Sam Houston State Bearkats football
2022 Sam Houston State Bearkats football team
Sam Houston State word mark.png
First season1912
Athletic directorBobby Williams
Head coachK. C. Keeler
8th season, 80–23 (.777)
StadiumBowers Stadium
(capacity: 12,593)
Field surfaceReal Grass Pro Artificial Surface
LocationHuntsville, Texas
NCAA divisionDivision I FBS
ConferenceC-USA
All-time record550–472–35 (.537)
Bowl record3–1–1 (.700)
Playoff record24-12
Claimed national titles2
(NAIA): 1964
(Div. I FCS): 2020
Conference titles15
RivalriesStephen F. Austin (rivalry)
Texas State Bobcats
ColorsOrange and white[1]
   
Fight songBearkat Fight Song
MascotSammy Bearkat
Marching bandBearkat Marching Band
OutfitterUnder Armour
WebsiteGoBearkats.com

The Sam Houston Bearkats football program is the intercollegiate American football team for Sam Houston State University located in the U.S. state of Texas. The team competes in the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) as a member of the Western Athletic Conference through the 2020–21 season. Sam Houston's first football team was fielded in 1912. The team plays its home games at the 12,593-seat Bowers Stadium in Huntsville, Texas. On January 23, 2014, K. C. Keeler was named the 15th head coach in Sam Houston program history.[2]

In July 2021, the Bearkats left the Southland Conference to join the Western Athletic Conference, which relaunched its football league at the FCS level at that time.[3] Just a few months later, on November 5, 2021, the school accepted an invitation to join Conference USA at the NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) level beginning in the 2023–24 season.[4]

History

Sam Houston has fielded a football team since 1912 and have played continuously since 1946 following World War II. The only times the Bearkats did not field a football team were in 1918 for World War I, from 1943 to 1945 for World War II, and 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic (although they did get a make-up season in the spring of 2021). The Bearkats competed independently from 1912 through 1923, in the Texas Intercollegiate Athletic Association (TIAA) from 1924 to 1931, in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) from 1932 to 1981, in NCAA Division II from 1982 to 1985 and in the Southland Conference of the NCAA Division I FCS from 1986 to 2021. In July 2021, The Bearkats left the Southland Conference to join the Western Athletic Conference, which relaunched its football league at the FCS level at that time.[3] Just a few months later, on November 5, 2021, the school accepted an invitation to join FBS Conference USA beginning in the 2023-24 season.[4]

The Bearkats won their first FCS National Championship in the 2020-21 college football season, beating South Dakota State 23-21.[5]

The Bearkats have 15 conference championships, and have seen postseason NCAA playoff action in 13 seasons, with back-to-back NCAA Division I Championship game appearances in 2011–2012.[6] Sam Houston State also has 3 bowl victories in four games, and one claimed National Championship from NAIA in the 1964 season.[7]

Head coaches

Ron Randleman is Sam Houston's and the Southland Conference's all-time winningest coach with 132 wins over a span of 23 years. Randleman also won conference Coach of the Year honors on four occasions, in the Gulf Star Conference in 1985 and 1986, and in the Southland Conference in 1991, and 2001.[8]

Paul Pierce coached the Bearkats to its only National Championship as a member of NAIA, and also won the 1965 Knute Rockne Little All-American Coach of the Year award.[9]

Willie Fritz coached Sam Houston to back-to-back conference championships and back-to-back national title game appearances in only three years, while being awarded the 2011 AFCA National Coach of the Year award and the 2012 Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year award. He was also named the 2012 AFCA Regional Coach of the Year.[10][11][12][13]

On January 23, 2014, former Delaware head coach K. C. Keeler was named the 15th head coach in Sam Houston program history. So far, he has arguably had the most success as a Sam Houston head coach boasting a .777 overall win percentage and a .736 playoff win percentage, in addition to winning a conference title four out of his eight seasons as head coach, and a Division I national championship in 2020. Sidenote: Keeler has only lost a home playoff game once in his entire career as a head coach.[2]

Name From To Record Postseason
W L T
S. R. Warner 1912 1913 5 3 1
Gene Berry 1914 1919 14 15 1
Mutt Gee 1920 1922 6 7 4
J. W. Jones 1923 1935 54 53 9 1930 Texas Intercollegiate Athletic Association champions
Henry O. Crawford 1936 1937 7 12 0
Puny Wilson 1937 1951 50 49 6
Paul Pierce 1952 1967 94 52 7 1955 Lone Star Conference co-champions, 1956 LSC champions, 1964 LSC, NAIA National co-champions, 3 bowl wins in 4 appearances
Tom Page 1968 1971 20 19 3
Allen Boren 1972 1973 7 14 0
Billy Tidwell 1974 1977 11 30 1
Melvin Brown 1978 1981 12 29 0
Ron Randleman 1982 2004 131 125 3 1985 Gulf Star Conference co-champions, 1986 GSC champions, 2001 Southland Conference co-champions, 2004 SLC co-champions
Todd Whitten 2005 2009 25 28 0
Willie Fritz 2010 2014 40 15 0 2011 SLC champions, 2011 NCAA Division I Finalist, 2012 SLC co-champions 2012 NCAA Division I Finalist
K. C. Keeler 2014 present 80 23 0 2014 SLC co-champions, 2014 NCAA Division I Semifinalist, 2015 NCAA Division I Semifinalist, 2016 SLC champions, 2016 NCAA Division I Quarterfinalist, 2017 NCAA Division I Semifinalist, 2020 SLC champions, 2020 NCAA Division I National Champions, 2021 WAC champions, 2021 NCAA Division I Quarterfinalist
Composite record 1912 present 561 474 34

Championships

National championships

Sam Houston has two national championships, with one during their tenure in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics and the other coming in FCS. In their NAIA championship game, they played Concordia Cobbers for the championship, with the game resulting in a tie,[14] becoming co-champions with Moorhead.[15] In their third FCS championship game, they defeated South Dakota State to win their first FCS national championship.

Season Coach Selector Record Result Opponent
1964 Paul Pierce National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics 9–1–1 T 7–7 Concordia College
2020 K. C. Keeler NCAA Division 1 Football Championship Subdivision 10–0 W 23–21 South Dakota State

Conference championships

Sam Houston has won 15 conference titles, seven shared and eight outright.

Year Conference Coach Overall Record Conference Record
1930 Texas Intercollegiate Athletic Association J. W. Jones 9–1 5–0
1955† Lone Star Conference Paul Pierce 6–1–2 5–1–1
1956 10–0 7–0
1961 8–1 7–0
1964†* 9–1–1 5–1
1985† Gulf Star Conference Ron Randleman 8–3 4–1
1986 9–3 4–1
2001† Southland Conference 10–3 5–1
2004† 8–3 4–1
2011 Willie Fritz 14–1 7–0
2012† 11–4 6–1
2014† K. C. Keeler 11–5 7–1
2016 12–1 9–0
2020 10–0 6–0
2021 Western Athletic Conference 11–1 5–0

† Denotes shared title.[16]

Conference affiliations

Bowl game appearances

Sam Houston appeared in five bowl games during their time in the NAIA, going 3–0–1 in these bowl games, with the final one notably being for the NAIA championship.

Season Bowl Opponent Result
1952 Shrimp Bowl Northeastern State (OK) W 41–20
1953 Refrigerator Bowl College of Idaho W 14–12
1956 Refrigerator Bowl Middle Tennessee State W 27–13
1958 Christmas Festival Bowl Northwestern State L 11–18
1964 Championship Bowl Concordia College T 7–7

Playoff appearances

NCAA Division I-AA/FCS

The Bearkats have appeared in the I-AA/FCS playoffs 13 times with an overall record of 24–12. They were NCAA Division I National Champions in 2020.

Year Round Opponent Result
1986 First Round Arkansas State L 7–48
1991 First Round Middle Tennessee State L 19–20 OT
2001 First Round
Quarterfinals
Northern Arizona
Montana
W 34–31
L 24–49
2004 First Round
Quarterfinals
Semifinals
WKU
Eastern Washington
Montana
W 54–21
W 35–34
L 13–34
2011 Second Round
Quarterfinals
Semifinals
National Championship Game
Stony Brook
Montana State
Montana
North Dakota State
W 34–27
W 49–13
W 31–28
L 6–17
2012 Second Round
Quarterfinals
Semifinals
National Championship Game
Cal Poly
Montana State
Eastern Washington
North Dakota State
W 18–16
W 34–16
W 45–42
L 13–39
2013 First Round
Second Round
Southern Utah
Southeastern Louisiana
W 51–20
L 29–30
2014 First Round
Second Round
Quarterfinals
Semifinals
Southeastern Louisiana
Jacksonville State
Villanova
North Dakota State
W 21–17
W 37–26
W 34–31
L 3–35
2015 First Round
Second Round
Quarterfinals
Semifinals
Southern Utah
McNeese State
Colgate
Jacksonville State
W 42–39
W 34–29
W 48–21
L 10–62
2016 Second Round
Quarterfinals
Chattanooga
James Madison
W 41–36
L 7–65
2017 Second Round
Quarterfinals
Semifinals
South Dakota
Kennesaw State
North Dakota State
W 54-42
W 34-27
L 13–55
2020 First Round
Quarterfinals
Semifinals
National Championship Game
Monmouth
North Dakota State
James Madison
South Dakota State
W 21-15
W 24-20
W 38-35
W 23-21
2021 Second Round
Quarterfinals
UIW
Montana State
W 49-42
L 19-42

NAIA

The Bearkats appeared in the NAIA playoffs one time, with a combined record of 1–0–1.

Year Round Opponent Result
1964 Semifinals
National Championship
Findlay
Concordia–Moorhead
W, 32–12
T, 7–7

Home stadiums

Main article: Bowers Stadium

Pritchett Field (1912–1985)

The Bearkats' home for football was on Pritchett Field for 73 years (1912–1985) beginning with their first football game against Rice University in 1912. The field was named after Joseph Pritchett, brother of the university's fourth president Henry Carr Pritchett, and former owner of the land the field rests on.

The final football game played on Pritchett Field was a victory for the Bearkats with a score of 51–7, defeating Washburn University. Sam Houston Football began playing games at Bowers Stadium following the 1985 season. The complex is currently home to Sam Houston Women's Soccer and Club Lacrosse.[17]

On April 18, 2013,[18] football was played on Pritchett Field for the first time since 1985 for the annual Orange-White spring game. The event also included the presentation of the Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year Award to head coach Willie Fritz.[12]

Bowers Stadium (1986–present)

Bowers Stadium in Huntsville, Texas. Home of the Sam Houston Bearkats football team.
Bowers Stadium in Huntsville, Texas. Home of the Sam Houston Bearkats football team.

Bowers Stadium, formerly Bearkat Stadium (1986–1989), is currently home to both Sam Houston Football and the Track and Field programs beginning with the 1986 season. Bowers Stadium has a capacity of 14,000. However, 16,148 fans packed Bowers Stadium in 1994 to watch Alcorn State led by NFL bound quarterback Steve McNair in a 48-23 SAM HOUSTON victory on regional ABC-TV.[19][20]

Rivalries

Stephen F. Austin

Main article: Battle of the Piney Woods

The Sam Houston/Stephen F. Austin rivalry game, also known as the Battle of the Piney Woods, is a yearly rivalry held at NRG Stadium in Houston. The two teams have met 91 times with Sam Houston leading the series 60-34-2. The Battle of the Piney Woods is Texas' second longest FCS rivalry. The most recent meeting ending with the Bearkats defeating the Lumberjacks 21-20 and clinching their 10th win in a row. However, the rivalry is now in question as Sam Houston has officially announced their move from the Western Athletic Conference to Conference USA in 2023.

Texas State

Sam Houston State’s second longest rivalry (dating back to 1915) was Texas State University. The two teams held annual rivalry games in mainly football and basketball with Texas State boasting a 50-37-5 record in football (last game in 2011) and a 64-51 record in men’s basketball (last game in 2012). The two universities are in the same university system (sharing many similarities) and competed in the same athletic conferences until Texas State left the Southland Conference for the Western Athletic Conference in 2012, eventually ending up in the Sun Belt Conference only a year later in 2013.

Notable former players

Bearkats in the National Football League

Sam Houston has had 37 alumni play in the National Football League, with 19 players selected in the Draft.[21][22] During the 2018 NFL Draft, the Oakland Raiders selected defensive lineman P. J. Hall in the second round. This represents the highest a Bearkat player has been drafted by an NFL team.

Individual awards

National awards

Sam Houston has had a total of 88 players selected into the College Football All-America Team, including 58 NCAA All-Americans and 30 NAIA All-Americans. A number of these players have also been considered for major national awards.[23] In 2016, quarterback Jeremiah Briscoe became the first Bearkat to win the Payton Award. In 2017 he became the first Bearkat to win two Payton Awards and only the second FCS player to win multiple Payton Awards after former Appalachian State quarterback Armanti Edwards became the first in 2009.

Major honors

Chris Chaloupka, QB, 1999 – 13th
Josh McCown, QB, 2001 – 7th
Dustin Long, QB, 2004 – 2nd
D. D. Terry, RB, 2006 – 16th
Tim Flanders, RB, 2011 – 7th, 2012 – 13th
Jeremiah Briscoe, QB, 2016 - Winner, 2017 Winner
Keith Davis, DB, 2001 – 7th
Darnell Taylor, S, 2012 – 14th
P. J. Hall, DE, 2016 - 3rd
Derick Roberson, DE, 2018 - 2nd
Willie Fritz, National, 2011
Willie Fritz, Regional, 2011 & 2012
K. C. Keeler - 2016

Conference awards

Sam Houston has had 407 All-Conference selections and honorable mentions, including 202 in the Southland Conference, 25 in the Gulf Star Conference, 173 in the Lone Star Conference, and 7 in the Texas Intercollegiate Athletic Association.[24]

Lanny Dycus, QB, Gulf Star (1985)
Chris Chaloupka, QB, Southland (1999)
Josh McCown, QB, Southland (2001)
Dustin Long, QB, Southland (2004)
Timothy Flanders, RB, Southland (2011 & 2012)
Jeremiah Briscoe, QB, Southland (2016)
Chris Chaloupka, QB, Southland (1999)
D. D. Terry, RB, Southland (2006)
Richard Sincere, WR, Southland (2011)
Jared Johnson, QB, Southland (2015)
Yedidiah Louis, WR, Southland (2016)
Davion Davis, WR, Southland (2017)
Keith Davis, DB, Southland (2000)
Darnell Taylor, S, Southland (2011 & 2012)
P.J. Hall, DE, Southland (2016)
Bart Bradley, P, Gulf Star (1986)
Victor McKnight, C, Southland (1996)
Matt Dominguez, WR, Southland (1997)
P.J. Hall, DE, Southland (2014)
Nathan Stewart, WR, Southland (2016)
Tim Denton, DB, Southland (1995)
Chris Chaloupka, QB, Southland (1999)
Timothy Flanders, RB, Southland (2010)
Ron Randleman, Gulf Star (1986)
Ron Randleman, Southland (1991 & 2001)
Willie Fritz, Southland (2011)
K. C. Keeler, Southland (2016)

Individual program records

Rushing records

Passing records

Receiving records

Defensive records

Future non-conference opponents

Future non-conference opponents announced as of October 14, 2022.[29]

2023 2024 2025 2026 2027 2028 2029 2030
at BYU at Rice at Hawaii at Troy at Colorado State vs Colorado State vs Troy vs Georgia Southern
vs Air Force * at UCF at Air Force at Houston at Georgia Southern
at Houston vs Hawaii

References

  1. ^ "Athletic Branding". Sam Houston State University Department of Marketing and Communications. Retrieved May 15, 2021.
  2. ^ a b Roepken, Corey (2014-01-23). "Sam Houston State hires K.C. Keeler as head football coach". Houston Chronicle.
  3. ^ a b "WAC Announces Expedited Entrance for Four Texas Institutions" (Press release). Western Athletic Conference. January 21, 2021. Retrieved January 25, 2021.
  4. ^ a b "Sam Houston accepts invitation to join Conference USA". KBTX. November 5, 2021. Retrieved November 8, 2021.
  5. ^ "2021 FCS Championship Game: Date, time, history". NCAA. 2021. Retrieved November 8, 2021.
  6. ^ "Sam Houston Football Record Book" (PDF). Sam Houston State Athletics. 2013. Retrieved 2013-05-04.
  7. ^ "1964 National Co-Champion team holds reunion". Sam Houston State Athletics. 2009-10-24. Retrieved 2013-05-04.
  8. ^ "SHSU's Ron Randleman to Retire". Southland Conference. 2004-12-12. Retrieved 2013-05-04.
  9. ^ "Sam Houston State Coaching Records". College Football Data Warehouse. Archived from the original on 2014-07-29. Retrieved 2013-05-04.
  10. ^ "Sam Houston State gets second chance in FCS title game". Houston Chronicle. 2013-01-04. Retrieved 2013-05-04.
  11. ^ "SHSU's Willie Fritz Named AFCA Coach of the Year". Archived from the original on 2014-03-05. Retrieved 2013-04-12.
  12. ^ a b "Football Back At Pritchett Thursday Night". Retrieved 2013-04-19.
  13. ^ "Willie Fritz earns AFCA Regional Coach of the Year". Retrieved 2013-04-12.
  14. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2015-07-15. Retrieved 2014-11-25.((cite web)): CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  15. ^ "Sam Houston State Bearkat History". GoBearkats.com. Retrieved 2009-08-07.
  16. ^ "Sam Houston State Conference Championships". Archived from the original on 2004-06-03. Retrieved 2013-04-09.
  17. ^ "Joseph Pritchett Field". Retrieved April 9, 2013.
  18. ^ "Orange-White Spring Scrimmage". Retrieved 2013-04-19.
  19. ^ "Sam Houston Bearkat Athletic History". Archived from the original on February 5, 2005. Retrieved July 17, 2014.
  20. ^ McNair Hurt As Alcorn St. Loses, 48-23. Washington Post (September 25, 1994). Retrieved 2014-7-17.  – via HighBeam Research (subscription required)
  21. ^ "NFL Players who attended Sam Houston State University". DatabaseFootball.com. Archived from the original on 2007-09-19. Retrieved 2013-04-19.
  22. ^ "Sam Houston State Football Record Book" (PDF). Sam Houston State Athletic Department. Retrieved 2013-04-23.
  23. ^ Sam Houston State Football Records – National Awards (PDF). Sam Houston State Athletics. p. 38.
  24. ^ Sam Houston State Football Records – All Conference Players (PDF). Sam Houston State Athletics. pp. 39–40.
  25. ^ Sam Houston State Football Records – Rushing (PDF). Sam Houston State Athletics. pp. 8–11.
  26. ^ Sam Houston State Football Records – Passing (PDF). Sam Houston State Athletics. pp. 12–14.
  27. ^ Sam Houston State Football Records – Receiving (PDF). Sam Houston State Athletics. pp. 16–18.
  28. ^ Sam Houston State Football Records – Defensive (PDF). Sam Houston State Athletics. pp. 21–22.
  29. ^ "Sam Houston Bearkats Football Future Schedules". FBSchedules.com. Retrieved August 9, 2022.