Texas State fans felt a chill down their collective spine on January 9.
News broke earlier that day that newly hired Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury had tabbed recently hired Bobcat head coach Jake Spavital as his preferred offensive coordinator. Spavital hadn’t accepted the position, but it felt inevitable — a chance to go to the NFL. Who would pass that up?
Suddenly, the wave of good feeling that swept across San Marcos about the new era of Bobcat Football was replaced with a looming dark cloud of pessimism. To quell all worry, Spavital put all speculation to bed with one tweet: “#EatEmUp”.
He wasn’t leaving.
In fact, according to Nick Castillo of the San Marcos Daily Record, he actually turned down Kingsbury’s offer long before, but news had only recently leaked that he was even a candidate, thus the resulting headline frenzy.
“I’m a loyal guy in terms of that, where it’s just not right to pack up and leave and do that,” Spavital told the Daily Record.
But the 34-year-old head coach didn’t turn down his friend’s offer simply out of loyalty to his newly hired coaching staff, it was a loyalty to do what he originally promised and build something at Texas State. He’s made an effort to promote not only football, but actively support other programs during his brief stint on campus showing up for baseball and basketball games.
“I want people to know that I enjoy it here, I do,” Spavital said. “I want to be here and be a part of something bigger than myself ... I know these people are looking for a winner here and I want to be a part of it with them.”
On the surface, Texas State has everything a prominent Group of Five program should need; San Marcos is a thriving town in its own right in between Austin and San Antonio, the campus is one of a kind and recently, the facilities received a much-needed upgrade. With all of that at their disposal, what’s kept Texas State from becoming a winner?
The youngest FBS head coach in the state hopes to have an answer for that exact question. When the administration elected to move on from Everett Withers following a 7-28 record over three seasons, it was with the expectation that Texas State was ready to win now and Spavital hasn’t run from that standard.
“Let me set this straight with the expectations here at Texas State — we are going to win,” Spav- ital said during his introductory press conference back in November. “We’re going to win games, we’re going to win championships, we’re going to win bowl games.”
Spavital’s hire was met with essentially uni- versal praise. Previously, Texas State hired the familiar elder stateman in Dennis Franchione to usher in the FBS era in 2011 and then tabbed the proven outsider in Withers to build a more solid foundation, but the wins never materialized. What used to be able to be blamed on youth and inexperience wasn’t good enough anymore. Spavital’s arrival is much in the modern mentality of hiring young, upstart offensive minds to cultivate talent and jumpstart programs and it’s worked for the likes of North Texas, Central Michigan, Houston, UCF, and Troy to name a few.
The Bobcats are in a better position to win now than they have been since jumping up from the FCS having now meticulously built a steady and deep roster through the high school ranks. The fanbase has endured the roughest three-year stretch since World War II and is ready to embrace a winning team with open arms. Obviously, they’re tired of losing, but more importantly, the players are too.
“The only difference is that everyone’s much hun- grier, we went and got even closer,” senior center Aaron Brewer said. “When Withers was here, they set that foundation. We got that bond. Now with a new staff and everyone here still, it’s just enhancing.”
Patience is growing thin; Texas State isn’t a perfect team by any means. The offense is still three years out from producing anything above a bottom-10 unit, new coaches and schemes don’t just gel overnight and there’s the whole issue of not having a solidified answer at quarterback. But Spavital made one thing clear, the wins will come.
“I’m not completely sure, but I think we’re close, I really do,” Spavital said. “I think it’s a good nucleus of kids. You got 19 seniors, they’ve been through a lot, they’re a talented group. We’ve just got to do our job as coaches and get them in the right scheme and get them bought-in and get them playing at a high level.”
This article is available to our Digital Subscribers.
Click "Subscribe Now" to see a list of subscription offers.
Already a Subscriber? Sign In to access this content.