It’s the dawning of a new era for football at Texas A&M University-Kingsville, with a new head coach in place who has been a part of the historic program in the past.
Javelina Nation’s newest head coach, Mike Salinas, was introduced to his alma mater on Monday at a press conference from McCulley Hall, alongside his family and a few members of the Kingsville community.
TAMUK Executive Director of Athletics Steve Roach said the search for the new head coach consisted of an applicant pool of more than 140 potential candidates. That number was whittled down to three finalists who later visited the campus. Salinas emerged as the man chosen for the job to restore TAMUK’s football program to its former glory.
“What we were really looking for in the process is a new head that recognizes that winning is important on the field and off the field,” Roach said. “From the start of this process, from the interviews forward, Coach Salinas checked every box of that criteria.”
“(Salinas) understands that building a program is a long-term process that doesn’t happen overnight, and he is ready to take on that challenge,” Roach continued.
Salinas took the podium after Roach, and thanked everyone for “believing in me to run this program.”
“We are going to work long and hard to make sure that we honor all those that have come before us, and leave a legacy for all those that follow us,” Salinas said. “(The team) is going to go to work to uphold the tradition that is Javelina football.
“I promise – you can rest assured – that we’re going to work like crazy to put a product on the field that all of Javelina Nation can be proud of,” Salinas added.
Following the press conference, Salinas said his goal as head coach is to get TAMUK football back to national recognition.
The Javelinas have not won a Lone Star Conference title since 2009, and finished last season with a 2-9 overall record. They went 1-7 in conference play.
The Javelinas have also had only one winning season in the last five seasons.
“It’s going to be a challenge,” Salinas said. “We’re going to reconnect with our current players (and) build some relationships with those guys. Then (we will) hire a staff that is like-minded and can share the vision of what we have to do to move forward to get Kingsville back to where it deserves to be.”
Salinas said the city of Kingsville is a “special place” and he’s looking forward to add to an already thriving community he once belonged to.
“It’s a great community,” Salinas said. “I’ve developed some lifelong friendships that were cultivated in this community, so they’re going to be able to see a product (…) built on toughness, discipline and effort.”
Salinas said he will also focus on a “recruit at home” mindset for future Javelinas on his roster, and not allow talent that is in South Texas to “slip through the cracks.”
“We have to build this thing locally and from the inside-out,” Salinas said. “We have to reestablish all the recruiting connections we had in the past, and just sell ourselves and this program.”
Salinas said he is aware that retention and a lack of work ethic may have been a problem with the program over the last few years, and he plans to address it and change the culture.
“They’re making a choice to be here. They made a commitment to the university (and) we made a commitment to them,” Salinas said. “So if they’re not going to be accountable and do the things we asked, quite frankly, they won’t be with us. And we’ll go find some guys that understand what we have to do, how we have to do it, and they’re going to represent not only their families, but our program the right way.”
Salinas was a three-year letter-winner for the Javelina football program from 1995 to 1999. He began his coaching career at TAMUK in 2002 as a secondary coach when the Javelinas won four straight Lone Star Conference championships and had four straight playoff appearances. He coached at the collegiate level until 2011, which included stints for West Texas A&M, Sam Houston State and Hardin-Simmons University.
He also coached high school football in Edinburg and Weslaco from 2013-2018.