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UMHB head football coach retiring, replacement announced

Fredenburg started the UMHB football program more than two decades ago in 1998. Since then, he helped forge its team into a national powerhouse, UMHB President said.

BELTON, Texas — The University of Mary Hardin-Baylor Head Football Coach and 2018 Texas Sports Hall of Famer Pete Fredenburg announced Friday that he is retiring from coaching in Belton.

Defensive Coordinator Larry Harmon has been promoted to replace Fredenburg, according to a news release.

Fredenburg is the only head coach in school history. He started the UMHB football program more than two decades ago in 1998. Since then, he helped forge its team into a national powerhouse, UMHB President Dr. Randy O’Rear said.  

Fredenburg won two national championships at UMHB in 2018 and 2021. The last game Fredenburg coached for the Cru was his Stagg Bowl victory over North Central College in December.

“What Pete Fredenburg 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."

Fredenburg coached in a total of five Stagg Bowls, but two, 2016 and 2017, were vacated by the NCAA for student violations. The Cru won the 2016 Stagg Bowl but that title was vacated. 

UMHB earned the program’s first winning record at 9-1 in 2000 and made its first NCAA postseason appearance in 2001. The Crusaders won their first of 17 American Southwest Conference (ASC) titles in 2002 before making an appearance in the NCAA Division III Football National Championship in 2004, just seven seasons into existence, the news release said.

Under Fredenburg's 24 years, the Cru amassed a 231-39 record with undefeated ASC records in 13 of those seasons. They advanced to the NCAA postseason 17 times with 47 playoff wins, more than all other American Southwest Conference programs combined. UMHB has been to at least the Quarterfinal round of the playoffs in 12 seasons, with national titles in 2018 and 2021, per the release.

On top of that, Fredenburg coached 173 All-Americans, 152 D3football.com All-Region selections, 452 All-ASC honorees, three Gagliardi Trophy finalists and two Gagliardi Trophy semifinalists. The Gagliardi Trophy is an award annually presented to the most outstanding Division III football player. The Crusader Football program also boasts eight Academic All-America selections and 19 Academic All-District honorees. 

“Pete Fredenburg forged a championship culture along his journey as he guided the UMHB football program from its infancy into a national power,” UMHB Vice President for Athletics 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.”

Fredenburg was named 2021 D3football.com Coach of the Year after guiding the Cru to its second national title with a 57-24 win over North Central College in Stagg Bowl XLVIII this season. 

RELATED: UMHB defeats North Central College in the Stagg Bowl, 57-24

Fredenburg also earned national Coach of the Year honors from American Football Monthly (2013), Liberty Mutual (2013) and the American Football Coaches Association (2016). He is a 10-time ASC Coach of the Year and 10-time AFCA Region 3 Coach of the Year. 

“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.”

With Fredenburg's retirement, UMHB also announced that Harmon is being promoted to head coach after spending the last 17 seasons as its defensive coordinator. He also served as the Cru's secondary coach for three seasons before.

During his tenure as defensive coordinator, the UMHB defense finished among the nation’s best in total defense, scoring defense, rushing defense and pass-efficiency defense. The Cru led the nation in 2017 in red zone defense and set a new NCAA record for scoring defense with 7.3 points per game allowed. Harmon was also named Coordinator of the Year in 2017 by Football Scoop, according to its release.

“I am honored to be promoted to head coach of this prestigious program,” Harmon said. “The opportunity to lead the top football program in Division III football is very exciting. Working for and learning from a legendary hall of fame coach in Pete Fredenburg has been one of the biggest blessings of my life. UMHB is home to me, and I am ready to get to work at defending our national title.”

Under Harmon’s direction, the Cru defense produced four D3football.com National Defensive Players of the Year, nine D3football.com Regional Defensive Players of the Year, two Gagliardi Trophy semifinalists and one Gagliardi Trophy finalist. 

“There is not a better man prepared to become the second head football coach for the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor than Larry Harmon,” UMHB Vice President for Athletics Dr. Mickey Kerr said. “Coach Harmon has had a truly exemplary 20-year coaching career at UMHB, and we are excited to see him continue with his commitment to excellence as he takes over the leadership of the Cru.  Larry has a strong vision for the continued success of this program and a deep sense of pride and passion that fuels his championship mentality.”

RELATED: UMHB ranked #2 in D3football.com Top 25 preseason poll