B.E. “Mullie” Lenoir became the head coach for football at Bluefield College in 1929, and while the school had enjoyed a measure of success in its sports previously, that success would be nothing like what lay ahead under Coach Lenoir.
The new leader was an All-American in football at the University of Alabama and played, with success, other sports there. He spent a brief period playing semi-pro football, but left that after deciding he wanted to coach. He spent three years coaching at Georgetown College, leading its football team to an 18-2 record, losing only to Vanderbilt and the University of Tennessee.
During his 11 years at Bluefield College, 1929-1940, the football team won 79 games, lost 18, and tied two. The team was champion of the Southeastern Conference of Junior Colleges four of Coach Lenoir’s first five years. In 1933, the team went undefeated, 9-0, behind the sensational backfield star Pete Young.
Jim Dudley, who played football under Coach Lenoir, declared that junior colleges did not want to play Bluefield, and four-year schools hesitated about putting the college on their schedules lest they lose. He added that the coach loved the game and knew it, and he loved the boys who played for him.
What was it about Coach Lenoir that brought such success to football at BC? Local sportswriter Stubby Currence described him as a “tough taskmaster” who would not tolerate laziness. He said Coach Lenoir knew how to get football players, and that, under his guidance, these players saw a man who lived by a high moral code. His integrity could not have been questioned, nor was it. His expectations for his players were to emulate him.
Apparently the Mercer County Board of Education sought to entice Coach Lenoir to accept the coaching job at Beaver High School in Bluefield, West Virginia. He did not accept. In fact, he turned down many other offers, as well.
Dr. J. Taylor Stinson, president of the college at the time of Coach Lenoir’s reign, spoke highly of the coach, stating “Mr. LeNoir is a fine, upstanding Christian gentleman, and I have no man on the campus who has a finer influence over the men than he.”
Bluefield College was forced to abandon its football program after the 1941 season because of the loss of most male student-athletes to duty in World War II. But, when the school announced June 4, 2010 that the sport would be returning to campus after a nearly 70-year absence, alumni and supporter alike couldn’t help but think back and ask, “Who will be the next Coach Mullie Lenoir?”