On the morning of March 27th, six officials from Texas State’s athletic department opened up a Q & A session on Reddit in order to let Bobcat fans chime in and ask questions regarding their athletic department. Roughly half the questions pertained exclusively to football as some popular topics were thrown down in the forum.
The following members of the Texas State athletics staff were in on the questions:
John McElfresh, Assistant Director of Marketing & Promotions, Video Operations
Nick Gravois, Marketing & Promotions Coordinator
Cody Bays, Assistant Director of Sports Information
Cedrique Flemming, Assistant Director of Sports Information
Jake Payne, Facilities & Game Operations Coordinator
Matt Worthington, Director of Development, joining us as well
I went through the Reddit thread and cherry picked a few topics. My format for this article will be: The question, the answer and then my input on the subject. Of course it will not be word for word but just a summary of the questions and responses.
Topic: Fan Interest
A Bobcat fan asked how the school plans to to drive up fan interest and attendance. John McElfresh fielded the question by comparing the recent success of the basketball team’s attendance, getting involved with youth football in the community and the higher than national average freshman/sophomore attendance of games as a catalyst and sign that Bobcat attendance is on the rise. He also mentions the adding of events to Bobcat Preview (orientation program held before freshman year) to help culture Bobcat pride and school spirit.
My analysis: Of course success can lead to higher attendance numbers across the board but without a team that shows promise or success the numbers will not change. I would have also thought as soon as the name of the school changed in 2003 to Texas State the right kind of program would have been put in place and taken a hold by now. Bobcat fans are passionate but also need that little bit of school reverence to stay through each game, let alone go to each game instead of just tailgating and leaving before the game starts. The school spirit instilled in future Bobcats will turn into the Bobcats of tomorrow who will in turn write these articles analyzing said process.
These type of debates get thrown around often, especially in sports writing. The acronyms of each school can typically become a touchy subject. There are proper lists of acronyms that media outlets follow but this can get a little testy among fans (UT belonging to Texas and Tennessee, USC with rights claimed by Southern California and South Carolina). So a fan asked the staff why the TXST acronym is not used across the board with Bobcat online resources (i.e. txstatebobcats.com as opposed to txstbobcats.com. Nick Gravois answered with this, “This is actually something we've been pretty actively working on for the near future. I can't speak too much on what's coming, but stay tuned!”
My analysis: Ok if this can be achieved then I’m satisfied. I can’t tell you how frustrating it was to see TSU or TexSt acronyms on televised football games.
Topic: Southwest Texas State Night
One popular query that’s been floating around for years is the inclusion of the previous mantle of Southwest Texas State into future football games. A questionnaire asked whether a SWT appreciation night was in the near future. Mr. McElfresh responded by saying a SWT night would cloud the young Texas State market but encourages fans and alumni of SWT to wear their old gear to games proudly.
My analysis: I was fortunate to go to both SWT and TXST (acronyms, see above) and I’ve always thought it would be cool to have the homecoming game using the uniforms from the past.
A SWT throwback wouldn’t cloud the Texas State brand. I would think it would unite Bobcat alumni and would get a few people interested in the past history of the school’s football program and would give the old SWT grads a sense of recognition. If they wouldn’t consider a pure SWT throwback they should at least use the old color, design and font while maintaining the current supercat logo for say the homecoming game. That would be the shiznit.
Future scheduling of opponents, especially out-of-conference games tend to drive interest in the season even further. A Bobcat Reddit user asked about the scheduling process and how far it goes. McElfresh addressed this stating that Texas State is scheduled up till 2025. He also put up a chart explaining the types of scheduled games:
Guarantee game – Where typically a P5 school will pay a G5 school to come play them at home for a certain amount of money. Most recently for us was a trip to Fayetteville, AR last year to play the Razorbacks and a trip to Boulder, CO this year.
Home and Home – Just like it sounds you play one at home the other team plays one at home. Currently we have a home and home with Ohio, we went there this past season and they will come here in 2020.
2 for 1 – This is sometimes used in lieu of a guarantee. We did this with Texas Tech a few years ago, we go there twice they come here once. So instead of getting the guaranteed money we get the excitement of a good home game and the ticket revenue. EDIT- Found out this actually wasn't a 2-1 but you see how it works.
Multi-year deals – We have a multi-year deal in place with UTSA, we will rotate the location of the game each year from now until 2025 with the exception of 2019 due to prior scheduling conflicts.
My analysis: This is actually a very good question and answer as many fans do not know how the schedules were constructed. Finding out what P5 team wants to tango with you is always exciting. Now let’s see a Texas State/Texas game, please.
Topic: Program Performance
Somebody asked “why is our football team not the best?” Cedrique Flemming gave the answer of how Texas State is building its program up, noting that coach Everett Withers and his staff had a great recruiting class and those outside of the program are taking notice of what the program is doing here.
My analysis: Ask a multitude of Texas State fans and they will give you a gazillion answers to that question, both civilized and vulgar. There are no one or two moves to make Texas State the next Boise State or Houston. Uniform trends are big and Texas State has moved in that direction very well. Bobcat Stadium has upgraded into a stadium that looks like an actual college football stadium (SWT alumni, I’m looking in your direction).
Texas State’s downside is that it recently changed its name only 14 years ago and the university’s football program was FCS up until 2011. The Bobcats are in a vacuum tube of recruiting squished between a dominant juggernaut in Texas to our north and a football market we delved into way too late in San Antonio, which UTSA among other schools have since nurtured for their talent. It might be too late for TXST to do anything about that now.
That being said, the school should listen to the fans on issues such as a proposed SWT night or the damn acronym debate. The little things will pile up and give Bobcat nation something that they voiced a life. We have no controversies or elephants in the room that people avoid when it comes to Texas State football (aside from the stupid decision to kneel in the 2005 FCS playoffs) and the Bobcats have a burgeoning program with a high student enrollment rate. Get those kids excited, Texas State staff. Not just about football but about being a Bobcat. I want to see people wearing Bobcat merchandise because they were drawn to being a fan, not just because they either went there or their kid goes there. Texas State may not be a powerhouse now but the fan base won’t settle until the program is among the best in the nation.