Photo by Gerald Castillo
Spavital builds foundation during opening weeks with Texas State
Jake Spavital’s phone began blowing up and he had no clue why.
Texas State’s new head coach was attending the American Football Coaches Association convention in San Antonio on Jan. 9. He was there to interview coaches for openings on his staff when reports surfaced that he was in strong consideration for the Arizona Cardinals offensive coordinator position.
It’s true, Spavital had conversations with new Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury, who he considers like a brother. This was weeks before Kingsbury actually landed his new gig, however.
But when Spavital’s name emerged as a candidate, he knew he needed to put out the fire. His decision had been made weeks before, so he fired out a tweet:
— Jake Spavital (@JakeSpavital) January 9, 2019
“What’s interesting, I had talks with Kliff (Kingsbury) a while ago about it and I had already made the commitment to Texas State. I had staff here, it’s not right for me,” Spavital told the Daily Record. “I’m a loyal guy in terms of that, where it’s just not right to pack up and leave and do that. So, I told Kliff a long time ago. But when he gets announced then people start searching for who he’s been talking to and then it’s something that leaked on that side.”
Spavital’s first 55 days as the Bobcats’ head man have been a blur. He says it was good he was hired before the first signing day as he had time to talk with the team, watch tape, evaluate Texas State’s personnel and hire coaches. The Bobcats signed 10 recruits during the early signing period.
Spavital admits that recruiting has been a challenge with the early signing day.
“There’s a lot of politics with Texas high school football and a lot of relationships and I’m a big believer in mending the fences and keeping those relationships strong,” Spavital said. “That’s been the hardest thing is pumping the brakes seeing where we’re at and getting these guys in here and seeing what we can do with them. You know, recruiting has been pretty difficult with that signing day, especially with the coaching transition. So, I’m kind of curious, you talk to a lot of other coaches, that first signing day is now the signing day. So, it’s kind of like, they tried to make two days of signing days, they just actually made one and something to clean up if necessary.
“But there’s a lot scholarships here right now. A lot of people on campus, so it’s not like I’m in a crazy hurry. I don’t have very many spots. So, it’s more about just evaluation and kind of just waiting to see so we can fill our needs.”
Since then, he’s started piecing the rest off the staff together from the nutrition side of things to study hall.
He has a full staff with Bob Stitt as his offensive coordinator. His brother Zac Spavital is serving as defensive coordinator alongside co-defensive coordinator and inside linebackers coach Archie McDaniel. Ron Antoine remains on the staff as the wide receivers coach. Morris Berger is the team’s tight ends coach. Clay McGuire is the offensive line coach. Nick Whitworth is the Bobcats’ running backs coach, Brett Dewherst is the defensive backs coach, Tevin Mims is the outside linebackers coach and Tremaine Jackson is set join the staff from Abilene Christian as the defensive line coach.
Spavital believes he’s brought in a strong staff.
“They all came from established programs,” Spavital said. “...There wasn’t a lot of (head coaching) turnover this year that I got some quality guys that have been doing it at a high level, especially in the Big 12. I’ve gotten guys that have taken pay cuts to come be a part of this, which is something you see the commitment that they’re giving to me and that’s why I’ve got to keep working to make sure I can get them what they want because that’s the next hardest part is going to be holding onto them because they’re wanted coaches.”
Spavital is also excited about the team. He sees how close the players are with each other and believes that can lead Texas State to success.
“I think that they’re wanting to win,” Spavital said. “They’ve been through a lot. They’ve been through a lot of coaches and they kind of want to go out on a bang in their last year. I can see the concerns of them but I’ve had quality talks with them about understanding that this is their team and you buy into what we’re saying and coaching and you guys are going to take this to a new level.”
Now, Spavital is beginning to establish a relationship with the Texas State community. He’s been seen taking photos with fans at Bobcat basketball games. Spavital says he plans to bring fans into games with an exciting brand of football and a great in-game experience.
“(The community) just want a successful product and they’re passionate about it and that’s what you want as a head coach,” Spavital said. “You want people that have that passion and that will help in any way that they can to try to make it work. That’s why it’s been important to meet as many people as I possibly can. I looked at my calendar the other day and I’ve got 21 events over the next two months that I’m just trying to get in front of people and introduce myself and my staff and just try to get some buzz so we can get some more people in here for these kids.”