Liberty Christian didn’t have to look far to find its next head football coach.
Barton Hundley has been selected as the school’s new head coach. Hundley’s hire was announced internally last Friday.
Prior to becoming the Warriors’ head coach, Hundley was the defensive backs coach under Greg Price. During his playing career, Hundley was a defensive back at Kansas State and was drafted by the Chicago Bears.
Hundley has been a defensive backs coach at Hallsville, a linebackers coach at Wichita Falls and the defensive backs coach at Lewisville. Hundley said he’s excited about the new position and prepared for the steep ascent into the head coaching role.
“I know how to play it,” Hundley said. “I know how to coach it. I’m going to have some really good coaches around me. I’m just excited about the upcoming season and the possibilities that I see in it.”
Zack Vest also was promoted from interim athletic director to athletic director. Johnny Isom, the school’s baseball coach, was named assistant athletic director.
Hundley was one of four candidates interviewed in person, according to Liberty president Rodney Haire. Another candidate was interviewed via video conference.
The 50-year-old becomes the school’s third head coach and succeeds the man who hired him three years ago but was fired in late March, as Haire said the school wanted to go in a different direction.
Hundley was selected by a committee of administrators, Haire said. The president said one of the reasons Price was fired after five seasons, two TAPPS state semifinal appearances and a championship game appearance in 2009 was because the program needed to go in a different direction, something he said Hundley provides.
“We’re in the highest division of TAPPS at the TAPPS 5A level, and Barton Hundley played for a top football school at Kansas State,” Haire said. “He played in the pros and he had experience at Lewisville High School.
“We know that we’re going to grow large, and it seemed to me that having a coach that has coached and played at larger university programs and in the pros would be a better fit for us moving forward.”
Hundley, who was drafted by the Bears in 1986 but cut after three games, was not the only new appointment in the athletic department. Vest takes over as athletic director, a position that Price and Mark Bowles held while being the head football coach.
Haire said that prior to Price’s dismissal officials were not planning on splitting the football coach and the athletic director positions. Haire said that once the search for a new coach began, it morphed into a search for an athletic director who could better suit the growing needs of the program.
“The fall sports require the head football coach to be so focused,” Haire said. “It really didn’t serve the other sports that are going on at the same time well to not have the full attention of an athletic director.”
Vest said he was not involved in the decision to hire Hundley but has full confidence in the former secondary coach as he tackles his new role.
“The thing that is exciting about coach Hundley is his ability to lead these young men,” Vest said. “He has his position group over to his house on a weekly basis, so he’s proven to invest in not only our school but the kids and the families that are here.”
Hundley said he will not be the new offensive coordinator, another position Price filled. Hundley said no final decisions have been made on filling some of the vacant assistant coaching positions. It’ll be on the to-do list for the new head coach, who’s excited about the new opportunity.
“I love being here,” Hundley said. “I love the kids. I love the staff that is already here, and we’re just praying right now that we find the right men to come in and be the assistant coaches, to lead these guys into a deeper faith and walk with Christ.”
BEN BABY can be reached at 940-566-6869 and via Twitter at @Ben_Baby.