San Jose State Spartans football

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San Jose State Spartans
2017 San Jose State Spartans football team
San José State Spartans wordmark.svg
First season 1893
Head coach Brent Brennan
1st season, 1–10 (.091)
Stadium CEFCU Stadium
(Capacity: 30,456)
Field surface Field turf
Location San Jose, California
Conference Mountain West
Division West
All-time record 483–493–38 (.495)
Bowl record 7–3 (.700)
Conference titles 16
Rivalries Fresno State Bulldogs
Stanford Cardinal
Colors Blue, White, and Gold[1]

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.


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

SJSU first fielded a football team in 1893 and has won 16 conference championships dating back to 1932.

The first regular football seasons began in 1898 and mostly consisted of games against local high schools and some colleges and junior colleges.[2]

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.[2][3]

Spartan 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. Two stadium expansions and renovations in the 1980s increased the seating capacity from 18,000 to 30,456.

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 the University of Hawai'i Rainbow Warriors 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 would later enter a "golden age" beginning in 1973, when the Spartans posted 15 winning seasons, appeared in four bowl games and sent nearly 50 players to the NFL over a 20-year stretch.[5]

SJSU's first win over a nationally ranked opponent occurred in 1971 when the Spartans defeated #10 Stanford 13–12 on November 13. Stanford would go on to defeat the University of 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 #18 Stanford 36–34 in a nationally televised game on September 27.[3]

SJSU's only other victories over ranked opponents include a 30–22 win over #10 Baylor in 1980, a 42–7 win over #23 Fresno State in 1990, a 25–22 win over #24 Air Force in 1997, a 27–24 win over #9 TCU in 2000, and a 62–52 win over #16 Fresno State in 2013.[3]

SJSU first appeared in the national rankings in 1939 when the AP Poll ranked the Spartans #19 in week seven. The team would climb to #18 in week eight. The Spartans did not appear in a national poll again until 1975 when the team was ranked #20 in the AP Poll in week 13.[7] SJSU garnered its first post-season national ranking in 1990 when the Spartans finished #20 in the Coaches Poll. SJSU would not appear in the post-season national rankings again until 2012 when the Spartans finished #21 in both the AP Poll and Coaches Poll.[2]

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 for a non-overtime game.[10]

From 2005 through the 2009 season, the San Jose State football program was hit with heavy NCAA sanctions for failing to meet Academic Progress Rate (APR) standards. By the start of 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]

SJSU has produced over 70 All-America team members, including five first-team selections.[3]

The Tomey era (2005–2009)[edit]

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

Coach Dick Tomey took over the program in 2005 amid 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 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.

The 2007 San Jose State Spartans football team was not as successful as the previous year's team, with the Spartans going 5–7 and finishing 5th 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 San Jose State Spartans football team 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 6th 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 San Jose State 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.

The MacIntyre era (2010–2012)[edit]

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 the University of Colorado.

The Caragher era (2013–2016)[edit]

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 teams finished 6–6 in 2013, 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 over four seasons.


Fresno State[edit]

The Valley Trophy is a football rivalry between the San Jose State Spartans and the Fresno State Bulldogs. Since 2013, San Jose State and Fresno State have played for the Valley Trophy and San Jose State leads 3-2. San Jose State is the metropolitan capital of the high-tech Silicon Valley. Fresno State is the largest city in the agriculturally-rich San Joaquin Valley. The two schools are separated by approximately 150 driving miles. The winner of the rivalry game each year takes possession of the trophy. The rivalry dates back to 1921. As of 2016, Fresno State leads the series 40–37–3.


Stanford and San Jose State first played each other in San Jose in 1900.[6] In 2007, following the death of San Jose State alum and former Stanford coach Bill Walsh, the near-annual game played between the two schools was renamed the Bill Walsh Legacy Game.[13]

The games from 1979 to 1982 pitted Stanford star quarterback John Elway against his father, Jack Elway, who served as the SJSU head football coach from 1979 to 1983. The two teams split the series 2–2, with the younger Elway defeating his father's team in 1979 and 1980, and the elder Jack Elway defeating his son's team in 1981 and 1982.[14]

As of 2013, Stanford led the series 52–14–1, with 62 of the 66 games between the schools taking place at Stanford.[6] The 2013 game, a 34–13 win for Stanford, is the final scheduled game between the two schools, reportedly due to the schools being unable to agree on a home-and-home setup for future games. [15][16][17]

Records against rivals[edit]

Team Games played SJSU win SJSU loss Ties Win % First meeting Last meeting Next scheduled meeting
Fresno State 81 38 40 3 .488 1921 L 27–10 (2017)
Stanford 67 14 52 1 .216 1900 L 13–34 (2013)


As of 2017, 132 SJSU Spartans have gone on to play in the NFL,[18] and nine former Spartans are actively playing in the NFL.[3][19] The 117 players include 106 draftees, six NFL Pro Bowl selections, six first-round draft picks, two MVP award winners, and one NFL Rookie of the Year.[18][19]

SJSU, Dayton, Arkansas, Eastern Illinois and Pacific are the only schools to produce two alumni who coached Super Bowl-winning teams.[3]

Current Athletes in the NFL[edit]

As of September 10, 2017:[20]

Player Team Position
Bené Benwikere Cincinnati Bengals Cornerback
Ryan DiSalvo Tennessee Titans Long snapper
Tyler Ervin Houston Texans Running back
Jimmy Pruitt New Orleans Saints Defensive back
Travis Raciti Minnesota Vikings Defensive tackle
Wes Schweitzer Atlanta Falcons Guard
Keith Smith Dallas Cowboys Fullback
Shane Smith New York Giants Tight end
Peyton Thompson Jacksonville Jaguars Safety

Conference championships[edit]

San Jose State vs. Utah at Spartan Stadium – 2009

From 1969 to 1995, SJSU earned more Big West Conference football championship titles than any other team in the history of the Big West conference.[3] 1995 was SJSU's final season in the Big West, as the Spartans moved to the WAC in 1996.

  • 1932 – Northern California Athletic Conference Co-Champions
  • 1934 – Northern California Athletic Conference Co-Champions
  • 1939 – California Collegiate Athletic Association Champions
  • 1940 – California Collegiate Athletic Association Champions
  • 1941 – California Collegiate Athletic Association Co-Champions
  • 1946 – California Collegiate Athletic Association Champions
  • 1948 – California Collegiate Athletic Association Champions
  • 1949 – California Collegiate Athletic Association Champions
  • 1975 – Pacific Coast Athletic Association Champions
  • 1976 – Pacific Coast Athletic Association Champions
  • 1978 – Pacific Coast Athletic Association Co-Champions
  • 1981 – Big West Conference Champions
  • 1986 – Big West Conference Champions
  • 1987 – Big West Conference Champions
  • 1990 – Big West Conference Champions
  • 1991 – Big West Conference Co-Champions

No Team: 1894, 1896–1897, 1901–1920, 1943–1945

Chronology of head coaches[edit]

All-time record vs. current Mountain West teams[edit]

As of the conclusion of the 2016 NCAA Division I FBS football season:

Opponent Won Lost Tied Percentage Streak First meeting
Air Force 1 3 0 .250 Lost 2 1996
Boise State 0 13 0 .000 Lost 13 1978
Colorado State 4 4 0 .500 Lost 1 1961
Fresno State 38 40 3 .481 Lost 1 1921
Hawaii 19 19 1 .500 Lost 1 1936
Nevada 9 19 2 .333 Won 1 1899
New Mexico 12 5 1 .694 Lost 1 1954
San Diego State 19 19 2 .500 Lost 4 1935
UNLV 15 5 1 .738 Won 7 1981
Utah State 20 16 1 .554 Lost 6 1940
Wyoming 3 6 0 .333 Won 2 1959
Totals 139 149 11 .483


Bowl games[edit]

SJSU home football game at Spartan Stadium

The SJSU football team has made 10 bowl appearances and has an overall bowl game record of 7–3.[3]

Year Played Bowl Opponent Result
2015 Cure Georgia State Win, 27–16
2012 Military Bowling Green Win, 29–20
2006 New Mexico New Mexico Win, 20–12
1990 California Raisin Central Michigan Win, 48–24
1987 California Eastern Michigan Loss, 27–30
1986 California Miami (OH) Win, 37–7
1981 California Toledo Loss, 25–27
1971 Pasadena Memphis Loss, 9–28
1949 Raisin Texas Tech Win, 20–13
1947 Raisin Utah State Win, 20–0

Notable players and alumni[edit]

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

Future non-conference opponents[edit]

Announced schedules as of August 2, 2017

2018 2019 2020 2021 2022 2023
at Washington State Northern Colorado at South Florida at Army Portland State California
at Oregon Tulsa Oregon State
Army at Arkansas Army
UC Davis at Army



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External links[edit]