The 2014 University of Mary Hardin-Baylor football team was ranked No. 2 in America in the USA Today Sports College Football Preview magazine.
The Crusaders were ranked No. 4 in the Sporting News College Football Preview.
In 2013, the Crusaders won the American Southwest Conference championship with a 6-0 mark, went 13-1 overall, and advanced to the NCAA Division III semifinals.
So the expectations are high for UMHB this season — and that suits head coach Pete Fredenburg just fine.
“We’ve created high expectations and that’s what we originally set out to do when we started,” he said. “One of our goals was to build one of the top programs in America. So we’re proud that we’re being recognized for achieving that.”
The Crusaders will open the 2014 season on the road, Sept. 6, against Millsaps College in Jackson, Miss.
Fredenburg, a former assistant coach at Baylor, LSU and Louisiana Tech, started the UMHB program from scratch in 1998. In his 16 years at the helm, the Crusaders have an outstanding overall record of 159-35.
“But now the key when we receive these high national preseason rank-
ings, is to keep things in balance,” Fredenburg said. “It’s important that we don’t take this recognition for granted. We’ll be reminding our players early on that it’s great to be recognized preseason. But now it’s important that we work hard so we remain up at the top.”
Fredenburg and UMHB have won 11 conference titles with a sensational mark in league play of 112-15. Fredenburg and the Crusaders have lost a grand total of one league contest over the past eight years.
All of which means opponents will be chomping at the bit when they face UMHB.
“We know that’s true,” Fredenburg said. “We know we have a target on our backs now. But I look at that as a positive. It means we’ve achieved quite a bit through the years. We are absolutely aware that each week we will be getting our opponent’s best shot.
“The good thing is I know our players are working hard so that we maintain our high standards. They’re working hard at getting stronger. They’re working hard at getting faster. They have to — because the season is right around the corner.”