Richard "Ricky" Diggs was introduced yesterday as the 15th head football coach at Morgan State University, which went outside its football family and even the family of historically black colleges to get its man.
"We conducted a national search for the best man, and now this commitment will assure our dream becoming a reality," said athletic director Leonard Braxton.
"Simply, we are in pursuit of a tradition we once had -- a tradition that brought success in the classroom and on the playing field. There was pride and a sense of belonging.
"Now, we have a man who brings discipline, a keen knowledge of things on and off the field -- after all, our primary job is still to take young people and prepare them for careers -- and a burning desire to win."
Diggs, an assistant coach at the Air Force Academy, said: "I feel honored that Morgan State has granted me a chance to pursue my dream, and it will get every effort from me to get that tradition back.
"Winning is an attitude -- you have to believe you can win. At the same time, football is a game, and you want to have fun. And the only way you can have fun is to win. Thus, the establishment of a winning attitude becomes a No. 1 concern."
Diggs, 37, is a native of Harrisburg, Pa., and knew about Morgan State from its successful seasons in the 1960s. He said he also knows about Morgan's recent struggles.
"There is no way to go but up. It is a positive situation for me," he said.
Braxton said he hoped Diggs' hiring would blend in with what he perceives as a new attitude on campus that things are changing for the better.
"There is a difference," Braxton said. "The physical improvement of the campus, the commitment of the administration, it is all a part of it."
First-year basketball coach Michael Holmes, who had been a neighbor of Diggs' when the two were coaches in Columbia, S.C., mentioned Diggs' name to Morgan officials. Diggs sent a resume and was selected from among six final candidates.
No contract terms were announced, but Braxton said Diggs has been assured he will be given time to establish a program, even though everyone is on a year-to-year basis.
Out of football in 1989, Diggs spent a year working as a stockbroker.
"One of the things I learned was to be able to call people I didn't know and try to line them up as clients," he said. "That gave me the confidence I can call anybody. The worst they can do is say no or hang up."
That experience impressed Braxton, who said, "He brings something we haven't had -- someone who has seen both the real world and the sheltered, academic world."
Diggs will be on campus today and tomorrow, beginning an assessment of current players and assistant coaches who were under Ed Wyche, who was fired after three seasons and a 1-10 record in 1990. Diggs expects to begin coaching full time March 1.