So you may or may not be aware of this, but things have taken a dramatic turn from bad to worse, stopped in horrible, and then set up shop in FBS Skid Row for Texas State athletics. If you don't believe me, send a tweet to our assistant manager Will Butler, and don't blame me when he gouges your eyes out for making him think about what is supposed to be his favorite football team.
Now, it appears to have gotten even worse. That is, if you're the kind of person who actually likes to see your favorite team change things up whenever the thing that they are doing has repeatedly not worked.
This just in: Prominent #TXST booster Jerry Fields sent me an e-mail today in support of keeping HC Dennis Franchione.— Joe Vozzelli (@smdrjoe) November 16, 2015
Hm. This ought to be interesting.
Fields: "In my opinion, we actually have a very good coaching staff and in time it will be proven that Fran will achieve what we all want."— Joe Vozzelli (@smdrjoe) November 16, 2015
This is an extremely awkward choice of words. While it is most certainly in step with the general party line of "be patient with the incremental progress and it will eventually turn into larger successes," there's just one problem with that general concept.
There have not been incremental gains - it took until Dennis Franchione's fourth season at the helm to improve to what was (just barely) Texas State's first winning season in five years, and it is being followed by a season where they will need some magical turn in performance to avoid their worst season since 1993.
Fields (cont): "Let’s give the man a break and stand strong with him and his staff. They deserve our support."— Joe Vozzelli (@smdrjoe) November 16, 2015
I could understand this comment if the Bobcats were a team that was struggling but had recently played well enough that it appeared they might turn a corner and realistically finish 5-7 (aka in the ballpark of where they've typically finished under Franchione this time around).
This is not such a team. They have now lost six of their last seven games, and the last two have involved blowing a fourth-quarter lead to a team that had just ended a 17-game losing streak the week before and then getting their doors blown off by a team that had zero wins over FBS teams before this year.
Fields appears to forget that these fans' loyalty is to the university that this football team represents, not the guy who happens to be currently coaching it. They are showing their loyalty and support by wanting better for their alma mater.
It is unfortunate, but Will makes a salient point:
The perils of being a team just on the right side of the FBS/FCS line is that one big donor can control the trajectory of the entire program— Will Butler (@THETXSTUniv) November 16, 2015
Granted, this is nothing new. Oregon has Phil Knight, Oklahoma State has T. Boone Pickens, Maryland has Kevin Plank. Arkansas has Jerry Jones. Louisville has John Schnatter. Wisconsin has Herb Kohl, Texas has Red McCombs, and Baylor has Drayton McLane, Jr. You get the idea - having one SuperDonor for your football program is not a novel idea. But you'll notice that I listed SuperDonors who have "affected the trajectory" of very successful Power Five football programs.
Having a donor that is more influential than others is not the issue. Having your most influential donor's allegiances lie with the head coach and not the school or the program is the issue. That said, at least he's vocal about it.
If there was any doubt who's really in charge here (Fields vs. Teis), Fields is the first of the two to make a statement about this season— Will Butler (@THETXSTUniv) November 16, 2015
Poor Will. Larry Teis is not, how do you say, good at his job, and Mr. Butler's liver is paying the consequences. On the semi-bright side, some folks tried to provide a slightly different perspective on the matter:
Fans upset that a booster opinion can mean a lot: Welcome to FBS football!— Ishmael Johnson (@Ish_46) November 16, 2015
@TxStateBobcat @smdrjoe probably just a favor to the administration since he isn't willing to foot the bill to make any changes at this time— Tim Lyman (@TLyman23) November 16, 2015
Unfortunately, all the spin in the world isn't going to solve this one. Both the Texas State football team and its most avid supporter on our staff are both too far gone for this season to hold any positives. I'll let Will take it from here.
Today is as good of a reminder as any that sports are dumb and should be banned— Will Butler (@THETXSTUniv) November 16, 2015
Ironic thing about Fields's letter is that his intended message of rallying diehard support behind Fran will likely have the opposite effect— Will Butler (@THETXSTUniv) November 16, 2015
And as for the casual fans who might agree with him, they're mostly already gone as it is. They're paying attention to other things.— Will Butler (@THETXSTUniv) November 16, 2015
Goes back to what I've said that athletics leadership (and Fields) have no idea how to speak to this fanbase. Or they just don't care.— Will Butler (@THETXSTUniv) November 16, 2015
I would certainly hope that it's the former and not the latter, my friend. Otherwise this interminable death march towards irrelevancy could get even worse before there's hope of it getting better. And this little snafu by CFB Data Warehouse might be more accurate than you think: