The Go Route

Bobcat coach GJ Kinne looks to build on the turnaround success of 2023

By Matt Joyce

football coach and players on football field

GJ Kinne’s young coaching career is defined by rapid success. In 2023 — his first season as the head football coach at TXST — Kinne led the Bobcats to their best record and first bowl win since joining the Football Bowl Subdivision in 2012.

Even before the Bobcats beat Rice in the SERVPRO First Responder Bowl on Dec. 26, TXST signed the 35-year-old Kinne to a contract extension based on the promise of the eight-win season. “We’ve been impressed with his leadership and ability to quickly establish a culture that elevates the experience of our student-athletes,” Director of Athletics Don Coryell said.

Kinne grew up in Texas, the son of a high school football coach. He was a standout quarterback at the University of Tulsa and spent five years in the NFL and Canadian Football League. He then got into coaching, eventually taking the helm at Texas State in December 2022, only his seventh year on the sidelines.

“I knew if I was able to get this opportunity at Texas State that it would be very exciting,” Kinne said. “And man, it happened fast, and now I’m here.”

Why was the Texas State job appealing to you?

This location was always intriguing to me. Being a Texas guy, we’d come down and float the river and that whole deal. And even when I was in the NFL, I would come back and float the river. When the job came open and I had an opportunity to interview, I just really fell in love with the people — the president, the athletic director, and everyone involved. 

How does the campus setting impact recruiting?

I think getting these guys here always helps. We’ve got the End Zone Complex under construction and getting that going helps with recruiting. There’s a lot to sell here — the location between Austin and San Antonio, the campus, the river. Once you get the players and their families here, they really seem to enjoy it. 

What does your “Take Back Texas” theme mean from a recruiting standpoint?

We’re always going to recruit Texas high school kids, and that’s really going to be the foundation of our program. I think that part was missing before we got here. It’s recruiting the Texas high school kids, developing relationships with high school coaches throughout the state, and getting the kids and the coaches to campus for spring practice and coaches’ clinics.

What’s the ideal mix of transfer recruits versus high school recruits?

It’s going to be a little different every year based on what you lose and what you gain in the portal. You don’t ever want to take someone to just take someone — it’s got to be the right fit. We want to make sure we’re getting enough youth and enough of the high school kids in each position, depending on the talent you can get. 

How would you assess the health of Sun Belt Conference football?

I didn’t have a lot of history with it, so this was a good year for me to learn what it’s all about. And I would say, obviously it has good players, but I thought the coaching was really good. You see that with guys getting different jobs and moving on. At really every place I’ve been, whether it was my playing time or coaching, you’ve got one or two teams where you can kind of breath a little bit and know that you’re probably going to get a win unless something crazy happens. At the Sun Belt, there’s not one of those. 

football coach holding up trophy in middle of group of football players
Kinne celebrates with players after winning the SERVPRO First Responder Bowl in December.

How significant was the bowl win?

Pretty much everything I heard when I got the job was we’d never been to a bowl game. I dont know if people expected it, but I think to be able to go out there and get that done in year one was pretty cool. It gave us some momentum and put us out there a little bit. 

What are your goals for the 2024 season?

We have some new faces, and so we need to build that team chemistry. Every team is different, and you need to adapt your scheme based on your personnel. I’m excited about that. As far as goals, we talk about being champions — champions in the classroom and champions in life. For these guys, getting an education and a degree is huge. And obviously we want to win all of our games, but the conference championship is something that we’re really focused on this year. 

Recent TXST Athletic Achievements


Texas State recorded its most FBS wins in a season in program history and set a home attendance record at Bobcat Stadium.


The Bobcats made the NCAA Tournament for the 13th time. It was the program’s first-ever trip to the tourney as an at-large bid.


Head coach Ricci Woodard picked up her 800th career win on Feb. 9.

Women’s Golf

The Bobcats won the Texas State Invitational at Landa Park Golf Course in New Braunfels in February.

Women’s Basketball

Head coach Zenarae Antoine won her 200th career game with a victory at Ohio — where she began her coaching career as a graduate assistant — on Feb. 10.