes over a football program that will return to OVC play in 2007 for the first time since 1996.

“It's good to be home,” Christophel told about 150 Govs supporters, students, faculty, staff and reporters.

APSU President Dr. Sherry Hoppe said the final selection of a new coach “was not easy.”

“I was pleased with the quality of candidates in our head football coach pool, and more than one of those interviewed had the ability to move our program forward,” she said. “The selection was thus very difficult. In the final analysis, though, I felt that coach Christophel was the best match for APSU. I am confident not only that he will provide the kind of leadership we need to be competitive in the OVC, but also that he will represent APSU with character and integrity — both with our team and with our community. I believe we made the right decision for the right reasons and look forward to watching the success of our football program with coach Christophel at the helm.”

“I am excited to name Rick Christophel as our new coach,” said Austin Peay Athletics Director Dave Loos. “I believe that Rick brings a variety of experience to this position. He is well versed on both sides of the ball and has administrative experience that made him very appealing as a candidate. Also, he has worked for and with very knowledgeable coaches. In addition, we believe he will be able to identify with the players, coaches, and alumni affiliated with our program.”

Christophel, who received his bachelor's in business administration in 1975 and a master's in education in 1976, both from APSU, has more than 25 years of coaching experience and comes to Austin Peay after a 10-year stint as an assistant at Alabama-Birmingham.

As defensive coordinator during the 2001 season, his defense led the country in rushing yards allowed at 57.3 yards per game, ranked fifth nationally in total defense (265.9) and was 16th in scoring defense at 18.7 points given up per contest. In 1997, he coached Kevin Drake, who became the first offensive player in UAB history to go to the National Football League when he signed a free-agent contract with the Arizona Cardinals (Drake later played on the NFL Europe champion Rhein Fire and was signed by the Buffalo Bills).

Christophel has been associated closely with former Austin Peay head coach Watson Brown, recently hired as Tennessee Tech's head coach. The two coached together for 22 of Christophel's 29 years in the profession.

Christophel began his college coaching career as an assistant at Austin Peay from 1979-81, beginning his tenure with Brown. In his three years at APSU as an assistant coaching running backs and quarterbacks, the Govs recorded back-to-back 7-4 seasons, including a second-place 5-2 OVC mark in 1980.

Christophel then spent one year at Southern Arkansas (1982) before returning to coach with Brown at Cincinnati (1983), Rice (1984-85) and Vanderbilt (1986-90). At Vanderbilt, Christophel coached quarterbacks and running backs from 1986-88, was the team's defensive coordinator in 1989 and coached running backs in 1990.

Christophel went on to serve as assistant coach at Mississippi State from 1991-94 under head coach Jackie Sherrill, coaching three future NFL wide receivers — Olanda Truitt, Willie Harris and Eric Moulds. The Bulldogs participated in three bowl games during that span — the 1991 Liberty Bowl and the 1993 and 1995 Peach Bowls.

Prior to joining the collegiate coaching ranks full-time, Christophel served as a graduate assistant at Austin Peay (1975) and coached three years at Highlands High School in Fort Thomas, Ky., before returning to APSU.

Christophel was a four-year starter at Austin Peay from 1971-74, playing safety his freshman year before moving to quarterback for his final three seasons. He was twice selected as team captain. He finished his career ranked second in both passing yards and punting yards. He was the first of three brothers to play at Austin Peay.

A native of Reading, Ohio, Christophel and his wife, Connie, have three daughters, Chrissy, Carrie and Sara. -- Cody Bush, Brad Kirtley and Melony Leazer

At a glance
Rick Christophel
Born — Oct. 27, 1952
High school — Reading (Ohio), 1971
College — APSU (B.S., business administration), 1975; APSU (M.A., education), 1976
Coaching experience — Austin Peay, graduate assistant (1975-76); Highlands (Ky.) High School, assistant coach (1976-78); Austin Peay, assistant coach (1979-81); Southern Arkansas, assistant coach (1982); Cincinnati, assistant coach (1983); Rice, assistant coach (1984-85); Vanderbilt, assistant coach (1986-90) and defensive coordinator (1989); Mississippi State, assistant coach (1991-94); Alabama-Birmingham, assistant coach (1995-07), offensive coordinator (1995-98), senior associate athletic director, internal affairs (2002-03) and defensive coordinator (2001, 2006-07)