Jake Spavital is the most important public figure in San Marcos

Head footbal coach Jake Spavital gives his opening remarks at the press conference Nov. 30. Photo by Kate Connors

Kate Connors

Head footbal coach Jake Spavital gives his opening remarks at the press conference Nov. 30. Photo by Kate Connors

Jakob Rodriguez, Sports Editor

When Jake Spavital took over as the Bobcats’ head coach, he promised success in the following: winning games, winning championships and winning bowl games. Should he manage to resurrect the Bobcats to their former glory, he boosts not only himself, his coaching staff and players, but also the entire city of San Marcos and university at large.

I said it once and I will say it again: Jake Spavital is the most important public figure in San Marcos, possibly in the state of Texas.

He signed a five-year deal with Texas State with a base salary of $800,000 a year. Should Spavital find success in the 78666 zip code, he stands to make as much a year as former head coach Everett Withers made on his contract’s buy out when fired from his position.

The Texas Tribune reported that Texas State’s athletics department received $17,891,514 from student fees and an additional $7,160,629 from the university. Netting $9,646,208 in revenue, Withers was faced with almost a nearly impossible challenge: make the program successful and make the department successful.

Withers would not have much success on the field. Although his defensive unit would continuously get better, the offensive unit and team at large failed to follow suit.

According to the Texas Tribune, Withers made an impact on the department’s bottom line, earning the most out of any team on campus and $327,893 ahead of the next closest program in the same reported year.

Spavital is looked at the same way the Los Angeles Ram’s head coach Sean McVay is looked at in the National Football League: a fresh set of eyes that can see through the old way of doing things and breathe new life into a program.

Success has eluded the Texas State football since Jim Wacker was head coach where he won back to back NCAA Division II championship in 1982 and 1983. The Bobcat’s All-American linebacker Tim Staskus made what would turn out to be a damning prediction for the following season.

“Let’s make it three in a row,” Staskus said.

Wacker separated himself from the Bobcats and became the head coach of Texas Christian University the following season. The Bobcats would find marginal success but struggle to transition into a true Division I force under nearly every other head coach after Wacker.

John O’Hara left San Marcos for a staff position at the University of Iowa following the Wacker era, so would Denise Franchione and Jim Bob Helduser who both rounded out the early and mid-90s with departures of their own.

Under the next four coaches, Texas State could barely separate itself from an intramural team.

Bob Debesse, Manny Matsakis, David Bailiff and Brad Wright all separated themselves or were fired after mediocre records.

Not even the second coming of Franchione could truly turn the program around, producing a 20-28 record. Worse, with lack of success on the field, the Bobcats struggled to turn a profit during the majority of those eras.

Coupled with the fact that Spavital had been a part of explosive offenses for the entirety of his coaching career, the hiring decision seemed like a no brainer for Texas State.

Apart from his success at West Virginia, where Spavital oversaw the offense, the mountaineer’s program was also elevated in part due to their starting quarterback’s Heisman trophy contention.

Failing to win at Texas State now almost rivals that of not having esteemed Southwest Texas State Teachers College alum Lyndon Baines Johnson’s presidential library in San Marcos. A winning season here could galvanize the I-35 corridor to new heights not just economically and politically, but also in football.

According to Brian C. McNerney, an archivist for the LBJ library, former First Lady Lady Bird Johnson said “We had a sentimental longing to put it at Johnson City or in San Marcos,” attesting to the fact that his alma mater was a consideration, but ultimately not chosen and instead the Johnson’s opted for the University of Texas at Austin.

For a program with as much history as Texas State’s, winning should be secondary. Instead, for almost a century the program and university have both had varying levels of success across the board. So, here’s to hoping, Jake.

Jakob Rodriguez is a journalism senior

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