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The case for Jeff Traylor

Jeff+Traylor
Photo courtesy of The Paisano
Jeff Traylor

During his press conference after firing football coach Jimbo Fisher, Texas A&M athletic director Ross Bjork was kind enough to pull back the curtain on the Aggies’ coaching search and openly listed the traits A&M is looking for its next hire:

  • A program identity
  • Great interpersonal skills
  • Track record of player development
  • Commitment to academics
  • A recruiting machine
  • Supreme organizational skills
  • A culture of discipline
  • Passion for the game
  • A proven winner
  • Involvement in the community
  • Knowledge in X’s and O’s
  • Someone who understands modern college athletics

The message boards may not like it, but UTSA coach Jeff Traylor is the man who fits Bjork’s criteria the best — and you just have to follow his career to see why.
In 2014, Fisher led his Florida State Seminoles to a 13-1 record and a spot in the inaugural College Football Playoff.
That same year, Jeff Traylor was head coach at Gilmer High School and led the Buckeyes to the third state championship in the final year of his 25-year high school coaching career. After stints as an assistant at Big Sandy and Jacksonville (where Traylor coached all three of the future-professional McCown brothers), Traylor spent 15 seasons in his hometown of Gilmer.
And while Fisher was able to parlay his success at Florida State into landing the A&M job in 2018, Traylor turned his high school coaching chops into an assistant role at Texas — where he was named Big 12 Recruiter of the Year.
The secret to Traylor’s recruiting success? His relationship with Texas’ high school football coaches. Traylor is a Texas man through and through, and there’s no college coach more respected than he is among the state’s prep ranks — a welcome change after Fisher irked the power players of Texas high school ball by being the only Division I head coach to no-show the annual Texas High School Coaches Association Convention without explanation.
A couple of stops at SMU and Arkansas later, Traylor took over a fledgling UTSA program that had gone a combined 19-29 during coach Frank Wilson’s tenure.
While Fisher was underachieving at A&M, Traylor was building a powerhouse in San Antonio. His Roadrunners won back-to-back Conference USA championships in 2021 and 2022 and are currently 7-0 in conference play in the American Athletic Conference.
But on the field results are not the most impressive part of what Traylor was able to build in San Antonio — it was the culture.
His trademark “210: Triangle of Toughness” culture was able to not only inspire his players, but revitalize a fanbase that had never experienced consistent success on the football field before his tenure — the Roadrunners drew the largest crowd since the program’s first-ever game in 2011 to their home opener against Texas State this season. UTSA became San Antonio’s football team, and Traylor was not afraid to represent the city on a national stage.
There’s one other factor Bjork did not mention that makes Traylor a great hire: It’s in the budget.
Money is a factor whether fans want to believe it or not. Despite how high oil prices may be, the donors contributing to A&M’s football program do not have an infinite amount of cash on hand, and they just agreed to pay Fisher $76 million — more than triple the next largest buyout in the history of the sport.
Traylor’s $7 million buyout would be cheaper than poaching a sitting Power Five head coach like Duke’s Mike Elko or Oregon’s Dan Lanning, which means more money for Traylor to use to hire his assistant coaches and the rest of his staff.
That’s another area Traylor has a stellar track record in. UTSA has had three offensive coordinators the past three seasons. In 2021, Illinois lured Barry Lunney Jr. out of San Antonio after the Roadrunners’ first CUSA title. Traylor replaced him with Will Stein, who is now running Lanning’s offense at Oregon — an offense that leads the country in average scoring and ranks second in yards per game.
Part of fans’ frustration with Fisher has been his lackluster assistant hires such as former offensive coordinator Darrell Dickey and current offensive line coach Steve Addazio. If Traylor could lure his coordinators to UTSA, imagine what he could do with the prestige of an SEC job and the money A&M would save by hiring him instead of the shinier, more expensive option.
And if the boosters’ money is infinite and they would rather throw an even bigger contract than Fisher’s at someone they think will be a grand slam, would someone please tell them they can pay my tuition while they’re at it?
Traylor isn’t the flashy hire fans are dreaming of, but the last time A&M tried to hit a home run with a head coach, they struck out. Why not try something else this go-around?

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About the Contributor
Ian Curtis
Ian Curtis, Sports Reporter
Ian Curtis is a journalism freshman from College Station, Texas. Ian has written about football, men's basketball, women's basketball, baseball, hockey, gymnastics, volleyball and more for The Battalion. Ian's work has also appeared in The Bryan-College Station Eagle and over the airwaves on WTAW and BCSball.com. 
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