Ruben Garcia, the head football coach and athletic director at Falfurrias High School in Falfurrias, Texas, didn’t think much of the small group chat he created.

The collection of Hispanic high school head football coaches, assistant coaches and athletic administrators in Texas was meant to help each other make connections, share coaching tips and football strategies.

The GroupMe chat that started with less than 20 peers in 2018 is now a coalition of 700 strong. 

“I didn’t realize there was that many Hispanics out there coaching, you know coaching in general,” said Armando Jacinto, the first president of the organization and the Spring Independent School District assistant athletic director. 

Ruben Garcia, head coach at Falfurrias High in Texas, is one of the founding members of the Hispanic Texas High School Football Coaches Association. (Photo: Lourdes Trevino-Cantu)

The feeling of surprise is warranted among the members of the newly formed Hispanic Texas High School Football Coaches Association (TXHSFB). Not only in high school football, but every level of the sport. 

Even though Hispanic people are the largest minority in the country, according to the United States Census Bureau, they are severely underrepresented when it comes to the Power Five conferences in college football and the NFL.

Anthony Muñoz reached the pinnacle of football in his career as the second Mexican-American inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. But he didn’t see many who looked like him on the way there.

“I don’t know, it’s really interesting because they are such big fans of the game and there’s not more participating,” Muñoz said. 

In 2018-19, 417 of 15,710 (2.7%) Division I FBS players identified as Hispanic/Latino, according to the TIDES College Sport Racial and Gender Report Card. In the same year, eight players out of 1,357 (0.5%) identified as Hispanic or Latino in the NFL.

With National Hispanic Heritage Month ending Thursday, USA TODAY Sports spoke to several players and coaches to pose the question: Why are there so few Hispanics in big-time college football, which is often the path to the NFL?

Cultural differences 

Mike Garcia, a founding member of TXHSFB, wasn’t raised on football, but that didn’t stop him from winning a national championship with the University of Texas as an offensive lineman in 2005.

“Personally, I didn’t grow up knowing really what football was,” said Garcia, who was raised on the east side of Houston. “As a Hispanic kid, I grew up watching basketball, and I grew up watching soccer and playing soccer.”

Garcia was hesitant to play football as a freshman in high school but eventually grew to flourish and began to admire players that came before him — like Muñoz, an offensive lineman with the Cincinnati Bengals for 13 years and an 11-time Pro Bowl player.

Former NFL lineman Anthony Munoz was an 11-time Pro Bowl player. (Photo: Kirby Lee, Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports)

Muñoz wasn’t as new to football as Garcia, but like many Hispanic children, football wasn’t at the forefront of his upbringing.