Citadel football chief Higgins leaving for Wake Forest

Higgins. (Source: Citadel Sports)

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- After nine years at the helm for The Citadel, Kevin Higgins is taking his talents to the TarHeel State, ABC News 4's Sports Direct Scott Eisberg learned Monday.

Sources say a team meeting was held at 3 p.m. Monday for players who have not already left on winter break.

"It was really hard. We have had a great nine years. Kay and I enjoyed every minute of our time," Higgins said Monday afternoon.

Higgins logged a 43-58 record in his tenure with the Bulldogs that included two winning seasons, both 7-4, in 2007 and 2012. The team ended the 2013 season at 5-7.

Sources say Higgins will be the wide receivers coach and associate head coach under newly crowned head coach Dave Clawson, a man he worked with at Lehigh University in the 1990s.{}

But now was the perfect time to move on to a team with less pressure and more resources.

"I started thinking hard and visited him this weekend, visited in more depth. This is the right time to do that. Obviously to coach in the ACC is special. We'll have few more weapons when we play teams like FSU than at The Citadel," he said. "That's encouraging."

Former Bulldog quarterback Ben Dupree said he was shocked when he heard about Higgins leaving the school, but didn't question his decision to head into Division I football.

"He changed everything," Dupree said of Higgins' offensive game. "He introduced me to a whole other level of football."

The former quarterback said Higgins had a tearful meeting with the team after he turned down the offensive coordinator position at Iowa.

"He basically said he turned down the job and wanted to stick around because of us," Dupree said Monday.

Higgins also spent four years in the NFL as a quarterback and wide receivers coach for the Detroit Lions.

Clawson is joining the Demon Deacons after five seasons at Bowling Green State University where he led the Falcons to a 213 Mid-American Conference Championship.

Wake Forest finished the 2013 season at 4-8.

"I feel good about it. I wanted to leave it in a good position and I do think it is," he said.

The news turned Tuesday to speculation of who might be offered the job and Goose Creek head football coach Chuck Reedy said he would not turn the job down if offered it.

"It's realistic to know there isn't a high likelihood," he added. "I've made a run at The Citadel a few other times, when Ellis and Kevin were hired. I'm not pursuing now, but certainly would listen," he said.

For now, Reedy said the job is an interesting one, but he's happy at Goose Creek running the option.

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