The news broke yesterday that Jake Spavital is your new Texas State Bobcat Head Football Coach. For embattled Athletic Director Larry Teis this a big get. Spavital is a known offensive commodity, considered a fast riser and in line for head jobs at the Power 5 level. Given the turmoil that Texas State is living in, we hope the new Bobcat coached understands what he's walking into.
Budget and infrastructure concerns continue to permeate the Texas State athletics program. The Bobcats haven’t been able or willing to fundraise at a level that creates the sort of stability in which a football program can thrive. That’s as important as the results on the field, typically you can’t have one without the other, and Texas State’s failings on the field are coupled with their lack of infrastructure off it.
Hiring Jake Spavital is a nice piece of the puzzle, getting the athletic department to row in the same direction will determine how his tenure ultimately goes. Rowing in the same direction is the goal rather than trying to sink the boat from within.
To do that, Spavital needs some help. The Bobcat football coach needs allies in the Athletic Department to make sure that their football program has what it needs to compete. Note the wording, what it needs, not what it wants. That’s the real distinction between schools with a disproportionate share of the TV dollars and those who scrape by on ESPN+. If Nick Saban wants to hire fifteen staffers to break down Georgia’s third-down tendencies, he gets it. If Urban Meyer asks for a new layout in his weight room, he gets it. If Dabo Sweeny wants prime rib on Wednesday nights, he gets it. Same with Tom Herman, Jimbo Fisher, Lincoln Riley, or a host of other "haves" in college football.
Texas State and most of the Group of Five don’t get those things. They operate on shoestring budgets with financial parameters and ceilings both externally and internally fixed. But there are certain line items that a program needs.
Can you imagine the furniture flying around the Alabama Football building if a bean counter told Saban he didn’t have money for recruiting trips in December? That’s unheard of at that level. It’s typically unheard of at most FBS schools, but Texas State, trailblazers that they are, deal with that and other issues. For Spavital, he needs advocates and allies to see that it never happens again.
He’ll need to ensure that someone builds an infrastructure as he builds a coaching staff and a football team. It can be done. Successful athletic programs run on calculated efficiency of effort and aggressive fundraising/marketing.
Schools that don’t communicate internally or can’t agree on budgets or who fail at any number of things from compliance to gameday operations will almost always find their way to the bottom of the standings.
Those infrastructure and efficiency deficits cost wins on the field, butts in seats, applications. Yes, students apply to places that win in higher numbers than schools that have a great History department. Ask Florida Gulf Coast or Alabama which has seen a record number of applications to an average academic environment.
Mostly those deficiencies cost you money. You'll lose your donors, lose revenue. You'll have to buy-out the last coach and pay the next one more. Ultimately the athletic department cannot meet the needs of its programs. Not the prime rib, the Gatorade.
I hope Jake Spavital understands what he’s walking into and I hope in addition to hiring a decent staff he gets what he needs to win, at minimum a clear line of communication from the football building to the athletic department as a whole. I hope the nightmare stories about negligent medical care from the training staff, deficiencies in nutrition, budget miscommunications, and compliance issues as reported by the great Keff Ciardello and others who cover the program are over.
Realistically they are not. The same people are pulling the same strings.
You’ll get to meet Jake Spavital on Friday at his hiring presser, but you’ll also see Athletic Director Larry Teis again. Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss.
Teis hired his fourth football coach this week, his previous three combined for a 56-85 record. Texas State has won 25% of their conference games since joining the FBS. Attendance is in decline. Donors are pulling their funds. Under-performing department employees still have jobs. Inefficiency reigns. At some point, you stop blaming coaches and start extinguishing the dumpster fire they’re asked to work in.
This site wants Texas State and every school in the state to be good. The sport is more fun to cover when the product is good. Jake Spavital is a very good hire all things considered. I hope all those things considered improve and change so he can lead a successful program.