Saturday, January 13, 2007

What's better than beating Fresno State? More significant than winning a bowl game? More last-impact than bringing back your star cornerback? News that a new stadium is on the way.

Seriously, this is probably the most truly significant thing to happen to Spartan athletic facilities in the school's history. It might be the biggest news since two track athletes raised their fists in Mexico City.

A new stadium cements SJSU's Division IA status for the forseeable, regardless of its potential seating limitations. It makes the program far more attractive to recruits. Increases its visibility and attractiveness to local fans. I could go on, but it's getting redundant.

I've always thought SJSU and the Earthquakes were bound to get together on something and this seems to be a potential windfall for both sides. The Spartans retain control over the stadium when they need it and don't have to shell out tens of millions of dollars.

Amazingly, there is a sizable group that is more focused on perceived negatives of this deal.

Yeah, I would prefer something closer to 40,000-capacity. Yeah, they are proposing something closer to 30k. The gap doesn't seem that small and as long as SJSU has the ability to host bigger games when necessary, I don't think it will be a problem.

How would SJSU be able to do this? Hopefully, that's where the South Bay's 'other' new stadium plays a role.

Assuming the 49ers are ever able to build in Santa Clara -- right now it looks like a good possibility -- they are definitely going to be looking to bring in revenue during the 350-odd days the stadium isn't being used every year. I'm sure SJSU would be able to work out a way to host a game or two there when the need arose.

All in all, this seems like a great opportunity for the SJSU

Friday, January 12, 2007

This is the best news of the off season, even better than hearing that we got a new stadium.

Dwight Lowery's return almost ensures a few extra wins and definitely will bring a fair share of hype along with it.

Next season is definitely looking up.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

I'm still gathering my thoughts about the now getting-old football season and there hasn't been much to report there, anyway, but I did want to weigh in on a few things.

1. That close-call to Boise State sure looks a lot better after the Broncos beat Oklahoma. Hope you got to watch that game.

2. Expect a lot more league-wide attention because of that game. I'm telling you, SJSU officials HAVE to strike while the iron is hot and the buzz is still going. This offseason will define a generationg -- for better or worse.

3. If we don't lose anyone leaving early to the NFL Draft, next season could be special, but just how special will be determined by fan turnout. Without strong support, there's no way SJSU gets invited to a reputable bowl game.

On to other things... the Merc has been pretty quiet on the football front lately, but had this story about the basketball team's trip to Duke. An interesting behind-the-scenes look to be sure, and much appreciated. Yet, I found some glaring details missing -- such as SJSU at one point in the second half trailing by just three -- and the level of writing just did not match the level of reporting, which I'm sure is partly due to the relative quick turnaround.

Anyway, it's definitely worth a read.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

I'm guilty. Of what? you ask. Well, according to some guy at the Reno Gazette-Journal, I'm guilty of not believing that Boise State deserves a shot at the BCS title game.y

While I appreciate his sentiment -- I too want a playoff -- I just don't think this particular Boise State team has proven that they belong in the BCS title game. He basically states that based on their 12-0 record, they have done everything possible to show their worth. I just so happen to disagree.

Boise State is a great story. They have brought pride to the WAC. They have not, however, single-handedly made the WAC into a power conference. No matter how you frame the argument, there's just no getting around the fact that there are four teams in the WAC as bad as any in Division I-A. Sure, we have four worthy bowl teams. And you could certainly make the argument that Fresno State is as solid of a middle-of-the-pack outfit as any other out there. But Utah State, LaTech, New Mexico State and Idaho form as soft a conference underbelly as any conference out there -- and that includes the SunBelt. And Boise State went 12-0 at least in part by being allowed to take it easy against those teams.

I certainly would love a playoff. But let's no dilude ourselves into believing this Boise STate team is better than any of the seven teams currently ranked ahead of them in the BCS standings.

Of course, if they beat Oklahoma on New Year's Day, I'll be proven wrong.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Sometimes I wonder what it will take for the San Francisco Chronicle to treat the Spartans like a real division I team and then I see stories like this. Basically, it's a Top 10 Bay Area Sports Stories list and SJSU's amazing 9-4 football season doesn't even make honorable mention. What does?

The A's firing Ken Macha (No. 5), the Warriors fire Mike Montgomery (No. 7), Stanford has worst season (No. 10). Really? Those are BIG stories. Maybe I'm crazy, but I don't remember people getting too excited about any of these things. OK, maybe they filled up sports talk radio time, but is that how we're gauging Top 10 now?

My point? The Chron will always treat SJSU like an afterthought. Oh well.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

We won a bowl game. We won nine games. We did it on national TV and did it in impressive fashion. I'll offer further analysis of the game and season later this week, but for now I'll just give you the links to what the real experts are saying.

On the heels of their most impressive pre-game coverage I've ever seen the Mercury News give the Spartans, they outdid themselves with gameday coverage. They had Mark Purdy on the cover. They had Julie Patel at a local gathering place on the Local front. And they had centerpiece coverage in the sports page. Online, they had a great in-game presence with Jon Wilner blogging from home throughout the game and another impressive audio slideshow. All in all, a great effort from the hometown paper.

Unfortunately, the Chron only gave us AP coverage. But they did give us this pregame coverage.

Amazingly enough, the Santa Fe New Mexican even came through with a Spartan-centric story. That was in addition to standard game coverage.

The Albuquerque Tribune, as the hometown paper, focused more on New Mexico, but they did a good job of covering the event. This story addressed the overall success of the inaugural bowl game, which seemed to play out perfectly in every aspect except the final score.

The Arizona Star (Tucson) gives their former coach some love, read the comments for further insight.
Just AP coverage, but the LA Time does lead its bowl roundup with the Spartans.

And just for good measure, this is the place to go if you want to discuss Spartan football.

Friday, December 22, 2006

I hadn't started blogging yet, but I still feel I owe Adam Tafralis an apology. After the Nevada debacle -- in which he made two of the worst decisions/throws I've ever seen a QB, at any level, make -- I called him dumb and incapable of leading the Spartans to anything meaningful.

While I've never met the guy, he seems intelligent enough in interviews, so I'm going to go ahead and revoke that first statement. And since he's now led the Spartans to their first bowl game in 16 years, I suppose that second part has been proven false as well.

But generally, I just think Tafralis has really blossomed into a decent quarterback. And while he still makes decisions that I would deem less-than-intelligent (always pick up the first down near the end of the game), his stats prove that he makes, by and large, good decisions. You don't amass a 18/7 TD/INT ratio by making bad ones. You don't compile the 16th best passer rating in college football by being a dunderhead. You don't lead your team to four second-half comebacks by losing games for your team. You don't play a near-perfect game against Fresno by accident.

Today's Merc story mainly elaborates on these points. And I'm glad that he doesn't blame his past struggles on lack of faith or anything like that. He seems to be accountable for all his struggles, which I like. He also seems willing to prove he deserves the job next year, as opposed to expecting to have it given to him. I, for one, look forward to him and Sean Flynn battling it out in training camp.

While the situation at QB seems pretty solid, it could be far-less so in the secondary if Dwight Lowery is lured away by the NFL. It's hard to tell a kid, who one year ago was playing at Cabrillo College that he should turn down the guaranteed money of a third-round pick (a few hundred thousand dollars) in order to return to SJSU and risk injury. I will offer this, though: Another season like this one and a 6-foot-1 CB with great hands is probably a first-rounder, set to make a cool million in signing bonus alone.

As far as uplifting stories go David Sullivan's is near the top. He's an Iraq and Afghanistan Marine veteran, who walked on at SJSU. A great story, in fact one that's been told by other media outlets, but oddly not by the Merc, for whatever reason.

And not to be too praiseful, but the New Mexico papers have done an unbelievable job with their coverage. It's not just the bowl, but the Spartans they've covered real well. The Albuqurque Tribune gives us this one today, about Tomey's influence. They also give us this nugget that does a good job highlighting the Lobos' recent struggles and how much their fans expect this to be a cakewalk. It's odd, really, considering the Spartans really do seem to be the better team on paper, something everyone but UNM fans seem to understand.