The Drive to FBS for Texas State once held an endless gleam of promise for the students and Associated Student Government that kicked off the move by raising student fees to improve facilities and athletics overall.
Eight years later, and that sense of promise has given way to a gritty sense of realism and unease among many Bobcats.
Results on the field suggest that the Texas State Bobcats can at least hold their own in the Sun Belt, if not impress. The Bobcats finished second behind South Alabama in the all-sport 2014-2015 Bubas Cup, and no sport seems to be in way over its head in the 'Belt at the moment. However, Bobcat fans have also noticed a general lack of dominance in most sports and a relative dearth of championship hardware, as only Volleyball in 2013 and Women's Indoor Track and Field in 2014 have accounted for Texas State's Sun Belt titles.
In addition to the relative lack of trophies, the collective ego of Bobcat fans has been bruised by two bowl snubs as well as the forces of conference realignment leaving them without a reliable in-state rival and seemingly at the bottom of the totem pole in Texas in terms of brand image. In the Game of Thrones-esque blood feud that is FBS football in the state of Texas, image is everything, and the Bobcats have little to work with.
Even with those snubs, both wins and recruiting have seen a steady uptick for the football team from 2012 to 2014, and collective fan confidence in the coaching staff appears to be improving from an initial level of skepticism. So there are certainly reasons to get excited about Texas State football, and there's still a bright future to sell.
Yet a common complaint stemming from those image-conscious concerns gets lodged on a consistent basis by many fans: that the people in charge of promoting, improving, and selling Texas State's brand aren't doing enough.
Our spotlight will thus be focused away from the field, on the men and women in Texas State's athletic department. We'll specifically look at those paid to enthusiastically and responsibly promote the Bobcat brand, and how their work can either positively or negatively impact Texas State's profile among fans and the media.
Many Bobcat fans have often perceived an unresponsive and out of touch athletic department and an Athletic Director that does only the bare minimum to promote the school. Other fans and often athletics officials bristle at what they see as a spoiled and negative group of supporters that hurts their efforts to grow the Bobcat fanbase.
So who's right? Can this gap in communication be bridged, and can Texas State finally spring to the level of prominence everyone dreamed of in the Drive to FBS? And why are all of these off-the-field minutiae important?
By the end of this series, we'll address all those questions and more, and perhaps determine some ways for Texas State to improve its image along the way.
In the meantime, feel free to share your thoughts in the comments, or on our Facebook and Twitter pages.