“He could command their respect and still be close enough to communicate and motivate them at the same time,” Haasl said. “That's something you expect more from a coach as they get more seasoned. He had it at a young age.”
Bedenbaugh became more than a friend and coach, though, to Beede, who also spent just the 1995 season in Goodwell.
Beede started on California's offensive line the previous two seasons, but was dismissed from the team the summer before his senior season after reportedly testing positive for steroids.
He transferred to Oklahoma Panhandle State, and after some early struggles in his new atmosphere, he learned to flourish in it.
“I was in a really dark time in my life that year,” Beede said. “Coming to OPSU and having Coach Bedenbaugh to support me and rebuild my confidence, that's what I attribute to him and Coach Haasl. They really helped me get back on my feet and allowed me to continue on and do everything I did.”
What Beede did was sign with the Seattle Seahawks as an undrafted free agent, make the roster and enjoy a four-year NFL career. Today, he's a history teacher and offensive line coach at Freedom High School in Oakley, Calif.
Beede was honored as the NFL Teacher of the Year in August 2010.
“We'd just talk about life,” Beede said of his relationship with Bedenbaugh. “He was really a down-to-earth kind of guy, someone you could really open up to.”
OPSU went 6-4 in 1994, but was bumped up from NAIA Division II to Division I before the 1995 season.
The result? A team Haasl genuinely felt was better without the record to show it. The Aggies went 1-9 in Bedenbaugh's lone season.
The single victory came at Bedenbaugh's alma mater on that long, memorable road trip.
Bedenbaugh left after the 1995 season to join Hal Mumme and Mike Leach — his first head coach and offensive coordinator, respectively, at Iowa Wesleyan — on the Valdosta State staff.
After stops at Central Michigan, Ferris State, Texas Tech, Arizona and West Virginia, Bedenbaugh landed in Norman, completing a 300-mile journey that took just under 18 years.
“In my opinion, when you see a unique story like Bill's, there needs to be a unique individual that creates it,” said Haasl, who left coaching in 2005 and is now an instructor and academic adviser at West Texas A&M.
“Everything that needed to be done — whether it was mowing or marking field or putting together equipment — Bill was right there in the middle of it. Nothing was ever beneath Bill.”
Not even driving an old van full of linemen more than 700 miles for a game.
Asked if he ever, at any point, regretted taking the OPSU job, Bedenbaugh responded, “No. Not for one second. ... I've been very fortunate, but that was quite honestly one of the better things that has happened to me. It just really solidified that coaching was what I wanted to do with my life.”