Hardin-Simmons University proudly confers the honorary Doctor of Laws
degree upon Jimmie Keeling, former football coach to Dublin, Tulia,
Eglin, Lubbock Estacado, Andrews, Lamar Consolidated, San Angelo
Central, Tyler John Tyler and Hardin-Simmons University.
his legendary high school career, he was hired to build the recently
reinstated Hardin-Simmons football team in December of 1989. He built
the program from the ground up and it became the standard for small
college football in the state of Texas by the end of the decade. In
2004, the Associated Press named Hardin-Simmons the “Winningest Team in
Texas” as the Cowboys had the most wins in all of college football in
Texas from 1990-2004.
Keeling compiled a record of 172-53 in
his 21 seasons at HSU and led his teams to 10 conference titles with
three Texas Intercollegiate Athletic Association crowns and seven titles
in the American Southwest Conference. His teams played in the national
playoffs 11 times in his career at HSU and had a winning season his last
19 years as the head coach.
On nine occasions, Keeling was
honored as the conference coach of the year and was named the American
Football Coaches Association regional coach of the year five times.
2014, he helped put together and publish a book on his time with the
Hardin-Simmons football team that is titled Play Hard, Stay Purple. The
book is a collection of stories from some of the key figures associated
with the program.
Keeling has received many honors for his
leadership and coaching some of which include: the Grant Teaff
Fellowship of Christian Athletes Lifetime Achievement Award, the Big
Country Fellowship of Christian Athletes Power of Influence Award is
named after Keeling and is presented at its all-star game each year, the
All-American Football Foundation Johnny Vaught Head Coach of the Year
Award, and Angelo Football Clinic's Gordon Wood Legend Award. He was
named to the Hardin-Simmons Athletic Hall of Fame in 2011.
is married to his biggest supporter, Susan Zesch of Mason, Texas. He
has five children: Dale, Judy, Lisa, Lana and Kelly, 12 grandchildren
and six great-grandchildren. The Keelings are active members of First
Baptist Church in Abilene.
Coach Keeling’s passion for
Hardin-Simmons University and the football program has always been
evident. He loved the players, coaches, administration, faculty and
staff of Hardin-Simmons and has been a loyal and faithful servant to the
university even after his retirement in 2010.