You could ask University of Mary Hardin-Baylor head coach Pete Fredenburg how it feels to lose an American Southwest Conference football game.
But you wouldn’t have a very long conversation.
Fredenburg and the Crusaders haven’t lost one of those games in over five seasons. Heck, Fredenburg and UMHB have only lost two league games over the past nine years.
Now, if you want to ask Fredenburg: “How does it feel to hand your son the keys to the car?” Well, Pete Fredenburg can stretch that out into a longer discussion.
“I think I know where you’re going with that question,” Fredenburg replied with a hearty chuckle.
Two weeks ago, Fredenburg promoted his 33-year-old son Cody from quarterbacks coach to offensive coordinator or, put another way, handed Cody “the keys to the car.”
Cody will be in charge of driving the offense for UMHB, a team that was handed a No. 2 ranking in America by a national publication on Thursday.
“I’m comfortable handing the keys to Cody,” said Fredenburg. “I know what kind of competitor he is. I know he is dedicated to the game. He is very demanding of himself.”
Pete has put his faith in Cody before.
After successful stints as an assistant coach at Baylor, LSU and Louisiana Tech, Pete Fredenburg started the UMHB football program from scratch in 1998.
“I remember that we went 3-and-7 and 4-and-6 in our first two seasons,” Fredenburg recalled. “And then Cody became our quarterback and we won nine ball games immediately and then, later, he led us to our first conference championship (2002).”
Pete and Karen Fredenburg recently celebrated their 45th wedding anniversary.
“She has got to be a saint to be married to a football coach for 45 years,” says Pete with a chuckle. “She lives and dies with every game. She knows Cody is very deserving of this promotion and she’s proud that Cody will get the chance to prove it.
“But she’s also like any other mother would be in this situation. She worries about the pressures on Cody and how he’ll handle it all. But, like me, she has all the confidence in the world in Cody.”
Karen Fredenburg, indeed, was thrilled about Cody’s promotion.
“I don’t know what will happen but Cody definitely has the passion needed for this job,” she said. “Naturally, it does make me more anxious. But it’s a total positive for our family.
“When Cody was very little, he said to me, ‘Mom, when I grow up I’ll be a professional football player and when I get hurt I’ll become a coach and when I get fired I’ll become an announcer.’
“Pete and Cody have an incredible relationship. They’re both fierce competitors.”
Karen has a strong recall of when her son Cody played for Pete.
“I’m not sure every kid could play for their father,” she said. “But they always made it work. I remember one time that Pete really let the team have it in the locker room after a game. Then, later, Pete pulled Cody aside and asked him how the speech was and Cody replied, ‘Dad, I’ve heard you give that speech every year of my life.’”
Listening to Karen, one might wonder if Pete might also make some room for her on his staff.
“It’s great to be ranked No. 2 but it doesn’t mean anything,” Karen said. “It’s nice to be recognized but it just means everyone else is after you. We need tough leaders this year. We lost some good players from last season.”
UMHB starts practice Aug. 13.
“I can’t believe it’s almost here,” Karen said. “It’s all exciting. Cody is excited, too. To see Pete and Cody work together like this is really a blessing.”
Pete Fredenburg earned numerous national accolades last season including the Liberty Mutual Division III Coach of the Year Award.
His overall record at UMHB is an incredible 159-35. In conference play, Fredenburg and the Cru are 112-15. Fredenburg is 67 but when talking about the 2014 season, he sounds like a 30-year-old kid.
“Pete still has the passion for the game,” said Karen. “And people will be able to see that Cody has that same passion, too. I’m glad Cody is like Pete in that he doesn’t take losses home with him. Our kids, and now our grandkids, never have to worry about how Pete walks in the door after a loss.
“Of course, fortunately, they haven’t lost a lot lately.”
True enough. Fredenburg and UMHB are 50-4 over the past four years.
So, two weeks ago, when it came time to “handing over the car keys” to his offense, it made sense Fredenburg handed them to ... Fredenburg.
Contact Allan Mandell at firstname.lastname@example.org or 254-501-7566 and read his column at KDHPressbox.com