The fall season, as many would say is the best time. Leaves change colors, weather becomes a bit chilly, but there’s one thing that most people look forward to: football. The football season has been underway with the NFL Pre-season and some NCAA Division I schools have started their seasons, but as for Washburn, the football team has been practicing since July. They will begin their season on the road against Lindenwood Aug. 30. Before they begin their season, we caught up with Head Coach Craig Schurig to give us an insight to the man behind the team.
Schurig hails from Willingboro, New Jersey. After high school, Schurig went to the Colorado School of Mines on a football scholarship. He began his coaching career there working as an assistant. The following year he picked up a job offer to coach at Pittsburg State where he coached for nine seasons. In 2002, Washburn needed a new head coach and Schurig was the man for the job.
Director of Athletics Loren Ferre had nothing but positive things to say about Schurig.
“He came from a program that certainly knew how to win and he brought that with him,” said Ferre.
He accepted the job offer, and after the 17 seasons he has compiled, became one of the best coaches ever in the MIAA posting a 110-74 record. Not only is he the head coach of the team, but he also works one-on-one with the quarterbacks. So far, Schurig has claimed three bowl wins. The latest of those victories came last year when he helped lead the team to a C.H.A.M.P.S Heart of Texas Bowl victory.
Aside from football, Schurig stays busy with his three kids. His first child, Samantha, recently graduated from the University of Kansas where she participated in swimming. His other two kids, Mitchell and Michael, keep their dad close by attending school here at Washburn. Mitchell, the middle child, is a junior quarterback on the football team. He made the MIAA Academic Honor Roll in 2016 and 2017. His youngest, Michael, is a freshman on the baseball team. He will compete for an opportunity to appear on the field this season. Schurig’s wife, Louisa, works in the nursing department here on campus as an advisor.
Schurig and his assistant coaches work hard to find the best players to bring into their program that can meet their specific criteria. That means that they spend hours watching film, bringing potential players to the campus for visits, and hosting camps to give these players an opportunity to showcase all of their other talent that may not be seen in a highlight film. To have success, the players they bring on board not only need to be athletic, but they also have to be smart and be able to do the job the way it needs done.
“As a football team, you obviously want to be disciplined and smart, so we are looking for guys who work hard. We look for very good high school players or junior college players that are committed to the game,” Schurig said. “Likewise, we want them to be good students because Washburn is a very good academic school. And finally, we want them to be able to meet the physical demands.”
Schurig’s mantra that he lives by and what he also encourages the team live by while they’re not on the field is ‘Faith, Family, Football’. On the field, they have a different one: Physical, Smart, Relentless. This creates an atmosphere to make boys into better men. After college, football ends for most of these players, but life continues on.
“We’ve had pastor T.D. Hicks start that up with us about 10 to 12 years ago, but that’s what we want our players to live by,” Schurig said.
During his tenure at Washburn, Schurig has watched his program grow into what it has become now. After millions of dollars in renovations, the football program has some of the best facilities in all of MIAA. He has sent multiple people to the NFL, with the most recent being Cody Heiman who was signed after the 2017 NFL as an undrafted free agent.
Being one of the top coaches in MIAA history may be a reflection of his hard work, but as a coach and a man he still puts faith, family and his team before himself. Football is America’s game, and to excel at the level Schurig does takes a lot of dedication in addition to talent. His dedication to his job not only affects his players, but also his family. He gives credit to his wife, Louisa, who gives him great support to allow him to do his job the way it should be done.
As for the upcoming season, Schurig and his team will be ready for their season opener against Lindenwood University on Thursday, Aug. 30. Weeks upon weeks of preparation in the summer and recently in fall camp show that the team is ready to prove why Washburn is one of the best programs in the MIAA.