Former HSU Football Coach Receives Honorary Doctor of Laws Degree

Jimmie Keeling former football coach for many cities in Texas is honored with doctorate degree.


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.  

After 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.

In 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.

Keeling 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.


  • A Princeton Review Best Western College
  • Council for Christian Colleges & Universities  
  • Center for Student Opportunity: Promoting a College-Bound Culture
  • US News Best Colleges
  • Military Friendly
  • college_of_christian_distinction_badge20172018
  • College Choice Best Christian Colleges and University
  • University and College Accountability Network