Bearkat Football Soars To New Heights Under Coach Fritz
by Cheval John
Though there is no such thing as moral victories, the Sam Houston State Bearkat football team have accomplished more under head coach Willie Fritz.
Before the arrival of coach Fritz, the Bearkats have made only four appearances in the NCAA FCS playoffs (1986, 1991, 2001, 2004) during their 26 years of competition at the Division I level.
But under Fritz, the Bearkats have made back-to-back appearances in the FCS National Championship game and brought pride to the city of Huntsville, the students and alumni of Sam Houston State.
In addition, the Bearkats have made more television appearances in the last two years either nationally or regionally and applications to the university has sky-rocketed over that same period of time.
Though they run to the FCS title game in 2011 was great, their 2012 run was even more impressive because they only had three regular season home games and had to go through three teams, who were the tri-champions in what is considered to be the toughest conference in the FCS, the Big Sky.
Ron Randleman, who was the head coach of SHSU from 1982 to 2004, is not surprised with the success of coach Fritz.
“Coach Fritz has a special way with people. Randleman said. “
He’s put together a quality staff and these guys gave worked very hard to get to where we are today because it’s not easy to get there.”
Fritz played for Randleman while he was at Pittsburg State from 1979-82. and
He later served as a graduate assistant under Randleman in 1984-85 at SHSU and again in 1991-92 as as an assistant coach.
When he was hired as the head coach in December of 2009, the Bearkats was reeling from two consecutive losing seasons.
Many knew that coach Fritz was going to turn things around because of his reputation of turning programs that previously had losing seasons into winning teams.
After going 6-5, many believed that they were going to do better in the 2011 season by winning the SLC title.
The Bearkats exceeded their expectations and went 11-0 in the regular season and won the SLC title for the fourth time and won three straight playoffs games to make their first appearance in the FCS title game.
It seemed as they were not going to get back to the FCS title game because they only had three regular season home games and had brought in three new assistant coaches on the offensive side of the ball.
But coach Fritz and the Bearkats had other ideas as they went 8-3 and won their second consecutive SLC title and made it back to the playoffs and went through Cal Poly at home and defeated Montana State and Eastern Washington on the road to return to the title game.
Though they lost, one thing is for certain, the Bearkat football program has gone to new heights under coach Fritz.
But the most important thing is that coach Fritz is following in the footsteps of Coach Randleman because the players has conducted themselves with dignity and respect and have brought great pride to the university.
Maybe, that alone is a moral victory after all.