SAN JOSE -- After winning a national championship in his first season as a head coach 11 years ago, Larry Coker is back working his magic with the fledgling program at the University of Texas at San Antonio.
The Roadrunners, who host San Jose State on Saturday, are on the winning path in just their second year of football.
Coker won his first 24 games coaching at Miami, starting with the national title run in 2001.
But after Coker was fired in 2006, he went five years before coaching another game. Now in his second year at UTSA, the 64-year-old is rejuvenated and again leading a winning program.
"I would say he's doing one of the best jobs in the country with the way he's getting that team going in the right direction," San Jose State coach Mike MacIntyre said.
UTSA (5-1, 1-0 WAC) won its first five games this season before losing to Rice last week. Only one win -- a 35-14 victory over New Mexico State -- is against a Football Bowl Subdivision team.
The Roadrunners' program is in its second season and first at the FBS level. UTSA played as a Football Championship Subdivision independent last season and is in the first of two seasons of reclassification to the FBS level.
The Roadrunners are not eligible to reach a bowl game this season. A SJSU victory also would not count toward the six necessary wins for bowl eligibility.
Coker was hired in 2009 to lead the building process. He felt it was a perfect fit.
"Where I'm at in my career, I want to be some place I want to live, and it's great city to be in," Coker said of San Antonio. "We have a 65,000-seat indoor stadium. We're the (seventh)-largest city in the country. There's no (other) Division I football here. No professional football here. And obviously, there's Texas recruiting."
UTSA plays at the Alamodome, the former home of the San Antonio Spurs and a site that's hosted the NCAA Final Four.
In a football hotbed like Texas, many think the program -- and fellow upstart Texas State -- could quickly build into a winner.
"I think they'll just keep building and building and building as they go," MacIntyre said. "They've got a lot of players to choose from and a lot of players that want to play."
Those who have experienced it know that football is taken seriously at every level in Texas, particularly high school.
"Even the students that don't play football, it's a competition to see who has the best student section," said SJSU freshman kicker Austin Lopez, a Euless, Texas, native.
SJSU defensive line coach Jim Jeffcoat spent 19 years playing and coaching for the Dallas Cowboys and three years coaching at the University of Houston. He raised four children in Texas, including his son Jackson, who plays defensive end for the University of Texas.
"At the smaller towns, in the hospitals, the first thing when a boy is born they're going to put a jersey on him of that high school," Jeffcoat said.
Coker said the good feelings he had about coaching UTSA have be justified.
"I haven't been wrong from the standpoint of the support we've had here and the great crowds we've had following us on the road," Coker said. "We had nearly 5,000 fans at Rice last week, and that shows just not so much where we are but where we're headed."
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