Texas Border Business
EDINBURG, Texas – The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) Head Football Coach Travis Bush announced on Friday the hiring of John Simmons, a former football chief of staff at Rice who played for Bush on the inaugural UTSA team in 2011, as the Vaqueros’ first director of football operations & administration.
In Simmons’ new role with the Vaqueros, his day-to-day responsibilities will include a myriad of duties related to helping build and sustain the operations of the UTRGV football program by working closely with Bush and UTRGV Vice President and Director of Athletics Chasse Conque.
Simmons comes to UTRGV from Canyon Middle School in New Braunfels, where he was the athletics director and head football coach this past season, a position in which he worked with Bush, who held the same position at Canyon High School.
“Hiring John Simmons right off the bat is like returning the opening kickoff for a touchdown,” Bush said. “John is one of the brightest young minds in the profession. He will add great value to UTRGV in many different areas. His experience as a player in our initial years at UTSA will give our student-athletes a perspective no one else can. His experience as chief of staff at Rice along with his role in building their new football facility will be a huge key as we start building our facilities. His relationships with Texas High School coaches are phenomenal, and without a doubt that will be the most important aspect of hiring the right staff to #RallyTheValley.”
Simmons has extensive experience in Division I college football, joining UTSA for the practice year in 2010 before playing as a quarterback and wide receiver for three years. He was then a football operations intern during the spring of his senior year.
Simmons joined Rice as the assistant recruiting coordinator and events specialist in July 2014, serving in that role for four years before spending two years as the chief of staff.
After one year as an enterprise solutions analyst at Indeavor, Simmons returned to coaching with Pieper Ranch Middle School in the spring of 2021 before joining Canyon.
“I’m excited about the opportunity to join Coach Bush and begin the winning tradition at UTRGV,” Simmons said. “Coach Bush is a proven leader of men and winner on and off the field. He coached me at UTSA, so I’ve seen it first-hand. I believe in him and the way he develops young men and build relationships. Coach Bush is the most competitive person I know. I am confident that his leadership and Chasse’s leadership will help to guide us to create success. I can’t wait to get started.”
In his six seasons at Rice, Simmons’ duties included recruiting, operations, player personnel, player development, fundraising, marketing, and public relations. Rice saw their recruiting department flourish – signing two record-breaking classes, including the highest-rated recruit in program history.
The Owls also excelled in the classroom, ranking in the top 10% of all FBS programs in graduation success rate, setting two program records for highest team grade point average, earning the American Football Coaches Association Academic Excellence Award, and ranking fourth in the FBS in academic progress rate.
On the field, Rice developed numerous NFL players, with nine still active, and the team won the 2014 Hawaii Bowl. Simmons led and planned trips to Sydney, Australia for a game against Stanford in 2017, and twice took the team to Honolulu, Hawaii (2014 & 2018).
During his time working for Mike Bloomgren (2018-19), Simmons served as chief of staff, providing administrative oversight for the program, and directing support to the head coach. Simmons oversaw all non-coaching activities, including, personnel and staffing, recruiting, academics, community outreach programs, summer camps, and all other day-to-day operations. Simmons served as the football program’s liaison to the university administration and all other units within Rice Athletics. He also played a key role in fundraising and outreach for the program while coordinating football alumni communications.
Simmons played an integral role in the 2016 facilities upgrade of the Brian Patterson Sports Performance Center. The project included a 60,000 sq ft. football building in the north end zone at Rice Stadium. His roles included the coordination of fundraising efforts of former Rice football players. From 2015 through the completion of the project, Simmons represented the football team in the design process of the locker room, players’ lounge, weight room, coach’s offices, and recruiting lounge.
“John is a driven, bright individual that was an integral part of reshaping our culture at Rice,” Bloomgren said. “His ability to connect and create relationships amongst our players, staff and donors was pivotal in moving our program forward. I am excited for John and UTRGV football, and I look forward to watching them build a stellar program.”
In Simmons’ first year at Rice, he worked as the right-hand man of head coach David Bailiff(2014-17) and served as the assistant recruiting coordinator and events specialist. In that role, Simmons was responsible for the day-to-day recruiting operations. This included organizing all official and unofficial visits to campus, monitoring prospect information, developing seasonal recruiting campaigns, and coordinating the head coach’s recruiting activities. Simmons was responsible for events such as the international clinic, women’s clinic, lettermen luncheon, golf tournaments, freshmen onboarding, and several functions with high school coaches.
Other duties include game day management for coaches’ families and recruits, community outreach, the coordination and planning of team events related to the football program, the annual team awards banquet and special projects, walk-on process, and the admissions procession for all incoming students.
“He is an amazing young man,” Bailiff said. “He was my chief of staff at Rice, and he always impressed me with his high level of organization and detail. He can help you with recruiting, camps, logistics, and more. There’s no hat he didn’t wear for me, and he did it all well. I’d hire him again in a minute.”
A 2014 graduate of UTSA with a Bachelor of Arts in Public Relations, Simmons walked on to the inaugural UTSA team as a quarterback before shifting to wide receiver and earning a scholarship during his final season in 2013.
Originally from New Braunfels, Simmons was a four-sport lettermen at New Braunfels High School in football, basketball, swimming & diving and track & field. He twice led the football team to the state semifinals as a quarterback, earning All-District 26-5A honors as his team finished 11-4 as a senior. He was also a two-time 5A District Champion in the 300-meter hurdles and a state finalist as the anchor of the 4×400-meter relay as a senior.
$25 for ‘25
Season ticket deposits for the inaugural season of UTRGV football are currently being accepted for just $25 per ticket at UTRGVTickets.com. The Vaqueros take the field for their first season of competition in 2025.