Rick Christophel begins his sixth season as his alma mater's head coach with the intent of continuing to build the Governors into an Ohio Valley Conference championship contender.
In 2007, Christophel became the first APSU head coach since his mentor, Watson Brown (1979), to win as many as seven games in his initial season. Only James "Boots" Donnelly, who won eight games in 1977, won more contests in his initial season.
The 7-4 season was the most wins by a Governors scholarship program since the 1984 team went 7-4. The Governors' 5-3 Ohio Valley Conference record was APSU's most league victories since the 1980 team won five.
With quarterback-injury problems plus losing defensive coordinator Granville Eastman to immigration issues early in the season, Christophel's second season took a turn in 2008. Despite the adversity, the Governors ended the season playing their season's best football.
The Governors then improved to 4-7 in 2009, including the program's first win against Eastern Kentucky since 1977 before slipping to 2-9 in 2010. A young football team improved to 3-8 a year ago, with a second straight home victory against OVC-co-champion Easten Kentucky.
With a veteran team on hand along with a refurbished football stadium on the near horizon, never has the timing been better for Christophel to usher the program to great heights. .
The former Austin Peay quarterback became APSU's 17th head coach in Spring 2007, replacing Carroll McCray.
Christophel, who had more than 25 years of Division I coaching experience, returned to his alma mater after spending the previous 11 years at the University of Alabama-Birmingham, where he served as the Blazers defensive coordinator in 2006 after serving as the program's defensive line coach in 2005 while also serving as assistant head coach. From 2002-2003, he served as assistant athletics director at UAB.
He previously served as UAB's defensive coordinator during the 2001 season and the results were impressive. The 2001 UAB defense led the country in rushing yards allowed at 57.3 per game, ranked No. 5 nationally in total defense (265.9) and was 16th in scoring defense at 18.7 points given up per contest.
Christophel long was one of the Blazer staff's most versatile coaches. He came to UAB with head coach Watson Brown, now at Tennessee Tech, in January 1995, from Mississippi State, where he was the wide receivers coach for four seasons (1991-94).
From 1996-98, Christophel coached the UAB wide receivers. During that time, he coached junior receiver Darrius Malone, who set the single-season record with an average of 22.1 yards per catch. In 1997, he coached fifth-year senior and former quarterback Kevin Drake, who became the first offensive player in UAB history to go to the National Football League when he signed a free-agent contract with the Arizona Cardinals (Drake later played on the NFL Europe champion Rhein Fire and was signed by the Buffalo Bills).
In 1999, Christophel worked with the Blazer offensive tackles and tight ends. He also coached running backs during his time at UAB. He served as director of football operations in 2000 while also coaching the receivers.
Christophel spent a majority of his years in the coaching profession alongside Brown. The two were together for two seasons as assistants at Mississippi State (1991-92); Christophel was an assistant to Brown at Vanderbilt (1986-90), as well as Austin Peay (1979-80), Cincinnati (1983) and Rice (1984-85).
During Christophel's tenure at Mississippi State under Jackie Sherrill, he coached three future NFL receivers -Olanda Truitt, Willie Harris and Eric Moulds. The Bulldogs participated in three bowl games during that span as well (Liberty Bowl in 1991 and Peach Bowl in 1993 and 1995).
At Vanderbilt, Christophel coached the offensive backs for three years (1986-88). In 1989, he was the defensive coordinator and coached the middle linebackers; a year later, he was the assistant head coach and again worked with the offensive backs.
Christophel coached quarterbacks and running backs at Rice (1984-85) and was the quarterbacks/tight ends coach at Cincinnati in 1983; he was separated from Brown for one season in 1982 when he was the offensive coordinator at Southern Arkansas State University. Christophel coached running backs at APSU during his three seasons there (1979-81).
Prior to joining the collegiate coaching ranks full-time, Christophel served as a graduate assistant at Austin Peay (1975) and coached three years at Highlands High School in Fort Thomas, Ky., before returning to APSU to begin his college coaching career.
A 1975 graduate of Austin Peay, Christophel was a four-year starter on the Governors football team; he played safety in his first season and quarterback during his final three years. He played for Jack Bushofsky and twice was selected captain. He was one of three Christophel brothers to play quarterback for the Govs, joining Rob and Randy. His name still is la\isted on several of the program's top 10 single-season career passing lists.
A native of Reading, Ohio, Christophel and his wife, Connie, have three daughters, Chrissy, Carrie and Sara. They have four grandchildren, Mary Casen, age 4, daughter of Josh and Chrissy Holden; Tate, age 2, son of Derrick and Sara Broom; Mattie, age 3 ½, and William Dean, age 2, children of Matt and Carrie Schmitz.