While he has been tasked with lighting a fire, new Hendrix football coach Justin “Buck” Buchanan began one of his first major presentations in Conway on Tuesday with a story about putting one out.
There was a large fire in a town in Ohio. Large fire departments from all over set up a perimeter to try to get the blaze under control. Suddenly, a aging truck driven by personnel from a tiny volunteer fire department, equipped with only sand and old blankets, broke through the barricades and put out the fire. The group earned a $200,000 reward for its heroics.
When asked what the department was going to do with the money, Buchanan said the chief related, “The first thing we’re gonna do is fix the brakes on the damn fire truck.”
Buchanan, a native of Denison, Texas, who helped revive a football program at Louisiana College, is going at full speed ahead to build a football team and program at Hendrix for the 2013 and breaking down perceived NCAA Division III barriers in the process.
NCAA Division III institutions are not allowed to offer athletic scholarships. Buchanan, the guest speaker at the Conway Noon Lions Club, said Tuesday his greatest challenge is to educate people on the quality of Division III football.
“It’s real college football,” he said. “The players may be an inch or two short or a second or two slow to play at another level. If you watch our games, you’ll see players who are going to be futre doctors and lawyers and teachers and coaches and professionals who are playing the game like it’s meant to be played. You will seeing players who will play as hard as any at a college level because they are playing it because of the love of the sport and each other.”
Buchanan epitomizes the Division II mold. He was an all-state debater and as well as a star athlete in high school. He was a three-year captain at Austin College, who led the nation in tackles while graduating cum laude with a degree in speech communications and exercise science.
Hendrix dropped football after the 1960 season. The Warriors will begin competition in the new Southern Athletic Association as a Division III program for the 2013 season.
“We are going to be like that small fire department and just go rushing in and start working,” he said. “We are going to build a great program with a great foundation and great young men, And just like that little fire department, we are going to reap the rewards. Our institution will reap the reward and our young men will reap those rewards.”
He envisions a program that is people- and community-oriented.
“Players on this level play football because it is relationship-driven,” he said. “Everything about our program will be about relationships. When you build relationships to get people to buy in.
“Our core values are building young men who will go out and be productive people in their communities from the football experience.”
He said his recruiting will focus in state but will expand. He plans to use some crossover players from the baseball and lacrosse programs, which have different seasons.
He helped build the Louisiana College program to one in which 100 players were out for football, none with athletic scholarships.
“I hope we can start with out 65 here,” he said. “We’ll recruit as many as we have to have to eventually get to 20 or 30 seniors in four years.