The legendary Mary Hardin-Baylor coach Pete Fredenburg has retired, the program announced Friday. Longtime defensive coordinator Larry Harmon was promoted to replace him.
Fredenburg was a true program patriarch for UMHB. He founded the Cru football program at the Belton, Texas, university, located in between Austin and Waco. (Mary Hardin-Baylor, as the name implies, was originally an all-female wing of the Baylor system.)
The Cru went 3-7 in their founding season of 1998, and then 4-6 in 1999. They never had another losing season.
The 2000 campaign saw UMHB's first winning season, at 9-1; 2001 produced their first Division III playoff appearance; and 2002 their first American Southwest Conference championship. The Cru won the league again in 2003, finished second in 2004, and have won the ASC for the past 17 seasons and counting.
"What has accomplished in 24 years at UMHB is unimaginable," UMHB President Dr. Randy O'Rear said. "To start a program from scratch and build it into a perennial national powerhouse is a credit to his vision, passion and exceptional leadership. Pete's remarkable accomplishments have brought national recognition to the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor. Even more important is the investment he has made in the lives of our student-athletes, which will pay dividends for generations to come."
After reaching the semifinal four times before, UMHB appeared in its first Stagg Bowl in 2016, scoring a 10-7 victory over Wisconsin-Oshkosh. That title broke a string of 11 straight Division III crowns resting atop the heads of Mount Union or Wisconsin-Whitewater. (UMHB's title was later vacated due to NCAA violations stemming from Fredenburg loaning his car, a 2006 Subaru, to a Cru player in 2016 and '17.)
Mary Hardin-Baylor reached the Stagg Bowl again in 2017, falling 12-0 to Mount Union. 2018 brought revenge, a 24-16 defeat of the Purple Raiders. The 2019 campaign was an utter failure -- I'm kidding: they went 12-1 and lost in the quarterfinals. After the 2020 season was largely canceled, UMHB again won the title, walloping defending champion North Central, 57-24, on Dec. 17.
"Pete Fredenburg forged a championship culture along his journey as he guided the UMHB football program from its infancy into a national power," UMHB AD Dr. Mickey Kerr said. "That culture has been the foundation for the pride, winning tradition and championship mindset for each of the 24 teams he led. Coach Fredenburg will forever be associated with the expectation for excellence that every UMHB football player develops as he earns the right to wear the purple, white and gold. His legacy will live on through all of the young men he has coached throughout his stellar career."
In all, Fredenburg went 257-40 (in the record books he's 231-39) with 19 conference titles, eight final fours and three national championships. The last regular season game the Cru dropped was in 2015, leaving on a 57-game regular season winning streak.
In the program he created, 173 players earned All-America honors and 452 earned all-conference selections. Countless more forged bonds for life -- with each other, and with the program he nurtured, led, and dominated Division III with.
"It's been an incredible journey for me and my family," Fredenburg said. "I really believe that the 24 years I spent here went by so fast. It's been an awesome journey, and I am forever grateful to UMHB for the opportunity to lead such an amazing program."