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There is a school of thought that the only proper way to hunt is with a bow and arrow or equally primitive technology. Man versus nature, the way our ancestors did it. In the fishing world, they call this noodling.

Noodling is the process of catching a catfish with one’s bare hands, and it’s illegal in 35 states. The practice rose to prominence over the last two decades, and it’s the very definition of primitive. For his annual staff retreat, Texas A&M-Commerce head coach Coby Carthel took his staff, their wives and children to Peninsula Ranch on Lake Tawokoni a half hour’s drive southwest of Commerce, one of the best catfish lakes in the country.

Carthel and staff are in the second year of one of the biggest rebuilds in Division II. Prior to their arrival, the Lions hadn’t had a winning record since 2001, hadn’t made a postseason appearance since 1994, and hadn’t played in a bowl game since 1958. Texas A&M-Commerce was 5-26 over the three years prior to Carthel’s arrival, including a 1-9 mark in 2012. Things were bleak.

They aren’t bleak anymore.

The Lions went 7-5 in 2013, including a 6-2 start, good enough for an appearance in the Texarkana Bowl. The six-win jump was the largest among all Texas college football programs in 2013. Which brings us back to noodling. Carthel credits the closeness of his staff with the base on which A&M-Commerce’s successful season was constructed. Strange as it may be to some, Carthel believes noodling will bring them even closer.

“We felt noodling would help teach us to work as a team, be courageous, overcome fears and anxiety, and step out of our comfort zone,” Carthel told FootballScoop. “As you can see in the video, we accomplished all that and more.”

The video provided below shows wide receivers coach/recruiting coordinator Kevin Bleil working to secure a 40-pound flathead catfish which he grabbed from a hollowed out log eight feet below the surface – and the rest of the Lions’ staff helping him. 

You know what that say – the staff that noodles together stays together. 

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