With the first game of UTSA football just a few days away there is reason for excitement. Soon UTSA will join its Texas university brethren and field a football team.
In order to find out how the other schools in Texas that currently play in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) of Division I fared, I dove into fact books and media guides of the Lone Star colleges to find out what happened in those inaugural years.
To begin, we must go back to 1893. There were 44 states in the union, The Civil War had been over for just 28 years and the University of Texas became the first university in the state to form a football team.
The game of college football was a lot different back then. Fewer teams meant that colleges had to schedule anybody who could field a team. Texas found its first opponents in the form of the Dallas Athletic Club and the San Antonio Town Team. Texas-they weren’t called the Longhorns yet-played their first ever game on the road in Dallas, defeating the Athletic Club 18-16. They would play the town team from San Antonio two times in a row and win both, 30-0 in Austin and 34-0 in San Antonio, before closing out their inaugural season with a 16-0 victory over the Dallas Athletic Club.
The following year, 1894, saw the birth of another Texas college football program; this time it was the Aggies of Texas A&M.
A&M began its collegiate football journey in the state capital against the University of Texas. In the first game ever in the history of A&M football and the Lone Star showdown, Texas rolled past A&M, 38-0. A&M returned home and finished their first season with a 14-6 victory over Ball High School out of Galveston, Texas.
It was two years before another school in Texas would start a football program. This time the school was Texas Christian University (TCU or AddRan College at the time). The Horned Frogs, as the team was already known, didn’t have to play Texas or A&M in their first season. They opened up with Toby’s Business School in Waco, Texas (TCU was located in Waco until 1910). TCU knocked off Toby’s 8-6 before losing to the Houston Athletic Club’s football team 22-0 in Houston. TCU salvaged a tie against the Houston Athletic Club in the final game of their first season to finish with a ledger of one win, one loss and one tie.
In 1899, three years after TCU established football, Baylor University, started a football program. Baylor opened its collegiate career the same way TCU had, beating Toby’s Business school 20-0 in its first game. The Baptists, as they were known at the time, would follow that up with a loss to Texas A&M, 33-0, before winning another game at the expense of Toby’s, 6-0.
Following the victory over Toby’s, Baylor met up with TCU in what at the time must have felt like the beginning of a great rivalry between the two Waco schools. The two schools tied 0-0 leaving Baylor with a first year record of 2-1-1.
The first decade of the 20th century saw little growth in terms of schools in Texas adding teams. This might have had something to do with how violent college football was at the time. It got so bad that after a series of player deaths in 1905, President Theodore Roosevelt threatened to end college football.
By 1912, interest in College football had grown enough in Texas that another school, Rice University in Houston, would open up shop that year.
The team from Rice began with a pair of victories over Houston High School and Orange High School before facing Sam Houston State in Huntsville. Rice defeated Sam Houston State before losing to Southwestern and Austin College to finish its first campaign at 3-2.
The year of 1913 saw North Texas enter the fold. North Texas played one game that season against newly relocated TCU. TCU knocked off North Texas 13-0.
A year later and another school in Texas started a team. This time it was the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP or the Texas State school of Mines and Metallurgy as it was known at the time). UTEP opened against a team from the El Paso YMCA. UTEP knocked off the YMCA team before losing two straight, first to New Mexico State and then to New Mexico Military Institute. The second win of the year came against the 20th Infantry located in El Paso. UTEP sat at 2-2 going into its final contest against El Paso High School. El Paso High shutout UTEP 20-0 and sent the Miners to a 2-3 record in their first year.
As World War I raged in Europe, college football found another home in Dallas in 1915 when Southern Methodist University (SMU) fielded its first team. The Parsons, as they were called then by sportswriters, fell in their first game against TCU, 43-0. They got their first win against Hendrix College out of Arkansas but would only get one more win that year, against Dallas University. SMU would fall to Austin College, Daniel Baker, Southwestern and Trinity to finish 2-5 in its first year.
Ten years followed before college football spread to Texas Tech on the plains of Lubbock. Tech began with two straight ties against McMurry (the same McMurry that UTSA will play on Sept. 10) and Austin College before reeling off five straight wins. Tech split its final two games to finish 6-1-2.
For 20 years there were no new Texas teams as the Great Depression and World War II held the nation’s attention. That changed in 1946 with the birth of the University of Houston Cougar football program, the most recent program to begin before UTSA.
The Cougars began with a loss against UL-Lafayette. They then won three games in a row before closing out the season with one win in their last six games. The teams they fell to included UTEP, North Texas, Texas State and Sam Houston State. The newest program finished 4-6 in its first season.
It has been 65 years since a Texas UTSA began playing football. For UTSA, the trail has been blazed by 10 other schools. Whether UTSA has a first season like that of Texas and Texas Tech, or one like SMU and Houston, remains to be seen. What is known is that UTSA is going down a road well travelled.