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Houston Ready to Lead The Citadel

By Matt Osborne
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The Citadel's search for a coach ended on Thursday morning, as the school introduced Mike Houston as its 24th head coach in program history.

As the Southern Conference as a whole prepares to embark on a new journey, The Citadel is also ready to write its newest chapter in its football legacy.

After longtime head coach Kevin Higgins left for a spot on Dave Clawson’s staff at Wake Forest in December, The Citadel immediately began an intense and thorough search for a coach which it hoped could help the program reach the postseason for the first time in more than two decades.

That search ended on Thursday morning, as the school introduced Mike Houston as its 24th head coach in program history.

Houston comes to The Citadel from Lenoir-Rhyne, a Division II school located in Hickory, North Carolina. In his three seasons with the Bears, Houston won three conference championships, set a school record for wins in a season (13) and led to the program to its first ever appearance in the Division II National Championship Game.

Despite the success which he experienced with the Bears, the choice to take over at The Citadel was an easy one for Houston.

“My wife and I have enjoyed the Charleston area for 13 or 14 years, so we are very familiar with the area down here. Obviously, The Citadel has a tremendous reputation regionally and nationally as an institution, and the core values that the university are founded on are the same core values that my football program at Lenoir-Rhyne and any football program I am in charge of are founded on,” Houston commented on the Southern Pigskin Radio Network. “It’s really just a perfect fit in all areas.”

Much like a healthy portion of the other teams in the conference, The Citadel has become well-known for its option attack on offense in recent seasons.

As a senior military college, the option has been a way for the Bulldogs to overcome some of the distinct challenges, as well as benefit from some of the unique advantages presented to a team comprised completely of cadets.

The option has been a way for The Citadel to deal with an overall lack of size, while highlighting its ability to be disciplined and work as a cohesive unit.

Houston, whose option attack at Lenoir-Rhyne this past season broke the NCAA record for most rushing yards for all divisions, will bring his electric system with him to Charleston.

Any while many of the concepts will be similar to the ones employed by Higgins, fans will be able to notice some changes to the offense.

“We may be a team that changes the tempo a little bit,” Houston said of his offensive scheme. “We’re going to run out of a lot of different formations. We’re really going to attack offensively a variety of different ways. I don’t know what exactly they’ve been used to, but we are going to be who we are.”

Given his outstanding track record for production, offense should not be a major concern for Houston now that he has taken over at The Citadel.

What will be of concern to him, however, will be trying to solidify his future roster and his coaching staff over the coming weeks as National Signing Day rapidly approaches.

“Somebody asked me when we were going to start recruiting and I told him yesterday,” Houston joked. “It’s a deal where we’ve got to catch up, and catch up quickly. But you’ve got to have the coaches that have your same philosophy doing the recruiting. It’s a dual deal right now. I am living out of a suitcase right now. I am trying to put together a core group of coaches here that will be made up of some of my guys from Lenoir-Rhyne, some guys from the staff here at The Citadel and some guys from all across the country who I have relationships with who I know are going to be loyal to me. We are going to try to put together a staff that is reflective of the type of program that we want to build.”

With the Southern Conference as a whole about to undergo a severe alteration, it is only fitting that the conference’s oldest member will undergo a change as well.

Although the scheme will, in many respects, look the same, Houston and his coaching staff are primed to put their touch on The Citadel’s system in hopes of returning the program to consistent contention.

Matt Osborne - Matt Osborne currently serves as the director of recruiting and lead editor for Southern Pigskin. His work has been published in a number of national publications, including USA Today. Although he loves all levels of football, Matt's number one joy in his life is his relationship with Jesus Christ. Follow Matt on Twitter: @MattOsborne200. For media requests, please email Matt at