The Purple and White fever is back. The past five seasons have seen ACU football return to its place of prominence in the ranks of Division II football – due in part to the efforts of one man.
Five years ago, a former ACU player was introduced as the new head coach. Chris Thomsen took over a middle-of-the-road program that had gone just 21-30 in the previous five seasons. Since taking the reins as head coach, however, Thomsen is an impressive 42-17 (including the vacated wins), better than any coach before him in a five-year span. Thomsen has made the Wildcats a perennial playoff team, taking them to four straight postseasons. Abilene Christian football is now a nationally recognized program.
Even more impressive than the records that have been set and broken since Thomsen’s arrival is the manner in which he runs the program. Thomsen has compiled all the statistical numbers while managing not to compromise what this university stands for: Christian leadership. Things like weekly devotionals show his genuine concern for the men who come through his program.
After hearing from several players throughout the season, it was evident that they all appreciated the program’s commitment to them as people, rather than players who he can use for four years.
Thomsen’s men have also made their way into the NFL. ACU has had three players picked in the past three drafts. Johnny Knox, wide receiver for the Chicago Bears; Bernard Scott, running back for the Cincinnati Bengals; and Danieal Manning, safety for the Chicago Bears, are all on NFL rosters. And each player will say they got there because of Thomsen’s mentoring.