BREAKING: UMHB head football coach Pete Fredenburg announces retirement, Larry Harmon named head coach

BELTON, Texas- The day was inevitable. But nonetheless, the shock was heard around the D-III football world Friday afternoon. 

In a release, UMHB announced that head football coach Pete Fredenburg, who began the program in its inaugural season in 1998, has retired.  Defensive Coordinator Larry Harmon has been named the head coach, after spending 20 years on the coaching staff.

“It’s been an incredible journey for me and my family,” Fredenburg said in a press release. “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.”

“I am honored to be promoted to head coach of this prestigious program,” Harmon said, per a press release. “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.”

Fredenburg led the Crusaders to three national titles, 19 American Southwest Conference championships and a total of 17 D-III football playoff appearances in 24 years at the helm of the program. He was recently named D3football.com’s Coach of the Year for the 2021 season. 

“What Pete Fredenburg has accomplished in 24 years at UMHB is unimaginable,” UMHB President Dr. Randy O’Rear said in a statement. “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.”

Fredenburg, arguably one of the most successful D-III football coaches of all-time, built the program in Belton from the ground up, establishing a winning culture that has prided itself on excellence year in and year out. The results have been eye-popping, with Fredenburg assembling a 231-39 record as UMHB’s head coach, with the program having produced 173 All-Americans, eight Academic All-Americans, 152 All-Region selections, and 452 All-Conference players. 

In 2002, UMHB captured its first ASC title, going 9-0 in conference play, and has earned the conference title in each of the last 17 seasons. In 2021, the Cru defeated North Central College 57-24 in the Stagg Bowl, capping off a perfect 15-0 season and claiming the program’s third national championship. 

Football: University of Mary Hardin-Baylor Crusaders vs. North Central College Cardinals (Pictured: Larry Harmon (Left), Pete Fredenburg (Center), Mikkah Hackett (Right) (Photo courtesy of UMHB Sports Information)

The accomplishments of the UMHB program under Fredenburg’s dedicated leadership have been evident across the Lone Star State and the country. In April of 2018, the Clifton, Texas native, who ranks in the top five amongst active D-III head coaches in career wins, was inducted into the Texas Sports Hall of Fame. 

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 in the release. “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.”

Harmon’s defense played a critical role in UMHB’s past success, including this past season. The Crusader defense limited nine opponents to seven points or less, and ranked fourth in the nation in total defense. The Cru allowed just 10.3 points per game.

“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 in the release. “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.”

Harmon played four years at strong safety for South Dakota State and spent one season as an assistant coach at his alma mater. He also served as an assistant coach for two seasons at Northwest Missouri State, where he helped the Bearcats win the NCAA Division II national title in 1998. Prior to taking over as the defensive coordinator, in 2004, Harmon was the Cru’s secondary coach.

Riley Zayas is the managing editor of True To The Cru. He can be emailed at rileyzayas@truetothecru.com.

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