On Thursday Nov. 10, the UTSA Roadrunners and the Texas State Bobcats faced off again. It was the latest installment in a series that is known as the I-35 rivalry and stretches across all sports.
The schools will play in another sport next fall when the Bobcats make their first ever trip to the Alamodome to face the Roadrunners on the gridiron. When the two meet for the first time in football, the rivalry will no doubt rise in intensity.
A great Texas football rivalry comes as another subsides
The other series is of course the rivalry between the Texas Longhorns and The Aggies of Texas A&M. The Lone Star Showdown has been played every year since 1915 and dating back to 1893 but it will end for the foreseeable future on Thanksgiving Day 2011.
The reason the UT/A&M football series is ending is all about money, something both UTSA and Texas State will soon have to deal with once the move to the Football Bowl Subdivision’s Western Athletic Conference is made on July 1. The story has been told and retold. This is about a new budding football tug-of-war that is already in the pantheon of Texas collegiate rivalries.
In order for the Roadrunners-Bobcats conflict to live up to the other rivalries in Texas, a lot of work will have to be done. For one thing, both schools will have to have alumni spread all over the state. Texas State, by virtue of being started in 1899, has a 70 year head start on us in terms of an alumni presence. We can certainly catch up though. Our alumni have to spread themselves across the state, UTSA is a sleeping giant that should be shared with the rest of Texas.
One other area where both schools will have to have a voice will be in the media. We need Roadrunners and Bobcats to vie with each other on the printed page, the television screen and the computer screen. Texas State again would seem to be advantaged by their having a school of journalism, but if my experience has taught me anything, a journalist can come from any discipline. UTSA does have an alumnus in the national media in ESPN’s Michelle Beadle but for our influence to grow we need to have more Roadrunners in the press.
The big brothers of Texas and A&M have alumni bases spread worldwide and will remain the premier showdown of Texas if they ever decide to play again. UTSA and Texas State find themselves with an excellent opportunity to fill the void being left by the other two.
The date for the first I-35 football game has yet to be determined.
What better way to announce the arrival of a new football tradition. Think about it, UTSA vs. Texas State from the Alamodome on Thanksgiving 2012. Since the game is in talks to be on an ESPN network, it would be an excellent opportunity for both schools to spread their influence beyond the Red and Sabine Rivers. It will be a large step towards taking their place among the great schools in this nation.
As the second decade of the 21st century begins, UTSA and Texas State must challenge each other academically and athletically. It will start with the athletic conflict that stretches back to 1981 but it must not stop with the college campuses. Be we Roadrunners or Bobcats, we must retain our school pride and defend it from all opponents.
It is the pride in UTSA that we will carry with us, but what we do with it after we leave here will decide UTSA’s place on the collegiate map of Texas.
Both schools must also strive to make sure that their mutual tradition will stand the test of time and higher paychecks better than the big brothers have. We can learn a lot from how UT and A&M handled their relationship. Whether or not there comes a day when UTSA or Texas State must decide on whether to continue the rivalry or not, hopefully, the two sides will be able to come together, talk out the issue and do whats best for the state of Texas.
Both schools will continue to make their climb up the ladder of importance in Texas, but as we look at the end of a conflict pitting the traditionally-urban Longhorns and the traditionally-rural Aggies we could be looking at the birth of a new rivalry between the Bobcats and the Roadrunners.
The potential is there, it is now up to both student bodies to use that potential for the betterment of this state and this nation.