In the wake of Floyd Keith's resignation late Monday, Howard University officials yesterday had barely started their search for a new head football coach.

Keith said he will recommend Joe Taylor, Howard's defensive coordinator. Some prominent alumni close to the football program are in favor of Rickie Harris, former Redskin who is now a businessman here.

Keith is expected to remain in the coaching business; Indiana University and the Washington Federals are interested in hiring him.

Federals spokesman Rick Vaughn said yesterday that the team's head coach, Ray Jauch, had interviewed Keith "and a decision will be made in the next day or two."

Leo Miles, director of athletics at Howard, said yesterday, "I haven't done much of anything at this point. I'll start looking into it the next day or so. I'm just collecting myself on which way I want to go."

Sources close to the program say Keith's successor will probably be a man who has had previous head coaching experience at the college level, or assistant coaching experience at the pro level.

Taylor hasn't been a head coach in college, but he is respected by the Howard players and acknowledged around the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference as a good defensive coach.

"No one has officially approached me," Taylor said, "but I'm interested. "I feel I could do a good job."

Harris, 39, played with the Redskins from 1962 to 1965 and 1970 and was a player-coach with Florida and Memphis in the old World Football League. He was a Keith assistant at Howard in 1979 and left to become an assistant with the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League.

"When I left," Harris said, "I did so with my mind set on furthering my coaching background so I could be ready for something like this. I'm very interested. It's one of my dreams. I plan to have my application in by tomorrow. I haven't talked to Mr. Miles, though, other than to find out that the position is open."

Miles said, "I'm going to consider everybody."

Keith said his decision to resign was made by and for his family. His four years as coach at Howard were often turbulent, and often his relationships with players, alumni and some members of the administration were strained. But Keith compiled a 23-17-2 record and during his tenure the grades of Howard's football players showed a marked improvement. But sources close to Keith, say he was frustrated by what he viewed as Howard's lack of commitment to big-time football.

Keith is a disciplinarian, whose philosophy was cooly received by many Howard players, some of whom have been critical of his offensive theory.