If Southeastern University ever started a football program, Keith Barefield wanted the chance to be its head coach.
Barefield realized that dream Tuesday when he was introduced as the first coach in Southeastern history in front of a large, energetic crowd of students, faculty, and staff at Mi Casa Cafe.
"I can't say how excited I am today to be here," said Barefield, who has deep ties to SEU.
Barefield attended Southeastern as a college freshman in the mid-1970s before transferring to Evangel University to play football. His two brothers also graduated from SEU, and he has spent quite a bit of time in Central Florida recruiting players during his career.
Barefield brings years of head coaching experience and impressive results to Southeastern's new program, which is scheduled to play its first game in 2014. From 2007-2011, he led Northwestern Oklahoma State to a 34-19 record and made the NAIA playoffs three times. Prior to that, he was the head coach at Evangel for 10 years and compiled a 66-33-2 record.
He said he spent the past year evaluating the next stage of his career. When he heard about the program at Southeastern, he had immediate interest.
"If ever they started a program at Southeastern, I wanted to be the first person in line," Barefield said. "And praise God that I am!"
During the 30-minute news conference, Barefield outlined his coaching philosophy (aggressive on offense and defense), his excitement for returning to Florida and the Southeast (he's a fan of SEC football), and his profile for the right studen--athlete. He wants players who will commit to three things: Christ as their Lord, success in the classroom, and being a champion in competition.
Barefield also didn't hide his passion for football, evident in his shout of "Are you ready for some football!" and his energy in meeting students and staff.
"If I'm not thinking about my wife or my Lord, I'm usually thinking about football," he said.
Interim Director of Athletics Drew Watson introduced Barefield and said he met all the expectations the university had for its first coach. Watson was especially drawn to Barefield's commitment to academic excellence and character development, and he doesn't think football will bring any negative effects to the culture at SEU.
"The culture that God has blessed us with at Southeastern has me asking, how can Southeastern change football?" Watson said.
Barefield, who celebrated his 57th birthday on Tuesday, grew up in the Assemblies of God but didn't play football his first year of college because no AG colleges offered the sport. When Evangel started its program, Barefield felt compelled to go. He feels the same fire and urgency to help Southeastern lay a strong foundation.
He said he already has received calls from people interested in joining the coaching staff, which he expects to begin filling soon. His plan is to have 50-60 players signed this spring who will begin practice next fall. Barefield also encouraged current Southeastern students who are interested in playing to contact him.
"By the time 2014 comes around, the excitement will come to a fever pitch," he said. "We'll be ready."
For more information on Barefield, including contact info, click here.