Share “Coker is in the construction business”

BY CHUCK CARLTON Published: May 17, 2009
e search always came back to Coker.

Coker studied too, talking to coaches in similar situations, like South Florida’s Jim Leavitt, Georgia State’s Bill Curry and Florida Atlantic’s Howard Schnellenberger.

Coker has already hired three staff members, including Eric Roark, an assistant coach at SMU for six seasons. Roark remembers Coker coaching at a small high school in Oklahoma.

"From that time to this time, he’s still the same person,” Roark said. "A lot of it is, ‘That’s the Miami coach.’ For UTSA to hire him, that brought the school instant credibility.”

Coker has accomplished a lot in two months but plenty remains.

While UTSA will play its home games at the Alamodome, practices will be at a high school stadium and the football offices will be in a modular building. Plus, Coker must adjust his recruiting target, although he wants Division I players.

At Miami, his tailback depth chart once read: Clinton Portis, Frank Gore, Willis McGahee and Najeh Davenport.

What Coker has in his favor is strong enthusiasm from the UTSA student body, alumni and businesses ready for Division I football in the nation’s seventh-largest city. Plans call for 125 acres adjacent to campus to become an athletic village, much like Central Florida.

While the football program will initially compete in the Championship Subdivison as a member of the Southland Conference, the school of 28,000 eventually has hopes of moving into the Bowl Subdivision.

"This, to me, is as exciting as a national title search in terms of what we can be, and to see it happen,” Coker said. "How many people get to start something from scratch?”

McClatchy-Tribune News Service