The man who started Texas Wesleyan’s football program resigned. Here is the why.

The college football that most people watch is not the majority of college football that is actually played.

It’s not all Alabama, Ohio State, Oregon, Michigan, TCU, Notre Dame and the rest of the small number of schools that combine to generate most of the sport’s publicity. The majority of college football is played by smaller schools where the coaches and players unite to play the game they love in front of a small number of people on a decimal point budget.

They all do it because it’s fun. They often do it until they’re beyond exhausted.

This would include teams like Texas Wesleyan, the NAIA program in east Fort Worth. The man who started this football program from nothing decided he had enough.

TWU football coach Joe Prud’homme told TWU administrators that he intended to resign last week, a move that was made official on Monday. School administrators hoped he would change his mind, but that didn’t happen.

No replacement has been announced, and it’s expected TWU will conduct a national coaching search.

That he would leave fits. The part that does not fit is the timing; successful football coaches don’t resign in mid March.

“It was just time, that’s all. It had been on my mind since the last week of January; just trying to see the long range of it,” Prud’homme said Monday in a phone interview. “The more I thought about it, the stuff on the left side of the column outweighed the stuff on the right.

“There is no animosity here at all. My goal was to put this in a great spot, and I did that. It’s time for me to find a new adventure.”

TWU athletic director Ricky Dotson said in a statement, “We are certainly sad to see Joe go. He built a football program at Texas Wesleyan from the ground up. ... Replacing him will be difficult; however, the foundation he leaves will remain and the program is in a great place to continue its success.”

Prud’homme left his job at Fort Worth’s Nolan Catholic to accept the position at TWU in 2016. He had been a successful Texas high school football coach for 27 years, and making the jump to college was logical.

But this was not like when Todd Dodge left Carroll to become the head coach at North Texas, in 2007.

Prud’homme took over a job that had not existed for more than seven decades. In 2016, TWU announced it would play football since it stopped because of World War II, in 1941. When TWU played its first game in 76 years, on Sept. 2, 2017, the program even received a shout out on ESPN’s College Game Day.

Behind the press releases, and the rare national attention, the realities of running these type of football programs are awash in challenges. Prud’homme was a fund raiser for his program as much as he was a ball coach. That’s the job.

Despite a limited budget and no on campus facility, the Rams improved under Prud’homme. In his seven years at TWU, the Rams were 32-32, including 28-23 in the Sooner Athletic Conference.

After the first four years of ugly, TWU was 24-7 in the last three seasons, and 20-5 in conference. It narrowly missed the school’s first playoff appearance this past season in the most painful way possible.

To receive the SAC’s automatic playoff berth, TWU needed to win its final regular season game, or lose by nine or fewer points against No. 25 Louisiana Christian. TWU led 24-10 late in the third quarter, but La. Christian ripped off 24 fourth quarter points, including a 40-yard field goal with no time remaining to win by 10.

The Rams still claimed a share of the conference title, but were not awarded an at-large bid to the playoffs.

They did all of this despite never having had an on campus facility.

The Rams played their first five seasons at Farrington Field, which is a 12-minute drive from TWU’s campus. It’s not a convenient 12 minutes.

After that lease ended in 2022, the school agreed to a two-year contract to play home football games at Crowley ISD’s facility. That’s a 20-minute drive. Also, not inconvenient.

The Rams are slated to play their home games in 2024 at Crowley, and there is a decent chance they will be there in 2025.

In between all of this, the team did build a practice field on campus, in the fall of ‘23.

“That was a huge relief to us,” Prud’homme said. “I knew when I came here it was going to be difficult. That in order to be successful I had to be everything and available for anything.”

In May of 2022 the school announced plans to build Karen Cramer Stadium, a facility on campus complete with a field house. The $16.5 million project is currently in the second of a three-phase construction process. That field house may open this fall.

As to when the stadium will open, maybe ‘26.

“I look back and think, ‘How did we get all of this done?’ When I started here, there was nothing,” he said. “We were trying to come up with logos, where we would practice. All of that.”

Prud’homme, 59, is not sure where his next step will be, but he would like to remain coaching.

It’s doubtful he will try to do what he just did, which is to build a football team from nothing into something.