Ron Caragher will coach San Jose State in 2015, with athletic director Gene Bleymaier saying, “it’s not even a point of discussion.”
That’s not news. It’s exactly what I expected and I’m sure even the most ardent naysayer expected as well. For so many reasons, despite this year’s obvious regression, it’s too early to pull the plug.
There’s the obvious financial component of nearly $800,000. There’s the whole stability of the program component. The current recruiting class could be decimated and future classes hurt as well by a coach being dismissed after just two years.
And then there’s Caragher’s history. This same trend has been seen from him before, when he took over for Jim Harbaugh at San Diego. That was a little different because he won a conference title and the team was still pretty good the first two years (although with Harbaugh’s recruits at the FCS level, maintaining that should be more doable). After two down years, his team’s rebounded to win two conference titles and that helped land him the job at San Jose State.
Nobody likes to experience those down years and Caragher could’ve built quite a bit of equity if the 2013 team had performed more up to standard and reached a bowl game. But Bleymaier hand-picked him to lead this program and he’s going to exhaust everything he has available to him to see that Caragher succeeds and that means he’ll get another year and probably at least two more (although if next year is really bad he may not have a choice).
Bleymaier’s legacy is tied to Caragher. He built a great career at Boise State, oversaw them reaching two BCS bowl games and has a building named after him. But it can’t be forgotten that he was eventually fired as the program was hit with NCAA violations. His time here at San Jose State is a chance to re-write his final chapter. If the man that helped build Boise State into a power can put San Jose State — a school with much greater challenges — on the map, it’ll only further the way his career is viewed.
As for the more pressing issues that came from Caragher’s final press conference of the year, please read my story that will be in tomorrow’s papers and is up online right now. That covers the majority of the topics of the day.
Here’s a few other items I didn’t get to:
***Caragher will spend most of the next two weeks on the road recruiting, then return during the quiet period and sit down 1-on-1 with every player and coach to “assess their position with the program.” He’ll also be doing that assessment on all of the team’s schemes as well.
Caragher said it was too early to discuss any possible changes to his coaching staff, but that it’ll be under review. I would say there’s a zero percent chance this staff comes back fully in tact.
For one, guys like defensive coordinator Greg Robinson and especially defensive backs coach Donté Williams will be in demand. (Williams is a stud recruiter who coached a secondary that had the No. 1 passing defense in the country. Even if that’s somewhat inflated based on how teams ran the ball against them, it’s impressive nonetheless and I’d be shocked if Pac-12 schools don’t come calling for Williams).
Beyond that, you don’t have the kind of failures this team experienced and not make any changes. It seems like some chatter has already begun, based on this Tweet I received from @FootballScoop (and those guys are always on top of all coaching changes).
@[email protected] I ve been hearing whispers of staff changes. Nothing concrete yet
— FootballScoop Staff (@FootballScoop) December 1, 2014
Many will point to offensive coordinator Jimmie Dougherty after the offense was last in the conference in scoring and delivered just 14 points over the final three games. I like Dougherty. He’s a straight shooter and probably the best coach on staff to interview (not that that matters here). I’d like to see what he can do with a quarterback he’s comfortable with and has recruited. Caragher seemed to stand up for him today when he said that he and Dougherty like to run a wide open offense and were handcuffed by what they thought the players could execute. That could be seen as a little public acknowledgement that he wants Dougherty back and I think if it’s fully up to Caragher, Dougherty will be back. But if the AD gets involved and demands changes, who knows what could happen?
***Caragher talked leadership and how the offense was a bit void of leaders this year. He’s pointed to guys that could’ve been leaders if they hadn’t been hurt, such as Billy Freeman and Thomas Tucker. He also thinks Tyler Winston, Wes Schweitzer and Jeremiah Kolone will be leaders next year. He included Joe Gray in that bunch as well, even if he said he won’t be “the annointed starter.”
On defense, he likes Christian Tago, Tony Popovich, Maurice McKnight, Jimmy Pruitt and Cleveland Wallace III as leaders, while noting they need to keep Tago and Popovich healthy for a full season. But he said all of those guys need to become a little louder and more vocal because they are the guys who control the team when they are away from the coaches.
***Caragher talked a bit about the running back position. He loved what Tyler Ervin did this year (my guess is Ervin is the team MVP), but thought he could’ve really been helped if he had some … well, help. Having Jarrod Lawson or Thomas Tucker to spell him would’ve have been big in terms of keeping him fresh because Caragher thought he wore down a little bit late in the season. As for Brandon Monroe and Limihai Hifo, he said both weren’t just there yet and hopes they can develop a little more to contribute down the road.
***Caragher expects the team to be mostly healthy entering spring. A few guys will need some minor surgeries. The only major surgery is reserve defensive lineman Lemaki Musiki, who will need shoulder surgery. Other than that, most guys should be back when spring ball begins some time in February.
He’s not sure about the time table for Jared Leaf. He thought they might’ve gotten him back late this year, but that didn’t happen. He still expects him to return to football though so hopefully that happens in spring.
***He can’t say anything really on recruits, but did say he expects at least a couple guys to be here in the spring. I know dual-threat QB Seth Collins is one that plans to graduate early and be here. I’m not sure who else might be coming early. As we saw last year with Maurice McKnight, it really helps. It sounds like this year they will actually announce those guys when they officially sign in a couple weeks. Typically, San Jose State waits until the regular signing day to announce everybody, even ones who are already signed and they are already able to comment on. In my opinion, that’s wasting an opportunity to get your name out there in the news, so hopefully they take advantage and announce those guys when they sign.
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