NASHVILLE (BP) -– There were no bowl games, championships or confetti dropping out of the sky for the football coaches and players of Oklahoma Baptist and Houston Baptist universities this past season. The two brand new programs took their lumps in their first season -- and enjoyed some victories both on and off the field.
Both OBU coach Chris Jensen and Vic Shealy, HBU's coach, shared their thoughts on the season and pointed out a few lessons they learned while starting up football on two Baptist campuses.
Though both programs ended their seasons with only three victories (OBU,3-8; HBU,3-4) both coaches said they are optimistic about next season. They also touched on the spiritual impact the programs already seem to be having on some athletes who otherwise might not attend a Baptist – or Christian -- university.Proud past
For OBU, located in Shawnee, the school hasn't played a down of football since the 1940s.
Coming out of the Great Depression of the 30s, Jensen said, the school was unable to afford the program and it ended up shutting down "mostly for financial reasons." The team had just won a conference championship, he said, and a couple years before that they beat Arkansas University in a game.
"It's my understanding … that at the end of the last season they played, there was a deficit of $10,000. The president said if somebody will step up and cover this cost, we'll keep the football program; and nobody stepped up and … so they cut the program."
When football finally returned to OBU Aug. 31, the fans' response to the team was "unbelievable," Jensen said. The university's track facility had been transformed into a football field for their opening game against Southwestern College. The OBU Bison kept the score close but ultimately lost 22-26.
"We had over 5,000 people show up for that first game," Jensen said. "At our level that's a phenomenal crowd."
And that was on a day when the temperature reached well over 100 degrees, he said.
"Just brutally hot," he recalled. "I think our kids really battled hard, and they approached their business in the right way which helped us be in the game.
"A lot of the games we were [close]," he added. "We ended up having those moments where everything went wrong, and we couldn't bounce back from it at times." Read More