The opening of the 2012 season will mark the start of a two year journey for four teams hoping to achieve full FBS membership. Each of these teams has seized the opportunities presented by the conference alignment shake-ups to give their program more exposure and the potential of much bigger pay days. While the allure of the FBS money and fame is appealing, it isn’t for everyone. Teams that apply to join the FBS are required to undergo a two year probationary period where they must prove that they can sustain an average attendance of over 15,000 per game.
Texas State University, led by Dennis Franchione, is one of the schools making the jump this year, but like its fellow FBS provisional schools, it is not taking on this challenge blindly. Texas State has set out plans to not only meet, but exceed the requirements of FBS membership. In the two years leading up to the switch from FCS play, Texas State averaged 13,000 and 15,000 people per game respectively putting them at the threshold of meeting the requirements before the trial even begins.
Early returns are telling the folks at Texas State that their calculated gamble is already paying off. According to their director of ticket sales, Joe Verschueren, they have already surpassed their previous record for season ticket sales. He expects that they could triple their average ticket sales by the time the Bobcats take the field this September.
One of the reasons for the increase in sales is the added exposure that comes from being able to host teams like Texas Tech this coming year. This season's opener will be the first game in their newly refurbished field that has been doubled in size to prepare for the FBS move. In addition to Texas Tech, the Bobcats will also be taking on top 25 program Houston and a tough slate of WAC teams. Here is a full look at their schedule for this coming season:
9/1 Texas State University @ University of Houston
9/8 Texas State University vs. Texas Tech University
9/22 Texas State University vs. Stephen F. Austin State University
9/20 Texas State University vs. University of Nevada
10/6 Texas State University @ University of New Mexico
10/13 Texas State University vs. Idaho
10/27 Texas State University @ San Jose State San Jose, Calif. (WAC)
11/3 Texas State University @ Utah State
11/10 Texas Tech University vs. Louisiana Tech
11/17 Texas State University @ Navy
11/24 Texas State University @ University of Texas - San Antonio
12/1 Texas Tech University vs. New Mexico State
Only time will tell how successful the move to the FBS will be for Texas State and its cohorts (South Alabama, University of Texas – San Antonio, and UMass), but you can be sure that there are many other successful teams from the FCS and Division II levels that will be watching their transition very carefully to see if they too are ready to for the challenges and possibilities of FBS football.
For more information on the plans for this season and a look at the new Texas State Stadium, check out the video below.