Sunday, November 15, 2015

Why Coaching Staff Changes at UTSA Won't Work Right Now

This last week and a half or so, there have been several exchanges based on the fan need for change at UTSA after what is being dubbed as a disappointing season. True, the results on the field aren't good. UTSA currently sits at 2-8 as they come off an OT win against start up program Charlotte, and the fan base isn't enthralled with what they view as a general lack of passion from their sideline. They are enraged by several close losses, and feel that a change in coaching leadership, some feel Coker should go, some feel that OC Kevin Brown is the scapegoat, is due at this point. Here is why I think that both calls are far off base at this stage of the UTSA football history.
First, and foremost, you are truly still a start up program. You did not join the ranks of FCS football until 2011, just four seasons ago. You have been playing FBS football since just 2012, and you only became bowl eligible in 2014.
UTSA lost more seniors than any other program in the nation after last season, a season that was also beset with injuries at key positions all year long. UTSA returned fewer starters than any other program in the nation as a result in 2015, and the pre-season outlook was bleak in every publication written, including mine.
Let's take a closer look at other startups in college football to see where they are at as a measuring stick. They are Georgia State, South Alabama, Charlotte, Florida Atlantic, Florida International, Old Dominion, USF, and finally UAB. All of these programs have started from nothing since 1989, with UAB being the oldest of the lot. The programs at Georgia State, South Alabama, Charlotte, and Old Dominion are closest in nature to your own program, with FAU, FIU coming in the mid range (last 15 years), and UAB and USF being the oldest of the group.
Here's one pressing thing to look at as it pertains to every one of these programs...only FAU (2007) and FIU (2010, co-champion) have ever won league titles, and both came in the Sun Belt. Only those two programs, plus UAB, South Alabama, and USF, have ever been to bowl games, and that number is incredibly small. Of your class amongst the startups, only South Alabama has known moderate success in such a short period of time.
The issue you are having the biggest problem with is your close losses, if I am reading and averaging out your comments correctly. That is something that you are taking a glass is empty approach on. A young team such as yours is lucky to be in so many close games when you are breaking in so many new starters given any season, or the time of year it falls under. When you tell me, such as several of you have, that you see no progress, your progress is slapping you in the face and you don't even realize it. Most programs with such losses are normally being beaten by an average of over 21 points per game, yet you are not. That is progress if there ever was any.
You lost an incredible amount of seniors from your program after last season, and last season was supposed to be a breakthrough of sorts for your program. That did not happen. You were pounded by injuries all year, and yet managed to still be respectable even if your season fell short of lofty goals. I myself thought your program capable of winning the CUSA West in 2014, but due the youth of your overall program, you were not enjoying a depth needed to overcome those issues, and that, again, is part of building a program. It is painful, it is awful, and it can be frustrating. However, you are seeing progress, and your team has never stopped fighting. That also is progress, and is a sign that your kids believe in this coaching staff, and the staff believes in these kids. There has been no quit, and so therefore, would you really prefer change that would basically take you back to ground zero next season after you have spent this season elevating from that place?
I have been told that if demanding change at Texas and with the Aggies and so forth is good, than UTSA fans should demand the same. You simply, in five years, have not earned the right to be considered on par with expectations of those other programs, some of which with a history of over 100 years. You have five, and most of those building a fundamental baseline while working out of construction trailers. You are not there. You have the right coaches for this monumental task that no other program in the modern era of the game has even been able to do.
In short, the overall record of startup programs since 1991 is 513-627-3. This includes records while playing in FCS while transitioning to FBS, and does not include start up programs in FCS or D2 football.
In short, the answer is simple. Your program is fine, despite the 2-8 glitch this season. You cannot get blood from a turnip. What's happening now is simply part of the process, and there isn't a coach out there that will do better with what you have right now. You have to buy into the process, and let it work. Year five certainly is not the time to do that, because even when you are losing to North Texas, that program still has a lot of miles on yours.
You are better than you think you are, and you simply cannot expect more than what you are or where you are at right now. There is no basis or precedent for it, and any staff changes right now, whether by piece or by whole, will only set the process back several paces. I have been covering and studying this game for 35 years. This is what the history, the science, and the flow of the game tells me, and it should tell you the same.
In closing, I appreciate your passion for your program. I believe that good things are coming, and so should you. Keep your heads up, keep showing your support, and get behind the process, and you shall one day be rewarded. It's just simply to soon to demand your reward.

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