Bo Schembechler and Woody Hayes helped build one of college football's biggest rivalries, which has continued for more than 100 years.
No, it's not fair to compare the first ever meeting between Evangel University and Southwestern Assemblies of God University to the rivalry of Michigan and Ohio State. The inaugural meeting between two of the top football-playing Assembly of God universities may just be a one and done.
However, with the help of Assemblies of God Credit Union President and CEO, Bruce Webb, the two schools from Missouri and Texas will meet, Thursday, August 23. It will be their first ever meeting, and it came to life when an opening in the Evangel football schedule allowed for a non-conference game to be played.
"Having grown up near Ann Arbor, I've always appreciated the rivalry between Michigan and Ohio State. Rivalries are good for the schools, the fans and for the sport," Webb said.
"One of our core values is, 'We strive to be outstanding partners with the Assemblies of God Fellowship we serve by using our time, talent and resources.' So, when the opportunity was presented to be the catalyst to help launch this event, we were excited to sign on," he said.
The excitement building for this game has already made wide-reaching embraces with ties to both schools.
Former Evangel football player, Rich Wood ('83), who currently works at Victory Church in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, shares the excitement and recognizes the reach of the game.
"Both Evangel and SAGU have the drive and desire to win, but greater than winning is 'representing' the cause of Christ to a lost world through football," said Wood, who played defensive back for the Crusaders in the early 80's.
"No matter who comes out the winner, the other person will always be our brother in Christ."
Kicking off college football season
As both schools finalized the contract, the date was set.
Thursday, August 23. Tiger Stadium in Ozark, Missouri at 6 p.m.
No other college football game in America will kick off before the Crusaders and Lions!
With vision and help of Webb's team and AGCU, the game will reach the thousands, not just across America, but around the world on sports biggest stage. The four-letter sports network. ESPN.
Broadcast through Hite Media the game can be seen through the Watch ESPN App and on ESPN3.
"We are excited to present the inaugural game between two Assemblies of God universities to a national audience," said Webb. "As a bonus, the game jumpstarts a national audience to get ready for another exciting college football season."
As the two teams prepare for the football game, Evangel University President Carol Taylor reflects on the importance of the game helping spread a mission shared by both schools and presenting sponsor AGCU.
"We are excited to kick off our new football season and academic year with a game between Evangel University and our sister school Southwestern Assemblies of God University," she said. "We are particularly grateful for the support and sponsorship of our Assemblies of God Credit Union. We may be rivals on the field, but we are united in mission and passion for Christian higher education."
SAGU Director of Athletics Jesse Godding appreciates the shared mission and acknowledged the strength of the Heart of America Athletic Conference.
"The contest between SAGU and Evangel is a tremendous opportunity for the two fan bases to come together and celebrate a shared heritage and begin a good-natured rivalry," Godding said.
"SAGU is excited about this opportunity to compete against an established, Heart of America Athletic Conference program that has a rich history. SAGU is grateful to the individuals at Evangel and in Springfield that have worked to garner support for the event."
Although 450 miles separate the two schools, a football brings to mind a rivalry, and the ties build curiosity beyond the Ozarks and north Texas.
"Both Evangel and SAGU are about developing a Christian world-view in every student-athlete and coach," Rich Wood added. "We have former Evangel football players that are both teaching and coaching at SAGU."
Facebook groups, including one comprised of members from the original football team's at Evangel, have echoed Woods' statement of joint interest. Former Crusaders, Kirk Paschall, and Hank Moore, both work at SAGU with Moore serving as the Lions women's volleyball coach.
"Higher education is a very competitive business, and all universities are presented with many recruiting challenges," concluded Bruce Webb. "So, by receiving national exposure, I hope the audience will be enticed to learn more about what these two schools offer, as well as all of our Assemblies of God colleges and universities."
For the latest information on Evangel Athletics, follow the Crusaders on Facebook at Facebook.com/EvangelAtheltics or go to www.EvangelAthletics.com. Fans can also receive updates on their favorite team by downloading the Go Evangel Front Row App at EvangelAthletics.com/FrontRow available on Google Play and in the App Store.
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