Eastern Kentucky fired Dean Hood on Monday in what figures to be one of the more surprising head coaching changes of the football offseason.
Hood, 52, went 55-38 with two Ohio Valley Conference titles and three FCS playoff appearances in eight seasons. This season, the Colonels (6-5, 5-3) lost three of their final four games to finish a disappointing 6-5 -- one year after winning nine games and going to the playoffs for the 21st time.
"I want to thank Dean for his service to Eastern Kentucky University," EKU director of athletics Steve Lochmueller said. "These decisions are never taken lightly. After a careful review of our football program, I feel a change in leadership is needed."
Hood was just the third EKU head coach in the last 50 years, but this season was a troubled one for the Colonels program. Two fights occurred between EKU players and University of Kentucky players last winter. Joey Kraemer, a redshirt freshman defensive lineman, died in an auto accident Sept. 27 and the Oct. 8 game against Tennessee Tech was moved from Richmond, Kentucky, because of a threat on campus.
Senior running back Dy'Shawn Mobley, the 2014 OVC offensive player of the year, was hampered by injuries and gave way to freshman Ethan Thomas, who led the Colonels in rushing but was sidelined by a concussion in November.
The university said a national search for a coach will begin immediately. The Colonels program is a candidate for a future move up to the FBS level.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.