With the SHSU Bearkats football team record less than stellar this season, one SHSU football fan has taken his feelings to the Internet in an attempt to petition the school to replace head football coach Ron Randleman.
Robert Hurst, who graduated from SHSU in 1980, began a website on Yahoo Groups to petition the school to remove Randleman after reading numerous posts on the issue on the Sam Houston State athletics message board – http://www.eteamz.com/bearkatsportsforum/messageboards/index.cfm.
Randleman has been the head coach at SHSU since Feb. 5, 1982. During that time he has brought the team to post season playoffs in 1986, 1991, and 2001. In 2001, the Bearkats were ranked 7th in the NCAA I-AA National Rankings.
Hurst said his goal is not personal, but rather an effort to make sure that the team continues to remain competitive.
“While I have nothing against coach Randleman as an individual (I’ve only met him once), it’s apparent to me and other alumni that he’s overstayed his welcome at SHSU,” Hurst said.
“He’s been in the position for over two decades! That’s longer than some professors have been at SHSU! His win-loss-tie record at SHSU is 120-117-3. Those aren’t exactly stellar numbers for twenty-one years as the head coach of a Div.1-AA football team.”
Hurst said the main basis for replacing Randleman is in reviewing the Bearkats record since the university became an I-AA ranked school.
“The ‘Kats have eight winning seasons and eight losing seasons with one season at .500,” he said. “A school like Sam Houston should be more competitive than that.”
While he does not have any specific new coach in mind, Hurst said that he and other alumni wish for the football team to be taken to a higher level of play.
“Sam Houston State is only 70 miles from Houston where there is an enormous amount of high school football talent,” Hurst said. “Obviously, not all of these young men can attend Div.1-A schools to play football while getting a higher education. But they could and should play at Sam Houston State.
“Unfortunately, in my opinion, these talented players look at SHSU’s overall record over the past twenty-one years under Coach Randleman and then look elsewhere for their opportunities to play college football at the Div.1-AA level and get a college degree,” he said.
Hurst said that a new winning season started by a fresh coach could reinvigorate student and local interest in the team, which will in turn encourage more media attention toward the school.
“I hope that SHSU president Dr. James Gaertner will realize that the ‘Kat football program can do a lot more for the school with a new head football coach at the helm,” he said.
“Students will stay on campus on the weekends to see a winning team, Huntsville’s citizens will turn out in record numbers to see a winning team and the school will receive more exposure in the media which, in turn, leads to more interest in the school by prospective students.”
Hurst added that the success of the SHSU basketball team last year on numerous levels justifies the necessity of a new direction for the team.
“Coach Bob Marlin has turned around the ‘Kat basketball program in a very short time and has already taken the ‘Kats to ‘the show,'” he said. “There’s no reason why SHSU’s football program shouldn’t be in the same league as its basketball program.”
Houstonian Sports Editor Cody Stark said that he does not feel that Randleman has done a poor job coaching the team.
“I think that Coach Randleman has done an adequate job when it comes to formulating strategies, but we’ve just had a lot of mishaps on both sides of the ball,” Stark said. “Sam Houston has a young team, and Coach Randleman can only show them what to do, he can’t do it for them.”
Stark felt that an alumni and student led petition is a good sign of fan interest, but that the timing is wrong for such an issue.
“In a sense, I think it’s good to see the students get involved, but this is something that should wait until the end of the season,” he said. “The team doesn’t need any more distractions than necessary.”
Stark added that fans concerns should be addressed, but actual control should remain with the school.
“The fans should have a say on what goes on, since they show up and pay for the game,” Stark said. “But these teams hire personnel to make these decisions. Just because you’re a fan doesn’t mean you know what’s best for the team.”
Senior Jeff Gaspard said the coach’s entire career should be considered and not just his recent history.
“I think it boils down to every coach has a losing season,” Gaspard said. “When you start having losing season after losing season, then something needs to be addressed, whether it’s a new coach or something else.”
Gaspard agreed with Stark’s comments on fans’ input and actually power of decision for the team.
“I think once you hire a coach to do a job, you have to entrust that coach to do his job,” he said. “The fans can have a say-so, but they shouldn’t have full control over what is going on.”
Randleman had no comment on the issue, stating that he does not focus on rumors and that he’s “trying to get something going” with the team.