Sports Of All Sorts Scattered Between The Dots…………Coach Franchione And The Texas State Bobcats…………….……By RC

First things first: How bout’ those Texas State Bobcats! I could not be happier for any university in the land than I am for the Go CATS Go from one of the great college towns anywhere: San Marcos……………………. Let me leadoff by saying that I have two daughters who graduated from Texas State and a third who spent two and a half years on that gorgeous campus. And any proud parent should love and support the university that educated their child……………… My oldest daughter, Jill, began her career there in the fall of 1996. Naturally, one of the first things that I wanted to do when we as a family visited her for the first time was to take in a football game. Now my daughter who grew up as a “coach’s kid” loved the game as much as anyone but she just dropped her head at the mention of attending a then: Southwest Texas State Bobcat game. I was floored at the lack of excitement from her………………………..It was about the third Saturday of the season we visited and it was unbelievable. There was hardly any sign that the Cats were about to play a home football game. The atmosphere on the campus was anything but electric. When we got to the stadium, not an impressive college football venue I might add, but still sufficient enough to host a collegiate football game, the spirit was minimal at best………………As the game began it was clear that SWT was outmanned, outcoached, out-spirited, out-enthused, and out-anything else that helped to win football games. I tried not to act disappointed, instead complimenting any part of the game or festivities that I saw that had a positive pulse………After my middle daughter, Kim, enrolled we attended yet another game with no difference in results; just a slight improvement in the other areas. The one thing that made it better was that my daughter worked in the athletic academic center so she knew all the players. That helped a great deal because I could now at least cheer for those players with whom I had a personal connection, even though it was through her………………………Once again I felt really bad for my daughters since they had grown up with me coaching and knowing that everything from practice to game time was intense and exciting. They had seemed to embrace all that went with being a coach’s kid and the way of life that had reared them. The lack of excitement at SWT was buffered by the fact that for all their lives, they had only known burnt orange and white, Bevo, and “Texas Fight” while watching UT play football on Saturday afternoons in the fall. They were just some forty miles away and the energy generated in Austin always spilled over into San Marcos. So they could always look to the north to get their football fix………………………..Then as daughter number three, Megan, enrolled in school there in the summer of 2003, just in time for the name being changed from Southwest Texas State to just Texas State, things began to pick up. Everything was on the move on campus. Buildings housing academics were being built, dormitories were being built, both undergraduate and graduate degrees were being added, and athletic success was being questioned…………………….. So in the year 2004 a gentleman named Dr. Larry Teis was hired as the Athletic Director to upgrade and revive what had been a once dominating force not only in Division II Southland Conference but nationally as well. He immediately went to work hiring a coaching staff who believed not only in success on the field but in the classroom as well. He looked no further than his old alma mater, TCU, to hire former Bobcat David Bailiff who had been an offensive lineman and team captain in 1980 under the legendary Jim Wacker. Sometimes bringing back an alumnus, as the head coach backfires, but not in this case. Dr. Teis had his man and it wasn’t long until Bobcat pride was once again alive and well on campus………………………..In just two years Coach Bailiff had the Bobcats on the brink of a national championship until a semi-final loss to Northern Iowa ended a banner year for his talented team. He, however, had restored the missing spirit to his alma mater. One year later Coach Bailiff broke the hearts of many Bobcat supporters when he left for the opportunity to coach at the Division I level at Rice University……………..The loss of Coach Bailiff did not slow or stop the progress that Dr. Teis was making in shaping his football program to become a real competitor at the Division I AA level in preparation to move to Division I A. The Bobcats football schedule began to include teams from Division I. And yes the Cats took more than their fair share of hard knocks readying for the day when they would play for keeps in the big leagues……
……………………..Not only was the recruiting picking up so was the facilities on the campus. Little by little Bobcat Stadium was being improved to the point that it would soon become a real showpiece for collegiate football in central Texas. With its seating capacity at 30,000 Texas State and Bobcat football was now ready to welcome Division I opponents with pride and confidence. The member schools of the Western Athletic Conference would now have yet another quality facility in which to play…………………………So in week one of this year when the Cats were traveling to Houston to take on the University of Houston Cougars, yes those Cougars who had finished in the top twenty in the nation in 2011, there was a new level of excitement for the opportunity, but also the fear that the they might once again be in just a little over their heads. But that proved not to be the case this time as they responded to their first taste of competition as a D-I team member with a stunning upset of Houston………………………..And to make it ever so sweet was the fact that head coach Dennis Franchione who had led SWT to back to back winning season in 1990 and 91 was once again on the sidelines for the Maroon and Gold and this time making history. “Coach Fran” in my opinion is still one of the very best college coaches in Texas and maybe the entire land. If you examine all the success that TCU has enjoyed over the past decade, you can go back to the origin of that great run and see that it began under the guidance of this fine coach. From TCU he went to Alabama and had two winning seasons. The last being a phenomenal 10-3 year which came during a time when the Crimson Tide, on the heels of heavy penalties from the NCAA, needed a strong leader to restore the integrity of the football program in Tuscaloosa. He didn’t disappoint! However, in my opinion, he made a really bad mistake in leaving Alabama for Texas A&M after that season. There were hard feelings surrounding his departure according to many of the reports from the deep south because of his promise to see those kids whom he had recruited, finish their careers at Alabama…………………………Even though he never had the success that was anticipated with the Aggies he did lead them to three winning seasons in five years and beat rival University of Texas in both of his final two seasons. Winning at A&M was more difficult than most observers from Aggie nation and beyond could understand. My thought is that the talent level at Aggieland had taken a real hit in the last few years under coach R.C. Slocum and Franchione just could not recover fast enough to suit the big money boosters in this age of impatience………………………But I never doubted his coaching ability and thought he did a nice job for A&M. Now, I wasn’t that sad to see him go being a Longhorn fan, simply because his offensive scheme dealt the Horns misery. He seemed to have their number and was beginning to develop a confidence that was bothering me…………………But here we are now on the same side and I hope he has nothing but success. He deserves to once again have his coaching reputation and credentials restored to the top of the chart among Texas collegiate coaches. I think that it will only be a matter of time………………………After a resounding loss in the beautiful new Bobcat Stadium to Big XII member Texas Tech I’m sure that both the coach and the team in San Marcos are facing the realization that after two weeks in D-I that they do indeed belong there. I’m also sure that they understand that it will take a few years of heavy recruiting in the fertile grounds of Houston and San Antonio to get to where they can swim with the big fish in the elite conferences………………………Good luck to the Cats, Coach Fran, and Dr. Teis and thanks for giving the state of Texas yet another quality D-I university…………………………RC

About Ronnie Clifton

Ronnie Clifton was a Texas Football Coach for 29 years. In addition to football, Clifton also served as the head coach in basketball and both girls and boys track. “I loved being involved in and playing sports as a kid, and I soaked up every ounce of available information about any sporting event; I also love to write. What better combo for me than becoming the writer of a sports blog?”
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