Texas State hasn’t posted a winning record since going 7-5 in 2014. It’s hard to win in San Marcos, but if any coach has the chops to turn the program around, G.J. Kinne might be the perfect guy.
A former college quarterback, Kinne recently led Incarnate Word to a 12-2 record and an FCS semifinal loss in his first season as a head coach. Kinne led an up-tempo offense that was one of only two FCS programs to average more than 500 yards of offense per game. Kinne’s group racked up 581 yards per contest and scored an FCS-best 51.5 points per game.
Clearly, Texas State liked what it saw from Kinne’s offense. But can he bring that explosiveness to a higher level of competition?
Sun Belt competition is steep
Texas State is an abysmal 13-51 in Sun Belt games since the start of the 2015 season. For the program to turn a corner, it simply needs to be better in conference games.
Can that happen? The Sun Belt is better than it was in 2015, with recent additions improving the league. The conference welcomed James Madison, Marshall, Old Dominion, and Southern Miss a season ago. The three programs all care about football success, and they only make competition stiffer.
Texas State fell to JMU and Southern Miss a season ago, hanging tough with Southern Miss in a 20-14 loss but getting blown out 40-13 at JMU. The Dukes were a significant step above the Bobcats last fall.
The West Division, where Texas State lives, has seen recent success from programs like Louisiana, South Alabama, and Troy. The East has quality programs like JMU, Marshall, App State, and Coastal Carolina. Winning conference games is a major task.
For Kinne to lead Texas State to a winning record, the Bobcats will need to go from one of the crummier teams in the Group of Five to one of the more competitive. If they don’t make a sizable leap, they’re going to struggle to break .500 in conference action.
While Texas State’s recent history is mediocre at best, that gives Kinne a significant runway. He’s going to have time to mold the program into his image.
It might take a few years for Kinne to recruit his type of player to campus, but he’s likely going to be afforded the necessary time to make improvements. One of Kinne’s toughest challenges will be recruiting in a state filled with elite-level college football programs.
Fortunately for Kinne, he’s a 34-year-old former player with one incredible season of head coaching experience under his belt. It’s easy to see Kinne’s potential as a recruiter, as the younger head coach with good energy brings a relatability to players. He’s a rising star in the coaching ranks, and he understands the value of recruiting.
If Kinne can take advantage of the depth of talent across Texas high schools, he could rapidly turn the program around. If he struggles to recruit, his teams could be overwhelmed by a talented conference.
Kinne’s quest to make Texas State relevant won’t be easy, but he’s one of the few young coaches in the game with the pedigree to make it happen.
Bennett Conlin is a college football contributor for HERO Sports, and he works full-time covering sports betting industry news and legislation for Sports Handle and US Bets.