Will the system recognize the keyboard at boot time if it is plugged into a PCI USB card ..
No. The add-in board requires drivers which haven't (and couldn't) been loaded at the ok-prompt. You might be able to use keyboard and mouse attached to the add-in board on the os level.
The thing is, with out keyboad detected at boot time, the output goes to the tty... so I guess i'll have to use this box as a terminal through an add-on nic, i can do everything else through tty.
Thanks for the heads up, saved me some time.