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Former Air Force coach gives Falcons another connection on College Football Playoff committee

January 17, 2018 Updated: January 17, 2018 at 5:48 pm
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Air Force coach Fisher DeBerry (left) and Rice coach Ken Hatfield meet after Air Force defeated Rice 45-17. (THE GAZETTE FILE)

Air Force will have another connection on the College Football Playoff committee, its third such tie in the brief history of the setup that determines the sport's semifinalists.

Former Falcons coach Ken Hatfield was one of six named to the committee on Wednesday, as he joins columnist Paola Boivin, Hall of Fame safety Ronnie Lott, and athletic directors Joe Castiglione (Oklahoma), Todd Stansbury (Georgia Tech) and Scott Stricklin (Florida).

The 75-year-old Hatfield, who went on to coach at Arkansas and Clemson, was hired as Air Force’s offensive coordinator in 1978. He became coach the following year and, over five seasons, engineered a program turnaround that brought back-to-back bowl victories, national Coach of the Year honors and the program’s first 10-win season. He and offensive coordinator and eventual successor Fisher DeBerry brought the option offense that has come to define service academy football.

Hatfield left the Falcons in 1984 to coach his alma mater, Arkansas.

Hatfield’s inclusion on the committee, which has met at The Broadmoor, comes after former Air Force superintendent retired Lt. Gen. Mike Gould served on the original committee that was formed in 2013. Gould's term has since expired. Air Force graduate Chris Howard, now the president of Robert Morris, began a three-year committee stint in January 2017.

While the connections might come in useful should Air Force, which went 5-7 this past season, enjoy a remarkable turnaround season or find itself as one of the top Group of Five teams in upcoming years. However, given unbeaten’s Central Florida’s No. 12 spot in the final rankings the committee released in December, it seems any non-Power Five program will need more than a little nudge to ever receive top-four consideration.

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