The Greatest Defunct NAIA Football Program of All-Time

Cameron University (Okla.) won the 1987 NAIA DI National Title over Carson-Newman 30-2.

With the closing of Presentation College, I got to thinking about all of the programs that have come and gone from NAIA football. Everyone has heard of the big time programs who dropped football in DI and even DII, but what about at the NAIA level?

As a graduate of now defunct NAIA football program, it’s a subject I know way too much about. Dana College closed their doors the summer of 2010 and I’d be lying if I didn’t admit I think about what might have been. Every time I buy a MegaMillions or Powerball ticket I think about what it would cost to buy the school back and start things back up.

But them I remember there are other worthwhile investments and most of the campus has been purchased already. Oh yeah, and those 700 million to 1 odds.

So with that said. . .who is the greatest defunct NAIA football program of all time? Presentation College had a couple of nice years and even put together a six-win and seven-win seasons in back-to-back years. But there’s no way that constitutes the greatest defunct program of all-time. There are a lot of ways to look at this. Longevity. Overall wins and losses. Conference Championships.

Naturally, I had to investigate. As best I could tell, here’s a pretty solid list of now defunct NAIA programs that I did some analysis on. If I’m missing one, let me know and I’ll add it

Shamless photo of my Alma Mater Dana College Circa 2008
  • Azusa Pacific University (Calif.)
  • Bacone College (Okla.)
  • Cameron University (Okla.)
  • Cincinatti Christian (Ohio)
  • Dana College (Neb.)
  • Eastern Montana College
  • Georgia Southwestern College
  • Haskell Indian Nations (Kansas)
  • Hiram Scott College (Neb.)
  • Huron University (S.D.)
  • Lambuth University (Tenn.)
  • Lindenwood-Belleville University (Ill.)
  • Lubbuck Christian College (Texas)
  • Malone University (Ohio)
  • Menlo College (Calif.)
  • Mount Senario College (Wisc.)
  • Oregon Institute of Technology
  • Parsons College
  • Paul Quinn College
  • Presentation College
  • Saint Mary of the Plains College
  • Salem College (W.V.)
  • Springfield College (S.D.)
  • Tarkio College (Mo.)
  • Tennessee Wesleyan University
  • Urbana University
  • West Virginia University Tech
  • Western Washington
  • Westmar College
  • Yankton College

bUt JaSon tHat sChooL on thE liSt is D2!?!

Yes, I know that. But the majority of their time was spent in the NAIA. They have records in the NAIA postseason, so for all intents and purposes they were an NAIA program during their glory days. There are a couple teams that fall into that category and I would even argue if they would have stayed in the NAIA, they might still be around.

Here’s my Top 10 of the now defunct college football programs from the days of NAIA past. I didn’t really use a solid metric, mostly I looked at the teams postseason history in the NAIA Championship Series, how they fared against the rest of the NAIA and overall winning seasons.

  1. Azusa Pacific: 8 postseason appearances, 9-7 overall. One National Championship.
  2. Cameron College: 4 postseason appearances, 7-2 overall. One National Championship, One Runners Up.
  3. Western Washington: 4 postseason appearances. 4-4 overall. One Runners Up.
  4. Lambuth University: 8 postseason appearances, 7-8 overall.
  5. Huron University: 4 postseason appearances, 3-4 overall.
  6. Oregon Tech: 1 postseason appearance, 2-1 overall.
  7. Saint Mary of the Plains: 3 postseason appearances, 0-3 overall.
  8. Westmar: 1 postseason appearance. 1-0 overall. (Awarded due to forfeit).
  9. Malone University: 2 postseason appearances, 1-2 overall.
  10. Dana College: 1 postseason appearance, 0-1 overall.

I don’t think you can argue against National Championship appearances. Cameron College had two in back-to-back seasons with one resulting in a title. Additionally, they were 11-2 and 11-2-1 in those years. But I think the overall longevity of what Azusa Pacific did allows them to win the argument they deserve to be No. 1 overall. Much of this is due to the 25 winning seasons they had at the NAIA level while Cameron was “good” at times they were never sustainably dominant.

Paul Troth the head coach of Missouri Valley College was once the head coach at Huron University.

In terms of juggernauts, you can’t forget about Huron University, Westmar and Saint Mary of the Plains. These schools at times were kinda like an old football movie. Some guy spent his first five years out of high school hauling cattle from West Texas to Wyoming and then one day got into a bar fight in Dodge City, Kan. He throws the teams starting center through a plate glass window and the head coach witnesses it. Four days later that guy is starting at defensive tackle and has like six sacks before getting kicked out of school for punching the Dean because he said Charolais are better tasting than Angus.

While there is no truth to that story, if someone told it to me I’d be like, “yeah, that checks out.”

It’s never fun when a school closes it’s doors or just decides to discontinue football. There’s a lot of memories that get conjured up and no one is ever happy about it. The only corny thing I’ll say is at least we have the memories. All of these programs were responsible for helping young men grow up and make lifelong friends. There’s something nostalgic and awesome about that.

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