It is not just athletes who have something to gain when their teams triumph. Whether we are competing on a field or court, we are competing head-on with another institution. Any accomplishments made by either school could be easily set back with a viral meme or chants reminding the other team of their 2-10 losing year.
Dating back to the early 1990s and the Southland conference, even before The University of Texas at San Antonio had a football team, there has always been something about competition between the two universities.
Call it proximity, as the two universities are separated only by a 50-mile stretch of Interstate 35, or shared interest in being the next Texas university to make a big splash in athletics or academics.
The two universities will compete in what has now been dubbed the “H-E-B I-35 Showdown.” Our Bobcats will play host to the Roadrunners in what every collegiate sports fan south of Austin believes will be what separates the men from the boys.
Under coach Everett Withers, the culture of Texas State is changing, and the culture of Texas State athletics in and of itself has changed a lot since last year, which is evident through social media. The players and coaches look like they had a productive and sometimes entertaining camp.
However, “Rowdy,” (Big bird with a Napoleon complex) from UTSA also had a summer of stunts on social media.
In a video posted late July, Rowdy had a field trip to Texas State in which he waved a flag at bobcat stadium, teepeed the stallions statue with blue and orange ribbons and proceeded to float the river, flashing his school’s “birds up” sign.
The video describes Texas State as “that school up the road” reminiscent to the type of rhetoric heard between the Ohio State and Michigan games. Should Texas State and UTSA miss the opportunity to market this game as if it were that big, both schools might flounder perpetually.
The contemporary “Michigan and Ohio state” that has become the I-35 corridor rivalry as well as the fan base behind it, have the potential to lift both schools out of the “party school” or “third choice” category.
When the two teams face off later this football season, it should not just be the players and coaching staff that need to “buy-in” to the concept or culture of a winning tradition and spirit.
Not only does this game give our football team and coach Withers an opportunity to prove themselves, but our university has a lot to prove, as well.
If we buy into this culture, maybe we can escape what plagues all Texas State students: The age old “isn’t that a party school” questions and accusations at family functions. For whatever reason, regardless of student and professor achievements as a research institution, Texas State is still gaffed off as a party school.
We work hard and play harder.
Biology, mass communications, theatre and dance, liberal arts; name any subject, Texas State probably has an award for it. Our student base is also expanding at an alarming rate, with each freshmen class bigger than the last.
This season let us win the tailgate and the game.
Win or lose, however, Texas State fans are fortunate in that even if we don’t win, at least the game is held at our Bobcat stadium instead of the biggest pit stop off of I-35.
– Jakob R. Rodriguez is a journalism sophomore