San Jose State Spartans
2022 San Jose State Spartans football team
First season1893
Head coachBrent Brennan
5th season, 20–37 (.351)
StadiumCEFCU Stadium
(capacity: 30,456)
Field surfaceFieldTurf
LocationSan Jose, California
ConferenceMountain West
DivisionWest (2013–2019 and 2021–present)
All-time record499–521–38 (.490)
Bowl record7–4 (.636)
Conference titles17
RivalriesFresno State (rivalry)
Stanford (rivalry)
Current uniform
San jose state football unif.png
ColorsGold, white, and blue[1]
     
Websitesjsuspartans.com

The San Jose State Spartans football team represents San José State University in NCAA Division I FBS college football as a member of the Mountain West Conference.

History

See also: List of San Jose State Spartans football seasons

Early history (1893–1970)

The State Normal School at San Jose football team in 1910. Jerseys display a large "N" for "Normal"
The State Normal School at San Jose football team in 1910. Jerseys display a large "N" for "Normal"

San Jose State first fielded a football team in 1893 under head coach James E. Addicott. Addicott also served as a math professor at the California State Normal School (now San José State University). The team played a local YMCA club in 1893 and 1894 and garnered its first tie in 1896, a 6–6 decision against nearby College of the Pacific.

The first regular football seasons began in 1898 and mostly consisted of games against local high schools and some colleges and junior colleges.[2] In 1898, in the team's first and only season under head coach Thad McKay, the Spartans compiled their first undefeated record at 5–0–1, outscoring their opponents by a total of 80 to 17.

During the 1930s and 1940s, the Spartan football program was considered a powerhouse, posting 12 consecutive winning seasons and earning eight conference championship titles over an 18-year span. The 1932 and 1939 teams went 7–0–2 and 13–0 respectively, the only undefeated seasons in school history aside from the team's 5–0–1 season in 1898.[2][3]

San Jose State first appeared in the national rankings in 1939 when the AP Poll ranked the Spartans No. 19 in week seven. The team would climb to No. 18 in week eight. Lloyd Thomas was the first San Jose State player to receive first-team All-America honors. Thomas played as a defensive end on the 1936, 1937 and 1938 teams that fielded a combined win-loss record of 27-7-1. As of 2018, SJSU has produced over 70 All-America team members, including five first-team selections.[3]

Spartan Stadium (now known as CEFCU Stadium) was completed in 1933 with a capacity of 18,000. The Spartans won the first football game played in the stadium 44–6 over San Francisco State on October 7, 1933.

The San Jose State Spartans football team served unexpectedly with the Honolulu Police Department during World War II. The team had just arrived in Hawaii to play a series of post-season bowl games against Hawai'i and the Willamette University Bearcats when the U.S. Navy base at Pearl Harbor was attacked on December 7, 1941. The team was stranded on the islands for a number of weeks following the attack, and players were employed by the local police department to help improve island defenses against a possible Japanese amphibious assault and as guards for military bases on the island.[3][4]

The Spartan football program posted just six winning seasons in the 1950s and '60s, but the 1970s would usher in a string of successful seasons spanning 20 years.

Winning era (1971–1992)

From 1971 to 1992, San Jose State posted 15 winning seasons, appeared in four bowl games and sent nearly 50 players to the NFL.[5]

SJSU's first win over a nationally ranked opponent occurred in 1971 when the Spartans defeated No. 10 Stanford 13–12 on November 13. Stanford would go on to defeat Michigan in the Rose Bowl that season.[6] SJSU's second win over a ranked opponent occurred four years later in 1975, when the Spartans defeated No. 15 Stanford 36–34 in a nationally televised game on September 27.[3] San Jose State also had victories over No. 10 Baylor in 1980, No. 19 Fresno State in 1986, and No. 23 Fresno State in 1990.[3]

From 1971–1992, SJSU garnered 22 victories over Power Five conference opponents. These victories included multiple wins over Stanford, Cal and Oregon.

In 1975, San Jose State appeared in the national rankings for the first time in over 30 years when the team was ranked No. 20 in the AP Poll in week 13.[7] SJSU later earned its first post-season national ranking in 1990 when the Spartans finished No. 20 in the Coaches Poll.[2]

Two stadium expansions and renovations in the 1980s increased the Spartan Stadium (now known as CEFCU Stadium) seating capacity from 18,000 to 30,456.

Decline (1993–2004)

From 1993 to 2004, San Jose State had just one winning season when the team finished 7–5 in 2000; however, the team did earn two wins over ranked opponents during this period. The Spartans claimed a 25–22 victory over No. 24 Air Force in 1997 and a 27–24 win over No. 9 TCU in a nationally televised game in 2000.[3] The Spartans also defeated rival Stanford three consecutive years from 1998 to 2000.

By the spring of 2004, the combination of rising costs for the football program and budget cuts from the state led some San Jose State faculty members to advocate dropping football.[8][9]

In 2004, San Jose State defeated the Rice Owls 70–63 in a game that set the NCAA Division I record for total points scored and total touchdowns in a non-overtime game.[10]

Dick Tomey era (2005–2009)

James Jones catches a touchdown pass against Stanford in 2006 at Spartan Stadium
James Jones catches a touchdown pass against Stanford in 2006 at Spartan Stadium

Coach Dick Tomey took over the program in 2005 amid Academic Progress Rate (APR) shortcomings that would result in severe penalties imposed by the NCAA.[11] After showing moderate improvement that year, the Spartans had a breakout season in 2006. It was the team's best season since joining the WAC ten years prior. Tomey guided the Spartans to a 9–4 record, a win over rival Fresno State, and a win over New Mexico in the 2006 New Mexico Bowl, thus ending the team's 16-year bowl drought. The 2006 Spartan squad produced two 2007 NFL draft picks in wide receivers James Jones and John Broussard.

From 2007 through the 2009 seasons, the program was hit with heavy NCAA sanctions for failing to meet APR standards. By the start of the 2009 season, the Spartans had lost 57 scholarships over a four-year period. By the spring of 2010, the NCAA penalties were lifted and a full complement of 85 scholarships was restored.[11]

The 2007 team was not as successful as the previous year's team, with the Spartans finishing 5–7 and fifth in the WAC. The post-season showed a positive result, however, with several players being named to all-star games including Dwight Lowery, Marcus Teland, Matt Castelo and Adam Tafralis. The Spartans produced another draft pick in the 2008 NFL Draft, in defensive back Dwight Lowery. Lowery was named a 1st-team All-America winner in 2007.

The 2008 roster gave the school its best start since joining the WAC. The Spartans jumped to 5–2 and led the WAC for 3 weeks until losing to Boise State. The Spartans finished the season in sixth place in the WAC with a conference record of 4–4 and a 6–6 overall record. Three players were picked in the 2009 NFL Draft, those being defensive tackle Jarron Gilbert, defensive back Christopher Owens and defensive back Coye Francies

After playing an unusually tough non-conference schedule, the 2009 Spartans finished 2–10 with wins over Cal Poly and New Mexico State. Head Coach Dick Tomey announced in November he would retire at the close of the season, thus ending his legendary coaching career. Tomey's record at SJSU was 25–35.

Mike MacIntyre era (2010–2012)

On December 17, 2009, Mike MacIntyre was formally introduced as Tomey's replacement. MacIntyre was previously the defensive coordinator at Duke University.[12]

San Jose State finished 1–12 in 2010 and 5–7 in 2011 under MacIntyre. In MacIntyre's third season, the 2012 San Jose State Spartans football team finished 11–2 including a win over Bowling Green in the 2012 Military Bowl. The 2012 team earned top-25 post-season rankings in the Associated Press (AP), Coaches and BCS polls. Kent Baer served as interim head coach for the Military Bowl because MacIntyre resigned to accept the head coach position at Colorado.

Ron Caragher era (2013–2016)

Ron Caragher, previously the head coach at the University of San Diego, became the SJSU head coach following the conclusion of the 2012 football season. Caragher's team finished a disappointing 6–6 in 2013, however, that season did include a 62–52 upset win over No. 16 Fresno State to close out the year. The team finished 3–9 in 2014, 6–7 in 2015 and 4–8 in 2016. On November 27, 2016, Caragher was relieved of his duties as head coach after compiling a 19–30 (.388) win-loss record and only one bowl appearance over four seasons.

San Jose State battles San Diego State at CEFCU Stadium in 2019.
San Jose State battles San Diego State at CEFCU Stadium in 2019.

Brent Brennan era (2017–present)

Oregon State wide receivers coach Brent Brennan, who was a San Jose State assistant under Tomey and MacIntyre from 2005 to 2010, took over as head coach in 2017.[13] In Brennan's first two years as head coach, the Spartans won just three games. This included a 1-11 season in 2018. Despite the poor record, five of the team's losses in 2018 were by fewer than nine points, and three were by a field goal.[14]

The 2019 team improved to 5–7, missing bowl eligibility by one win.[15] The Spartans also showed promise by defeating Arkansas on the road in 2019 for the program's first win over a Southeastern Conference team. Additionally, the 2019 Spartan team defeated Army, making the Spartans one of only 20 teams in college football to defeat all three FBS service academies (Army, Air Force, and Navy).[16] Brennan received a contract extension at the close of the 2019 season.[17]

The 2020 season was impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, with restrictions imposed by Santa Clara County prompting the team to conduct preseason practice at Humboldt State University. The pandemic also resulted in the cancellation of all four non-conference games and two games against Mountain West Conference opponents. Santa Clara County public health orders also forced the Spartans' last two home games to be relocated to Aloha Stadium in Hawaii and Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas.[18]

The abbreviated 2020 campaign would be a breakout year for the Spartans, who won each of their six regular season games for their first 6–0 start since 1939. The Spartans also cracked the AP Poll top-25 for the first time since 2012 and debuted in the College Football Playoff ranking at No. 24.[19][20]

The Spartans qualified for the Mountain West Conference championship game for the first time, where they defeated Boise State 34–20. In addition to giving San Jose State its maiden win over Boise State, the victory gave the Spartans' their first conference championship title since 1991.[21] Brennan was named the Mountain West Conference Coach of the Year and also received the 2020 Lombardi Foundation national Coach of the Year award.[20][22]

Conference affiliations

[citation needed]

Conference championships

San Jose State has won 17 conference championships. From 1969 to 1995, San Jose State earned more Big West Conference football championship titles than any other team in the history of the Big West Conference.[3] The Spartans moved to the WAC in 1996.

Year Conference Coach Overall Record Conference Record
1932 Northern California Athletic Conference Dudley DeGroot 7–0–2 3–0–2
1934 Northern California Athletic Conference Dudley DeGroot 3–3–4 2–0–3
1939 California Collegiate Athletic Association Dudley DeGroot 13–0 3–0
1940 California Collegiate Athletic Association Ben Winkelman 11–1 3–0
1941 California Collegiate Athletic Association Ben Winkelman 5–3–3 2–0–1
1946 California Collegiate Athletic Association Bill Hubbard 9–1–1 4–0
1948 California Collegiate Athletic Association Bill Hubbard 9–3 5–0
1949 California Collegiate Athletic Association Bill Hubbard 9–4 4–0
1975 Pacific Coast Athletic Association Darryl Rogers 9–2 5–0
1976 Pacific Coast Athletic Association Lynn Stiles 7–4 4–0
1978 Pacific Coast Athletic Association Lynn Stiles 7–5 4–1
1981 Big West Conference Jack Elway 9–3 5–0
1986 Big West Conference Claude Gilbert 10–2 7–0
1987 Big West Conference Claude Gilbert 10–2 7–0
1990 Big West Conference Terry Shea 9–2–1 7–0
1991 Big West Conference Terry Shea 6–4–1 6–1
2020 Mountain West Conference Brent Brennan 7–1 7–0

† Co–champions

Bowl games

SJSU home football game at Spartan Stadium
SJSU home football game at Spartan Stadium

San Jose State has made 11 bowl appearances and the Spartans have an overall bowl game record of 7–4.[3]

Season Coach Bowl Opponent Result
1946 Bill Hubbard Raisin Bowl Utah State W 20–0
1949 Bill Hubbard Raisin Bowl Texas Tech W 20–13
1971 Dewey King Pasadena Bowl Memphis L 9–28
1981 Jack Elway California Bowl Toledo L 25–27
1986 Claude Gilbert California Bowl Miami (OH) W 37–7
1987 Claude Gilbert California Bowl Eastern Michigan L 27–30
1990 Terry Shea California Bowl Central Michigan W 48–24
2006 Dick Tomey New Mexico Bowl New Mexico W 20–12
2012 Mike MacIntyre Military Bowl Bowling Green W 29–20
2015 Ron Caragher Cure Bowl Georgia State W 27–16
2020 Brent Brennan Arizona Bowl Ball State L 13–34

AP Poll Rankings

As of December 2021, San Jose State has spent eight weeks ranked among the top–25 college football teams in the nation in the Associated Press college football poll. This includes two post–season top–25 rankings.

Year Weeks Low High Final Record
1939 2 19 18 NR 13–0
1975 1 20 20 NR 9–2
2012 2 24 21 21 11–2
2020 3 25 19 24 7–1

Head coaches

Main article: List of San Jose State Spartans head football coaches

San Jose State has had 31 head football coaches. There have been four periods in which the Spartans did not host a team (1894, 1896-1897, 1901-1920, 1943-1945).

Year Coach Pct.
1893 James E. Addicott n/a
1894 No Team n/a
1895 James E. Addicott n/a
1896–1897 No Team n/a
1898 Thad McKay 1.000
1899 Jess Woods .643
1900 James E. Addicott n/a
1900 Fielding H. Yost (Interim) 1.000
1901–1920 No Team n/a
1921–1922 David Wooster .250
1923 H.C. McDonald (Interim) .000
1924–1928 E.R. Knollin .378
1929–1931 Walter Crawford .348
1932–1939 Dudley DeGroot .736
1940–1941 Ben Winkleman .761
1942 Glenn Hartranft .778
1943–1945 No Team n/a
1946–1949 Bill Hubbard .761
1950–1956 Robert T. Bronzan .515
1957–1964 Bob Titchenal .424
1965–1968 Harry Anderson .333
1969–1970 Joe McMullen .231
1970–1972 Dewey King .339
1973–1975 Darryl Rogers .691
1976–1978 Lynn Stiles .529
1979–1983 Jack Elway .634
1984–1989 Claude Gilbert .558
1990–1991 Terry Shea .696
1992 Ron Turner .636
1993–1996 John Ralston .244
1997–2000 Dave Baldwin .400
2001–2004 Fitz Hill .298
2005–2009 Dick Tomey .479
2010–2012 Mike MacIntyre .432
2012 Kent Baer (Interim) 1.000
2013–2016 Ron Caragher .388
2017–present Brent Brennan .351

Rivalries

Fresno State

The Battle for the Valley Trophy

Main article: Fresno State–San Jose State football rivalry

San Jose State's biggest rival is California State University, Fresno, due in large part to the two schools' geographic proximity and long history of competing in the same conferences.[23]

Fresno is the largest city in the agriculturally rich San Joaquin Valley. San Jose is the largest city in the metropolitan capital of the high-tech Silicon Valley. The two schools are separated by approximately 150 driving miles. Beginning in 2013, the winner of the game is awarded the Valley Trophy.[24][25]

San Jose State led the series from 1949 to 2001, but Fresno State tied it at 32–32–3 with a victory in 2002 and recaptured the lead in 2003. The Bulldogs and Spartans first played each other in 1921.

As of 2021, Fresno State leads the football series 43–38–3.[26]

Stanford

Bill Walsh Legacy Game

Main article: Bill Walsh Legacy Game

The Bill Walsh Legacy Game is the name given to the rivalry between the Spartans and the Stanford Cardinal football team of Stanford University.[27][28]

The rivalry is likely rooted in the two schools' close geographical proximity to one another, with the Stanford University campus being located just 23 driving miles northwest of the San Jose State campus on Interstate 280. The two teams have played each other 67 times since 1900. The rivalry is currently on hiatus due to non-conference scheduling conflicts, however, on June 22, 2022, Stanford and San Jose State announced an agreement to renew the rivalry with a four game home-and-home series beginning in 2025.[29][30]

Stanford currently leads the series 52–14–1.

Hawaii

Dick Tomey Legacy Game

The two schools first met in 1936 and were each led by legendary coach Dick Tomey, who died in 2019. Tomey was a successful head coach at Hawaii from 1977 to 1986 and was a successful head coach at San Jose State from 2005 to 2009. The winner of the rivalry game each year takes possession of the Dick Tomey Legacy Trophy. The Rainbow Warriors and Spartans have played each other 44 times as of the 2021 season.

In 1941, the San Jose State Spartans football team served unexpectedly with the Honolulu Police Department during World War II. The team had just arrived in Hawaii to play a series of postseason bowl games against Hawai'i and the Willamette University Bearcats when the U.S. Navy base at Pearl Harbor was attacked on December 7, 1941. The team was stranded on the islands for a number of weeks following the attack, and players were employed by the local police department to help improve island defenses against a possible Japanese amphibious assault and as guards for military bases on the island.[3][4]

As of 2021, Hawaii leads the series 22–21–1.

San Diego State

El Camino Real Rivalry

The rivalry between the two Cal State schools dates back to 1935. The matchup is named after the historic 600-mile Camino Real that connects the 21 Spanish missions in California, stretching from San Diego Bay in the south, to San Francisco Bay in the north. The Aztecs and Spartans have played each other 45 times as of the 2021 season.

The Spartans have the longest win streak in the series with 11 consecutive wins from 1938 to 1952.

As of 2021, San Diego State leads the series 23–20–2.

University of the Pacific

Battle for the Victor's Bell

The rivalry matchup between the SJSU Spartans and the Pacific Tigers began in 1921 and ended in 1995 when Pacific dropped its football program. The Spartan-Tiger football game was played 72 times between 1921 and 1995.

Due to the private versus public institutional competitiveness and the close geographical proximity of the two schools, a natural "cross-town" rivalry was born.

In 1949, in a game which drew national attention, the Victor's Bell was unveiled. The Victor's Bell would go to the winner of subsequent Tiger-Spartan games. The Victor's Bell was two feet tall and waist-high on a rolling cart. The bell was half black with an orange 'P' for Pacific and half blue with a gold 'SJ' for San Jose.

The Spartans led the series 43–23–6 when the rivalry ended at the close of the 1995 season.

Individual awards and honors

This list is incomplete; you can help by adding missing items. (December 2020)
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (December 2020)

National awards

Mike Perez, QB (1986)

Pop Warner Trophy

The Glenn "Pop" Warner Memorial Trophy was awarded annually by the Palo Club to the most valuable senior player on the West Coast. It was awarded from 1950 to 2004.

Notably, all but three award recipients played for Pac-10 institutions. Two of the three non-Pac-10 recipients played for SJSU, with quarterback Chon Gallegos taking home the trophy in 1961 and Spartan quarterback Mike Perez winning the award in 1987.

The trophy was unaffiliated with the W. J. Voit Memorial Trophy, which was presented annually from 1951 to 1978 to the top player on the Pacific Coast, regardless of class year.

Conference awards

Mountain West Conference awards

Brent Brennan (2020)[20]
Jack Snyder, LT (2020)
Cade Hall, DL (2020)[31]
Josh Love, QB (2019)[32]

Western Athletic Conference awards

Travis Johnson (2012)
Jarron Gilbert (2008) (Co-DPOY with Hawaii's Solomon Elimimian)

Big West Conference awards

Terry Shea (1990)
Sheldon Canley, TB (1990)
Lyneil Mayo, OLB (1990)
Mike Perez, QB (1987)

Pro Football Hall of Fame

Two former SJSU players have been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Bill Walsh attended San Jose State, where he played quarterback from 1953 to 1955. He went on to win three Super Bowls as the head coach of the San Francisco 49ers.

Dick Vermeil played for San Jose State as a backup quarterback before graduating in 1959 with a master of arts degree.[34] Vermeil later won Super Bowl XXXIV in 1999 as the head coach of the St. Louis Rams.

Name Years Position Inducted
Bill Walsh 1953–1955 Head Coach 1993
Dick Vermeil 1956–1959 Head Coach 2022

College Football Hall of Fame

Two former SJSU players have been inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. Willie Heston attended San Jose State, where he played halfback from 1898 to 1900 before transferring to the University of Michigan. Heston has been named one of the greatest halfbacks in college football history.[35]

Terry Donahue was a freshman walk-on defensive tackle for one year at San Jose State before transferring to UCLA. Donahue was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame for his contributions as the head coach at UCLA.

Two former San Jose State coaches are also enshrined in the College Football Hall of Fame, mostly for their contributions while coaching at other schools. Pop Warner led his teams to a combined four national championships while serving as the head coach at Pitt and Stanford.

John Ralston led Stanford to multiple Rose Bowl victories before taking over as the head coach at SJSU from 1993-1996. Ralston was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a coach in 1992.

Name Years Position Inducted Ref
Pop Warner 1939 Associate Coach 1951
Willie Heston 1898-1900 HB 1954 [36]
John Ralston 1993-1996 Head Coach 1992
Terry Donahue 1963 DT / Head Coach 2000

San Jose State players in the NFL

Utah at San Jose State at Spartan Stadium in 2009
Utah at San Jose State at Spartan Stadium in 2009

As of fall 2020, 137 San Jose State players have gone on to play in the NFL,[37] and eight former Spartans are actively playing in the NFL.[3][38][39] The 137 players include 118 draftees, six NFL Pro Bowl selections, six first-round draft picks, two MVP award winners, and one NFL Rookie of the Year.[37][38]

Along with Miami (OH), Dayton, Arkansas, Eastern Illinois, and Pacific, SJSU is one of only six programs in the nation to produce more than one alumnus who would go on to coach Super Bowl-winning teams. [40] [3]

Current Athletes in the NFL

As of March 18, 2021, there are eight former San Jose State players in the NFL:[41]

Player Team Position Round Year
Tyler Ervin Green Bay Packers RB 4 2016
David Fales New York Jets QB 6 2014
Isaiah Irving Arizona Cardinals LB UDFA 2017
Akeem King Seattle Seahawks CB 7 2015
Josh Oliver Jacksonville Jaguars TE 3 2019
David Quessenberry Tennessee Titans G 6 2013
Wes Schweitzer Washington Football Team G 6 2016
Keith Smith Atlanta Falcons FB UDFA 2014

All-time record vs. current Mountain West teams

Record at the conclusion of the 2021 NCAA Division I FBS football season.[42]

Opponent Won Lost Tied Percentage Streak First meeting
Air Force 2 4 0 .333 Won 1 1996
Boise State 1 14 0 .067 Won 1 1978
Colorado State 4 7 0 .364 Lost 4 1961
Fresno State 38 43 3 .470 Lost 1 1921
Hawaii 21 22 1 .489 Won 2 1936
Nevada 10 23 2 .314 Lost 1 1899
New Mexico 14 5 1 .725 Won 2 1954
San Diego State 20 23 2 .467 Lost 1 1935
UNLV 19 6 1 .750 Won 2 1981
Utah State 20 19 1 .513 Lost 9 1940
Wyoming 5 7 0 .417 Won 1 1959
Totals 144 168 11 .463

Notable players and alumni

SJSU Alumnus Bill Walsh and former Spartans Head Football Coach Dick Tomey
SJSU Alumnus Bill Walsh and former Spartans Head Football Coach Dick Tomey

Future non-conference opponents

Announced schedules as of March 23, 2022.[74]

2022 2023 2024 2025 2026 2027 2028 2029 2030 2031
Portland State Cal Poly Sacramento State Central Michigan at Eastern Michigan at Minnesota Howard Holy Cross Oregon State Rice
at Auburn Oregon State at USC at Texas at Penn State Akron Toledo Eastern Michigan at Rice
Western Michigan at USC ULM Idaho UTEP Portland State at Washington at Oregon State Washington State
at New Mexico State at Toledo at Washington State at South Florida at Stanford at UTEP at Stanford at Louisiana-Monroe Cal Poly
Stanford Cal Poly

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