Nichols steps down
Presbyterian College head football coach Harold Nichols has resigned effective immediately, Presbyterian College Director of Athletics Brian Reese announced Sunday.
Reese met with Nichols to discuss the future of the PC football program. At that time, Reese and Nichols decided a change in leadership was in the best interests of the program.
“Coach Nichols did an outstanding job,” said Reese. “His work has laid a solid foundation for future success in our football program. He was a very stabilizing factor during our transition to Division I and leaves the program in a far better place then when he arrived. More importantly, he has served his alma mater with great pride, respect, and class during some very difficult times. He is a true Blue Hose.”
“I have truly enjoyed my time as the head coach at my alma mater,” said Nichols. “I took this job to make a difference in the lives of the young men at PC and to lead the Blue Hose football team on this Division I journey we’ve all been on. The program is now in much better shape than when I arrived, and that makes me proud of my time here. I will treasure the relationships that my family and I have built with the student-athletes, fellow coaches, community, staff, alumni, and fans over the last several years. I have no doubt the future of the program that my staff and I have built will only get better.”
The 2014 Big South Co-Coach of the Year just completed his eighth season with the Blue Hose, having been named head coach in 2009.
During his tenure Nichols produced 32 league Players-of-the-Week, 30 Big South All-Conference selections, four CoSIDA Academic All- District team members, and one CoSIDA All-American, with Ugonna Akoh earning the honor, the first for a PC student-athlete in the program's Division I era.
In 2014 and 2015 the Presbyterian College football team was honored by the NCAA with the Most Improved APR award.
Nichols, a 1989 graduate of PC, coached 2011 Big South Defensive Freshman-of-the-Year, and College Sports Journal All-Freshman Team member Donelle Williams, as well as League Defensive Player-of-the-Year Justin Bethel.
Bethel, A Buck Buchanan Award finalist, earned several accolades during his time at PC, including Sports Network, College Sports Journal, and Phil Steel FCS All-American honors, and was invited to the NFL Combine the spring of his senior year.
Bethel, arguably the most successful football player in the modern era to graduate from PC, became the Big South all-time leader in blocked kicks, as well as solo tackles, and was the first person drafted by the NFL under Nichols' watch. He went to the Arizona Cardinals in the sixth round and has since earned three trips to the Pro Bowl.
In one of his most successful seasons, Nichols led PC to a 6-5 record in 2014, the program’s first winning season since 2007 and its first-ever as a member of the Big South. He guided the Blue Hose to ranked wins over No. 12 Furman and No. 22 Charleston Southern, and the team's two road wins stand as the most since three in 2007.
Against FCS competition during the 2014 season, PC finished with a 5-2 record and its only two losses came to FCS playoff teams Coastal Carolina and Liberty. PC's defense set new school Division I records in nearly every category, including total offense yards (4163), opponent points scored (270), opponent touchdowns (36) and opponent total offense per game (378.5 yards). Those records come in a season that saw the Blue Hose play three FBS teams while PC allowed only 15.9 points and 310.0 total offense yards per game against FCS competition.
Under Nichols PC finished the 2011 season with its most overall wins since 2008. Its three Big South wins were the most since joining the Conference. The Blue Hose closed out the season with back-to-back wins, its first two-game win streak since 2008.
The Blue Hose went 4-1 at home in 2011 for their most wins at Bailey Memorial Stadium since a 4-2 mark in 2008.
Nichols was an assistant coach and offensive coordinator at Bucknell from 2008 until rejoining the Blue Hose as head coach.
Prior to joining Bucknell, Nichols was the associate head coach and offensive coordinator at Rhode Island beginning in April 2000. He also coached the quarterbacks and running backs.
After graduating from Presbyterian College with a degree in political science and a minor in physical education, Nichols began his coaching career on the Blue Hose sideline in 1990. As an assistant coach, he worked with the quarterbacks and running backs while serving dual roles as he was also the director of campus life for the team members.
Nichols returned to PC in December of 1996 as assistant coach, after spending several seasons at Georgia Southern. In his return to PC, Nichols coached the wide receivers, kickers and specialists. He helped head coach Daryl Dickey take the Blue Hose from 5-6 in 1997 to 8-3 and 7-4 the next two seasons before taking the job at Rhode Island.
In 2006 Coach Nichols earned the Michael Campbell Top Assistant Coach Award by the All-America Football Foundation.