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Bobcats Big Win Shown For All On Small Screen

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, here comes Texas State
Joe O'Connell, 12:43pm, Thu. Nov. 7, 2013

Texas State hit a milestone last Saturday. No, I’m not talking becoming FBS bowl-eligible for the first time ever in a convincing 37-21 win at Idaho. This one’s more personal and important. Last Saturday, I watched the Bobcats play football on television, but I couldn’t watch the University of Texas Longhorns.

And I’ll watch Texas State on TV again on Nov. 16, after this bye week.

The Bobcats, whom many pundits predicted to win at most four or five games this year, are 6-3 with competitive contests ahead against Arkansas State, Western Kentucky, and Troy to end the season. There’s talk of a – don’t laugh – Famous Idaho Potato Bowl appearance in Texas State’s future.

To be honest, UT’s routine yet lackluster 35-13 win over Kansas was only on TV Saturday if the Longhorn Network counts. It doesn’t for DirecTV subscribers like me, who are forced to watch on their laptops or find an accommodating sports bar. But my wife and I were away for the weekend in Fredericksburg without internet access and again with DirecTV only. Instead I watched Texas State skin Idaho live on KNVA, which again picked up an ESPN3 internet feed.

For Longhorn fans, seeing their team live on television is practically a given, but it’s also what creates and grows a fan base since not everyone is willing or able to watch in person. Texas State has never had that luxury. That’s why TV time is so important for a program so new to Big Time Football.

The school that shall always be known to me as Southwest Texas State has long had an identity problem. Students wander campus wearing UT or Texas A&M shirts. Traditions like the awkward hand signal – fold the two smallest fingers down to the palm and stick the thumb and other two fingers out wide to create a state of Texas with said folding fingers pointing toward the spot San Marcos would inhabit on this fleshy map – were created in the Eighties when SWT won back-to-back Division II national football titles.

The established sports media mindset doesn’t help. A Bobcat win rates a tiny story – probably culled from a wire service – inside the Austin daily, which does now include Texas State in its weekly predictions grid. The Bobcats thrilling 33-31 last-minute home win over South Alabama was lumped in with the score of the Southwestern University game – there’s a college football team in Georgetown? Really? – sans footage by KEYE.

Real television changes that. Credit KXAN general manager Eric Lassberg and his production manager Korey Wisland with seeing the potential behind a school with 35,000 students and a whole lot of area alumni. Lassberg says KBVO, one of KXAN’s sister stations, is designed as local/regional sports hub. But last week’s Texas State game – and the upcoming contest at Arkansas State – are airing on KNVA. Why? Partly due to prior commitments, but also because KNVA airs in San Marcos as well as Austin.

Give Bobcat athletic director Larry Teis credit here, too. “We have been working with Texas State periodically for a few years now, Lassberg said via email, “but what made it happen was the development of a relationship with Larry Teis, who has been incredibly aggressive in working through all the variables and obstacles to deliver as many games as possible to his fans during this exciting Bobcat’s season.” Teis knows that building a fan base requires visibility. In an email, Teis said he had a meeting set earlier this week to discuss how to make sure the rest of the season is easily viewable.

A winning Texas State record still isn’t a certainty, but with hot freshman quarterback Tyler Jones getting more confident by the week, a defense that tackles well, solid special teams and the strong running tandem of Robert Lowe and Chris Nutall, expect the Bobcats to win two out of the remaining three. Just as important, we’ll be watching.

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