By Caleb Slinkard
The Commerce Journal
At the Commerce Journal, we have extensively covered the hiring of Texas A&M University-Commerce Athletic Director Ryan Ivey and head football coach Colby Carthel.
Both have really done an excellent job integrating themselves in a Commerce community desperate for a winning football team and strong school spirit.
And while both Ivey and Carthel have worked hard over the past six-seven months to improve the athletic department and football team, respectively,
I think it would be healthy to temper the community’s expectations a little. After all, Rome wasn’t built in a day.
And a football squad can’t go from bottom to top in one season, either.
It will take time for Carthel to train these players and create a winning atmosphere in Commerce.
A&M-Commerce has lost some key players to graduation over the past few semesters, including linebackers Danny Mason and Cory Whitfield, wide receiver Taylor Fore and running back Marcus Graham. The Lions still lack a running back that has proved he can be an every down back, and Carthel has yet to name a starting quarterback.
Add offensive line and secondary issues last season, and A&M-Commerce is a team with a lot of holes to fill and a lot of young, inexperienced players that need to step up their game.
The Lone Star Conference got smaller with the departure of Abilene Christian University and Incarnate Word.
But the LSC still has some powerhouse programs, including West Texas A&M, a team that is coached by Carthel’s father, Don.
Midwestern State, Tarleton State, and Texas A&M University-Kingsville are all quality opponents that earn frequent NCAA Division II playoff berths.
Carthel definitely has his work cut out for him, but he’s certainly off to a great start.
With a large recruiting class, the addition of strength and conditioning coach Lance Farmer last year, a new playing surface at Memorial Stadium and an easier schedule than last season, the Lions are poised to make some positive steps in 2013.
Just don’t expect an LSC title... yet.
The best thing A&M-Commerce students, faculty, staff, alumni and fans can do is show up to games and support the team and student athletes in as many ways as possible.
It’s disheartening to work all year and to play in front of a home crowd of a couple hundred people.
If Commerce wants a championship team, we need to demonstrate championship-level school spirit.
The season starts on Sept. 7 at 6 p.m. at Memorial Stadium against Sul Ross State.
I’ll be there (probably in the press box).
What about you?