Caragher introduced as Spartans coach

Bay Area native Ron Caragher is back home.

Caragher, who was introduced as the new football coach at San

Jose State on Monday, still has family in nearby Morgan Hill and

plans to be in the area before boarding a plane to watch the

Spartans play at the Military Bowl in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 27

two days later.

”This is a homecoming for me,” Caragher said. ”I used to

attend Spartan camps in the summer and as a high school player I

watched games and played in games at Spartan Stadium.”

Caragher, who spent the past six years at San Diego, replaces

Mike MacIntyre to become the 28th coach at the school. He signed a

five-year contract a week after MacIntyre left to take the head job

at Colorado. The No. 24 Spartans finished the regular season

10-2.

After the 1-12 season two years ago featuring a heavy schedule

of ranked teams, the Spartans went 5-7 in MacIntyre’s second season

last year before this season’s rise to become a nationally

respected program.

”Things were up in the air when we didn’t know much,” Spartans

quarterback David Fales said. ”We finally have a coach again and

we can get back to work.”

Caragher replaced Jim Harbaugh, who is coaching the San

Francisco 49ers, at San Diego, where he compiled a 44-22 record

with three conference championships. He’s also been an assistant

coach at UCLA, Kentucky.

Harbaugh learned Monday afternoon that San Jose State had hired

Caragher, and called him a ”wonderful, wonderful, wonderful guy

and coach.”

”I would stop back down there when I was in San Diego. Talked

on the phone many times and just through players who were still

there at USD,” Harbaugh said. ”Like I said when I’d be recruiting

in San Diego I’d always stop by the trailer and see if anybody was

there. Ron’s been up here recruiting in the Bay Area when I was

over at Stanford. We’d run into each other. Great guy. Great guy,

great family. My son will be disappointed. He’s friends with Ron’s

son. They go to the same high school. But that’s great. Great hire

by San Jose State.”

”He talked to us a team,” Fales said of Caragher. ”From

everything I’ve heard he’s a down-to-earth person who really cares

about his players.”

Caragher attended Bellarmine Prep in San Jose before going on to

UCLA, where he spent four years as a backup quarterback.

”Being at San Diego, we would recruit the Bay Area,” Caragher

said. ”I’ve always come up every December and I had a trip planned

this year. Northern California has been very good to us and I hope

it can continue to be good.”

San Jose State athletic director Gene Bleymaier said Caragher

was always an option as a potential candidate.

”I have followed Coach Caragher’s career for some time,” said

Bleymaier, who came to San Jose State from Boise State. ”I’ve

always hoped I would have the opportunity to hire him here at some

point. Little did I know it would be so soon.”

Bleymaier said the selection committee vetted about 10

candidates and brought in five for formal interviews.

”What impressed me about Ron was everything,” Bleymaier said.

”From his reputation, his background, his local roots, it was a

total package.”

Caragher has been nominated for the Eddie Robinson Coach of the

Year, which recognizes the top coach in the Football Championship

Subdivision.

When San Jose State wide receiver Jabari Carr was introduced to

Caragher, the coach quickly asked him to assume his stance and took

a minute for a quick lesson.

”I’m impressed with how far this team came,” Caragher said.

”That took commitment. I’m excited for this challenge and this

opportunity.”

AP Sports Writer Janie McCauley contributed to this report from

San Francisco.