Ever since cadets manned the batteries facing Fort Sumter, The Citadel has been undeterred by long odds.
No one who has ever coached there, as Brent Thompson does now, took the job without hearing someone say, “It’s a tough place to win.”
Many fine coaches – Eddie Teague, Red Parker, Bobby Ross, Art Baker, Charlie Taaffe and Mike Houston, among them – have spent time at The Citadel. Thompson, who spoke to the Laurens County Touchdown Club on Friday, was in charge two years ago when the Bulldogs finished 10-2, the best record since 1992.
This year has been a struggle. The Bulldogs are 2-5 with losses totaling 10 points against Wofford, Chattanooga and East Tennessee State. It two weeks The Citadel visits Alabama.
Thompson and ex-Presbyterian head coach Harold Nichols worked on the same staff at Bucknell and coached against each other while Thompson was an assistant at Northeastern and Nichols at Rhode Island. Nichols now works in development at PC.
Thompson told how he spent seven years on the football staff at Bucknell and moved into what he and wife Tiffany considered their dream home.
“You’re never safe in this profession,” he said. “We spent a year working on the house and lived in it for 11 months. The whole staff got fired.”
Until he accepted a job at Lenoir-Rhyne under Mike Houston and moved with Houston to be his assistant at The Citadel, Thompson, a native of Poughkeepsie, N.Y., had never lived south of Pennsylvania, but one aspect of his background made him uniquely qualified to coach The Citadel.
He graduated from Norwich University, the military college of Vermont, and while there, Thompson majored in peace, war and diplomacy.