Getting it Back–How San Jose State Excels in the Classroom

Posted by Dec. 21, 2013.

By Ronnie Ramos

SAN JOSE, Calif. – Katie Parry, the learning specialist for the San Jose State football team, knows the exact moment the players became really, truly committed to academics. “We beat Navy and we’re flying back and we’re all excited,” she said of a late September game earlier this year. “Our starting quarterback comes up to me and says, ‘I’m ready to do my paper.’ That is a sign of true turnaround to me. We’ve got student-athletes who want to do school work on the plane after a road win.”

It has been a long road back.

On the football field, the San Jose State football team finished 11-2, its first 11-win season since 1940. The Spartans defeated Bowling Green, 29-20, in the Military Bowl on Dec. 27. It was their first bowl game since 2006.

In the classroom, the turnaround has been even more impressive. The football program has improved its Academic Progress Rate – the NCAA’s team-based metric that measures how well a school retains students and keeps them on track to graduate – by more than 100 points.

“The way it works is you can’t have success in one area and not in the other – everything has to go hand in hand,” said senior offensive tackle David Quessenberry “Academics come first. You have to take care of business in the classroom in order to be successful on the football field.”

That wasn’t always the case.

The school’s APR was so dismal seven years ago that the school had been penalized with the loss of scholarships, faced the real possibility of being banned from bowl games, and even forced the new football coach to ask if he was going to have a team.

The program was in such disarray that six players had to be pulled off the bus before a game against Stanford because they were juniors and had not declared their majors, a requirement to remain eligible for competition. “That was mortifying,” said Eileen Daley who was hired as the lead academic athletics advisor soon after that incident.

The school also hired a new athletics director, Tom Bowen, and a new football coach, Dick Tomey, before the 2005 season. Neither knew the extent of the academic woes until they got to campus.

It was so bad in the fall of 2005 that Tomey asked Daley: Are we going to have a team? I don’t know, she told him. “The biggest reason we struggled so much was our students weren’t going to class,” Daley said. “And those that exhausted their eligibility weren’t going to class and not graduating.”

That is a deadly combination for a school’s APR. In 2004, the football team’s APR was 837. At the time, a score of 925 roughly equated to a 50 percent graduation rate. Today, a team with an APR below 930 cannot compete for a championship or play in a bowl game. San Jose State’s football team had an APR of 959 in 2011, the latest year available.

So how did San Jose State turn things around? The school unequivocally adopted an academics-first priority. Led by the new triumvirate of the school president, the athletics director and football coach, standards were raised, student-athletes were held accountable and resources were added for academic support.

In short, focusing on academics took precedence over winning football games. The road back to academic success started in early 2005 when Interim President Don Kassing was permanently named to the position. He hired Bowen as his athletics director, who then hired Tomey.

The three came aboard together. That was the good news.

The bad news was none of them knew much about the APR – and the dismal academic performance of its student-athletes. “None of us were familiar with the APR,” said Kassing, who was president until 2008. “I was aware but did not pay attention to it. We were six or seven months into our jobs and Tom (Bowen) said we were behind on dealing with APR.”

Said Bowen: “It was a mess. There was no academic support. The academic culture among students was one of disarray and nonperformance.” Across the university, student-athletes were not well regarded. “We were in such dire situation with credibility among the deans, faculty senate,” Bowen said. “We needed to show it was important to me, to the coaches.”

Tomey was not happy. “My mindset was very defensive,” he said. “I wasn’t up to date on APR. I admit that.” After six months of trying to appeal the NCAA sanctions of scholarship reductions, Tomey had a self-realization. “I needed to get myself together and understand that it was a new day in terms of academic accountability and I needed to get on board with it and take a different approach.

“At that point threw myself completely into learning all I could about the history of the APR. I got on every committee I could get on (at the NCAA) having to do with that.”

Kassing, Bowen, and Tomey made a formidable team to ignite the turnaround. “We needed to do it for the right reasons – for the kids,” Kassing said. “I wanted the kids to have respect on campus. We wanted good, strong academic students, not just athletes.”

Tomey’s effort was dubbed “Operation Graduation.” The focus was changed from getting players eligible to getting them to graduate.

“We changed our recruiting practices,” Tomey said. “We changed the way we did almost everything. We had to recruit players we were convinced could graduate.”

Bowen spearheaded the effort to acquire additional resources to help student-athletes with academics. San Jose State, though in Division I, has limited resources. But President Kassing was determined to make improvements. “We had to fund it because we felt it was very important to do,’ he said.

Bowen hired a learning specialist to work with the student-athletes and instituted mandatory study hall. They tried different things. Student-athletes on scholarships were held responsible for their performance. “If you got an F, you had to pay the class back,” Bowen said. “And it worked.”

Coaches checked classrooms to make sure the players were attending class. Tomey left in 2009 and his successor Mike McIntyre picked up what Tomey had started.

McIntyre hired Parry as a full-time learning specialist for the football team and placed her front and center. “My job is only as good as the head coach’s commitment,” Parry said. “If the head coach isn’t supportive of academics, my role doesn’t serve a whole lot of purpose. Academics are front and center for him. It’s really first.”

Every day, as football practice ends, Parry is on the field. “As soon as practice is over, coach calls everyone up,” she said. “I am the first person to speak. Every day. I make academic announcements. He told me, even if you don’t really have any announcements, say something. I need to be a presence. They need to know I come first.”

Parry travels with the team on road games and hosts mandatory study hall in the hotel for at least three hours every Friday night before the game. On the plane to and from the games, the seat next to Parry is left open so students can sit with her and do their work.

“The first year we did that, I faced a little resistance,” Parry said. “Guys were like, ‘I don’t want to do it now.’ This year, I have more guys than I can handle. I had 10 to 15 players per trip, wanting to do work with me. I had to create a schedule. Kids were arguing over who was going to sit next to me so we could talk about their paper, talk about what they had coming up.”

For incoming freshmen, McIntyre started a summer bridge program, which is common at many large Division I schools. “It has made huge inroads in getting kids to learn how to be students,” Parry said. “It’s a five-week program: two classes, three hours a day. They learn study skills, life skills, how to do a presentation, how to do research, how to use the library, how to talk to a professor.

“When they start school in the fall as freshman, they know. They know how to be a student.”

Many of the architects of San Jose State’s turnaround are gone. Kassing and Tomey have retired. Bowen is now the athletics director at Memphis. McIntyre, who replaced Tomey, just left for the head coaching job at Colorado.

But the commitment remains.

Current AD Gene Blaymaier hired a new coach, Ron Caragher, last week. Maintaining the current academic success was “the number one priority,” he said. “I had to have a coach that was going to stress academics. The student-athletes are here first and foremost to graduate.”

Moments after being introduced as the new coach, Caragher said he knew about the past problems and what is expected going forward. “I knew some of the difficulties they have gone through and that came up with the leadership as we went through this process,” he said. “There is a good solid plan in place so we can keep our APR high.”

Today, the torch for academic excellence is carried by Liz Jarnigan, the associate athletic director for student services and a passionate advocate for student-athlete success. A former student-athlete and a former coach, Jarnigan seeks to take that competitive zeal the players embrace on the field and carry it into the classroom.

And unlike eight years ago, there is help. There are three academic advisors – Jose Macias, Gina Archimede and Marwa Abbas – who help all the student-athletes, not just the football players. Learning specialist Nick Mazur rounds out the team. It’s a small unit compared to what large Division I schools have.

At San Jose State, the study hall also serves as the meeting room for the football team. Jarnigan works out of an office barely larger than a closet and talks passionately about setting high standards. “The goal is to go for a 4.0,” she said. “Why shoot for a 2.0, the minimum needed to remain eligible?

“On the field, you don’t go into the season shooting for third place in the conference. You play to win. We should do the same in the classroom. We encourage them to be true to their competitive nature. Don’t change the mindset from the field to the classroom.”

Many of the players, especially the seniors, have embraced the academic part of being a student-athlete. “School has to come first because you can’t predict what is going to happen with football, said senior defensive end Travis Johnson. “But if you have a degree, you are set for life.”

Spartan Football: "History Makers"

Spartan Football Makes History

fan hugs player

Emotions ran high after SJSU clinched the game (Christina Olivas photo).

“The best season in the major college football history of San Jose State concluded with a game that showcased how this team reached levels not before seen,” San Jose Mercury News reporter Jimmy Durkin wrote of SJSU’s 29-20 victory over Bowling Green at the Military Bowl in Washington, D.C. After quarterback David Fales was named MVP, he was quick to share the credit. “I’m just so excited for the coaching staff and the seniors and the people who put in all that hard work,” he said. These achievements provided the Spartan football team, cheer team and marching band with the opportunity to perform on a national level, a transformational opportunity SJSU strives to provide all students. View photos from the game and add a comment on Facebook. See the trophy presentation on ESPN3. Check out ESPN game highlights.

SJSU's Best of 2012

Olympian Tops SJSU’s Best of 2012

SJSU's Best of 2012

SJSU’s 2012 Olympian Marti Malloy is welcomed home by her coach, the legendary Yosh Uchida (Christina Olivas photo).

We’ve had an absolutely amazing year, Spartans!

When the time came for us to select the Best of 2012, it was super tough to choose just 10!

We would like to send a huge thanks to everyone who visited all of our online channels, whether it was our news, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn or Pinterest pages.

We counted up all your clicks, likes, pins and tweets and SJSU’s 2012 Olympian Marti Malloy came out on top. Read her story and join us on Pinterest to add a comment.

Ripped From the Headlines

Many more of our top stories were ripped right out of the headlines, with students loving the passage of Prop. 30 and the tuition rollback that came along with it.

Our football team making it to the Military Bowl also touched off an avalanche of national media coverage.

Whether led by an enterprising professor or intrepid students, campus research boomed with a $73.3 million NASA grant and a mind-boggling motorcycle with spherical wheels.

We also scored in the U.S. News & World Report College Rankings, coming in ninth overall among the West’s top public universities.

Enriching the Educational Experience

Student life thrived, too. In May, two undergrads and two graduate students from the class of 2012 earned accolades for their outstanding work.

This summer, we welcomed incoming frosh with a super fun orientation program followed this fall by our largest career fair in five years.

We even set the stage for 2013, launching an initiative to roll out a whole bunch of online tools enriching the educational experience here at SJSU.

Stay tuned because things can only get better next year!

San Jose Mercury News: SJSU Receives A+ for BYU Win

Posted by the San Jose Mercury News Nov. 19, 2012.

By Jon Wilner


Result: Beat BYU 20-14

Grade: A+

Comment: For perspective on the Spartans’ first win over BYU since 1968, consider that the Cougars were within a field goal of beating Notre Dame in South Bend.That’s not to say SJSU would take down the Irish, but when combined with the Spartans’ three-point loss at Stanford, it’s a pretty solid indication that they’re a quality team on any level — WAC, Independent, B1G, Pac-12.

“If you would ask anybody in America if we’d be 9-2 at this time, I don’t think many people would’ve said it,” coach Mike MacIntyre said after the game.Truer words have never been spoken, at least on the corner of Seventh and Alma.

A stellar season for the Spartans got even better with what could reasonably be considered their best win since beating Stanford in 2006.

At the same time, MacIntyre’s stock is soaring at the same time positions are coming open across the country (and perhaps in the Bay Area).Whether he’s interesting in leaving SJSU is a discussion for another time, but I have to think the Spartans are reworking MacIntyre’s contract.

If not: What are they waiting for?

As opposed to the high-scoring affairs of the past month, this was dominated by the defenses (not surprising, given BYU’s prowess on that side of the ball).Keith Smith’s game-saving blitz/fumble forced was the play of the game, but SJSU was sturdy throughout, holding BYU to 2.6 yards per rush and a 33 percent third-down conversion rate.Oh, and don’t forget the four sacks and three turnovers forced.

Quarterback David Fales was 25 of 34 for 305 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. Given the strength of BYU’s defense, this qualifies as the best game of Fales’ career.It’s one thing to carve up UTSA and New Mexico State, quite another to post those numbers against BYU.

Next up: vs. Louisiana Tech

The matchup: The Spartans are getting LaTech at just the right time, following an overtime loss to Utah State in a showdown for the WAC title.How must emotional fuel will the Bulldogs have left?

Even at less than their best, the Bulldogs present numerous problems for the SJSU defense: QB Colby Cameron and WR Quinton Patton are one of the top pass-catch tandems in the country.This will be the best test for SJSU’s defense since Utah State … and maybe the best test of the season.

LaTech leads the country in scoring, and not all of its big games have come against second-tier WAC foes: The Bulldogs posted 57 points on Texas A&M and 41 on Utah State.

The Spartans are favored by 3.5.

Fall 2013 Frosh and Transfer Applications Surge

SJSU Welcomes 30,500 Students to 2012-2013 Academic Year

SJSU Welcomes 30,500 Students to 2012-2013 Academic Year

Fantastic weather greeted new students at the Fall Welcome Days Kick-Off Aug. 21 on Tower Lawn. A folklorico group was among the entertainers at the event (Christina Olivas photo).

By Pat Lopes Harris, Media Relations Director

What’s the roar coming from downtown San Jose? That’s the sound of 30,500 Spartans heading to campus for fall 2012!

As usual, the academic year began with fantastic weather. During the sunny but cool afternoon of Aug. 21, new students crowded Tower Lawn for the Fall Welcome Days Kick-Off.

The event was SJSU’s way of welcoming 3,445 first-time freshmen, 3,370 new community college transfers and 1,900 new graduate students to campus, very close to matching last year’s grand total.

With music booming, students ate ice cream, lined up for caricatures and took a ride down giant inflatable slides while meeting new people and learning about SJSU organizations and departments.

The next day, thousands of Spartans flooded campus for the first day of classes, searching for parking and perhaps hoping to drop/add a course or two.

New Services

The most obvious change was tremendous progress on the construction of the new Student Union. When students left for the summer, there was little more than a foundation.

Now you can see the curvy exterior of the western expansion near the Music Building and a tiered theater taking shape near the Business Tower.

The Spartan Bookstore was crowded with students, who can now charge up to $900 in books and supplies on their Tower Cards. Meanwhile, the University Library is making it easier than ever to borrow textbooks.

SJSU Welcomes 30,500 Students to 2012-2013 Academic Year

Over at South Campus, Spartan Football has been practicing since late summer for its season opener at Stanford 7 p.m. Aug. 31, led by starting quarterback David Fales and supported by the SJSU Cheer Team (Christina Olivas photo).

Even before stepping on campus, everyone experienced downtown San Jose’s newest traffic features: 7.6 miles of buffered bicycle lanes on Third, Fourth, 10th and 11th streets.

Yes, it’s confusing but the city of San Jose is offering more info on how to navigate the bike lanes, intended to make things safer for everyone.

Another option is to live on campus. Almost 3,600 students have moved in, including all freshmen required to bunk in the bricks, Joe West Hall or Campus Village.

Over at South Campus, Spartan Football has been practicing since late summer for its season opener at Stanford 7 p.m. Aug. 31, led by starting quarterback David Fales.

Of course what matters most is what students find in the classroom — expect change! Among SJSU’s key hires over the summer was Dr. Catheryn Cheal.

The new associate vice president and senior academic technology officer, she is charged with helping the faculty explore online teaching.

Academic Innovation

Another new face is Lisa Vollendorf, who came from CSU Long Beach to become dean of our College of Humanities and the Arts.

Among the many faculty members heading back with new books is Professor Randall Stross, author of The Launch Pad: Inside Y Combinator, Silicon Valley’s Most Exclusive School for Startups.

SJSU Welcomes 30,500 Students to 2012-2013 Academic Year

Innovation was the theme of President Mohammad Qayoumi’s Fall Welcome Address, an annual tradition held this year on Aug. 20 in Morris Dailey Auditorium (Robert Bain photo).

Innovation was a theme of President Mohammad Qayoumi’s Fall Welcome Address, an annual tradition at SJSU held Aug. 20 this year.

After taking the podium, Qayoumi wasted no time in getting right to the point — everyone’s worried about the budget. Will tuition go up? Will jobs be cut?

What can you do? Attend the next budget forum Sept. 10 and make a difference by voting in the November elections, especially on Proposition 30.

Not registered? No problem! In the next week or so, you should see voter registration booths popping up all over campus.

Associated Students will help people register in person or online at TurboVote, which makes the whole process as easy as ordering a DVD on NetFlix.

And should you have trouble finding your way around, look for the “Ask Me” booths at all the main entrances to campus, a great example of Spartans helping Spartans.

SF Chronicle: Coach MacIntyre Positions Spartan Football as Contender for WAC Title

Lofty goals for San Jose State

Posted by the San Francisco Chronicle July 31, 2012.

By John Crumpacker

San Jose State’s football fortunes have improved to such an extent in the third year under coach Mike MacIntyre that the Spartans are seriously talking about making a run for the WAC title in their last season before moving on to the Mountain West Conference.

Imagine that.

Just two years ago, San Jose State slogged through a 1-12 season in MacIntyre’s debut season with the Spartans. An improvement to 5-7 in 2011 has coach and players thinking big.

“We definitely have an opportunity to be WAC champion,” MacIntyre said Monday at Bay Area football media day at the Nikko Hotel in San Francisco. “That’s our goal, to be WAC champion. We’re excited about the possibility. Hopefully, we can be the first WAC champion in football” in San Jose State history.

MacIntyre’s optimism has filtered down to his players, based on San Jose State’s improvement last season.

“I can see significant improvement each year,” tight end Ryan Otten said. “We’re bigger, we’re stronger, we’re faster, more disciplined and more confident. My expectations are high. Our focus this year is we’re trying to win the last WAC championship. We’re more than capable of taking care of business.”

This is the year to take care of business in the devalued WAC, down to seven football-playing schools for 2012 after Fresno State, Hawaii and Nevada departed. Remaining are Louisiana Tech, Utah State, New Mexico State, Idaho, Texas State and Texas-San Antonio, along with San Jose State.

The Spartans were picked to finish third in the WAC in a recent media poll.

“We have huge expectations,” defensive end Travis Johnson said. “We want to win them all. There’s no reason we can’t win them all if we play our best. It’s a total possibility.”

Players like Otten and Johnson give the Spartans reason for optimism. The 6-foot-5 Otten had 52 receptions for 739 yards and five touchdowns a year ago, but that was with Matt Faulkner throwing to him.

Faulkner is gone, and MacIntyre is weighing his options at quarterback among David Fales, Dasmen Stewart, Blake Jurich and Joe Gray.

“We’ve got to find a quarterback. That’s our challenge in fall camp,” MacIntyre said.

One thing MacIntyre has accomplished in his first two seasons in San Jose is to build depth.

“There’s more of us,” he said. “There’s more good football players. We’re bigger, we’re stronger, we’re faster, and we have more depth. Now we have to prove it on the football field.”

Johnson, a smallish defensive end, was chosen as the WAC preseason Defensive Player of the Year. Other honors candidates include Otten, tackle David Quisenberry, linebacker Keith Smith, punter Harrison Waid and wide receiver Noel Grigsby.

John Crumpacker is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. E-mail: Twitter: @crumpackeroncal

SJ Mercury News: Why So Few Black Head Football Coaches? A Spartan Explains

Mark Purdy: “Crackback!” looks into why there are so few opportunities for black head coaches in college football

Published by the San Jose Mercury News April 29, 2012.

By Mark Purdy

I don’t know why I’m still surprised by such stories. You probably heard about the University of Arkansas debacle this month. Football coach Bobby Petrino took a motorcycle ride with his mistress, crashed and then lied about the woman, who was a university employee. So he was fired.

To many, that’s where the ignominy ended. To me, that’s where it began.

To fill Petrino’s position with spring practice underway, Arkansas promoted a bright young assistant off the Razorbacks staff, Taver Johnson, and named him interim head coach. Johnson, 36, happens to be African-American. He also seemed a good potential fit for the full-time job at Arkansas. Stanford had made virtually the same move after the 2010 season when Jim Harbaugh left and the school named eager assistant coach David Shaw, then 38 years old, as Harbaugh’s successor. Shaw then led the Cardinal to an appearance in the BCS’s Fiesta Bowl.

But what happened at Arkansas two weeks later when the school selected its coach for the 2012 season? The Razorbacks switched course and hired John L. Smith, a 63-year-old retread who was fired as Michigan State’s head coach in 2006. Smith then kicked around as a broadcaster and as a Petrino assistant before taking Weber State’s head coaching position less than five months ago — only to abruptly desert Weber State to join the Razorbacks. This is where I mention that Smith happens to be a white guy.

Did Arkansas believe Johnson was too young to become a head coach? Stanford clearly didn’t feel the same about Shaw. In an even more extreme example, the Pittsburgh Steelers hired another bright young African-American coach, Mike Tomlin, at age 34. He went on to win a Super Bowl at age 36. But all right, let’s assume Arkansas was seeking something different — an older, retread coach who had both succeeded and failed at previous college jobs. Did the school think about interviewing African-American candidates such as Ty Willingham or Denny Green? Why not?You might wonder how or why this could happen.

The answer can be found in a new book co-authored by Fitz Hill, the former San Jose State head coach, and me.

Hill, who led the SJSU program from 2001-04, was the school’s first African-American football coach. He also was outspoken in the cause of promoting minority coaching opportunities at the college level because of the unique challenges they faced. He wrote his doctoral thesis on the topic.

After leaving San Jose, Hill became president of Arkansas Baptist College. But we stayed in touch. He eventually persuaded me to help him convert his thesis into language that would engage sports fans and explain the intricacies of an issue that, owing to its racial component, too often sparks emotional reactions rather than rational dialogue.

The book — “Crackback! How College Football Blindsides The Hopes Of Black Coaches”–was published last week. And if you are wondering whether the topic is still relevant, you haven’t been paying attention. And not just to the events at Arkansas.

The NFL has made terrific strides in leveling the field for African-American coaches’ job opportunities. But the college game is still dragging behind. This season, there will be fewer black head coaches in the game’s top tier than last season. To be exact, 15 of the 120 Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly Division I) programs are led by African-Americans.

Compared to the NFL, the situation is stunning. Last season, 10 of the 32 NFL teams were coached by African-Americans. To match that percentage, colleges would need to hire 22 black head coaches today.

We called our book “Crackback!” because that’s a term for an illegal football block, one that a defender never sees coming because it comes from behind him unexpectedly. This is the same scenario encountered by African-American college coaches who believe they are properly building their résumé and positioning themselves to become head coaches — only to be suddenly knocked out of the running by an unseen force.

Is that force outright racism? The issue is actually far more complicated and layered, which is why we needed 341 pages to explain it.

“Crackback!” is written in Hill’s voice. Less than 20 percent of the content is about his experiences at San Jose State, though he does include anecdotes about a few episodes, including the time a booster suggested that Hill had made a mistake by hiring too many black assistant coaches. However, Hill’s thesis forms the book’s backbone. He surveyed or interviewed hundreds of college coaches and researched dozens of firings and hirings.

The findings of that research were fascinating. Among other things, Hill believes that a form of “black on black crime” exists in the college coaching profession because minority candidates often sabotage and backbite each other to obtain the limited jobs that seem available to them.

Meanwhile, in the Bay Area, we have a great example of what can happen when black coaches are given an opportunity. Ty Willingham and Shaw both have taken Stanford to BCS bowl games. But did you know this? They are the only two African-American coaches who have accomplished that feat. It makes you wonder why more schools have not followed Stanford’s lead.

It also makes you wonder why college football does not follow the NFL’s example, given the success by so many black coaches in the NFL after the implementation of the Rooney Rule that requires a minority candidate be interviewed for each opening. That’s how Tomlin earned his job in Pittsburgh. The Steelers gave him an interview as part of the Rooney Rule process. He knocked off their socks and got the offer. Previously, Tomlin had applied for several college jobs but couldn’t get an interview.

Hill uses “Crackback!” to lay out his own six-point proposal that would put college football on a better track toward fairness for coaches of all races. Football fans will find that proposal compelling. It would also be great for university administrators to read. You know, before another motorcycle crashes.

Contact Mark Purdy at or 408-920-5092.

SJSU in the News: Athletics Department Raises Funds for Bill Walsh Center

SJSU in the News: Athletics Department Raises Funds for Bill Walsh Center

A rendering of the Bill Walsh Center exterior view (SJSU Athletics image).

San Jose State forges ahead with Bill Walsh Center

Posted by the San Jose Mercury News Feb. 10, 2012.

By Jon Wilner

The San Jose State athletic department is planning to build a massive football complex that will include a facility named in honor of its most famous alumnus.

The Bill Walsh Center will be the spiritual and intellectual heart of the 60,000-square-foot, two-building complex rising above the north end zone of Spartan Stadium. A football operations center also is in the works.

With an estimated cost of $9 million to $14 million, the project is expected to begin next winter and be completed by the start of the 2013 football season.

“We’re very excited,” said Walsh’s son, Craig. “There’s enough synergy in the community to get it done. It’s one thing to say you’re going to do it and another to get the financing. But they’ve closed that loop. They’ve worked hard.”

San Jose State president Mohammad Qayoumi supports the project provided that funding goals are met, according to university media relations director Pat Lopes Harris.

No state money will be used. The complex will be paid for by donations to Spartan athletics, which is using a committee of Walsh’s friends and former players to help raise money.

Athletic director Tom Bowen said enough money has been pledged to start the project but that fundraising is ongoing.

“The commitment by the university is there — this project will happen,” Bowen said. “We’ve been working on it for four years. This is the fulfillment of a promise that (former SJSU president) Don Kassing and I made to Bill. It’s something he wanted to do.”

According to at least one influential faculty member, it’s something the Spartans need to do.

“There are facilities needs in athletics to modernize, improve and expand in order to best serve current and future students at the highest levels, which includes the fact that we are a Division I institution,” said professor Annette Nellen, chair of the university’s Athletics Board, which serves as a liaison between the faculty and the athletic department.

“I think there has been appropriate research and input from many on-campus and off-campus sources to identify where fundraising efforts are needed.”

The football operations center will include offices for coaches, a locker room and player lounge, medical and training facilities and a dining hall.

It’s designed to allow SJSU to remain competitive in the Western Athletic Conference, where numerous schools have built new athletic facilities since the completion of SJSU’s last project, the Koret training center, more than a decade ago.

“We’re behind, and this will get up right there with them,” Spartans coach Mike MacIntyre said. “It will help in recruiting, in our daily function and help with the overall culture of the team and the community. People will realize football is important, and perception’s huge.”

But the centerpiece of Bowen’s plan is what SJSU is calling “The Bill Walsh Center: Institute for the Development of Human Potential.” It will hold lectures and seminars promoting Walsh’s vision of leadership.

San Jose State is the first Bay Area sporting institution to name a facility after the legendary coach, who played for the Spartans and earned his undergraduate and graduate degrees from SJSU.

Walsh’s wife, Geri, also attended the university, and they met there. Walsh died in 2007.

“It’s where Bill got his start, and it’s appropriate,” said Bill Ring, who played for Walsh with the 49ers and remains a close family friend.

“The embodiment of what San Jose State is trying to do is exactly what Bill wanted — (after his coaching career) he really turned his attention to mentoring people. He was in it to give of himself, to teach.”

SJSU’s plans call for an eight-foot bronze statue of Walsh outside the complex. The buildings will be connected by a second-floor walkway, with the Walsh Center overlooking the north end zone of Spartan Stadium.

The first floor will house San Jose State’s athletic Hall of Fame and Walsh memorabilia, including his 500-page thesis on the flank offense, which Craig Walsh described as the precursor to his father’s famed West Coast offense.

But the facility is not a museum.

The second floor will have an amphitheater and meeting rooms, allowing San Jose State to host conferences, clinics and seminars based on Walsh’s philosophy of sports psychology and management.

After retiring from coaching, Walsh taught classes at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business. He is also the author of numerous books on coaching, organization and leadership.

“It’s going to be a think tank for leadership,” Craig Walsh said. “We want it to be a West Coast destination. Everything will be under the guise of innovation.”

For more on college sports, see Jon Wilner’s College Hotline at Contact him at or 408-920-5716.

What it is: A 60,000-square-foot, two-building complex that will rise above the north end zone of Spartan Stadium and allow SJSU to stay competitive in the WAC.
Cost: $9 million to $14 million, paid for by donations to Spartan athletics

San Jose Mercury News: Football Recruits Out-of-State Standouts

San Jose State takes out-of-state approach with recruiting class

Posted by the San Jose Mercury News Feb. 1, 2011.

By Jon Wilner

One notable difference between San Jose State‘s 2012 recruiting class and many of its predecessors is the names.

Not the names of the players — the names of the players’ hometowns.

One SJSU signee is from Houston, another from Mesa, Ariz., yet another from Tucson.

In all, the Spartans signed four high school recruits from out of state, including touted Houston running back Jalynn McCain.

That’s the highest total in years and yet another sign that the football program is on solid ground financially and expanding its recruiting pool.

“I’m excited about our opportunities out of state,” coach Mike MacIntyre said. “Texas is so loaded with talent. We’re starting to get more interest from kids who are out of state and want to come here.”

And the Spartans are willing to pay for them — under certain circumstances.

The scholarship costs for an out-of-state recruit is approximately $10,000 more than for an in-state player (because of the difference in tuition). Signing five high school players from Texas and Arizona on Wednesday means an additional $50,000 per year for the football program for four years (and five, if the players redshirt).

The money was raised by private donations, according to athletic director Tom Bowen, who has encouraged coaches in numerous sports to look beyond the state line for prospects.

“I told the coaches, ‘Don’t bring me role players from out of state, but if you can get a difference

maker, then go get them,'” Bowen said.

The Spartans hope McCain is just that.

The 220-pounder from Houston had scholarship offers from numerous schools, including Texas-El Paso, of Conference USA, and Texas-San Antonio, one of two new football-playing members of the Western Athletic Conference. (Texas State is the other.)

McCain averaged 6.1 yards per carry over the course of two seasons for George Bush High School and was awarded three stars by the Rivals recruiting service.

“I was sweating it out,” MacIntyre said, referring to McCain’s letter of intent, which arrived via fax on Wednesday morning.

Another recruit with the potential to make an immediate impact is quarterback David Fales, who began his career at Nevada and transferred to Monterey Peninsula College.

He has already enrolled and will compete for the starting job in spring practice with returnees Dasmen Stewart and Blake Jurich.

Freshman Joe Gray won’t participate in spring practice for academic reasons but is expected to be ready for training camp.

  • The recruiting class includes four players from the South Bay: linebacker Brad Kuh (Bellarmine Prep), linebacker/end Eugene Taylor (Oak Grove), linebacker Lemaki Musika (Milpitas) and Fernando Villaneuva (Independence).Villaneuva, who had scholarship offers from Pac-12 schools, will be evaluated as both an offensive and defensive lineman.”We’ll see how he matures and figure out where he should play,” MacIntyre said.
  • SJSU’s class is rated No. 98 nationally by Scout recruiting service, second in the conference (behind Idaho) and ahead of outgoing WAC schools Fresno State, Nevada and Hawaii.
  • MacIntyre targeted linebackers and tight ends — there are eight in the class — not only because of depth chart needs but also because of versatility.”I learned from Bill Parcells that you want big, athletic bodies” capable of playing multiple positions, he said.For more on college sports, see Jon Wilner’s College Hotline at Contact him at or 408-920-5716.
  • NCAA Hires Top Cop to Enforce Recruiting Rules

    NCAA to police football recruiting more — with an actual cop

    Published by Jan. 30, 2012.

    By Dennis Dodd, Senior College Football Columnist

    INDIANAPOLIS — Just what the NCAA enforcement police need — an actual cop. A 6-foot-3 former homicide cop with an icy stare. A Marine and NFL veteran with an acute sense of self-awareness.

    “Even my supervisor told me this week,” Bill Benjamin said, “that I intimidate my staff.”

    Indianapolis’ former deputy police chief was a legitimate hire, not a casting call. A bit late, perhaps, putting law enforcement in charge of college law enforcement but the hire has achieved its desired effect. At least on putting the next Cecil Newton on alert.

    “To literally sell your child to a university where you literally don’t know if he’s going to succeed or not is ridiculous to me,” said Benjamin, a hard-line reformer on the streets and, apparently, now for the NCAA.

    In case you missed the message, if you are a football coach you do not want to see Benjamin on your doorstep. The man has broken down thieves, murderers and felons. As signing day approaches for recruits he is a new face of NCAA enforcement. The department is bigger and more aggressive. And not only because of the stories told by the big man hired in November for the newly created position of director of enforcement for football.

    The former San Jose State linebacker still recalls the most glorious day of his football career. The Spartans shocked then-No. 10 Baylor 30-22 in 1980 in a win that still ranks arguably as the school’s biggest.

    It was an early warning of how effective today’s shotgun, multiple-receiver offense would be. Dennis Erickson was the offensive coordinator on that team under John Elway’s dad, Jack.

    “[Mike] Singletary’s tongue was to his knees,” said Benjamin, remembering Baylor’s Hall of Fame linebacker. “I remember shaking hands on the field with Mike Singletary and he would not look at me.”

    That is relevant today because Steve Clarkson was the quarterback on that San Jose State team. Benjamin recently flew to California to consult with Clarkson, who is the noted owner/operator of the prestigious Air 7 quarterback academy. Benjamin is trying to get up to speed on the creeping third-party influence that he says has reached middle school.

    Wait, middle school? That’s a seedy territory usually reserved for basketball predators. While it’s hard to project how a seventh grader will progress, they are already being preyed upon. The 7-on-7 phenomenon has been monetized. That has the possibility of eventually pushing a wedge between the high school coach and college recruiter.

    “The high school coaches are being minimized and marginalized by the 7-on-7 teams and private tutoring that goes on,” Benjamin said. “Some of these high school coaches aren’t even contacted by college coaches when they’re recruiting a player. Who knows better than the high school coach, the kid’s character, the kid’s grades, the kid’s heart?”

    Clarkson is a friendly resource rather than a suspect, although his website features grade-school quarterback prospects. Two years ago one of his most famous prodigies, then 13-year-old David Sills, made a verbal commitment to USC. Lane Kiffin had his first commit for the recruiting class of 2015.

    “Some agents are trickling to the high school level and they are aware of what’s coming up from prominent middle schools that have talent,” Benjamin said. “It’s hard to project but you can keep your eye on certain kids that are dominating, possibly getting their grades and you can find a spot for them.”

    How is this different than, say, tennis? Promising pros routinely leave school at a young age. Right or wrong, college football players can’t turn pro until their third year out of high school. This year there is a record 65 undergrads coming out early.

    “They’re [not all] ready for the league,” said Benjamin who had a cup of coffee with the Colts in the 1980s. “They’re being lured out or enticed out to anybody and everybody … We’re basically touching on, not two levels, but four levels — middle schools, high schools, college and pro.”

    Maybe Benjamin’s squad is the NCAA’s new Untouchables. It has taken too long to form a group concentrating only on football. Benjamin will oversee a team of six investigators. But they are arriving with all the swagger of, well, an elite crime-fighting unit. Ask Benjamin’s daughters.

    The 53-year-old is proud of a parenting “surveillance” method he used with his daughters Cameron and Jeremie. Both played college tennis — Cameron at Bowling Green and Jeremie at Akron. Dad arrived on campus, unannounced, to check on them.

    “I did it for both girls,” he said. “The second one knew it was coming. I show up in the middle of the day. I know her schedule. I wait for her to come out of class. I [watch] her, follow her to the cafeteria. She eats by herself and goes straight to the next class.

    “When she came out, I’m standing right there. We had dinner. It’s just daddy checking on her and going back home.”

    The NCAA checking will be a bit more intense. Following college, Benjamin was inspired by the movie An Officer and a Gentleman, entered the service and eventually became a Marine lieutenant. At the end of a 27 1/2-year police career in Indianapolis he retired last year.

    Benjamin was seen as a community leader who gathered his share of headlines — not all of them glowing.

    According to a profile written by the Indianapolis Star at the time the NCAA hired him …

    In 1993, Benjamin and another officer sued the Civilian Merit Board claiming they were treated unfairly.

    In 1998, he was serving on an FBI task force investigating police corruption. It was eventually decided that Benjamin’s friendship with an officer under investigation did not compromise the probe.

    Within the past two years, Benjamin was cleared of wrongdoing after an Indiana State Police detective came to his office to confront him about an issue.

    The Indianapolis police department investigated claims by Benjamin that an internal affairs lieutenant had called him a “criminal” at staff meetings. The investigation has been completed, the paper said, but results have not been released.

    Benjamin was vetted and arrived at this spot in NCAA history after what he said were “six grueling interviews.” Enforcement official Rachel Newman Baker said the team would be expected to develop new information and break cases, not only react to them.

    Football coaches, it seems, have asked for the extra scrutiny. Enforcement vice president Julie Roe Lach said the American Football Coaches Association have made it known that, “we want you do to more to [penalize] us.”

    That’s where Benjamin comes in.

    “He talked about how he was going to solve crimes,” Roe Lach said. “He’d go into the community and say, ‘We can’t do it alone. You’ve got to give us some information.'”

    But on NCAA investigations, Benjamin will be without the basic tools of his former trade — due process, search warrants, etc. What he, and NCAA criminals, are left with is a stripped down version of street justice.

    “When I worked homicide, I wanted people to know it’s me. This is what I look like and I’m coming,” Benjamin said. “I think I said the same thing in the NCAA interview: ‘It’s us, this is what we look like and we’re coming. And you need to lock things down and do things right.'”

    ESPN Blog: Coach MacIntyre Agrees to Contract Extension Through 2017

    SJSU coach MacIntyre gets extension

    Published by ESPN Jan. 25, 2012.

    By Andrea Adelson

    San Jose State coach Mike MacIntyre agreed to a contract extension through the 2017 season, the school announced Wednesday.

    MacIntyre will be going into his third season with the Spartans, having guided them to a 5-7 record in 2011. That was a huge improvement over his 1-12 campaign his first season.

    “In two years as San Jose State’s head coach, Mike MacIntyre created a new dynamic that articulates all the positives of our football program to our fans, alumni and future Spartans. He is a passionate and exceptional leader, a wonderful University ambassador and his football knowledge will point us in the right direction to succeed as an FBS program,” athletic director Tom Bowen said in a statement. “We’re looking forward to a very bright future for Spartan football with Mike MacIntyre as our head coach.”

    The Spartans posted a big win over Navy and their first victory at rival Fresno State in 24 years.

    “My family and I love living in San Jose. I’m very happy that President (Mohammad) Qayoumi and Tom Bowen are giving my staff and I the opportunity to continue building our program here at San Jose State. There’s a belief that the program is headed in the right direction and this gives us the stability needed to build for the future,” MacIntyre said in a statement.

    Image of text: Western Athletic Conference - News from the conference

    Football Scores Academic All-WAC Awards

    Image of text: Western Athletic Conference - News from the conference

    Nearly 40 SJSU student-athletes earned honors.

    The 2011 SJSU football program tied for second place for most Academic All-Western Athletic Conference awards among the conference’s 38 fall sports teams. Twelve Spartan football student-athletes met criteria including enrollment at SJSU for at least two semesters,  cumulative GPA of 3.00 or higher, and participation in at least 50 percent of the team’s 12 games in the 2011 season. Only the Utah State football program with 16 awards topped SJSU football. The Idaho and Louisiana Tech women’s soccer teams matched Spartan football with 12 awards. The San Jose State women’s soccer also placed in the top-10 with 10 Spartans earning recognition. Overall, 39 San Jose State University student-athletes from football, men’s cross country, women’s cross country, women’s soccer and women’s volleyball were named Academic All-WAC. View a complete list of SJSU’s 2011 Fall Sports Academic All-WAC Award Winners.

    SJSU in the News: Players Lift Quarterback on Their Shoulders, Present Him Fresno Game Ball

    San Jose State wins at Fresno State for first time in nearly a quarter-century

    Originally published by the San Jose Mercury News Nov. 26, 2011.

    By Jeff Faraudo

    FRESNO — San Jose State ended a 24-year victory drought on the road against Fresno State on Saturday night with what quarterback Matt Faulkner called the best play in football.

    He took a knee to let the final seconds tick away, and the Spartans left Bulldog Stadium with a 27-24 victory.

    Fresno pulled within three points when Derek Carr passed 24 yards to Jalen Saunders with 6:15 left, and the Spartans needed a big finish to avoid squandering a double-digit fourth-quarter lead for the third time in four games.

    Faulkner told his teammates in the huddle, “Guys, let’s have the drive of the year and end this thing with the best play in football.”

    The triumph achieved a lot for the Spartans:

  • They finished at 5-7 overall, 3-4 in the Western Athletic Conference, earning five victories for just the sixth time since 1993.
  • They snapped an 11-game road losing streak to the Bulldogs (4-8, 3-4), after losing the past six by an average margin of 32 points. The win also ended an 11-game WAC road losing streak that dated to 2008.
  • They defeated the Bulldogs for just the second time in their past 18 tries in the final meeting before FSU leaves next season for the Mountain West Conference.”For what they did, after not winning here for 24 years, I told them they’re going to run into ex-players who are going to come up and thank them,” coach Mike MacIntyre said. “It’s a huge deal for our program.”Just as huge was the final possession, when the Spartans began at their own 31 and kept the ball for 13 plays before the horn sounded.

    Senior running back Brandon Rutley carried seven times for 24 yards on the final possession after gaining just 34 yards on 12 previous attempts. Faulkner completed three passes for first downs on the drive, and the Spartans were aided by a pass-interference penalty against Fresno State on a third-and-9 pass intended for Rutley.

    “It was just a matter of us knowing we had to get it done,” said Rutley, aware that his team’s inability to run the ball cost them victories in the fourth quarter against Idaho and Utah State. “We just said, ‘Let’s finish this out rather than let it happen again.’ ”

    Faulkner finished 27 for 42 for 363 yards and two touchdowns, including a 18-yarder to Noel Grigsby that made it 27-17 with 11:38 left.

    Grigsby, who caught eight passes to set an SJSU single-season record with 89, caught the ball at the 5, then fought through two defenders for his second touchdown of the season.

    The Spartans turned a 17-10 halftime deficit into a 20-17 lead in the span of less than 2 minutes midway through the third quarter.

    SJSU took its first possession of the second half from its own 17 to the Bulldogs’ 17 before Jens Alvernik kicked a 34-yard field goal, pulling the Spartans within four points.

    Fresno State quarterback Carr then fumbled a shotgun snap on third down, and defensive tackle Travis Raciti recovered at the FSU 38. The Spartans then ran a flea-flicker, and Faulkner delivered a 38-yard TD strike to freshman wideout Jabari Carr for the lead with 8:09 left in the quarter.

    “That’s the perfect time to do it,” Faulkner said. “After a turnover and in that area of the field.”

    MacIntyre described a raucous locker room scene in which the players lifted Faulkner on their shoulders, then presented him the game ball. Faulkner assembled his sixth 300-yard passing game of the season and finished with 3,149 yards, third-most in school history.

    “He was very very humble, but he was very happy,” MacIntyre said.

  • Sophomore wideout Chandler Jones, whose seven receptions Saturday gave him 61 for the season, suffered what MacIntyre believed was a broken collarbone in the third quarter. He was taken to a hospital, where he stayed the night and underwent surgery.
  • The Spartans played without two-time All-WAC senior safety Duke Ihenacho, still nursing a left knee injury he suffered the week before vs. Navy.
  • SJSU in the News: Alumnus Appointed NCAA Enforcement Director

    NCAA selects William Benjamin to join enforcement staff

    Originally published by the NCAA Nov. 9, 2011.

    William Benjamin, currently the deputy chief of police at the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, has been named a director of enforcement with a focus on football. A 28-year police force veteran, he commanded more than 1,150 uniformed officers and 100 detectives in his previous position. Benjamin is also a former college football student-athlete from San Jose State and participated with the Indianapolis Colts. He has also served as a coach and mentor for youth football.

    “Bill brings not only robust investigatory and leadership experience, but also a keen understanding of the sport of football as a student-athlete, professional player and coach,” said vice president of enforcement Julie Roe Lach. “He will add valuable perspectives to our talented and diverse staff.”

    Benjamin will lead a team of football-focused investigators charged with building knowledge, meaningful contacts and actionable leads to better inform investigations. The director of football position was one of 12 redefined or newly created positions from the enforcement department’s restructuring in June. These structure changes included the formation of a development unit, allowing information cultivation to be the same level of focus as investigations and case processing.

    “I’m looking forward to joining another great team of people who are making a positive difference for student-athletes,” said Benjamin.

    Over the course of Benjamin’s career, he has worked in many different areas of the police department, including his most recent positions as the deputy chief of the Operations and Criminal Investigations divisions. He also previously served as a lieutenant and squad leader in the homicide division and was a United States Marine Corps officer.

    SJSU in the News: After Defeating Colorado State, “Spartans Must Feel As If They Can Do Anything”

    San Jose State snaps 13-game road losing streak

    Originally posted by the San Jose Mercury News Oct. 1, 2011.

    By Brian Howell

    FORT COLLINS, Colo. — Breaking a 13-game losing streak last week was a relief for San Jose State.

    After winning their second in a row Saturday, the Spartans must feel as if they can do anything.

    “We’re going to fly the plane back ourselves, I think,” SJSU coach Mike MacIntyre quipped.

    Matt Faulkner threw a 38-yard touchdown pass to Jabari Carr with 54 seconds to play, lifting SJSU to a 38-31 win over Colorado State at Hughes Stadium. The win snapped the Spartans’ 16-game road losing streak. It also gave them consecutive wins for the first time since October 2008.

    “It is huge for our program,” MacIntyre said. “Last week was huge. This week is huge. We’re taking steps in the right way. We broke the dam down, we’re driving the boat now, and we’re seeing some success.”

    The win nearly slipped through the fingers of the Spartans (2-3), though.

    They led 24-7 in the first half and took a 31-17 lead late in the third quarter. That lead completely evaporated, however, after Colorado State quarterback Pete Thomas scored on a 9-yard run to tie the game at 31 with 11:33 to play.

    At that point, it sure seemed as if SJSU was doomed. Two big turnovers led directly to CSU touchdowns. Starting cornerback Brandon Driver went out with a likely season-ending Achilles injury in the first half. And senior star running back Brandon Rutley left midway through the third quarter with an ankle injury that cut short another great day.

    “I think it crosses people’s minds,” Faulkner said of the here-we-go-again feelings. “You’re just like, ‘Gosh, we can’t let this happen. We can’t let another game like this get away from us.’ “Then, eight plays after CSU (3-2) tied the game, Faulkner was sacked, fumbled and lost the ball. CSU took over at the Spartans 45.

    “That was a real good chance for them to end the game,” Faulkner said.

    The Spartans defense rose to the occasion, however, forcing the Rams to punt. After SJSU had to punt, the Rams had another opportunity, at the Spartans 34. Again, the defense stepped up and forced CSU to try a 48-yard field goal, which sailed wide left with 3:30 to go.

    “That was the whole difference in the game,” MacIntyre said of the two defensive stops. “After they missed that field goal, I honestly didn’t think they would stop us.”

    The Rams didn’t. Filling in for Rutley, who gained 131 yards, Jason Simpson got 16 key yards on four rushes and then Faulkner connected with Carr for the game-winning score.

    “I just thought to myself, ‘Just put it out there and he’ll go get it,’ ” said Faulkner, who threw for a career-best 313 yards and two touchdowns. “He ran a great route. It’s an awesome feeling. Almost indescribable.”

    CSU had one last chance, but Ronnie Yell intercepted a Thomas pass to seal the win.

    “Games like this in the past we would lose because we hadn’t won one; they didn’t feel like they could do it,” MacIntyre said. “Now they know they can. I just think that confidence level is there.”

    Facing another trip this week — to Brigham Young — the Spartans hope the momentum can continue.

    “This is one of those wins that I think can define a season, get us going in the right direction,” said tight end Ryan Otten, who had 112 receiving yards and a touchdown. “Especially the way we won it.”

  • Rutley has 340 rushing yards in the past two games. Those are the only two 100-yard games of his career. Although he walked out of the stadium on crutches, he called the injury a “minor” one. “It’s disappointing, but it happens,” he said. “I’ll be back next week, ready to rock.” His return is considered day-to-day.
  • Aside from Rutley, SJSU had 6 yards on 16 rushing attempts.
  • MacIntyre said Driver is likely done for the season, and Driver didn’t seem any more optimistic than that. “It’s definitely devastating,” he said.
  • Starting left guard Fred Koloto left with a sprained knee. His return also is considered day-to-day. Cornerback Peyton Thompson, who missed last week’s game with an elbow injury, started against Colorado State. He left briefly after tweaking his arm, but came back.
  • For the first time this season, backup quarterback Dasmen Stewart did not play. SJSU had used two quarterbacks in each of the first four games.
  • In addition to the road losing streak, SJSU snapped a streak of 18 straight road losses to nonconference foes.
  • In the first half, SJSU safety Duke Ihenacho became the first Spartan to return a fumble for a touchdown since Tony Ficklin did it Nov. 20, 2004.
  • Taking advantage of the high altitude, Harrison Waid had three punts of at least 60 yards, including a career-best of 72 yards. It’s the second time in school history a Spartan has had three punts more than 60 yards in one game.
  • Before Saturday, Colorado State was one of two teams in the country (also Stanford) that hadn’t allowed a first-quarter point. The Spartans scored 10 first quarter points.
  • CSU came into the weekend leading the country with 16 sacks. The Rams got three Saturday.
  • The Spartans scored 30-plus points in back-to-back games for the first time since 2008.
  • SJSU in the News: Spartan Football Makes Significant Progress

    Jon Wilner on college football: San Jose State has made significant progress

    Originally posted by the San Jose Mercury News Sept. 30, 2011.

    By Jon Wilner

    For the first time in longer than anyone associated with the program cares to remember, San Jose State looks like a legitimate major college football team.

    After injuries, NCAA-mandated scholarship reductions, second-rate talent and brutal schedules resulted in a two-year record of 1-21 against Football Bowl Subdivision opponents, the Spartans have made significant progress this season.

    They aren’t good. They may not even be mediocre. But clearly, they’re functional.

    Three areas stand out as SJSU (1-3) visits Colorado State on Saturday:

    The running game.

    Inept for years, the Spartans have averaged 190 yards per game over the past three games — the success rooted in a veteran offensive line, blossoming tailback (senior Brandon Rutley) and blocking support from the tight ends.

    There also is a strong commitment to the run game. Second-year coach Mike MacIntyre has Southeastern Conference football in his blood, and the SEC is all about running between the tackles.

    The play-calling.

    Offensive coordinator John DeFilippo sees the field well, makes effective use of misdirection and plays to the strengths of senior quarterback Matt Faulkner.

    With input from the staff, including MacIntyre and Gary Bernardi, the savvy offensive line coach, DeFilippo’s play-calling is neither predictable nor conservative.

    The defensive line.

    Led by end Mohamed Marah, who’s healthy after missing most of two seasons with shoulder problems, the Spartans have turned a long-standing weakness into a strength.

    They’re 10 deep up front, quick off the ball and relentless. Redshirt freshman Travis Raciti has the makings of an all-conference tackle, while ends Sean Bacon and Vincent Abbott have chaos-causing speed off the edge.

    “They play extremely hard,” MacIntyre said. “(Because of the depth) they don’t have to pace themselves.”

    That said, let’s keep SJSU’s progress in perspective. The Spartans have miles to go before challenging for a bowl bid or the conference title.

    But they’re also miles ahead of where they’ve been.

    For more on college sports, see Jon Wilner’s College Hotline at Contact him at or 408-920-5716.

    SJSU defense crushes New Mexico ball carrier.

    Coach Mac on New Mexico State Victory: “I Told the Team It was Time to Break the Dam Down”

    SJSU defense crushes New Mexico ball carrier.

    The Spartans' defense shutout New Mexico State in the final 15 minutes (photo by Kym Fortino).

    By Pat Lopes Harris, Media Relations Director

    Brandon Rutley rushed for 209 yards and two touchdowns on 33 carries and Ryan Otten and Matt Faulkner hooked up for two more as the San Jose State Spartans defeated the New Mexico State Aggies 34-24 on Saturday afternoon in Spartan Stadium.

    The win is the first of the year for the Spartans (1-3, 1-1 WAC) and ends a 13-game losing streak dating back to 2010.  New Mexico State’s record is also 1-3, 0-1 in Western Athletic Conference play. p.m. Read more.

    “First of all, I’d like to say how proud I am of these young men,” said Head Coach Mike MacIntyre. “I told the team it was time to break the dam down. If we could run the ball, eventually we would get there. Our offensive line is blocking really well. Matt Faulkner did a really good job of moving the offense and taking care of the football. It’s a great team effort, a lot of guys playing a lot of team roles. Our conditioning factor really showed in the fourth quarter.”

    The Spartans return to action Oct. 1 when they travel to Colorado State. Join the SJSU Alumni Association in Fort Collins an hour north of Denver for an outdoor pre-game party near Hughes Stadium. All Spartans fans are welcome to attend. There will be no cost for the barbecue lunch although a minimum donation of $5 per person at the event will be appreciated. Register now. The pre-game party begins at 11 a.m., with kickoff at 2 p.m.

    SJSU Men’s Soccer and Football at Spartan Stadium This Week

    3 young ladies in Spartan Squad t shirts

    Spartan Squad Kickoff Sept. 15 at Campus Village (SJSU Alumni Association photos).

    Soccer Date and Time: 7 p.m., September 22

    Football Date and Time: 1 p.m. September 24

    Location: Spartan Stadium

    Summary: Come out and support men’s soccer and football, both at home this week.

    Men’s soccer will host crosstown rival Santa Clara University on Thursday night.

    On Saturday, football will take on New Mexico State.

    KLIV and ESPN3 will broadcast the football game.

    View an all-sports schedule.

    Spartans at last year's Alabama game

    Join the Crowd as Spartan Football Takes on UCLA Sept. 10

    Alumni Association banners, blue and yellow, fluttering in the wind.

    The SJSU Alumni Association will host a pre-game party at the Brookside Golf Club.

    Date: September 10, 2011

    Time: 4 p.m. pre-game party, 7 p.m. kickoff.

    Location: Brookside Golf Club pre-game party, Rose Bowl game.

    Summary: For the first time ever, Spartan football will head to Pasadena to play in the historic Rose Bowl! It’s sure to be a memorable day as SJSU takes on UCLA. Make your game day complete by attending the SJSU Alumni Association pre-game party at the Brookside Golf Club just a mile or so away from the stadium.

    Attendees will enjoy a catered meal and beverages with a cash bar available. This spectacular venue has both indoor and outdoor seating. Please note space is limited. Advance registration is highly recommended.

    Register for the pre-game party via the SJSU Alumni Association. Purchase tickets for the game through the Spartan Ticket Office.  Listen to the game on KLIV 1590 AM.