WASHINGTON — The best season in San Jose State history? There’s a good case for it, yet it’s one nobody could make if the person with the awkward role of interim, on-the-way-out coach hadn’t finished the job.
The Spartans are done for the year with an 11-2 record. Ten wins go to Mike MacIntyre, who rebuilt a program that was 1-12 just two years ago before leaving this month for a better payday at Colorado.
Win No. 11 goes to defensive coordinator Kent Baer, who was put in charge and got to speak in a victorious locker room after Thursday’s 29-20 win over Bowling Green in the Military Bowl.
“I didn’t cry, but I wanted to,” Baer said. “I stood tall, took a couple of deep breaths. It’s been a little emotional the last few days.”
Baer wanted to stay at San Jose State, but he was passed over for the full-time job in favor of San Diego’s Ron Caragher and plans to follow MacIntyre to the Buffalos. With all those distractions going on, the No. 24 Spartans could be forgiven for being a little rattled ahead of their first bowl game since 2006.
Instead, San Jose State, in the national rankings for the first time since 1975, capped the year with a seven-game winning streak for its first 11-win season since 1940, recovering quickly from the shock of MacIntyre’s departure with the help of Baer.
“We were kind of, ‘What’s going to happen next year?”’ defensive end Travis Johnson said. “We started thinking too much, and we started trying to figure out what coaches are going to be here, what players are going to be here, and then coach Baer came in the next day and he basically told us that it doesn’t matter — and what we set out to do, we’re going to accomplish.