Texas highschool soccer and the rise of Texas Tech’s Joey McGuire and UTSA’s Jeff Traylor



In July, among the many 16,452 attendees on the annual Texas Excessive Faculty Coaches’ Affiliation conference in San Antonio, two school coaches drew a crowd wherever they went.

Positive, Georgia coach Kirby Good, persevering with a convention amongst nationwide championship coaches, flew in for just a few hours simply to talk to the biggest and strongest teaching group of its sort within the nation. Texas‘ Steve Sarkisian and Texas A&M‘s Jimbo Fisher drew loads of consideration. All 12 Division I coaches in Texas spoke on a panel collectively, which packed a crowd into an enormous ballroom on the Henry B. Gonzalez Conference Heart downtown.

However all through the three-day occasion, Texas Tech‘s Joey McGuire and UTSA‘s Jeff Traylor gave the impression to be in a huddle surrounded by coaches six individuals deep.

In a state that has impressed best-selling books, motion pictures and TV reveals based mostly on the statewide pastime on Friday nights, the place Kyler Murray went 42-0 enjoying in a $60 million stadium at Allen within the Dallas space, highschool coaches loom as a number of the most influential individuals in 1000’s of cities spanning the state’s 269,000 sq. miles. And two of these coaches, Traylor and McGuire, have been right here returning as conquering heroes, former brethren who made it huge, filling their colleagues with delight.

“They characterize us as a result of they’re certainly one of us,” mentioned John King, the pinnacle coach of Longview in East Texas since 2004, who was overseeing the conference because the final act of his tenure as outgoing president of the THSCA.

“They’re two guys that individuals took an opportunity on that did it the correct means. They love children, coach children and acquired a golden alternative to go to the school ranks and made essentially the most of it.”

Each had engineered legendary runs in simply their first head-coaching jobs. McGuire took over at Cedar Hill on the southwest fringe of Dallas in 2003 after the college had suffered eight straight shedding seasons. He instantly flipped this system — going 141-42 with the Longhorns and successful three state championships. Traylor returned to his hometown of Gilmer (inhabitants 5,139) in deep East Texas in 2000 and restored the Buckeyes’ delight, going 175-26 with three state titles.

After rising via the ranks as assistants — McGuire at Baylor earlier than touchdown the Tech job this yr and Traylor at Texas and Arkansas earlier than getting the UTSA job in 2019 — they’re each taking the massive stage on the similar time on Saturday as McGuire’s Purple Raiders journey to No. 16 NC State (7 p.m. ET, ESPN2/ESPN app) whereas Traylor’s Roadrunners go to Texas (8 p.m. ET, Longhorn Community).

Likelihood is, there are going to be 1,400 coaches within the state holding tabs on them.

“I am a highschool coach that will get to educate school soccer, and I feel all people understands that,” McGuire mentioned. “I actually imply that. I do know the place I am from. I do know my background. I understand how I acquired right here. And I present respect to these coaches. Due to that, the reception has been unimaginable.”

BOTH MCGUIRE AND Traylor are recognized for his or her relentless enthusiasm and power. McGuire has stirred Lubbock right into a frenzy upon his arrival, mobilizing Red Raiders fans into a Twitter army, and promising the trustworthy that, “I’ll die right here at Texas Tech” in his introductory information convention. Final weekend’s 33-30 double-overtime win over then-No. 25 and future Massive 12 rival Houston has the Purple Raiders at 2-0 and solely amplified the optimism. Traylor, in the meantime, has already turned an 11-year-old UTSA program into Convention USA champions, the primary title within the college’s historical past, and this system’s debut look within the AP ballot final season.

However earlier than they have been rising stars within the school world, they have been simply two guys who occurred to be candidates for a similar job on the College of Texas.

In 2014, Charlie Sturdy had simply arrived in Austin to take over for the departed Mack Brown, and Sturdy, as a Texas outsider, wanted to construct inroads to the state’s highschool coaches.

It is considerably of a convention that new school coaches — significantly those that aren’t from Texas — make a peace providing to the THSCA by hiring not less than certainly one of their very own to their employees. Certainly one of Brown’s first hires upon arriving in Austin in 1997 from North Carolina was Bruce Chambers, the pinnacle coach of powerhouse Dallas Carter. It is sensible enterprise, paying dividends in goodwill in addition to recruiting.

McGuire and Traylor have been every coming off state championships of their respective divisions when Sturdy arrived. They each had stellar reputations and talked with a drawl so thick y’all mighta thought it was a put-on.

The job may’ve pitted McGuire and Traylor in opposition to one another, two ultra-successful, ultra-competitive coaches who have been acquainted with one another’s résumé, however did not know one another effectively, trying to step over one another as they jostled for place on the teaching ladder. However, McGuire and Traylor had an unstated bond. They have been Texas highschool coaches, a fraternity unto itself, and people guys stick collectively.

“We talked virtually each evening, simply from the standpoint of like, ‘Hey, what do you suppose? Who have you ever talked to? How’s this gonna go?” McGuire mentioned.

“We by no means tried to mind-game one another,” Traylor mentioned. “We have been actually like brothers. We have been that trustworthy with one another.”

Nonetheless, somebody needed to win out. It got here all the way down to household. McGuire had beforehand had school gives, however he needed to educate his children, and so they have been virtually carried out with highschool. He needed to stay it out.

“My son [Garret] was a junior, about to be a senior,” McGuire mentioned. “I acquired to educate my daughter [Raegan] in powerlifting and I needed to complete out with my son and man, I am glad I did.”

Traylor acquired the job. However he needed to make his personal peace with it.

“Nicely, Jake, my son, was a senior as effectively,” Traylor mentioned. “I informed Jake, ‘Nicely, if he gives me the job, I am telling you I am taking it. Jake’s teased me ceaselessly that Joey should love Garret greater than I like Jake. So I’ve needed to do a whole lot of reassuring to Jake that I like my son the identical as Joey loves his son.”

The 2 coaches grew to become inseparable via a course of that might’ve divided the oldest of mates, and their mutual admiration endures.

“Shoot, he would’ve in all probability acquired the job over me anyway,” McGuire mentioned. “He is a stud.”

Remarkably, this dance continued with three different jobs. Matt Rhule employed McGuire at Baylor in 2016 as soon as his son graduated, however Rhule additionally tried to land Traylor, who as a substitute opted to go to Arkansas with Chad Morris — one other former Texas highschool coach — which did not fairly work as effectively, as Morris was fired. Each have been candidates for the UTSA job Traylor acquired. And each have been candidates for Texas Tech, which McGuire accepted whereas Traylor signed a $28 million extension that runs to 2031 at UTSA final season.

“Joey and I’ve actually talked for hours about every a type of jobs, which is freakin’ loopy,” Traylor mentioned. “And if I ever discover out that Joey McGuire just isn’t the angel that I feel he’s, it will simply crush me.”

TRAYLOR AND MCGUIRE acquired maybe the best honor a Texas coach can obtain this yr, being featured — collectively — on the quilt of the 400-page “Dave Campbell’s Texas Soccer” journal, the annual harbinger of fall within the state since 1960, with the headline, “FORGED ON FRIDAY.”

It was one thing McGuire lobbied for instantly after being launched at Texas Tech, saying he was issuing the editors a problem.

“How do you not?” McGuire mentioned. “In the event that they’re actually about Texas highschool soccer, which they’re presupposed to be — it is just like the Bible of Texas highschool soccer — Jeff Traylor at UTSA and Joey McGuire at Texas Tech must be on the quilt.”

For Traylor, it was a full-circle second after his title appeared within the Gilmer preview in his senior yr in highschool.

“I actually simply thought I had arrived,” Traylor mentioned. “And you then fast-forward 36 years later, and to be on the quilt … I feel what I am most happy with is one, I am on there with certainly one of my absolute best mates, who I like dearly, and two, it says 1,400 Texas excessive colleges are on this journal. And I actually really feel like I’m representing all 1,400 of these head coaches and their assistants. I would prefer to be that man and say it isn’t that huge of a deal. However I would be mendacity.”

Traylor mentioned it was one of many greatest honors of his life, alongside when Gilmer renamed its soccer area Jeff Traylor Stadium in 2015.

The magazines have been handed out on the THSCA conference, a surreal expertise for McGuire, who was already having a surreal expertise making the rounds as Texas Tech’s head coach.

“I am not that outdated, however I am an older man and I have been doing this a very long time,” McGuire mentioned. “I bear in mind strolling in [as a young coach]. I can actually shut my eyes and I am listening to Bob Stoops speak. I look as much as these guys. Mack Brown had a big impact on my profession. I hate to check myself to them however so far as sitting in the identical place, I am strolling in and I get to see a whole lot of younger coaches that I’ve run into over time, whether or not it was at Cedar Hill or Baylor and now they’re asking me about this system and make the transfer from highschool to varsity. So it is an enormous honor for me.”

Over the course of the few days in San Antonio, McGuire and Traylor have been half welcoming committee, half mentors, half comedy duo.

McGuire mentioned the largest distinction in being a speaker and an attendee is what he needed to put on, and he blamed Traylor for it.

“Nicely, I am gonna get laughed at in the present day for sporting this,” he mentioned, tugging on the lapel of his blazer. “However I am not gonna let Jeff Traylor out-sports-coat me. Actually, I awakened this morning and mentioned, ‘Jeff’s sporting a sports activities coat, then I am sporting a sports activities coat.’ That is my man.”

Traylor, for his half, says he wears his trademark coat and his white UTSA cap for related causes, particularly as his profile has risen because the Roadrunners have captured San Antonio’s consideration.

“It is intentional,” he mentioned. “Joey likes to inform everybody I am balding. Which is partially true. However I am happy with this Roadrunner [on his cap]. While you win a whole lot of video games you get invited to a whole lot of black tie affairs, proper? So I’ve made this my official San Antonio tuxedo. They let me in and no person’s rejected me but. So that is my black-tie San Antonio tuxedo.”

THEY MAY BE on school campuses now, however each coaches cling to how vital it’s to be the coach in a group. They present up everywhere, with Traylor having to be reminded that he does not have to go to the UTSA volleyball recreation the evening earlier than he performs a soccer recreation.

They each know promote their packages to followers. McGuire brought the juice to a Texas Tech basketball game proper after being employed in mid-November (the Purple Raiders fired earlier coach Matt Wells after eight video games).

Traylor will proselytize about making San Antonio “Roadrunner territory” each likelihood he can get. Therefore that trademark hat.

“On this metropolis, man, it is catchin’, it is scorching,” he mentioned in July. “In every single place you go within the metropolis, somebody’s acquired it on. Now I am gonna sound like a jerk right here. However for those who just like the ‘Horns, put on ’em in Austin, for those who just like the Bears, put on it in Waco. While you’re in our metropolis, rep the Roadrunners or depart. I am all Roadrunners and I do not need any partial followers. So I put on it all over the place I’m going. I am happy with it. We’re not that little commuter college anymore. We wish to play actual soccer.”

Appears like two guys proper at house at a highschool pep rally. Which, to them, is a praise.

“I am telling you, the college delight, the prospect to make a distinction in children’ lives, the issues that soccer does for our group,” McGuire mentioned, pondering these 14 years of his life he spent as Cedar Hill’s coach. “I imply, there actually is not something prefer it. The pageantry of Texas highschool soccer, the occasion {that a} Friday evening recreation is … I imply, they make motion pictures about it.”

The pressure-cooker, too, ready them for this second. Lose sufficient video games in a small city, and you will find “FOR SALE” indicators in your yard on Saturday morning. However the duties at a highschool within the state are an excellent coaching floor for operating a university program. McGuire mentioned he had 32 full-time coaches working for him at Cedar Hill.

“Me arising on Friday evening and training in opposition to a number of the best coaches in highschool ready me for this, ready me for what I am going through each Saturday,” he mentioned. “I at all times giggle as a result of I feel the whole lot trickles up not down. You understand persons are having such a tough time defending the zone learn in professional soccer? Possibly they need to name some highschool coaches that face it each Friday evening. It would assist them out.”

Each Traylor and McGuire mentioned there are a variety of different coaches at Texas excessive colleges who may step in and run a university program proper now, saying teaching within the state supplies you with a grueling schooling, with McGuire including what he noticed in highschool is not any distinction than the school coaches he is up in opposition to.

“Most coaches, in the event that they’re trustworthy and do not let their ego get in the way in which they might say this too,” McGuire mentioned. “Man, there ain’t any distinction in teaching in opposition to Lee Wiginton on a Friday evening. These guys are elite soccer coaches. And so they simply occur to be teaching at the highschool degree.”

Wiginton, who just lately took over because the coach at powerhouse Allen Excessive Faculty — Murray’s alma mater with an enrollment topping 7,000 — is the brand new president of the Texas Excessive Faculty Coaches Affiliation, and aw-shucksed McGuire proper again.

“I had the chance to educate in opposition to each of these guys and, Coach Traylor proudly thumped me out of the playoffs,” Wiginton mentioned. “I used to be in a district with Coach McGuire to the place it was simply so superior going through him, being round him and seeing how he does issues every day.”

King, too, has recognized each coaches for a very long time, and because the father of Texas A&M quarterback Haynes King, the No. 46 recruit within the 2020 ESPN 300, he has seen their recruiting type up shut, as each recruited his son.

“They’ve instantaneous avenue cred,” King mentioned. “They have been no totally different recruiting him than they have been coming in recruiting all the youngsters. I imply, they’re gonna shoot you straight, good, unhealthy, detached. Nothing was ever private with them when it comes to dedication or a non-commitment, no matter it was. It was enterprise and so they understood it, , however they nonetheless keep in touch.”

McGuire mentioned his recruiting philosophy and organizational type have been knowledgeable by being a vacation spot for coaches from throughout the nation due to the variety of school prospects that got here out of Cedar Hill.

“I had some dudes,” he mentioned. “I imply, I had some nice gamers. So I acquired to see so many nice recruiters do it the correct means. After which I acquired to see so many nice recruiters that offered a whole lot of stuff that wasn’t true. I additionally acquired to see the opposite aspect, of a number of the recruiters that struggled coming into a faculty and never realizing actually the place you are at, not realizing the athletes.”

Traylor, who was a two-time Massive 12 recruiter of the yr at Texas throughout his time below Sturdy, boasted that he believed UTSA was the one college that signed solely state prospects.

“We signed 29 children, all Texas highschool soccer gamers,” he mentioned.

McGuire, in the meantime, touted that he had six former Texas highschool head coaches on his Texas Tech employees. However he needed to qualify it.

“I feel Traylor’s acquired me beat so I do not like that,” he mentioned. “I am gonna have to begin in search of some extra.”

Is it any surprise they’re beloved by the state teaching group?

“They have been Texas highschool coaches who did not change after they grew to become school coaches,” Wiginton mentioned. “So Texas highschool coaches throughout the state take a look at them and say they’re certainly one of us. They’re real individuals. They’re honest individuals. They’re humble individuals.”

And on Saturdays, when the state is watching, that carries its personal weight for McGuire and Traylor.

“It is virtually like a way of accountability simply since you wish to achieve this effectively,” Traylor mentioned. “As a result of they’re your buddies and you do not wish to disappoint ’em. You wish to make ’em proud. We’re happy with our THSCA and what that fraternity means to us and the way in which we wish our groups to look and the way in which we wish to deal with our gamers and our coaches. It simply means lots to us.”

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