By Kempton Smith | BGP Contributor | App State Alum
It’s always great to be a Mountaineer. It feels even better after last Saturday’s win. After close games, the 49-0 blowout gave fans glimpses of the athleticism and finesse of the student-athletes. The competition between the Horn brothers was fun to watch too.
Turning to Texas State, the Black and Gold travel 1200 miles to San Marco for a conference game against a Bobcat team that can make games interesting, especially in Texas.
App State has never lost to the Bobcats. The series record stands at 6-0. We played five consecutive years as Sunbelt opponents, beginning in 2016, but the schedule skipped last year. Going into the App State matchup Texas State holds a 2-3 record, with one common opponent. The Bobcats lost to James Madison last week 40-13. Note, they have not lost at home (yet).
This week’s game is the first-ever “blackout” game for Texas State. Students will receive a free black tee shirt, and fans are encouraged to wear black to support the team, which will be wearing new black uniforms. Social media accounts indicate a lot of enthusiasm for this week’s game in San Marcos.
Is Texas State a sleeping giant? Texas communities are famously supportive of their high school football teams. Houston, Texas, Texas Tech, and Texas A&M have loyally engaged fanbases; why not Texas State?
Last year, TXST was awarded the Vic Bubas award for top Sports Program in the Sunbelt. They won baseball and men’s basketball and were second for women’s and men’s indoor track.
Texas State administration wants a competitive football program. (For some, that may be news.) The program history is bad, with zero bowl games in their past. Successful coaches have consistently failed to find success at TXST.
In 2016 Texas State hired Everett Withers. The Charlotte native and App State alum has an impressive resume, including serving as a DB coach in the NFL, was interim head coach at UNC and was highly successful at James Madison. He only produced seven wins in 3 seasons at Texas State.
In 2019 Jake Spavital replaced Withers. Now in his 4th season at Texas State, he has yet to deliver a winning record. Under his leadership, their best year had just four wins but did come in as runner-up in the West division.
There seems to be a sense of urgency again, but it is hard to tell whether it is from the administration or the fanbase.
In a word, fundraising at Texas State is miserable. The Bobcat fundraising totals $1.7 million compared to App State’s $8.3 million. It costs money to have a competitive program, and the Bobcats are competitive in all programs except football. They make the difference by assessing $6m more than App State in Student Fees.
Beware: There are signs of football interest.
Tailgating appears alive and well based on the website information. If you are going to the game, there are options to have a site set up for you. Information about TXST fan engagement is sparse, but a sellout of tailgating space has been announced.
Like KBS, the Bobcat stadium holds 30,000. Fans typically fill between one-half and 2/3s of the capacity. In their first home game this year against FIU, 19k fans attended. Bright spots include last year’s home matchup against regional foe Baylor, which brought a crowd of 26,600. Unfortunately, a regular conference game for the Bobcats, like Georgia Southern, brought in about 16k last year.
Since becoming an FBS program in 2012, Texas State University, 2014 stands out as the only winning record at 7-5. Last year’s 4-win record ties for third best. In the 2000s FCS seasons, the program earned playoff bids twice; and three times were top 25 ranked at the end of the season.
San Marcos is in Texas hill country, between Austin and San Antonio.
Appalachian State and Texas State have a lot in common. Both state-supported universities were founded in 1899 as state teachers’ colleges. They have become multi-disciplinary institutions; TXST evolving further to a Doctoral University with more students and degree offerings. Appalachian is arguably more highly ranked by various ratings. Texas State is in the bottom quartile of US News rankings.