San Jose State Spartans Football
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San Jose State Spartans Football
San Jose State Spartans
San Jose State interlocking logo.svg
First season1893
Head coachBrent Brennan
4th season, 14-29 (.326)
StadiumCEFCU Stadium
(Capacity: 30,456)
Field surfaceFieldTurf
LocationSan Jose, California
ConferenceMountain West
All-time record
Bowl record7–4 (.636)
Conference titles16
RivalriesFresno State (rivalry)
Stanford (rivalry)
Current uniform
San jose state football unif.png
ColorsBlue, White, and Gold[1]

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


Early history (1893-1972)

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 when the school was called the California State Normal School. 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] 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.

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.

Lloyd Thomas was the first San Jose State player to receive first-team All-America honors. Thomas played as an end on the 1936, 1937 and 1938 teams that fielded a combined record of 27-7-1. As of 2018, SJSU has produced over 70 All-America team members, including five first-team selections.[3]

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. 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.[5] SJSU's second win over a ranked opponent occurred four years later in 1975, when the Spartans defeated No. 18 Stanford 36-34 in a nationally televised game on September 27.[3]

Winning era (1973-1992)

From 1973 to 1992, San Jose State posted 15 winning seasons, appeared in four bowl games and sent nearly 50 players to the NFL.[6]

During this era, San Jose State had two victories over ranked opponents. The first was a 30-22 win over No. 10 Baylor in 1980, and the second was a 42-7 win over No. 23 Fresno State in 1990.[3]

San Jose State appeared in the national rankings in 1975 for the first time in over 30 years when the team was ranked No. 20 in the AP Poll in week 13.[7] SJSU garnered 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 seating capacity from 18,000 to 30,456.

Decline (1993-2004)

From 1993 to 2004, San Jose State had only one winning season in 2000 when the team finished 7-5. However, the team did garner 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 2000.[3]

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]

Dick Tomey era (2005-2009)

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 San Jose State football program was hit with heavy NCAA sanctions for failing to meet 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]

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

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 San Diego, became the SJSU head coach following the conclusion of the 2012 football season. Caragher's teams finished 6-6 in 2013, including a year-end 62-52 upset of No. 16 Fresno State. However, the team went 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 playing against San Diego State 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 combined, including a 1-11 season in 2018. Despite the poor record, five of the 2018 team's losses were by fewer than nine points, and three were by a field goal.[14] The 2019 team improved to 5-7 but missed bowl eligibility by one win;[15] they defeated Arkansas for the program's first win over a Southeastern Conference team, while a win over Army made the Spartans the 20th team in college football to defeat all three FBS United States service academies (Army, Air Force, and Navy). Brennan received a contract extension at season's end.[16]

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 canceled two games and further county orders forced the Spartans' last two home games to be relocated to Aloha Stadium in Hawaii and Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas.[17] The abbreviated 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, while they ranked in the AP Poll for the first time since 2012 and debuted in College Football Playoff ranking.[18][19] The Spartans qualified for the Mountain West Conference Football Championship Game for the first time, where they defeated Boise State 34-20; in addition to being San Jose State's maiden win over Boise State, it secured the Spartans' first undisputed conference championship since 1990.[20] Brennan was awarded Mountain West Coach of the Year for the team's success.[19]

Conference affiliations


Conference championships

San Jose State has won 16 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 7-0 7-0

+ Co-champions

Bowl games

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]

Head 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.
1893-1898 James E. Addicott
1899 Jess Woods .643
1900 James E. Addicott (3​ seasons) .536
1900 Fielding H. Yost (interim) 1.000
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
1942-1946 Glenn Hartranft .778
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


Fresno State

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.[21]

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. The winner of the rivalry game each year takes possession of the Valley Trophy. The rivalry dates back to 1921. As of 2019, Fresno State leads the football series 42-38-3.[22]


Stanford and San Jose State first played each other in San Jose in 1900.[5] In 2007, following the death of San Jose State alumnus and former Stanford coach Bill Walsh, the near-annual game played between the two schools was renamed the Bill Walsh Legacy Game.[23]

The 2013 game, a 34-13 win for Stanford, was the final scheduled game between the two schools, reportedly due to the two schools' inability to agree on a home-and-home arrangement for future games.[24][25][26]

Stanford leads the series 52-14-1 through the 2019 season.[27]

Individual awards and honors

Mountain West Conference awards

Western Athletic Conference (WAC) awards

  • Defensive Player of the Year[30]
Travis Johnson (2012)
Jarron Gilbert (2008) (Co-DPOY with Hawaii's Solomon Elimimian)

Pro Football Hall of Fame

One former SJSU player has been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Bill Walsh attended San Jose State and played quarterback from 1953 to 1955. He went on to be a 3x Super Bowl-winning head coach for the San Francisco 49ers.

Name Years Position Inducted Ref.
Bill Walsh 1953-1955 Head coach 1993

College Football Hall of Fame

One former SJSU player has been inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. Willie Heston attended San Jose State and played halfback from 1898 to 1900, before transferring to University of Michigan and graduating from there.

Name Years Position Inducted Ref.
Willie Heston 1898-1900 Halfback 1954 [31]

San Jose State Sports Hall of Fame


Utah @ San Jose State at Spartan Stadium - 2009

As of fall 2019, 134 SJSU Spartans have gone on to play in the NFL,[32] and ten former Spartans are actively playing in the NFL.[3][33][34] The 134 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.[32][33]

SJSU, Dayton, Arkansas, Eastern Illinois and Pacific are the only schools to produce more than one alumnus who has coached Super Bowl-winning teams.[3]

Current Athletes in the NFL

As of October 6, 2019:[35]

All-time record vs. current Mountain West teams

Record at the conclusion of the 2019 NCAA Division I FBS football season.[36]

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 6 0 .400 Lost 3 1961
Fresno State 38 42 3 .476 Won 1 1921
Hawaii 20 22 1 .477 Won 1 1936
Nevada 9 22 2 .303 Lost 3 1899
New Mexico 14 5 1 .725 Won 2 1954
San Diego State 20 22 2 .477 Won 1 1935
UNLV 18 6 1 .740 Won 1 1981
Utah State 20 18 1 .526 Lost 8 1940
Wyoming 4 7 0 .364 Lost 1 1959
Totals 144 168 11 .463

Notable players and alumni

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

Future non-conference opponents

Announced schedules as of October 24, 2019.[64]


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External links

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