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Union University and Freed-Hardeman University Make History with the "Buster Bowl"


An old rivalry… but a new sport. Saturday, when schools all across the country were playing football Union University and Freed-Hardeman University kicked off the “Buster Bowl”.

“I love football. Football was my favorite sport my whole life. So yeah, I took full advantage of this and i

Had a blast," said Free-Hardeman Sophomore Jaylen James.

“This is like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to play football after college,” said Union Senior Addison Coleman.

Union disbanded their football team after the 1952 season, Freed-Hardmwan never had one- so how did these two universities find themselves facing off on the field of glory?

Four years ago, Union added the “Buster Bowl” to the list of homecoming events. Two teams made up of Union students and faculty played a tackle football game against each other. This year they up’d the ante.

“Today we're playing Freed-Hardeman….we used to play them all the time when we were NAIA and that was a really significant rivalry," said Union President Dr. Samuel "Dub" Oliver.

For some players, this was an opportunity to play football one more time.

Freed-Hardeman Junior Derek Griffin said," This is the thing that I've missed the most ever since going to college. Because I was torn between trying to go play somewhere or not and I decided not to. And it's just awesome to get the opportunity to play again.”

"It's awesome. I mean, it's been four years since I've gotten to play," said Freed-Hardeman Senior Tanner Shelton.

For others, this was their first taste of football,

"I've never played tackle football before, so I was excited to get out here And, you know, just try it a little bit. We ran a play and I ended up catching it, and so I was able to gain my confidence in that," Jay Hardison a Junior at Union said.

"This is the only time I've ever played football in my entire life. And I think I might do it again,” said Union Alumni Daniel Potts.

More than just bragging rights were riding on the game, “David Shannon, the president of Freed-Hardeman. I have a little, little wager on the game. No betting but if we win, he has to wear our shirt. And if they win, I've got to wear their shirt," Dr. Oliver said.

When Freed-Hardeman won 36 to 26 Dr. Oliver came through on his promise.

The two universities plan to make this game an annual event and the students are ready for the return on the rivalry.

“We'll get them next year," Hardison said.

“I love rivals…if I get the chance to, I definitely will," Shelton said.

Union Alumni Hunter Martin said, “It's always nice seeing the traditions actually evolve too. So here's to playing them again next year.”

“They're talking about starting recruiting already for next year, so I think that'll be interesting," James said.

Both teams are already looking forward to meeting next year at the line of scrimmage.

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