Texas State continues its transition to the NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision and has the distinction of playing in the Western Athletic Conference this season before joining the Sun Belt Conference in 2013.
On Monday, Texas State head coach Dennis Franchione took part in the Sun Belt’s Football Media Day activities at the Marriott in New Orleans, where he addressed the progress the Bobcats have made in the first year of their transition to the FBS.
“Two years ago, we had 63 scholarships, last year we had 74 scholarships and this year we have 85 for the first time,” Franchione said. “Being an FCS program with 63 scholarships and moving up to the FBS, the immediate need is to continue to upgrade our roster with as many upper level FBS players as we can. Every FCS program has some FBS players. How many you have is up in the air, you always have some. We just have to get 85 of them, which will take a little bit of time and be a little bit of a process.”
Of course, this isn’t the first time Franchione will lead a team in the FBS. He was the head coach at the University of New Mexico (1992-97), Texas Christian University (1998-2000), the University of Alabama (2001-02) and Texas A&M University (2003-07) before taking over at Texas State University for the second time in his career in 2011.
“All the other stops prepared me to do this and I am confident in what we are doing and how to do it. I have been there and done that for 36 years,” Franchione said. “The State of Texas also has so many great football players. There are probably 350 Division I signees each year. The fact that we have talent close by definitely helps with this process.”
Franchione said he doesn’t think Texas State will be a tough sell with recruits who may have not previously considered the university.
“This great thing about Texas State is that it really sells itself with 35,000 students, 12 doctoral programs, good academics, $70 million invested in athletic facilities and the commitment to becoming a good FBS school,” he said. “It is one thing to go to the FBS, it is another thing to go with a commitment to success and we have that. That was pivotal and is exemplified in the facilities that we are building. It is not an overnight process, but for recruits, our school is a very attractive place.”
Franchione said Texas State definitely has an advantage on other programs like the University of Texas-San Antonio, who will also be in the FBS for the first time but will be building a program from the ground up.
“When you compare us with Georgia State or UTSA, they are just starting their programs,” Franchione said. “We have had football for over 100 years with a couple of national championships in Division II and some nice years behind us.”
Franchione, who coached then-Southwest Texas State in 1990 and 1991, added he is certainly glad he accepted the job again when athletic director Dr. Larry Teis offered it to him last year.
“I always felt back then that Texas State had a lot of potential,” he said. “It has been really gratifying to me to see it reach its potential. It’s definitely an exciting time for everyone at Texas State.”