But he never expected this, not even in football-crazed Texas.
The first football coach in school history led UTSA to victory in its first football game. The Roadrunners beat Northeastern State 31-3 on Sept. 3, 2011 before 56,743 at the Alamodome.
That set the NCAA attendance record for a new program, making it the sports moment judged the greatest in school history. (South Florida held the previous mark with 49,212 on Sept. 6, 1997, against Kentucky Wesleyan.)
“Kind of expect that for a national championship, but one game?” Coker said. “This is maybe the most awesome game I’ve ever been around. I’m being totally honest with you. … Some of the coaches came to me in the third quarter and said to me, ‘Coach, this place is loud!’ That’s a good thing.
“It was just like in the SEC. I’ve never been around anything like that and that’s being honest. I’ve played for national championships and I’ve never been at any event like [this].”
Eric Soza passed for 237 yards and ran for 102 more, accounting for three touchdowns as the Roadrunners scored on their first three possessions. Soza scored the first touchdown in UTSA history on a 14-yard run at 11:35 of the first quarter.
Soza also connected with Jake Wanamaker on a 6-yard touchdown and Kam Jones for a 3-yard score in the first quarter. Soza completed 17 of 29 passes for 237 yards, was not intercepted and sacked once.
“This has been building up for a year,” said UTSA co-captain Steven Kurfehs. “Everyone has been ready for this. The day finally came, and we came out flying.”
Northeastern State’s status as an NCAA Division II independent did not diminish the victory.
“For the first game in the history of the program, they did a phenomenal job,” said Northeastern State head coach Kenny Evans. “They were clicking on all cylinders.”
The Roadrunners finished the season 4-6, averaging 35,521 in attendance — an NCAA record for a new football program, topping USF’s 33,038 in 1997.
UTSA posted winning records the next two seasons but two losing seasons followed. Coker retired after last year’s 3-9 finish.
On Jan. 16, UTSA hired LSU assistant head coach Frank Wilson as Coker’s replacement. Wilson said he’s “more than excited” about the opportunity to win UTSA’s first conference championship and bowl game.
Coker is the one who kicked off UTSA football in style.
“I didn’t really know what to expect,” he said after that first win. “I know it was a lot more exciting than to be sitting on a golf course in Fort Myers, Fla.”
On the cover and above: UTSA quarterback Jeff Soza scores the first touchdown in school history.(Courtesy Jeff Huehn/UTSA Athletics)
THIS WEEK’S GREATEST MOMENTS
• Monday: Stephen F. Austin and UT Martin
• Tuesday: Tennessee State and Tennessee Tech
• Wednesday: Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and UTEP
• Thursday: Texas Rio Grande Valley and UTSA
• Friday: The Citadel and Toledo