Everett Withers played defensive back at Appalachian State from 1981 to 1984. He was involved during the program’s turnaround and looks to his alma mater as a model for success that he can carry over to Texas State football.
Midway through his first season at the helm, the Bobcats are 2-5 overall and 0-3 in the Sun Belt heading into Kidd Brewer Stadium in Boone, N.C. where the Mountaineers (6-2, 4-0) await in what is just the second matchup all time between the two schools. Appalachian State owns a 1-0 series advantage.
At Tuesday’s luncheon with the media, Withers broke down the Mountaineers’ progression from when he started at “App State” in 1981:
“The program was a lot like this one is now. Mike Working was the head coach – Mike is a very dear friend of mine – but the program was in a lot of disarray. In 1983 Appalachian State made the commitment and went out and hired Mack Brown as the head football coach. From that time the culture has changed there. Mack was only there one year, but we went from being 4-7, 3-9, whatever we were to 6-5 and learning how to win and beating Wake Forest and FBS schools and competing. Then Sparky Woods takes over and I’m a graduate assistant there and we win back-to-back conference championships. Then Jerry Moore comes in and the rest is history…You look at where Appalachian State is now – they’ve done it right. It’s kind of the model of what you want to do when you’re transitioning a program (from FCS to FBS).”
Moore began his 24-year stint at Appalachian State in 1989, leading the Mountaineers to three-consecutive national championships (one Division I-AA and two Division I) from 2005-2007.
Withers’ hope is that the Texas State program can realize similar success under his guiding hand. Growing pains are prevalent and challenges are aplenty, but the ship is moving in the right direction.
Playing with tremendous effort is what Withers wants his team to emulate the most.
“The number one thing you see with Appalachian State – and it’s been that way for a while – is how hard they play,” Withers said. “They don’t do a whole lot of stuff that’s complicated; they just play really hard on offense, defense and special teams. It will be good for our kids to play against a team that plays that way.
Part of the process for Texas State is seeing exactly what it has in the cupboard, which means playing all the young talent on the roster.
Expect to see plenty of freshmen and sophomores on the field for the Bobcats on Saturday.
“We’ve got to find out about some of these guys,” Withers said. “You can practice and practice them, but you’ve got to put them in the games to find out how they react in games. That’s kind of our mindset – to make sure we get a lot of guys evaluated. That’s a big challenge for us to go game plan but also evaluate guys to see how they help us in the future, where we go in recruiting. All those things are important for us as we move forward.”
Kickoff for Saturday’s tilt is set for 2:30 p.m. CST and can be viewed on ESPN3 and heard on 1300 AM in Austin, 89.9 FM in San Marcos and 930 AM in San Antonio.