In the past three years, Texas State football has undergone a cultural overhaul with Head Coach Everett Withers at the helm.
Prior to Withers’ first game in 2016, around 30 players were dismissed or left the team. In picking up the pieces, Withers rebuilt the program’s culture by infusing his own philosophies in an attempt to fix the team’s existing personnel and drug problems.
Withers said his core values, as painted on wall of the team’s meeting room, are about being honest, treating women with respect, no using drugs, no stealing and no weapons.
Withers said he refused to bring his family around the 2016 team he inherited and that he first had to establish a no-nonsense atmosphere. Currently, Withers’ son, Pierce Withers, plays for the team’s defense.
“There was a major drug problem when I got here,” Withers said. “We have a better competitive spirit now, we are closer to competing than we have ever been since I have been here.”
Previously, Withers served as head coach from 2014-15 at James Maddison University, where he led the team to back-to-back playoff appearances. In 2015, Withers dismissed JMU players Rhakeem Stallings, Jimmy Moreland and Keith Ford players for allegedly stealing.
“At JMU, we got rid of our best corner because he stole,” Withers said. “When I left, they let him back on the team. He is now a top-10 corner prospect for the NFL. We didn’t want him to play, he stole. We were going to give him a second chance. He had to pay for school for a year.”
Withers said following the system requires people from the top to the bottom of the program to buy in. He said the team has taken longer than what he would have wanted to adapt to his changes, but they’re getting there.
Sophomore quarterback Willie Jones III said the culture shift motivates players to do better for their coaches. In the I-35 showdown against the University of Texas at San Antonio, the Bobcat’s nearly knocked off the favored UTSA Roadrunners but ultimately lost 25-21, compared to last year’s 44-14.
“There’s a lot more energy with the coaches and the players,” Jones said. “It’s just a different feel. (It) makes you want to be out there to go hard for your coach and the next man beside you.”
Everett Withers, head football coach speaks to media during a press conference.
Photo by Region Kinden | Sports Contributor