ABILENE, Texas - Ken Collums, the architect of Abilene Christian University's record-setting offense since 2005, has been named the 19th head football coach in ACU history.
ACU director of athletics Jared Mosley made the announcement Friday, ending a week-long search process that was set off on Dec. 16 when former head coach Chris Thomsen resigned to take a job as an assistant coach at Arizona State University.
Collums will be formally introduced to the local media and ACU fans at a press conference on Tuesday (Dec. 27) at 10:30 a.m. in the Teague Special Events Center on the ACU campus.
While Mosley said he talked to other coaches about the job, he said he kept coming back to the Wildcats' current offensive coordinator as the man who was the best fit for the job.
"I am extremely excited to announce Ken Collums as the new ACU head football coach," Mosley said. "The past week has been extremely busy as I fielded calls and interest from a highly competitive field of applicants. We had a number of coaches with NFL, NCAA Division I, NCAA Division II and NAIA experience, but at the end of the day I believe we have the right man to lead our program already on campus."
Collums - who has never been a head coach - just completed his seventh season as the Wildcats' offensive coordinator and believes now is the right time to step into the head coaches' role.
"I'm honored and excited to be the head football coach at ACU," he said. "I have the unique perspective to have been part of laying the foundation of this program seven years ago, and I've been able to see it grow and develop into what it is today. This is truly a special place and a special situation, and I'm ready to be the head coach and keep this program moving forward."
Collums - the FootballScoop.com D2 Coordinator of the Year in 2010 - has presided over and called the plays for some of the most dominant offensive units in NCAA Division II history. Over the last seven seasons, the Wildcats have averaged 468.4 yards of offense and 39 points per game, while achieving near perfect balance in run-pass play selection. In the 82 games the Wildcats have played since 2005, they've run the ball 2,874 times and thrown it 2,857 times while gaining 38,412 yards in those games.
Since he re-joined the ACU coaching staff prior to the 2005 season, Collums' offenses have ranked among the best in the nation. The Wildcats have ranked in the top seven in NCAA Division II football in total offense five times in the last seven years, including first in 2008, second in 2007, third in 2011 and fourth in 2006. The pass offense has ranked third twice and sixth twice, and the rushing offense has ranked as ninth in the nation (2008).
The Wildcats' scoring offense under Collums has ranked first in both 2007 and 2008 (when ACU scored a combined 1,267 points in 25 games), second in 1010 and sixth in 2006. Under Thomsen and Collums, "ball security" became one of the catch phrases surrounding the program, and the Wildcats have turned the ball over only 122 times in seven seasons, including just eight times in 2010 and nine times in 2006.
In his 82 games as the Wildcats' offensive coordinator, ACU has scored between 30 and 39 points in 18 games, between 40-49 points 22 times, between 50-59 points 14 times, between 60-69 points three times, 70-79 points twice and hit 93 in a 2008 NCAA Division II playoff game against West Texas A&M.
In 2007 and 208, Collums called the plays for one of the greatest offensive units in the history of college football. Under his guidance, ACU scored 1,267 points (50.7 ppg) and racked up 13,772 yards of total offense (550.9 ypg) in the 25 games covering those two seasons and ACU went 21-4 in those games, won the Lone Star Conference championship in 2008 and saw Bernard Scott win the Harlon Hill Award as the top player in NCAA Division II football and Sam Collins win the Gene Upshaw Award as the top lineman in NCAA Division II football.
In the greatest offensive game in LSC and ACU history, Collums led ACU to 93 points in a 93-68 win over West Texas A&M in the second round of the 2008 NCAA Division II playoffs. The Wildcats posted a school-record 810 yards of total offense and scored touchdowns on 13 of 15 possessions on their way to a remarkable 25-point win over the Buffaloes. ACU's offense set 29 NCAA Division II single-game, NCAA Division II playoff single-game, LSC and ACU records in the record-setting rout.
In 2007, ACU became the first program in the history of NCAA football to boast a 3,500-yard passer (Billy Malone), 2,000-yard rusher (Bernard Scott) and two 1,000-yard receivers (Johnny Knox and Jerale Badon) in the same season. In fact, ACU's offense in 2008 set or tied or was part of 78 NCAA, LSC or Wildcat single-game, season or career records.
"When I look back at our offense over the last seven years, the No. 1 thing I'm proud of is our consistency," Collums said. "I tell our guys all the time that it doesn't matter what we do - whether we're throwing it or running it - we have to protect the ball. And at times over those seven years we have been the best at protecting the ball. And that comes from total buy-in from players, and that makes me proud because that lets me know that they're buying into what we're telling them.
"All of that - ALL of that - starts with one word, and that's 'trust'," Collums continued. "It starts with the head coach trusting his staff to let them do what needs to be done, and that funnels down to the players. Chris (Thomsen) had trust in me and the rest of the offensive staff to allow us to do what needed to be done. And once you have that trust, you're able to call plays and feel good about them, no matter the situation."
But for Collums and Mosley, the football program is about more than wins and losses, yards gained and points scored. When Thomsen was hired as the head coach in 2005 and brought his brother-in-law (Collums) with him as the offensive coordinator, the two charted an intentional course that would lead them to the belief that turning out men of character ranked as high on their priority list as did winning games.
A few years ago, the football team began taking a weekend break during summer two-a-days and either attending a PromiseKeepers event or, as it has done the last three years, hosting its own weekend retreat where nothing about football is mentioned, only how to make ACU's players men of real character. And each Friday night during the season the team meets to listen to speakers talk about real-life experiences that have nothing to do with the game on the field.
"I wholeheartedly believe in what we do here and the product we put out," Collums said. "We win games and we take these young men and develop them and help them grow into men of impact who will positively influence their future families and, ultimately, society."
For Mosley, keeping that part of the program intact was as big a part of his decision to name Collums the head coach as almost any other factor.
"Ken has been an large part of the transformation of our football program since joining us as offensive coordinator seven seasons ago," Mosley said. "He's not only one of the greatest offensive minds in all of college football, but he is committed to the way in which we build and achieve success with the young men in our program.
"Continuing that part of our program and continuing to attract quality talent that can thrive in the ACU environment is something that Ken is extremely passionate about," he said. "As we talked over the last week, it became evident that he is unquestionably the leader we need to take our program and move it forward. We have some very exciting and ambitious goals down the road and have confidence in Ken's vision and abilities to guide the program in the coming years."
Collums was ACU's quarterbacks / wide receivers coach and passing game coordinator from 1996-99 before returning to his alma mater, Central Arkansas, prior to the 2000 season. While coaching at Central Arkansas, Collums led the Bears to some of the greatest offensive seasons in school history.
Collums coached an offensive attack that averaged 300 yards passing per game in three of his last four seasons at UCA. The Bears were the nation's top passing team in 2001, averaging 373 yards per game.
In 2002 - Collums' first year as offensive coordinator - the Bears were No. 8 nationally in points per game (37.5), No. 3 in passing yards per game (310.5) and No. 9 in total offense (446 yards per game). In 2004, UCA featured a balanced attack that racked up 38 points per game (No. 14), 477.7 yards per game (No. 6), 269 passing yards per game (No. 19) and 208.5 rushing yards per game (No. 26).
As a freshman quarterback at Central Arkansas, Collums led the Bears to the 1991 NAIA national championship. In four seasons as the starter, he directed his team to a combined record of 30-8-3. Collums graduated from Central Arkansas in 1995 with a bachelor of science in kinesiology. He received his master's in kinesiology from Central Arkansas in 1998.
A native of Vernon, Collums played for the Vernon Lions of former coach Leo Brittain, leading his team to a 29-2-1 record in his final two seasons as the starting quarterback. Collums led Vernon to the Class 3A state title in 1990.
Collums and his wife, Robyn, have two children, a daughter, Anna, and a son, Layne.
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