Jeff Traylor Introduction Press Conference

UTSA Fans and their Relationship with Coach Speak

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Ed. Note: This guest article was written by long-time podcast listener Mongo Watson. If you have an opinion you’d like to share with the community please submit your pitch at this link.

Fans are strange. And I should know, I’m a fan.  

I love Coach Traylor. I think it would be great if he stayed at UTSA forever. Maybe even stay long enough to coach Frank Harris’s son. Of course, Frank doesn’t have a son yet, but someday he may, and who knows, Frank might still have some eligibility left then. Think of it,  Frank and his son on the same team. (Don’t hate the dream)  

Coach Traylor says a lot of things. It’s part of the job. It must be odd to spend about half your day speaking into a microphone, and even stranger realizing that nearly all of UTSA fandom is hanging on every word, parsing them, and teasing out all possible meanings. On top of that, most of the questions you get are either unbelievably stupid or terribly intrusive or both. Questions you don’t want to answer and shouldn’t have to answer. So, you come up with some quick BS and move on, only to find out the next day that fans stayed up all night sifting through your clever utterances looking for some small kernel of universal truth, something that will give them peace and contentment or prophetically warn them of some impending doom. And then the next day, after a long night of deliberation and consensus building, those same fans finally release some colored smoke and in unison describe on social  media the deep, philosophical truth behind an answer that you tossed out as quickly as it came to your mind, with no thought behind it other than moving the reporter along to the next idiotic question.  

The other night Jeff Traylor was asked by a reporter why he has not taken a higher paying job at a Power 5 school. He responded by saying, “I’m not going to be able to spend all the money they give me at UTSA. What do I need that other money for?” 

And in the days that followed the fandom weighed in with its interpretation of the holy  quote. The consensus was unanimous. Jeff Traylor said he is staying at UTSA forever. And not only is he staying, but he also said he will work for free. And not just for free, he apparently has agreed, in writing, to pay the university for the privilege of coaching the team.

This was quickly followed by wild celebration in form of multiple “likes.” All are relieved. All sleep better. I’m sure that within the next few weeks someone will propose  building a statue of Jeff Traylor on campus – but not in front of the RACE. In front of the financial aid office instead. The larger-than-life figure will show Traylor on his knees, in rags, handing the last of his money to needy college students, all the while, scheming out a zone read option on a tablet.  

Queue tears. 

But wait…he never actually said that. Rewind.  

In fact, he didn’t answer the question at all. Instead, he responded with a rhetorical  question of his own. Tip: when a person answers a question with a rhetorical question, they  really haven’t said anything. At. All. That’s called an evasion. And I hate to tell you all this, but people for thousands of years have asked themselves that same rhetorical question only to  repeatedly answer it with, “More money is…well, more money. What was the question again?” 

Don’t get me wrong, he was right to evade the question. This is not something he needs to discuss with reporters or us fans, any more than we need to discuss our working situations with strangers. It was a stupid question, mostly because of when and where it was asked: at an awards banquet. What’s Traylor supposed to say, “Now that you bring it up, here is my resume and salary requirements. Please take one and pass them around.” 

Now, I don’t know Jeff Traylor. I only know his public persona, which may or may not be reflective of him. Although, people who know Jeff Traylor unanimously say that with Coach, what you see is what you get. So, let’s take him at face value, which is something I think we should do for most people.  

And from what he has said publicly it appears that Jeff Traylor likes building things. It seems to fit his sense of purpose, which is important, probably more important to him than money. But don’t kid yourselves, money is important. Why do I know this? Because I’m sure he didn’t make that same remark to Dr. Campos right before he signed his extension.  

I suspect Jeff Traylor is occasionally amused when he learns just how seriously we take some of the things he says. Like when he famously said, “don’t eat the cheese.” 

It was a clever way of telling his players and coaches to stay humble and don’t be  overconfident. But how many fans took, “don’t eat the cheese,” to heart? Crazy. All season long I heard fans reminding each other, “don’t eat the cheese,” don’t look too far ahead, stay  humble, and don’t commit culture pillar violations.  

Wait. I’m a fan. I’m not a player. I’m not a coach. So, none of this applies to me. I can eat all the damn cheese I want…and I did. I ate every piece of cheese I could find. I became a  maker of cheese just so I could eat it. I stuffed my face with cheese all season long, which is a uniquely painful prospect for someone who is 58 years old. (If you don’t get the joke now, wait until you turn 58; although, it won’t be funny then either, but for a different reason).  

I deserved to eat the cheese. I was at the games when there were less than 8000 fans in the stands. I was at the games when we got pasted. I was at the games when our best  offensive strategy was, 3 and out. I was at the games when it was so quiet you could hear fans yelling play suggestions up to the press box. I was at the game when every time the announcer yelled, “THIRD AND LOOONGGGG” the other team scored a touchdown (I’m still triggered when he yells that, all these years later).  

I can eat cheese because I remember the bad days, which means, I understand that these are the good days. I’m a fan.  

But we fans ruin so much of our own fun by taking on more emotional baggage than we should. 

“I know we won by a touchdown, but we should have won by three touchdowns.” Are you listening to yourself?  

“We had too many penalties.”  

Aggghhh, we won! 

“The third-string, redshirt-freshman linebacker isn’t progressing as quickly as he should.” 

He’s a college student. I could barely tie my own shoelaces in college. 

If you could go back and tell the 2019 version of yourself what the next three seasons would bring, do you think you would remotely care about stuff like that? That’s what Coach Traylor is for. That is why he gets paid all that money. And that is why one day he will leave…and probably hire a financial adviser who will suggest all the things he can do with that  extra money. And he’ll still be my coach because of what he has given us. I love that man, even if I don’t fully comprehend East Texan. (It’s the metaphors. I just don’t get the metaphors.)  

Of course, when Jeff Traylor speaks to us directly, we should listen. And he has spoken  to us directly.  

“We need to pack the dome.” Yes. 

“The community needs to support NIL for the athletes.” Yes. 

“We still need facility improvements.” Yes. 

And most importantly. “We need everyone involved. It will take all of us.” Being a fan is hard. It means we love, we obsess, we fret, we read between the lines way, way too much, and we put our hearts into these things just as much as our teams put their hearts into the sports they play. It’s fun. It gives us break from thinking about the troubles in our lives or the more important things we should be doing. It’s a distraction – an indulgence.  But it also helps us feel connected to something larger than ourselves, not just in purpose, but in community, which is something worth building. 

We need to learn how to relax and enjoy this a little. Learn what is and is not important.  Because ultimately, UTSA athletics is about the young men and women who chose to be part of  our community, and our efforts as a community in helping them along their way. That and  kicking the hell out of UNT! 

Repeat after me – UUUUUUT – SAAAAAAA! 

Birds up, baby!

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