UTSA (The University of Texas at San Antonio) wraps up our FIU's Conference USA Opponents Series. After you read up on the Roadrunners, I'll be on vacation until next week. When I get back from vacation I'll start previewing the Panthers as they get ready for the start of camp, Monday, August 5th and FIU's 12th season of football. For those that have been asking, early on in camp practices are expected to be open, but will close as the season draws closer.
UTSA is connected to the University of Texas. UTSA has a rivalry with a school depicted in a football film and almost took that school's mascot as its own. The Roadrunners football program also has a couple of names that FIU fans will recognize.
In the previous FIU’s Conference USA Opponents Series you got to know:
Let's head over to San Antonio and visit UTSA. . . .
HOOK 'EM ROADRUNNERS
UTSA is a part of the larger vision of "The University of Texas". The University of Texas came into being in 1876, when the state constitution was adopted.
Until 1967, the Austin school was the sole university stylized as "The University of Texas". It was during the 1967 legislative session that the UT System was given uniform designations based upon each institution's respective location. Two years later, San Antonio was finally granted its own institution in The University of Texas System and UTSA opened in 1969.
REMEMBER LOMBARDINO'S BACK
When then-Texas Governor Preston Smith signed the bill officially establishing UTSA, he did so on the back of Frank Lombardino in a ceremony in front of the Alamo. At the university's inaugural commencement, the first diploma was also signed on Lombardino's back. Frank Lombardino was a Democrat who represented northwest Bexar County in the state legislature and is known as the "father of UTSA" due to his impassioned advocacy for the institution.
A ROADRUNNER IS FASTER
When thinking of what nickname to have for its teams, UTSA students had to make a choice between "Roadrunners" or "Armadillos". The roadrunner was chosen and no, it had nothing to do with the "Looney Tunes" character. Beep, Beep.
The football movie "Necessary Roughness" starred former swimsuit model Kathy Ireland as the kicker for the Texas State Armadillos. As you read above, UTSA could have been the Armadillos.
In reality, it's the Texas State Bobcats and not the Texas State Armadillos. Texas State is UTSA's main rival as the schools are separated by 50 miles.
UTSA and Texas State play each other in a series known as the I-35 Rivalry. Both schools had been conference rivals since 1991, first in the Southland Conference and then in the Western Athletic Conference. UTSA and Texas State are now in different conferences, with UTSA in Conference USA and Texas State in the Sun Belt Conference. UTSA is one of four Texas schools in C-USA, along with North Texas, Rice and UTEP.
IF YOU BUILD IT . . .
UTSA won its first football game against Northeastern State on September 3, 2011 at its home field, the Alamodome. With 59,743 in attendance, UTSA set the NCAA record for the highest-attended inaugural game for a start-up program. The Roadrunners also broke the attendance record for an inaugural season, averaging 45,521 per game.
UTSA finished its first season with a record of 4–6, and set a record for the largest average home attendance for a new football program with 35,521. This topped the previous record by the South Florida Bulls of 33,038 in 1997.
WE MEET AGAIN
UTSA is coached by Larry Coker, the former coach of the Coral Gables school. When FIU and UTSA eventually meet -- the teams do not play each other this coming season -- it won't be the first time Coker coaches against the Panthers. That first meeting happened in 2006, the infamous melee that took place in the Orange Bowl that night between FIU and the Coral Gables school.
Coker has on his UTSA staff, former FIU defensive backs coach Jeff Popovich as the Roadrunners DBs coach. Popovich coached at FIU from 2007-2012.
WE'RE NOT IN KANSAS ANYMORE
On March 1, 2008, UTSA unveiled the new Rowdy the Roadrunner mascot and UTSA logos. Many students and administrators at UTSA thought the previous Rowdy bore too much resemblance to the Kansas Jayhawk mascot. Look at the photos above and you decide. Left to right in the photos are the Kansas Jayhawk, the old Rowdy and the current Rowdy.
Among some of the more recognized UTSA alums: Michelle Beadle (above left), NBC Sports reporter; Cristina Blackwell (above right), Emmy-nominated weather reporter for Despierta America on Univision; Bruce Bowen, former Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs player; Jeff Clarke, Vice Chairman and President of Dell; Kim Spradlin, CBS's Survivor winner.