Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Welcome to the suburbs of college football

UTSA is moving into a new neighborhood. It’s in the Division I Football Bowl Subdivision. Their street is Conference USA (C-USA). Here, the houses are built with full amenities and plush extras to make their stay as welcome as possible. They have new neighbors moving in at the same time, and some old neighbors that will be sure to welcome them. It’s an exciting time just three years after beginning this new football life.

But there are some things that UTSA will start to notice as they move in their furniture and get the cable wired. The houses around them all tend to look the same. Every neighbor’s car in the driveway looks expensive – makes and models all alike. Each yard is immaculate with precise attention to detail, leaving it hard to distinguish what makes them unique.

So how does a new tenant like UTSA make themselves stand out? Can UTSA find a place at the community table? Ultimately, does UTSA have the stability and desire to prove their presence will not go unnoticed?

Well, since hindsight is a lazy tool and trying to predict the future is a fool’s errand, why not be practical in the now?

The UTSA Roadrunners’ football program can succeed in this modernized Norman Rockwell setting of college football because they have what many start-up programs don’t have.

On September 3, 2011, 56,743 fans filled the Alamodome to watch the first-ever UTSA football game. That means as soon as the first kickoff commenced UTSA had already started breaking records. Although the numbers averaged out by the end of the season, people could tell the San Antonio community was hooked on Roadrunner football – and that is what makes UTSA football a lucky program.

They just so happened to build a university, an athletic program and a football program in one of the most loyal and dedicated sports cities in the nation. You don’t always get to choose where you live, but sometimes places can choose you. San Antonio has been clamoring for football since the New Orleans Saints made themselves welcome in the Alamodome in 2005. While this is not the NFL, some would say college football is even better.

Given the city has historically wavered between supporting the Texas Longhorns or Texas A&M Aggies, UTSA has now had time to put their brand out there. This is the time to persuade those fans eager to end the expensive trips to Austin or College Station – where college football is not always at its best.

This brings me to another key point – the Alamodome in San Antonio.

Opened in 1993, it was built originally in hopes of attracting an NFL team to occupy its facilities. That idea never seemed to materialize. Still, the Alamodome has gained notoriety for its domed visual and ability to hold up to 65,000 people. It was at one time the home of the San Antonio Spurs, and it has hosted numerous major sporting events, including the NCAA Final Four.

In September of 2012 the San Antonio City Council and the UTSA Athletics Department announced they had agreed on an extension to keep UTSA football playing in the Alamodome until 2035.

Now how is that for impressive? Imagine being UTSA President Ricardo Romo or Athletic Director Lynn Hickey or Head Coach Larry Coker hosting vendors, sponsors and recruits.

“Please join us in our backyard patio. Yes that is a dome above your head. And right across the way you can see the River Walk. We are the only home with that view. No other neighborhoods have that.”

Not to mention UTSA has just opened their multimillion dollar Park West Athletic Complex less than two miles west of the Main Campus. According to the plans, the new space will have a brand new football stadium that will be the Roadrunners’ main practice field, including temporary locker rooms and offices for the team.

“By the way, we are building a guest house in the backyard just for convenience. Would you like some more tea?”

Now it’s the head of the household’s job to make things work. Enter Larry Coker. How many start-up programs began with a head coach with a National Championship under his belt?

That is what Coker brings, along with a track record of recruiting and coaching major football talent. Having his presence in the neighborhood is the key to networking in the community. He already knows some neighbors because he has visited their houses before. At one time, he had the biggest house on the block in Miami-Dade. The reliability and trust he brings to UTSA is what will keep the yard trimmed and the house stocked full of football talent.

The first year in the neighborhood will come with the least amount of pressure. No one can reasonably expect UTSA to start knocking down their neighbors doors and taking their sugar. And the Roadrunners won’t be bowl-eligible until the 2014-15 season.

But that is how UTSA likes it. They want to be the underdog. They want the community to look past their presence and assets. Then UTSA can make some noise and have their next-door neighbors, Mr. Hurricanes and Mr. Owls, call the cops and tell them to keep things quiet.

There is also something to be said about the UTSA players calling C-USA home. The Roadrunners have been fortunate to bring back 20 starters from last season and a total of 50 letter winners. Plus, joining the community allows UTSA to bump up their scholarships from 67 last season to 85. The dramatic jump in competition is easier when you have the leaders and experience that UTSA has on its roster – it makes dolling out household chores easier when you have the older brothers running the show.

Now, as UTSA approaches the first community games of the season, the Roadrunners can open their garage door and sit out on the porch for a few moments and reflect on how fast three years gone by. Then, they can remember how much fun those early days in the one bedroom apartment were.

That is until the pool is put up.

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