College football fans in San Antonio are well aware of the UIW Cardinals' subtle trolling of UTSA over the past five years of Roadrunner football.
The social media tussle started in 2011 with this classy -- albeit terribly corny-- TV spot the Cardinals aired as UTSA geared up for its first football season.
In spite of the terrible lack of attention to concussion-prevention protocol, the commercial sparked some debate in San Antonio. The chatter would quickly vanish on the Roadrunners' end as UTSA escalated the ranks of college football, developing rivalries at the FBS level along the way.
While the UTSA administration and fans never paid much mind to UIW football, the Cardinals never stopped nipping at the heels of the city's FBS program.
In 2012 Louis Agnese, UIW's president, threw a strong jab at the Roadrunners.
Our football team has an open date on October 22nd, and UTSA has an open date on October 22nd. We'll play them on Broadway (Street) if they want. I guarantee we wouldn't lose.
The smack talk wouldn't stop there. The Cardinals' stoic head coach Larry Kennan raised eyebrows this February with his truthful observation that UTSA has little to gain by playing the Cardinals.
UIW head coach Larry Kennan on UTSA, 'We would like to play UTSA, but it is not in their best interest to do that.' #kens5news #UIW #UTSA— Vinnie Vinzetta (@VinnieKENS5) February 4, 2016
As expected, Kennan's gauntlet drop caused quite a stir among #UTSATwitter:
@VinnieKENS5 Nothing to gain and would cost us $ since we can't play at their place. Our spring game would potentially sellout their stadium— htownrunner (@htownrunner) February 4, 2016
Fair point here, as UIW would have to agree to only play "road" games if they were to schedule a series with UTSA. Gayle and Tom Benson Stadium is unfit for a high school football playoff game, much less an FBS level competition.
@VinnieKENS5 HA!!!!— Vontrell King-Will (@mrkingwilliams) February 4, 2016
UTSA defensive tackle Vontrell King-Williams could offer nothing but a laugh to combat Kennan's shade.
And then the reaction GIFs rolled in.
@VinnieKENS5 UIW is trying to threaten UTSA? pic.twitter.com/Pr5uo3UC6s— Jeremy Kunchandy (@JeremyKunchandy) February 4, 2016
@VinnieKENS5 #BirdsUp pic.twitter.com/muGE7zVzWQ— BootlegBentley (@bootlegbentley) February 4, 2016
It's no surprise that the majority of UTSA fans are adverse to the idea of playing Incarnate Word.
While a Roadrunner victory would count towards bowl qualification, the consequences of losing to the Cardinals could be disastrous.
UTSA is still building its cache in San Antonio and the surrounding area and a loss to a poorly-perceived FCS program could kill any respectability that the program has managed to carve out in the region among casual football fans.
What would the Roadrunners gain with a wide-margin win over the Cardinals? Not much, frankly.
UTSA has long since established their dominance over the Cardinals without meeting them on the field.
Given the paltry attendance numbers at UIW games I'm extremely skeptical of the claims that hosting the Cardinals would give UTSA a noticeable bump in ticket sales when compared to, say, Alabama State.
However maybe the gap between the two programs isn't as wide as most would assume. NCAA Game Simulator predicts the Cardinals to have a better shot at upsetting UTSA than I would have thought...
While I could be swayed out of my argument, I definitely feel like UTSA should continue to avoid meeting UIW on the field for the time being.
Some may construe UTSA avoiding UIW as the Roadrunners being "scared" of the Cardinals but I think that's a silly pretense.
UTSA simply wouldn't be rewarded for the win in any sense. Even bragging rights would fall mute. Who wants to hear a larger program brag about beating up on the little guy? If UIW ever made the jump up to FBS I'd be willing to revisit the issue but for now there's no sense in the Roadrunners sticking their necks out when they could achieve the same results by facing Stephen F. Austin or Abilene Christian.