Texas State football head coach G.J. Kinne gets introduced at a men's basketball game following his hire, Sunday, Dec. 4, 2022.

When the expedited search for a new head football coach began after deciding to part ways with Jake Spavital, Texas State President Kelly Damphousse told Athletic Director Don Coryell there were three specific components he wanted in the university’s next coach.

“I asked them to look for someone who’s got experience being a head football coach, someone who had close ties with Texas football and Texas high school football in particular and also, someone who had an offensive scheme that could score a lot of points,” Damphousse said. “And I think we’ve found someone who can do that.”

Enter Gary Joe ‘G.J.’ Kinne. 

The 34-year-old arrives at Texas State fresh off his inaugural season as a head coach at the University of the Incarnate Word, where the Cardinals finished 12-2 with the nation’s top offense scoring 53 points per game.

Kinne was selected over Washington State offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Eric Morris and Sam Houston State head coach K.C. Keeler. 

“It was very important to us that we hire someone with head coaching experience,” Coryell said. “Someone who has done this before. Someone who has won on their own, managed their own games and learned firsthand from their experiences.” 

Kinne is a native son of Texas, having grown up in Mesquite. He was a star quarterback at Canton High School, where he was coached by his father, former Baylor linebacker Gary Joseph Kinne. 

“I’m a Texas guy through and through,” Kinne said. “I’m the son of a Texas high school football coach. I grew up on the sidelines, I grew up in the fieldhouse on the back of the bus after the games. After I got done playing, I always knew I wanted to be a coach.”

After a stellar collegiate career at the University of Tulsa, in which he accumulated 9,472 passing yards and threw 81 touchdown passes over three seasons and was named the 2010 Conference USA Offensive Player of the Year, Kinne went undrafted in the 2012 NFL Draft and was later signed as an undrafted free agent by the New York Jets.

Kinne became a well-traveled journeyman as a professional football player, spending time with the Jets, Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants. Kinne's first coaching experience came during his stint with the Giants.

"I wanted to get into coaching at some point," Kinne said. "Steve Spagnuolo and Tom Coughlin came up to me one day and said they wanted to talk to me after practice. So, I sat in there and built a game plan with those guys. They put me up in the booth on a headset with Steve. I was basically a coach when I was playing. That was a lot of fun for me and I felt like I did a pretty good job, so I knew I wanted to get into coaching." 

Over the course of his five-year professional football career, Kinne played a multitude of different positions.

“He played quarterback, he played running back, he played wide receiver and he played defensive back in the NFL,” Coryell said. “So, he knows what it takes to compete at the highest level and he has a very unique perspective on the game.”

Despite inheriting a team already built to win, Kinne managed to make the Cardinals even more explosive than they were under its previous head coach Eric Morris. In his lone season at Incarnate Word, the Cardinals led all of college football in scoring with 53 points per game along with total yards per game at 582. The defense also allowed the fewest points per game at 19, and second-fewest total yards per game at 338.

His coaching job at Incarnate Word is what led him to Texas State. While Kinne’s ability as a coach and knowledge of the game is not to be questioned, what is to be questioned is his long-term commitment to the program.

The biggest concern about Kinne becoming the next head coach among Texas State fans is if he’ll leave for another job if he is able to lead the Bobcats to immediate success seeing how he has never remained at any of his previous jobs longer than one season earning the reputation as a ‘job hopper’. 

“I’m committed to Texas State,” Kinne said. “I think any time you’re good at what you do, you’re going to get rewarded for that. And I’m just so happy to be here and I’m definitely committed to Texas State.”

Kinne’s coaching journey to Texas State has been an expeditious and impressive one. Only time will tell if he will have more success at Texas State than his predecessors but he is setting his goals and expectations for the program extremely high. 

“I’m excited about the opportunity,” Kinne said. “We want to be in bowl games, we want to be in championships; we want to be in the College Football Playoff. That’s the reason I chose to come here, because of the expectation and because of the commitment to the football program.”

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