By Jerry Briggs
UTSA would tie a modern-day record for start-up programs in college football if it takes the field in a postseason bowl game this season.
For the Roadrunners to tie the record of reaching the postseason in six years -- from program start-up to a bowl -- they first need to win their regular-season finale.
Kickoff between UTSA and the Charlotte 49ers is set for 6 p.m. Saturday at the Alamodome.
If the Roadrunners win, they would hit the six-victory plateau and become bowl eligible for the first time.
In addition, UTSA would need a subsequent invitation from a bowl game to tie South Alabama and Georgia State for the record, by playing in the postseason in the sixth year of operation.
Nine FBS programs have been started since 1991, and none of them made it to a bowl in five years or less.
South Alabama set the record at six years in 2014 when it reached the Camellia Bowl. Georgia State tied it last season when it reached the AutoNation Cure Bowl.
UTSA started playing games as a Football Championship Subdivision independent in 2011.
In 2012, the Roadrunners increased their scholarship level to 67 and played a split schedule of eight FBS games in a season as a member of the Western Athletic Conference.
UTSA finished 8-4, going 4-4 against Football Bowl Subdivision competition.
By Year 3, in 2013, UTSA boosted scholarships to the FBS level of 85, opened competition in Conference USA and posted a 7-5 record.
Normally, UTSA would have been invited with seven victories, but it did not qualify because of its status as an FBS transitional team, in the second of a mandated two-year transition.
The Roadrunners weren’t technically eligible for a postseason bid until 2014, but they skidded to a 4-8 record, falling two wins shy of the required six.
Last year, they went 3-9 in Larry Coker’s last season as coach.
This season, in coach Frank Wilson’s first year, UTSA (5-6, 4-3) can break through with a victory over Charlotte (4-7, 3-4).
If UTSA wins, it is expected to get a bid.
FBS start-up programs
Fastest to the postseason
Here are two lists of FBS programs that started football from scratch in the last 26 years. The first is a list of six start-ups that have already played in bowl games, including the first year that they qualified, and their first season on the field:
- South Alabama, 6th year, 2014 Camellia Bowl (year started: 2009)
- Georgia State, 6th year, 2015 AutoNation Cure Bowl (year started: 2010)
- Florida Atlantic, 7th year, 2007 New Orleans Bowl (year started: 2001)
- South Florida, 9th year, 2005 Meineke Car Care Bowl (year started: 1997)
- Florida International, 9th year, 2010 Little Caesar’s Bowl (year started: 2002)
- (x)Alabama-Birmingham, 14th year, 2004 Hawaii Bowl (year started: 1991)
x-Program shut down after 2014 season, with a re-start scheduled for 2017.
Here are the start-up programs that have yet to play in bowls, with their season records going into the last week of the season:
- UTSA, 6th year, 5-6 (needs a victory in season finale; year started: 2011)
- (y)Old Dominion, 8th year, 8-3 (bowl eligible for first time; year started: 2009)
- Charlotte, 4th year, 4-7 (can’t get to six wins to qualify; year started, 2013)
y-Old Dominion is a recent re-start after playing before World War II, from 1930-41