Texas State joining the Western Athletic Conference is a huge jump forward for the athletic program, but the greatest challenge still lies ahead.
Becoming a Football Bowl Subdivision member means Texas State will be facing a stiffer level of competition. The program has made its push to make the big stage, and the Bobcats must prove they are worthy of such placement.
The buzz is there for them. The students put their support behind “The Drive” and the wish has been granted. The football stadium expansion to 30,000-plus seats, along with playing FBS teams, will give fans ample reason to fill those seats at home games. If, however, Texas State is unable to build a winning athletic program against WAC opponents, that buzz will eventually wear off.
It does not matter what stage they are playing on, if the Bobcats field teams that cannot win, fan support will not remain. Wouldn’t it be a shame to see all the time, effort and money spent on "The Drive" only to see the renovated stadiums full of empty seats, watching a team struggle mightily?
This fear must not become a reality for Texas State. In thrusting themselves into the athletic limelight, the Bobcats made a pledge to their fans to build something of pride.
This is not to say Texas State should be expected to win a national championship in every sport the minute it becomes eligible. It should be understood there will likely be a transitional period, as a program built to compete at the Football Championship Subdivision level makes adjustments and upgrades to be on par with its competition. It is true these advancements have begun already, or the WAC would not have seen Texas State fit to add to the league. The job is not complete.
It should be noted, however, a transitional period would not excuse a decade-plus of being the doormat of the WAC on which everyone else should stomp.
The crux of collegiate athletic success comes in recruiting. Texas State has the prestige of being an FBS program to add to its recruiting pitch, but it must also realize the Bobcats are going against the best in the business. The caliber of players Texas State acquires will have to be high for the FBS level.
The good news is Texas State has the hotbed of national recruiting in Texas to pull from with an extra notch of appeal under its belt. While the Bobcats have an advantage on other WAC teams not located in the region, there are still other FBS schools in Texas, including one with a big-name coach just down the road, that will be joining the WAC with Texas State.
The bottom line is the Bobcats will need to be better than before to ensure this move does not become an embarrassment and financial disaster.