Back before the University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley folded in UT-Pan American, there was an old joke bragging about the school’s football program: “UTPA Football—Still Undefeated!” That’s because in the school’s 90-year history (from Edinburg Junior College to Pan American University to UTPA to UT-RGV), they’ve never had a football team. Valley residents, being generally optimistic, have chosen to focus on the bright side of that: It means the team’s never lost! But now that Bucky the Bronc has trotted off into the sunset and the Vaquero rides over Edinburg, Harlingen, and Brownsville‘s unified campus, that could change.
At least, Mack Brown is going to be looking into the question of whether it can—or should. Brown, the beloved former Longhorns coach whose cache and cult of personality belies his record in his final years at UT, is overseeing the feasibility study to determine if UTRGV could host its own football team. As The Monitor reported on Friday:
“You want to establish a program, you want to have a competitive program, and so you need somebody who has been there,” Bailey said. “Do you know anybody with more credibility than Mack Brown? So that’s what we’re trying to do. If we lay this out, he’s a guy with enormous credibility about how to be competitive in football.”
A UTRGV news release Friday stated the committee for the study will consist of Brown, special advisors, faculty and staff, student leaders and community members. The committee will work with consultants chosen to conduct the feasibility study. Final recommendations will be presented to Bailey.
The university has not yet chosen committee members or the consulting group.
“The opportunity to build a college football program from the ground up is unique, and I’m excited to be involved in the process,” Brown said in the release. “I know there are many passionate football fans in the Rio Grande Valley, and I can’t think of a better place to launch a college football program.”
The study comes ahead of schedule—while UTPA and UT-Brownsville students, alumni, and stakeholders were busy bickering over mascot names, UTRGV athletic director Chris King was telling reporters in 2014 that even conducting a study about the viability of a football program wasn’t likely to happen until sometime in 2020. But, as the Monitor notes, enrollment has exceeded expectations at 28,500 students and that number expected to grow. (It’s already 2,000 more than UTSA, which added its own football program in 2011.)
The school has been buying land in Edinburg recently, spending $6.7 million to acquire 52 acres that would be a darn good spot for a stadium earlier this month. What all of this ultimately means for the Vaqueros and their dreams of football glory in the Valley remains to be seen, of course, but right now it’s looking like UTRGV fans might get to celebrate the end of their decades-long undefeated streak sometime in the not-too-distant future.