Welcome to the FBS, y’all.
Separated by roughly 35 miles of I-35, UTSA and Texas State have long been adversaries — for victories, for attention, for prestige.
Heated enough as it is, their rivalry became even more contentious on Thursday, with both schools accepting invitations to join the Western Athletic Conference.
“This is a great first step for us,” UTSA athletic director Lynn Hickey said. “We know there are going to be challenges for all our sports, building our program, but this is the right thing to do.”
“It’s surreal,” Texas State athletic director Dr. Larry Teis said. “Everybody wanted this, and the fact that it’s happened, and happened this fast, is great. You just feel an air of confidence.”
The University of Denver will also be added, in all sports but football, forming a motley cavalry to relieve the impending departures of Boise State (after this school year), Fresno State and Nevada (after 2011-12).
The three schools’ memberships will be effective on July 1, 2012, with one significant issue to be resolved — the date of inclusion for UTSA’s football program.
Hickey and head coach Larry Coker said their preference is to delay joining until at least 2013.
But Benson has said his league must add two football programs by 2012, just one year after the Roadrunners are scheduled to begin play in 2011.
Yes, UTSA hasn’t actually played a down of football yet. They’re not wasting any time in the shallower end of the pool, that’s for sure. Given that San Antonio is currently the largest city in America without an FBS program, and that the Roadrunners will play their home games at the Alamodome, UTSA is arguably already the biggest fish in the WAC. No pressure, none at all.
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For Texas State and UT-San Antonio, the jump to the WAC should mean more national exposure, along with more travel, more expenses and some competitive challenges.
“The campus is very excited ,” said UT-San Antonio’s president, Ricardo Romo. Romo said San Antonio is the largest city in America without a Football Bowl Subdivision football program, “so the city is excited.”
Texas State has never quite been able to recapture its football magic of the early 1980s, when Wacker’s teams won back-to-back NCAA Division II championships. But the school’s teams have been improving recently as Texas State also expands Bobcat Stadium, which could soon seat 30,000.
Instead of traveling in state and to Louisiana and Arkansas for conference games, UT-San Antonio and Texas State, once they join the WAC, will fly to far-flung locations . The WAC will stretch from Moscow, Idaho, to San Antonio and from Ruston, La., to Honolulu.
“Flying to Hawaii is a little different than busing to Huntsville,” [Texas State athletic director Larry] Teis said. “I’ve already told our coaches that for our nonconference games, we need to stay grounded. There’s enough competition around here.”
Teis mentioned UT as a possible opponent — even in football. “I’d love to (play Texas), down the road,” he said .
When you’re ready to reduce that travel schedule a bit, just remember that Conference USA actually has Texas-based universities in it. Assuming that the Big East hasn’t caused it to break apart by that time, of course. Be that as it may, best of luck to both schools.