|San Jose State Spartans|
|Head coach||Brent Brennan |
4th season, 14–29 (.326)
|Location||San Jose, California|
|All-time record||499–521–38 (.490)|
|Bowl record||7–4 (.636)|
|Rivalries||Fresno State (rivalry)|
|Colors||Gold, White, and Blue|
Early history (1893–1972)
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.
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. 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.
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.
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. 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.
Winning era (1973–1992)
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. SJSU garnered its first post-season national ranking in 1990 when the Spartans finished No. 20 in the Coaches Poll.
Two stadium expansions and renovations in the 1980s increased the seating capacity from 18,000 to 30,456.
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.
Dick Tomey era (2005–2009)
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. 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 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.
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)
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 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 Nov. 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.
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. 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. The 2019 team improved to 5–7, missing bowl eligibility by one win. 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). Brennan received a contract extension at the close of the 2019 season.
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.
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.
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. Brennan was named the Mountain West Conference Coach of the Year and also received the 2020 Lombardi Foundation national Coach of the Year award.
- Independent (1892/1893–1921)
- California Coast Conference (1922–1924)
- Independent (1925–1928)
- Far Western Conference (1929–1934)
- Independent (1935–1938)
- California Collegiate Athletic Association (1939–1949)
- Independent (1950–1968)
- Big West Conference (1969–1995)
- Pacific Coast Athletic Association (1969–1987)
- Big West Conference (1988–1995)
- Western Athletic Conference (1996–2012)
- Mountain West Conference (2013–present)
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. 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|
San Jose State has made 11 bowl appearances and the Spartans have an overall bowl game record of 7–4.
|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|
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).
|1893–1898||James E. Addicott|
|1900||James E. Addicott (31⁄2 seasons)||.536|
|1900||Fielding H. Yost (interim)||1.000|
|1923||H.C. McDonald (interim)||.000|
|1950–1956||Robert T. Bronzan||.515|
|2012||Kent Baer (interim)||1.000|
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.
Stanford and San Jose State first played each other in San Jose in 1900. 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.
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.
Stanford leads the series 52–14–1 through the 2019 season.
Individual awards and honors
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (December 2020)
Mountain West Conference awards
Western Athletic Conference (WAC) awards
- Defensive Player of the Year
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.
|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.
San Jose State Sports Hall of Fame
As of fall 2020, 137 SJSU Spartans have gone on to play in the NFL, and eight former Spartans are actively playing in the NFL. 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.
Current Athletes in the NFL
As of March 18, 2021:
|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
|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|
|New Mexico||14||5||1||.725||Won 2||1954|
|San Diego State||20||22||2||.477||Won 1||1935|
|Utah State||20||18||1||.526||Lost 8||1940|
Notable players and alumni
- Courtney Anderson — former NFL tight end, Atlanta Falcons and Oakland Raiders
- Stacey Bailey — former NFL wide receiver, Atlanta Falcons
- Brent Berry — 1964 MVP and former tackle drafted as junior by Oakland Raiders, Los Angeles Rams; played in CFL for the Edmonton Eskimos (CFL)
- Kim Bokamper — former NFL linebacker, Miami Dolphins
- John Broussard — former NFL wide receiver, Jacksonville Jaguars
- Gill Byrd — former NFL defensive back, San Diego Chargers; two NFL Pro Bowl appearances
- Jim Cadile — former NFL guard, Chicago Bears
- Matt Castelo — former NFL linebacker, Seattle Seahawks; former CFL linebacker, Hamilton Tiger-cats
- Steve Clarkson — nationally renowned quarterbacks coach; founder of Steve Clarkson Dreammaker quarterback camp
- Sherman Cocroft — former NFL defensive back, Kansas City Chiefs
- Clarence Cunningham — former AFL wide receiver, defensive back, running back, and kick returner; former AF2 starter, Stockton Lightning; IFL free safety, Catania Elephants
- Neal Dahlen — former SJSU quarterback, NFL manager and scout; holds the record for the most earned Super Bowl rings at seven.
- Rashied Davis — NFL wide receiver, Chicago Bears
- Yonus Davis — CFL running back, BC Lions
- Steve DeBerg — former NFL quarterback, Dallas Cowboys
- David Diaz-Infante — former NFL and CFL offensive guard, San Diego Chargers, Denver Broncos, Philadelphia Eagles, and Sacramento Gold Miners
- Terry Donahue — UCLA head football coach; College Football Hall of Fame inductee (attended SJSU for one year)
- Leon Donohue — former NFL guard, Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers; 1962 NLF All-Rookie team
- Carl Ekern — former NFL linebacker, Los Angeles Rams; one NFL Pro Bowl appearance
- Tyler Ervin — NFL running back, Jacksonville Jaguars and Houston Texans
- David Fales — NFL quarterback, New York Jets, Miami Dolphins and Chicago Bears
- Matt Faulkner — CFL quarterback For Ottawa RedBlacks
- Wilson Faumuina — former NFL defensive tackle, Atlanta Falcons
- Mervyn Fernandez — former NFL wide receiver, Los Angeles Raiders
- Coye Francies — NFL defensive back, Cleveland Browns
- Chon Gallegos — former NFL quarterback with the Oakland Raiders 
- Jeff Garcia — NFL quarterback, San Francisco 49ers et al.; four NFL Pro Bowl appearances
- Trestin George — AFL and CFL wide receiver, San Jose Sabercats and BC Lions
- Jarron Gilbert – NFL defensive tackle, Chicago Bears
- Charlie Harraway — former NFL running back, Washington Redskins and Cleveland Browns
- Jelani Hawkins — former NFL tackle, Houston Texans
- Paul Held — former NFL quarterback, Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers
- Willie Heston — former SJSU halfback; College Football Hall of Fame inductee (attended SJSU from 1898 to 1900; graduated from University of Michigan)
- James Hodgins — former NFL fullback, St. Louis Rams et al.
- Duke Ihenacho — former NFL safety, Washington Redskins and Denver Broncos
- Randy Johnson — former MLB Baseball Player, Atlanta Braves
- Johnny Johnson — former NFL running back, Phoenix Cardinals, New York Jets and San Francisco 49ers; one NFL Pro Bowl appearance; consensus choice for Rookie of the Year (1990)
- Cody Jones — former NFL defensive tackle, Los Angeles Rams; one NFL Pro Bowl appearance
- James Jones — former NFL wide receiver, Oakland Raiders and Green Bay Packers
- Kevin Jurovich — former NFL wide receiver, Philadelphia Eagles; San Francisco 49ers
- Rick Kane — former NFL running back, Detroit Lions
- Keala Keanaaina — American football fullback
- Bob Ladouceur — among winningest high school football coaches in U.S. history; coached De La Salle High Spartans to 151 consecutive wins from 1992 to 2003
- Bill Leavy — NFL referee; officiated Super Bowl XL
- Dwight Lowery — former NFL defensive back, New York Jets and two-time All-American at SJSU
- Ken Lutz — SJSU quarterback, Arena Football League player
- Frank Manumaleuga — former NFL linebacker, Kansas City Chiefs
- Frank Minini — former NFL halfback, Chicago Bears, Pittsburgh Steelers
- Joe Nedney — former kicker for eight NFL teams including the San Francisco 49ers
- William Yaw Obeng — Arena Football League lineman, San Jose Sabercats
- Chris Owens — NFL defensive back, Atlanta Falcons
- Neil Parry — Former SJSU football safety; Most Courageous Athlete Award winner (Philadelphia Sports Writers Association; 2003)
- Mike Perez — former NFL quarterback, New York Giants
- Tom Petithomme — former Arena Football League player, San Jose Sabercats
- Art Powell — former NFL wide receiver, Oakland Raiders; Raiders' 7th all-time leading receiver
- Waylon Prather — former NFL punter, New Orleans Saints, New York Jets and Arizona Cardinals
- David Quessenberry — offensive tackle, Tennessee Titans and Houston Texans; cancer survivor
- David Richmond — former NFL wide receiver, Cincinnati Bengals
- Scott Rislov — former Arena Football League quarterback, San Jose Sabercats
- Saint Saffold — former NFL player, Cincinnati Bengals
- Al Saunders — former NFL head coach for the San Diego Chargers
- Wes Schweitzer — NFL offensive guard, Atlanta Falcons
- Rufus Skillern — former CFL and NFL wide receiver, BC Lions and Baltimore Ravens
- Gerald Small — former NFL defensive back, Miami Dolphins
- Keith Smith — NFL fullback and former linebacker, Atlanta Falcons, Oakland Raiders and Dallas Cowboys
- Shane Smith — former NFL fullback, New York Giants and New Orleans Saints
- Carl Sullivan — former NFL defensive end, Green Bay Packers
- Adam Tafralis — CFL quarterback, Hamilton Tiger-Cats
- Tyson Thompson — former NFL kick returner, Dallas Cowboys
- Bob Titchenal — former NFL linebacker, Washington Redskins and Los Angeles Dons; one Pro Bowl appearance; former head football coach, New Mexico and SJSU
- Dick Vermeil — NFL head coach; winning coach, Super Bowl XXXIV
- Bill Walsh — NFL head coach; winning coach, Super Bowl XVI, Super Bowl XIX, and Super Bowl XXIII; Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee
- Gerald Willhite — former NFL running back, Denver Broncos
- Billy Wilson — former NFL receiver, San Francisco 49ers; six NFL Pro Bowl appearances
- Louis Wright — former NFL defensive back, Denver Broncos; 1st round NFL draft pick; five NFL Pro Bowl appearances
- Roy Zimmerman — former NFL quarterback, Washington Redskins; one Pro Bowl appearance
Future non-conference opponents
Announced schedules as of October 24, 2019.
|at Central Michigan||Southern Utah||Portland State||Cal Poly||Sacramento State||Central Michigan||UTEP||Akron||Toledo|
|UC Davis||at USC||at Auburn||at Ohio State||at USC||at South Florida||Portland State||at UConn|
|at Penn State||at Western Michigan||Western Michigan||at Toledo||Oregon State||at UTEP|
|UConn||New Mexico State||at New Mexico State||California||at Akron|
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