BELTON, Texas — A little more than two years ago, UMHB Head Coach Pete Fredenburg got off the bus in Belton, hoisting the Division III Football National Championship trophy over his head. It was the Cru's second national title in three years.
The win solidified Fredenburg's place as one of the top coaches in college football and proved he had developed a culture of success in Belton.
That culture will be put to the test when the Cru take the field in 2021 for a season unlike any in Fredenburg's 23-year history at UMHB.
"I think it's been a unique opportunity to really test our resilience, and it's been fun to watch our players react to it," he said.
Fredenburg enters the season ranked 40th in total wins among college football head coaches all-time. He is fifth among active NCAA head coaches.
|Mack Brown||259||North Carolina|
|Brian Kelly||252||Notre Dame|
But in 2021, Fredenburg will have to overcome a new challenge after the NCAA and American Southwest conference announced they were postponing the Divsion III football season to the spring.
The ASC will hold a five-game, conference-only season starting Saturday, February 6.
The transition to spring football has created new challenges for Fredenburg and the Cru. They were only able to practice for six weeks during the fall, breaking the championship routine he built over two decades.
"We had spring in the fall and fall in the spring, so the spring in the fall was great for us, because we grew as a football team," Fredenburg said.
UMHB followed social distancing and mask-wearing guidelines during team meetings. But, there were still more challenges awaiting the Cru as they transitioned to spring football.
"You know it's the first time in my coaching career I've had to cancel a practice because of snow," Fredenberg said. "So that was pretty cool."
In addition, game-planning for other programs has become increasingly more difficult, because so much time has elapsed since the last time any Division III school took the field.
"The only tape that we have is from 2019!" Fredenburg said. "That's amazing. It's the only tape we have!"
UMHB will not be able to compete for a national title due to the NCAA's decision to cancel fall championships. They will, however, be able to win another ASC conference title. If they do, it will be their 16th in a row.
"Our plan is to try to win this thing," Fredenburg said. "And as we develop and win it, we are obviously in the back of our minds thinking about preparing for next fall."
Fredenburg said he kept in touch with some Division I coaches during the fall season, discussing the best ways to deal with COVID-19. As a result of those discussions, he said his team will take bus rides to their games this season.
The Cru will drive to Jackson, Mississippi for their season opener against Belhaven. Kickoff is set for `12 p.m. Saturday, February 6.