Tuesday, August 30, 2022

‘Bull don’t care’: UTSA coach Jeff Traylor discusses the 2022 football season

‘Bull don’t care’: UTSA coach Jeff Traylor discusses the 2022 football season

UTSA head coach Jeff Traylor talks to his team after the Fiesta Spring Football Game in April 2022. The new season starts on September 3 as UTSA hosts Houston at the Alamodome. Photo by Jeff Huehn

AUGUST 30, 2022 — Winning any championship is a difficult task to achieve, but winning back-to-back championships is essentially a herculean feat in the sports world. No team has won two Super Bowls in a row in nearly two decades. The 1998-2000 New York Yankees were the last team to earn back-to-back World Series titles. Even San Antonio’s beloved Spurs, who have won five NBA world championships since 1999, never hoisted the trophy in consecutive years.

This is the challenge and opportunity in front of UTSA football coach Jeff Traylor. In the zenith of a magical 12-win season in 2021, the Roadrunners won the Conference USA championship before a thundering Alamodome crowd. Now, they have their sights set on doing it all over again.

While five starters from last year’s UTSA team are now competing for roster spots on NFL teams, the good news is that seven players on UTSA’s 2022 roster are on preseason watch lists for national college football awards. The media that covers Conference USA football seems to think the Roadrunners will win a second consecutive conference championship.

With the new season starting on Saturday, Traylor spoke with UTSA Today about the challenges ahead and the blessing of coaching brilliant leaders on both sides of the ball.

The following interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Leading up to the conference championship game last season, businesses around San Antonio put up orange lights when they’d normally be putting out their Christmas displays. How did it feel to see San Antonio really embrace UTSA Football in such a meaningful way?

That’s what we’ve dreamed of since I took the job. You can go back and watch my original press conference in December of 2019. I said that we wanted to be the football team of San Antonio. It’s the seventh-largest city in the country, there’s no pro football team and we’re the only FBS college football team in the city. We really wanted to capture the city’s attention and I’m really happy for my kids that they got to see the fulfillment of that.

We just hope the momentum continues and we can stack another great year. We’ve had two great years in a row—let’s go get a third one.

Thinking about guys like Barry Alvarez at Wisconsin, Bill Snyder at Kansas State and Frank Beamer at Virginia Tech—they all brought those programs to new heights and left an indelible legacy at those universities. It really sounded like that’s what you wanted, to be the coach that really puts UTSA on the map. How much did that influence your decision last fall to take the 10-year contract extension and reaffirm that commitment to UTSA?

Dr. Campos and President Eighmy anticipated that I was going to get some heavy looks from other universities trying to hire me, but I expressed my interest in wanting to be here long-term and they reciprocated by offering me a 10-year contract. I just know that whenever you’re trying to grow as fast as we are, and you’re as “young” as we are, there are going to be some bumps in the road. And I wanted that security to know that when some of those bumps come, we’d be able to persevere through it with my coaching staff and my strength staff. There are a lot of people counting on me to keep a job.

Moving up to the American Athletic Conference is going to be a big bite. Once we get that figured out, we hope there’s another big bite coming. We want to be the ones that help manage this program through all of that, and make the program as good as it can be.

What are the biggest challenges to repeating as Conference USA champions and how are you mentally preparing the team for those challenges?

First, there’s the psychological aspect of it. Now we’re the hunted. Now people have expectations for us, and that’s different. We’ve never had those expectations before. We were picked to finish in last place my first year at UTSA. We were picked towards the top last year, but not first. And now we’re picked to win the conference by some polls and some voters this year. That’s going to be a different challenge psychologically.

Second, we lost a lot of great players from last year’s team. Clarence Hicks is with the Cincinnati Bengals right now. Charles Wiley is with the Baltimore Ravens. Tariq Woolen was drafted by the Seahawks. We lost our starting left tackle Spencer Burford to the 49ers and Sincere McCormick is with the Raiders. Antonio Parks is now a coach for us. We lost Jaylon Haynes and Lorenzo Dantzler from the defensive line. We lost our tight end Leroy Watson. We had a really good football team and we’ve lost a lot of those players.

Our motto this year is “The bull don’t care.” Tuff Hedeman was a three-time world champion bullrider and a bull named “Bodacious” absolutely messed him up. Tuff said, “The bull don’t care that I rode him last week.” It’s the same thing with us. No one cares that we won the conference championship last year. We have to find a way to be the very best team we can be this year, and we have to figure out what that looks like.


2022 UTSA FOOTBALL SCHEDULE
* Home games in orange; dates/times subject to change

DATE

TIME

OPPONENT

BROADCAST PROVIDER

Saturday, September 3

2:30 p.m.

Houston

CBS Sports Network

Saturday, September 10

11 a.m.

Army

CBS Sports Network

Saturday, September 17

7 p.m.

Texas

Longhorn Network

Saturday, September 24

2:30 p.m.

Texas Southern

Stadium

Friday, September 30

6:30 p.m.

Middle Tennessee

CBS Sports Network

Saturday, October 8

5 p.m.

Western Kentucky

ESPN Networks

Friday, October 14

7 p.m.

Florida International

CBS Sports Network

Saturday, October 22

2:30 p.m.

North Texas

Stadium

Saturday, November 5

2:30 p.m.

UAB

Stadium

Saturday, November 12

2:30 p.m.

Louisiana Tech

ESPN Networks

Saturday, November 19

Noon

Rice

ESPN Networks

Saturday, November 26

2:30 p.m.

UTEP

Stadium

Friday, December 2

TBD

Conference USA Championship

CBS Sports Network


The first three games on the schedule are brutal. Whether you’re 3-0 or 0-3 to start the season—or somewhere in between—how will you manage expectations going from the non-conference to the conference slate?

It’s a really good question. That’s where our culture will come into play. You know, our very first team in 2020 won seven games—and that’s probably all those guys could’ve won. They squeezed out seven wins. Last year, we won 12 and you could argue that we might have left some meat on the bone. We probably could have won a couple more and we didn’t get it done. So, which team is better? Everybody’s going to say the 12-2 team was way better than the 7-5 team, but I’m not sure that’s accurate. Because the measure of a great team is knowing that you got everything you could get out of it.

That’s our culture. We want to be the very best that we can be. And we feel like we’ve got enough talent and good enough coaches that if we’re the very best we can be, we’ll win our fair share of ball games.

UTSA was picked to finish first in the conference this year in the preseason media poll. You guys edged out University of Alabama at Birmingham in first-place votes. And there are another six or seven teams that have the talent to win the title this year. What’s your take on the conference heading into the season?

First of all, if I had a vote, I would’ve voted for UAB. They’ve got way more players coming back than we do and they’ve owned the conference for years. We beat them on the last play of the game last year at the Alamodome, and this year we have to go play them in Birmingham. So, I don’t really know why we got picked, but I’m grateful that we did.

It’s a tough, tough league. Even last year, as good as we were, we still won a bunch of one-possession ball games. We beat Western Kentucky by one possession twice. We beat UAB by one possession. UTEP played us well in the second half of that game. Louisiana Tech played us well until later in the game. Middle Tennessee battled with us until the very end the last two years. It’s going to be tough.


Quarterback Frank Harris (left) and safety Rashad Wisdom (right) are both captains for the Roadrunners. Harris was named the Conference USA Preseason Offensive Player of the Year and Wisdom was named the Conference USA Preseason Defensive Player of the Year.


The two guys who wear zero on this team are far from zeroes. Frank Harris and Rashad Wisdom are not only the Conference USA preseason players of the year, but they’re also tremendous role models and great ambassadors for UTSA. What is it like for you as a coach to have such strong leaders to lean on?

That’s a big reason why we’ve accomplished what we’ve accomplished. Frank’s from Clemens High School right here in the city. Rashad’s from Judson in Converse, right here in the city. That’s a blessing. That’s what we’re about is the 210.

And those guys earned their single digits. Our players have a vote, and to wear the 2, the 1 or the 0 on your jersey, that means you got the most votes from your teammates. Rashad and Frank got the most votes, so they chose to wear 0. That means that they best represent our culture pillars, and I can’t think of two finer young men than Rashad Wisdom and Frank Harris to represent our program.


EXPLORE FURTHER
 Purchase tickets for all six UTSA home games.
⇒ Tune in to the season premiere of the Jeff Traylor Radio Show on Wednesday, August 31.

The season opener is here against a Houston team that many are picking to win the American Athletic Conference this year. What’s your assessment of the Cougars and what do you think it’ll take for UTSA to get the win in that game?

They’re very talented. Their quarterback is Clayton Tune and he’s a very good player. They throw it all over the yard. And defensively, Coach (Doug) Belk has done a great job coordinating those guys. They’re physical. They run to the ball. Houston’s been a good football team for a long time.

We need to pack the ‘Dome, first and foremost. We need 50,000 people in that thing. That’ll help us. It’s always 72 degrees and beautiful inside the ’Dome and our kids are really fun to watch. They’re talented and they’re good people. They really are. If you knew them, you’d love them. I enjoy coaching them every day.

Shea Conner



UTSA Today is produced by University Strategic Communications,
the official news source
of The University of Texas at San Antonio.

Send your feedback to news@utsa.edu.


UTSA Today is produced by University Communications and Marketing, the official news source of The University of Texas at San Antonio. Send your feedback to news@utsa.edu. Keep up-to-date on UTSA news by visiting UTSA Today. Connect with UTSA online at Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and Instagram.


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