If you look at this week’s college football rankings, you might see some familiar sights from recent years near the top. Alabama. Ohio State. Clemson. Notre Dame. They’re the programs we’ve come to expect. But, squint a little closer, and who do you see, creeping their way back into the top ten?
That’s right, folks. Texas is back!
But this isn’t a column about FBS programs who are going to briefly push their way into the playoff discussion before losing the Peach Bowl to Kentucky.
No, this is a discussion of the vast and varied wonders of Division II, a place whose tapestry is never richer than in Texas: the state with its own conference!
(Note: Pennsylvania also has its own conference, but that’s a story for another day).
Today we’re here to talk about the Lone Star Conference, a conference with seven football-sponsoring members in Texas (and two more in neighboring New Mexico).
NOTABLE ALUMNI OF THE LONE STAR CONFERENCE
Midwestern State University - Noted TV charlatan Phil “Dr. Phil” McGraw
It’s worth noting that, before transferring to Midwestern State, Dr. Phil was a member of the football team at the University of Tulsa that lost to Houston 100-6, the last Division I-equivalent game to feature a triple-digit score.
Tarleton State University - Air raid offense pioneer Hal Mumme
Texas A&M University - Kingsville - Eva Longoria
West Texas A&M University
A fun thing about researching this column is that I can look at a list of people associated with a university and think to myself “hmm, Georgia O’Keeffe, or French Stewart?”
LONE STAR CONFERENCE GAME OF THE WEEK, THE WEEK I COVERED THE LONE STAR CONFERENCE
12th-ranked Midwestern State was dominant this Saturday, rolling over Texas A&M Kingsville on the road to the tune of a 69-14 victory. Normally I’d choose a game that was closer or more dramatic, but this is the internet and there are rules here. If you score 69 points in a game, you are the game of the week.
LONE STAR CONFERENCE PLAYER OF THE WEEK, THE WEEK I COVERED THE LONE STAR CONFERENCE
In that very same game, sophomore wideout Juwan Johnson pulled in nine catches for 202 and four touchdowns. Johnson has hit the 100-yard mark in a school-record six consecutive games -- and is among Division II’s receiving leaders on the season.
OKAY, LET’S TALK MASCOTS
9. Western New Mexico Mustangs
This is a logo. It fulfills all the basic requirements of a logo, in that I can recognize it, and associate it with a school.
8. Angelo State University Rams
This is a perfectly nice and graphically pleasing logo; the school has a fine and consistent style guide and brand identity.
[scratches arm] Y’all got anything else in there?
Now that’s what I’m talking about. Realistically rendered rams have worked for metal bands for generations, and if they’re good enough for them, they’re good enough for football.
7. University of Texas of the Permian Basin
Great school name, by the way. More schools should be named after geographic features. Wouldn’t the Big Ten East be more compelling if there were a University of New Jersey By The Trash Swamp River? [touches earpiece] I’m being told they already have one of those. Interesting.
Anyways, this falcon has just realized there’s a few Doritos left in the bottom of the bag, which until this moment he had believed to be empty.
6. Texas A&M University - Commerce
It is an established tenet of Division II Tuesday that every conference has one member whose logo would double as that of a financial services firm. Bonus points to this one for including “Commerce” in the logo. I want to be bilked out of my retirement savings by this team.
5. Eastern New Mexico Greyhounds
Listen, dog logos - especially dog logos that break from the Bulldog-Husky axis - will always get you into the top five in my book. You’d do better if I weren’t convinced the graphic designer couldn’t come up with a logo, panicked, went to the bus station to flee town, and then had a revelation.
4. Midwestern State University Mustangs
“Wait, this isn’t fair, you ranked the other mustangs ninth”. Yes, but there was only one mustang there. This is three mustangs! Three confused mustangs! Three mustangs who are all running an errand, but possibly not on the same page as to what that errand is!
We gotta go pick up Dylan from school / I thought we were going to the store / WE’RE DRIVING TO FLORIDA
3. Tarleton State University Texans
This is not the current correct logo, but I found it and I prefer it.
This is a character straight out of classic indie webcomic Red Meat, and I’m both unsettled and pleased by that. I hate you, Milkman Dan.
2. West Texas A&M University Buffaloes
Fine choice of mascot name. We’re a firmly pro-buffalo/bison media outlet, that’s well-known. Decently rendered logo. Live buffalo mascot?
LIVE BUFFALO MASCOT.
What could possibly top that? Well,
1. Texas A&M University Kingsville Javelinas
For those of us (read: me) not well-versed in the wild fauna of the American Southwest, a short primer:
Javelina (Tayassu tajacu) also known as collared peccary, are medium-sized animals that look similar to a wild boar. Javelina live in desert washes, saguaro and palo verde forests, oak woodlands, and grasslands with mixed shrubs and cacti.
They can be found in the deserts of southeast Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, southward through Mexico and Central America and into northern Argentina.
Javelina are doing well and are not currently listed as threatened.
I applaud an uniquely local choice of mascot animal, and a well-rendered one at that.
Also, “doing well and not currently threatened” is all any of us can aspire to these days.