San Jose St faces Bowling Green in Military Bowl
Maybe they should call it the Transition Bowl.
For the third consecutive year – which accounts for 60 percent
of the lifespan of this particular event – the Military Bowl had
coaching news between the selection date and the game.
Ralph Friedgen was fired by Maryland in 2010, but he was allowed
to coach the game and ended his Terrapins career with a big win
over East Carolina.
Last year, Tim Beckman left Toledo for Illinois, leaving
replacement Matt Campbell to lead a one-point victory over Air
This year, it’s even more complicated.
Having rebuilt San Jose State (10-2), Mike MacIntyre left for
Colorado after the Spartans accepted the bid that will have them
facing Bowling Green (8-4) on Thursday at RFK Stadium. Defensive
coordinator Kent Baer was selected as the interim coach for the
game and wanted the job full-time, but he wasn’t even granted an
Instead, San Diego’s Ron Caragher was hired, and Baer is going
to follow MacIntyre to Colorado.
So, talk about awkward: Caragher has already started to set up
shop with the Spartans during Baer’s final days at the school.
Caragher watched practices back in California last week and
traveled with the team to the nation’s capital as an observer.
”In some ways, it can be very confusing,” said Baer, who also
had an interim bowl gig with Notre Dame in 2004. ”Sometimes it’s
confusing to me, to be honest with you. But once we get out to
practice and we’re handling our business in meetings, it’s this
group of coaches and this group of players that’s been here all
year. That’s how we’re handling it. It’s going to be his football
team after this, but not ’til.”
The shake-up has jarred the players just as they were hoping to
put an exclamation point on perhaps the best season in school
history. The No. 24 Spartans are playing in a bowl for the first
time since 2006, are in the AP rankings for the first time since
1975, and will be trying to win 11 games in a season for the first
time since 1940.
That’s quite a feat considering that San Jose State was 1-12
just two years ago during MacIntyre’s first season. Baer has been
around longer, having joined the Spartans staff in 2008.
”I’ve been here with a group of young men, a couple of coaches,
that have seen some really tough times and seen this thing turn
around,” Baer said. ”Really the goal is – I don’t know if it’s a
parting gift to the university or the kids, or just saying, `Look,
we’ve been in this together. Let’s finish this together. This is
still the 2012 football team. This is the last time we’ll be
together.’ We’re very focused on trying to be the best team ever in
San Jose State history. I’m not doing it for anybody but this group
of men and coaches.”
Bowling Green has a different kind of mission in mind. The
Falcons also rebuilt their program in a hurry – rebounding from
2-10 two years ago – and are one of seven Mid-American Conference
teams in the bowls.
Yet the MAC is off to a rough start: 0-2 so far, both
”We’d like to finish with a statement in the bowl games,”
coach Dave Clawson said. ”It’s going to be a challenge. I think
we’re underdogs in every one of the seven games, but I think that’s
a little bit of the nature of the MAC, that we’re always fighting
uphill. This year we had a very good year in the field and we’d
love nothing more than to finish with a pretty strong performance
in the bowl season.
”But, at the end of the day, Bowling Green only has control
over one of those games, and all we can control is how we play in
the Military Bowl.”
Follow Joseph White on Twitter: http://twitter.com/JGWhiteAP