The College of Faith Saints might be the worst college football team of all time, and the only reason I say, “might,” is that they might not be a college at all.
The Saints’ first game this season was at FCS school Davidson, who came into the opening-week matchup riding a 12-game losing-streak dating back to November 10, 2012 when they beat Valparaiso 28-27 in overtime. The Wildcats winless 2013 season included a pair of double-digit losses to [tooltip text=”two D2 schools” gravity=”n”]Lenoir-Rhyne and Johnson C Smith[/tooltip]. They lost each of their 11 games [tooltip text=”by double-digits” gravity=”n”]Average score: 40.8-14[/tooltip], gained an average of [tooltip text=”319.5 yards per game on offense” gravity=”n”]100th of 124 FCS teams[/tooltip], and allowed [tooltip text=”486.6 yards per game on defense” gravity=”n”]115th of 124 FCS teams[/tooltip]. [tooltip text=”Scoring offense” gravity=”n”]14 ppg, 118th of 124[/tooltip], [tooltip text=”scoring defense” gravity=”n”]40.5 ppg, 115th of 124[/tooltip], [tooltip text=”turnover margin” gravity=”n”]-.6 per game, 98th of 124[/tooltip], [tooltip text=”sacks” gravity=”n”]11 total, 116th of 124[/tooltip], [tooltip text=”time of possession” gravity=”n”]27:32 per game, 110th of 124[/tooltip] — by almost any metric, Davidson was one of the worst teams in all of Division 1 last season. Don’t believe me? Here are their full 2013 FCS statistical rankings. Last Saturday against the Saints however, Davidson dominated.
Not only did they win their first game in over a year, the Wildcats did so in blowout fashion. Davidson jumped out to a 43-0 lead before halftime and finished the day with a 56-0 win.
The Wildcats, the tenth-worst rushing team in the FCS a season ago, racked up 355 rushing yards against the Saints — 268 more than their 2013 average (86.8 ypg). It was Paul Nichols’ first win as Davidson head coach, in his second season.
College of Faith followed up their first loss with another, this time against D2 school Tusculum on Thursday. The Tusculum Pioneers went 4-7 last season. Their defense allowed an average of 453.1 yards and 37.5 points per game a season ago, both figures ranked 142nd of the 166 D2 schools tracked on the NCAA website. Just like for Davidson though, a matchup with the College of Faith Saints was just what the doctor ordered.
The Pioneers opened the game with a 65-yard kickoff return touchdown. Then they stopped the Saints on three-straight plays, forcing a punt, which the College of Faith fumbled into the endzone and covered for a safety. After two minutes and forty-five seconds and five plays, the Saints had amassed negative 15 yards and a safety: 9-0 Tuluscum. That was the first drive of the game, and they pretty much all went that way. The game ended in a 71-0 Tusculum win.
The Tusculum defense, ranked 142nd in D2 a year ago, absolutely destroyed the Saints and broke or tied three NCAA single-game records. They scored on three safeties, which tied the NCAA record for the most in a game. They allowed -100 total yards. Negative one hundred. Negative one football field. Good for a new NCAA record for the fewest yards allowed in a game, the Saints -100 yards was 553.1 fewer than the Pioneers’ 2013 average and 319 fewer than their 2013 best (219 yards allowed to guess who, College of Faith).
Most impressively though, the Pioneers set the NCAA record for the fewest rushing yards allowed in a single game: -124. NEGATIVE ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY FOUR YARDS. The Saints would have been better off taking a knee every single play, including fourth downs. And I feel like I have to remind you, this Tusculum team is hardly a defensive juggernaut — the only time they held a team under 350 yards and 24 points last season was when they beat, guess who, the College of Faith Saints 63-0 in the first game of their season.
So who are these College of Faith Saints? According to their website, the College of Faith is an online bible education program where students can earn a “Bachelor Degree” in Ministry or Sports Ministry, an “Associates Degree” in Ministry or Sports Ministry, or one of several unspecified personal training/sports nutrition certifications. Here’s their commercial. Neither the College of Faith, nor their sister school the University of Faith, is accredited by any organization — something they’re pretty upfront about. It says as much on their main page:
“Degree programs of study offered by College of Faith have been declared by the appropriate state authority exempt from the requirements for licensure under provisions of North Carolina General Statutes Section (G.S.) 116-15(d) for exemption from licensure with respect to religious education. Exemption from licensure is not based upon any assessment of program quality under established licensing standards.”
Their status as a religious entity might exempt them from accreditation requirements, but it sure doesn’t preclude them from making money. Their admissions process consists of an application fee of $50 and tuition fees of $1,000 per term, payable by PayPal. If students can’t afford tuition, the school offers the “Sherwin Thomas President’s Scholarship,” a “Leadership Scholarship,” and the financial assistance page also says students can make $50-300 in tuition credit if they get someone else to sign up for the College of Faith. The CoF also suggests students send, “a sponsorship letter to all your family members and friends, asking for any donations possible. In return, your family and friends sponsor will be able to recieve [sic] services from the student and College of Faith for the donation.”
If that still isn’t enough, the Student Jobs page lists “Sales & Recruiting Representative” as an option, providing the following description: “Achieves maximum sales profitability, growth and account penetration within an assigned territory and/or market segment by effectively acquiring donations and selling College of Faith’s products, programs, sponsorships and related outreach services. Personally contacts and secures new business accounts/customers..” The other jobs listed are Head Coach, Assistant Coach, Auto Performance Technician, Multi-Media Specialist, and Event Staff. The spelling and grammar errors are theirs by the way, and it only gets sketchier from here.
In a video posted to YouTube July 8 of last year, College of Faith President, Athletic Director, and Head Coach Sherwin Thomas talks about how he turned the defunct Shepard Technical College football program into the College of Faith. He claims to have created the online program himself, but added, “Actually, I have not really even instituted much of the online curriculum yet because of the situation with the players and enrollees that I have [. . .] some of them don’t have consistent access to online accessibility. So basically what I’ve been doing is—those who have it—I give them their assignments each week at practice and they have one assignment a week and they turn it in by hand or they email it to me.” The video gives Thomas credit for helping these kids, but what exactly is he helping them to do?
If this were a club team paying for all their costs, it would be one thing, but if they’re accepting tuition payments for a bogus degree, it’s entirely another. Maybe their scholarships are massive and the fees are just to cover costs of pads, transportation, coaches, and other athletics costs. Saints players did go volunteer at a homeless shelter with Davidson players before the two teams played last weekend, so it’s not all bad. There are still too many sketchy things to overlook here.
The Saints’ staff bio page says head coach Dell Richardson played defensive back at Norfolk State and North Carolina Central University, but he’s not listed anywhere on the website of either school. He’s quoted (on an incomplete CoF recruiting page) as saying, “We don’t have S.A.T. or G.P.A. academic eligibility requirements. Our football program competes against NCAA D2, D3 and NAIA schools. We are looking for some IMPACT players of all sizes to help grow this great program into something special. College of Faith academic programs is a Christ-centered, online college of higher education which main office is in West Memphis, Ark with an extension campus located in Charlotte, NC. College of Faith’s Charlotte extension campus provides Athletic program, academic and student support with christian understanding, hands on ministry outreach and paid On-The-Job STUDENT WORK experience while obtaining a certification or degree.”
That was a whole lot of buzz words and filler, but the first sentence stood out to me: No SAT or GPA academic eligibility requirements? So they’re a for-profit football team/bible study group.
The Saints’ website says they went 1-7 last season, but no stats were listed for any of their games. They aren’t a member of the NCAA, the NAIA, or even the USCAA. The only scores I could find listed anywhere are losses to D2 Tusculum (twice), D2 Brevard, D2 Clark Atlanta, NAIA Ave Maria, D2 Stillman, and FCS Davidson by scores ranging from 42-0 to 71-0.
It doesn’t appear as though the Saints have ever scored a point.
It looks like the College of Faith and University of Faith are a network of for-profit online bible schools who sell worthless degrees to kids who want to play sports at the “next level” but don’t have the athletic ability to play college ball.
I don’t know if these NCAA programs are paying the College of Faith to come play (read: lose to) their football teams. I don’t know what rules, if any, govern a program like this. I don’t know if students are actually getting degrees from the College of Faith, and if they are, if those degrees are recognized by anybody.
I do know if someone wants to spend six thousand dollars on a Sports Ministry “degree” from an online bible-school so they can play football after high school, they should be absolutely free to do so. I know if NCAA teams want to play this team as a tune-up game or exhibition, they should be free to do that too.
However, I also know that no NCAA program should be able to count games against a team from a possibly fake, unaccredited, online bible college run by a “street preacher” in their win-loss record, as Tusculum and Davidson have, and there is absolutely no way stats put up against this team should count as NCAA records.
If these records holds up, we should start getting excited for next season, when the Dell Richardson’s Saints open the season in Tuscaloosa against the Crimson Tide.