EDINBURG — Travis Bush’s mother, Ida, was a cheerleader at Mercedes High School. His father, Bruce, served as head football coach at PSJA High, Donna High and PSJA North across three decades.
Tuesday, Bush, who attended Carnahan Elementary School in Pharr before embarking on a 23-year coaching career at the NCAA Division I, NFL and high school levels, was formally introduced to the public as UTRGV’s first head football coach during a news conference at H-E-B Park in Edinburg. H-E-B Park is where the Vaqueros will play their home games when the team kicks off its inaugural season in 2025.
“Exciting doesn’t explain what we’ve been going through. My tail hasn’t stopped wagging since this past weekend,” Bush said. “I’ve always said if the Valley ever got a college football team, holy smokes, watch out. I don’t think I said ‘smokes’, but it’s going to be fun. Now, after 40 years since my first football experience, to be standing up here as the head coach, it’s very humbling. I’m honored. I’m proud. I love the Valley. I love the communities. I love the culture. I love the people and geez, I love football. Understand, this is not just a job for me. This is the perfect opportunity to come back to a place I grew up, to come back to a place I love and give back to the community here and be a part of history.”
UTRGV Vice President and Director of Athletics Chasse Conque described the day at H-E-B Park, which featured music from mariachis, the pep band and spirit teams, as another milestone moment in bringing college football to the RGV.
“Football for us has lived at the administration level, it’s lived in our campus and in our offices, but now, it’s a passing of a torch to our leader,” Conque said. “To be able to have Coach Bush join us with his experience, his gameplan, his ideas for our program, and then the kind of person he is, the ties he has throughout the state of Texas, the ties he has to the Rio Grande Valley, I don’t think we could have found a more perfect fit to be the leader of our program.”
Bush has college coaching experience at Houston, Texas Christian, Texas at San Antonio and Texas State, NFL experience with the Buffalo Bills and turned around Seguin and New Braunfels Canyon’s high school football programs during his career. He also played quarterback at Gregory-Portland and walked on as a receiver at Texas State.
The next steps for Bush at UTRGV will be hiring a staff, visiting and learning from Division I programs across the state such as Baylor, Texas Christian and UTSA, studying future conference opponents and recruiting to beat those potential opponents.
UTRGV will sign its first recruiting class in 2024, conduct a practice season that fall, sign another recruiting class in 2025 and officially kickoff Division I football in the Rio Grande Valley on Aug. 30, 2025.
“Right now, there’s 130 teams in FCS (Football Championship Subdivision) Division I football. There’s another 131 in FBS (Football Bowl Subdivision). We’re going to open up in a conference with 10 teams in 2025, so today, Dec. 15, 2022, I guarantee there’s 10 teams that know the Valley has football,” Bush said. “Pretty soon, there’s going to be about 130 teams that know the Valley has college football, and one day, the entire country is going to know the Valley has college football.”
Bush said he plans to recruit and hopes to keep the Valley’s best high school football players in the Valley. There will also be walk-on opportunities as they start the program, providing an opportunity for Valley football players and from across the nation alike. There will be no upperclassmen in 2024 or 2025 outside of transfers, creating space for walk-ons to potentially make the team.
“We’re going to sign the max we can sign in that first class, but we’re going to have to have probably equal to more walk-ons that first year — same thing we did at UTSA, great opportunity,” Bush said. “We can only sign a certain amount by the NCAA, so if we want to field a team to practice in 2024, we’re going to have to have another 30, 40, 50 walk-ons, and I think there will be tons ready to have that opportunity. Looking back at UTSA, there were guys that we didn’t know about, they came in, walked-on, they played, one of them got in camp with the Chicago Bears, so you never know. To have that opportunity, there’s going to be a lot of availability for guys that want to walk on and come join the team.”
Several local high school football coaches from across the RGV were in attendance Tuesday for Bush’s introduction. Bush said they would be a major resource to the Vaqueros, who will always keep an open door for Rio Grande Valley high school football coaches.
“Opportunities are going to be there just because they’re going to be able to see you. Travis is going to be going to the games, he has his dad here, these guys are going to live in the community and they’re going to be able to see our kids play and see that they can play football,” PSJA North head football coach Marcus Kaufmann said. “It’s not just people from Dallas and Houston and San Antonio — Valley kids can play football. We may not have as many, but we do have kids that can go and play at the next level.”
Bruce Bush, Travis’ father, is a member of the Rio Grande Valley Sports Hall of Fame and Texas High School Coaches Association Hall of Honor. He still lives in the Valley after retiring as head football coach at PSJA North in 2012.
“To have our family back together in this area and for Travis to have this great opportunity, we’re so thankful to UTRGV and Dr. Guy Bailey and Chasse Conque and the athletic department for giving Travis this great opportunity,” Bruce Bush said. “He loves football, loves the Valley, and he’s so excited to be down here and be able to get this program started and build the culture for UTRGV football.”
Deposits for season tickets for the 2025 season can be made online at UTRGVtickets.com for $25.
To see more, view Monitor photojournalist Joel Martinez’s full photo gallery here: