Our ranking of the top non-FBS coaching jobs continue today, and things got pretty heated for the top 3 spots in the Division III rankings.
So far, here's who has made the cut in the top 5:
Today, we share that occupying the #2 spot is...
Mary Hardin-Baylor has long been a consistent winner that has established themselves as one of the top 3 to 5 teams in the country on an annual basis.
The program has recently captured national titles in 2016 and 2018, and finished runner up to Mount Union in 2017. Just recently, that 2016 national title was technically stripped after the NCAA denied an appeal attempt from the school.
What's really remarkable about the successful of the UMHB program, is they only started up in the late 90's - 1997 to be exact. Pete Fredenburg was hired away after serving as an assistant at Baylor and defensive coordinator at Louisiana Tech to lead the program and has been the only head coach the program has ever known. after 3-7 and 4-6 seasons playing a young roster starting up, they burst onto the scene with a bang, as they won 9 games in year three, qualified for the NCAA Division III playoffs in year four and captured the school's first league title in year five. Within seven seasons, Fredenburg had them playing for their first national title.
That last time the Cru lost more than two games in a season was back in 1999, and they've rattled off an impressive 15 straight seasons where they finished at the top of the conference standings (with a few ties for the top spot along the way). The last time they finished 2nd in their league was 2004...and they went on a run to the national title game where they lost to Linfield (OR) that season (the #5 team on our ranking of Division III jobs).
To no one's surprise, one of the really special things about the UMHB program is its location. Located in Belton, TX - about midway between Austin and Waco within reasonable driving distances to major metropolitan areas of Dallas and Fort Worth, San Antonio, and Houston and a quick plane ride to Baton Rouge and New Orleans in Louisiana. That outstanding location is demonstrated on their roster, with an incredible 162 players on their roster located from within the Lone Star state with the minority of their roster coming from nearby states of Georgia, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Mississippi.
Widely considered one of the top places for football talent in the country, Texas is home to only 10 Division III programs. To put that in perspective, Virginia also has 10 Division III programs, Iowa has 11, Indiana is in the ball park with 8, and Ohio (21), Massachussetts (20), Minnesota (15), New York (18) are all smaller states with considerably more D-III programs playing football.
Fredenburg just wrapped up his 22nd season leading the program, and key staff member defensive coordinator Larry Harmon has put in 17 seasons alongside the longtime UMHB head man. A lot of the staff has joined up, or returned to the program, in the last several seasons, which is a great testament to the destination that UMHB has become for coaches, and for programs looking to lure their assistants away. The support staff outside the full-time coaches is loaded as well, with a total of TEN coaches holding graduate assistant positions on the staff, according to the staff page. There are also a few volunteer assistants and student assistants on that list as well.
Recruiting is the lifeblood of any program, but that is especially true at the Division III level. To have a stocked stable of full-time coaches, and double-digit graduate assistants has surely allowed them to recruit at a level that is simply unmatched by other fellow small schools.
The facilities and support at UMHB are second-to-none. The stadium is incredible and they fill it out with between 3,500 - 4,000 on average each week (good for top 12 or so in Division III), the administration has invested in the staff to a degree that I don't you'll find anywhere else (all those graduate assistants and full-time guys are evidence of that), and they've got a track record of success and a tradition that is tough to match.
Fredenburg is an incredible 237-40 leading the program since 1998 and has had the unique experience of building it from the ground up and has done a tremendous job establishing it as one of the top two jobs in small college football with no ceiling in sight for the program.
Could UMHB be considered for the top small job in college football? Come back tomorrow when we share our top choice.