Thursday, May 5, 2011

Did Conference Expansion Actually Save San Jose State?

 It has been a long time since the San Jose State Spartans were even a legitimate part of the conversation when it came to their football program in the Western Athletic Conference. Sure there are brought up in certain circles, but those particular conversations are whether or not their football program will continue to operate.

If you follow the WAC you have heard the rumors about the university's athletic department being short on funds. So much so that most believed the football program would not survive much longer.

But with every season that comes around, the Spartans are always able to run a competitive team on the field. Not only that, but second year head coach Mike McIntyre continues to recruit players who want to come to San Jose State and play for him.

Spartans Football: San Jose State vs Louisiana Tech (11/27/2010)
Alex Baranda/Examiner
The question now is, how long will San Jose State continue to run out a program that gets little to no support from it's student body and it doesn't help when the school is in a fan base usually reserved for Stanford and Cal.

Popular opinion would lead you to believe there is no reason the football team should continue to operate. They will never be able to battle the likes of Fresno State, Nevada, Hawaii and even Utah State. Even the popular "if you build it, they will come" phrase would hold true for just about every other university except for the one near the heart of Silicon Valley.

Could their fortunes be changing in the coming years? We know Fresno State, along with Nevada and Hawaii will be joining Boise State in the Mountain West Conference after the 2011 season, which will make San Jose State one of the more talented programs in the WAC.

They will have a bigger budget, most of it being used on a substantially larger travel costs according to Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury News.

In an article Wilner wrote in November of last year, he correctly sites the addition of new teams such as the University of Texas-San Antonio, Texas State, and Denver to the WAC coming for the start of the 2012 college football season.

When Hawaii departs, San Jose State will be the school who has the best chance of being one of the top programs in the conference. Had it not been for conference expansion this past off season, we may be seeing the end of a football program that used to be rich in tradition.

Coach McIntyre and the Spartans' football program will undoubtedly face one more tough season in the WAC, especially having to deal with rival Fresno State along Nevada, the defending WAC champion coming into 2011, and Hawaii who has always been a tough team to deal with.

So while we used to wonder when SJSU was going away, the question now may become how much can they improve the program and can they be the WAC's next version of Boise State?

The tide could be turning and just in the nick of time. San Jose State needed a miracle to be able to keep the football offices open. They might want to send a 'Thank You' card to BYU because it's quite possible SJSU will get a large pay day for playing a road game up in Provo, UT

While the WAC did not want to lose four of their top programs, SJSU was silently celebrating because the conference's loss will ultimately be their gain.

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