Another school year has come to an end at San Jose State University. Students have now seen their final grades for the semester, and the annual commencement ceremony took place at Spartan Stadium on Saturday.
If coaches also had grades to view on MySJSU, what would their grades be? In this edition of the Spartan Athletics Gradebook, we evaluate the performances of the coaches of the teams whose seasons began and ended within the fall 2015 semester: football, soccer, volleyball, cross country, and men’s water polo.
Special thanks to Inside the Spartans message board poster SierraSpartan for making weekly “MWC Gradebook” posts during football season that presents mock grades of the Mountain West football teams. However, let’s save Sierra’s snark and biting wit for the message boards.
Football (Coach: Ron Caragher)
2015 record: 6-7 (4-4 MW, tied for 2nd in West Division)
Postseason: Won Cure Bowl 27-16 over Georgia State.
Season evaluation: In Caragher’s third season, this year’s team was a vast improvement from last year’s 3-9 nightmare. The red zone scoring rate improved from 67% in 2014 to 89% in 2015, and the offensive attack showed in two early wins over New Hampshire (43-13) and Fresno State (49-23) and came through in crucial points in a 33-27 OT win at UNLV. However, the offense showed some flaws, such as scoring nothing in the second half in a 35-21 loss to Oregon State, after San Jose State had a 21-14 halftime lead, and faltering in a 30-7 homecoming loss to San Diego State.
Run defense continued to be a problem for the team in 2015, with the team giving up 5.1 yards per rush, hardly an improvement from the 5.4 given up last year. In a 35-21 loss to Auburn, the Spartans gave up 4.9 yards per rush, and Auburn had 48 rushing plays and only 10 passing plays. Despite trailing 21-10 early, Nevada was able to stay in contention with plenty of first downs by run plays and rally to a 37-34 OT win.
Also, the way San Jose State qualified for a bowl in 2015 with a 5-7 regular season record cannot be repeated. The team had two losses that were within a score, the Nevada game and a 17-16 loss to BYU where a failed two-point conversion was the difference. Winning just one of these games would have automatically qualified San Jose State for a bowl. If not for having among the top Academic Progress Rates in Division I FBS in 2015 and a Power Conference team turning down bowl invites, the team would be watching bowl games on TV instead of playing one in Florida. Caragher should consider himself lucky for now; next year will not be so forgiving.
Caragher grade for fall 2015: C-. He gets a passing grade for winning a bowl game, but a grade symbol deduction for not achieving a .500 or better record and not qualifying for a bowl game the regular way.
Men’s soccer (Coach: Simon Tobin)
2015 record: 6-11-2 (4-4-2 WAC, 6th place)
Season evaluation: In Tobin’s second season as Spartan head coach, the team finished with the same record (both overall and conference) and same conference standing as last year. Also, the team was bounced in the first round of the WAC Tournament for the second straight season. In spite of this stagnant win-loss record, two players in last year’s all-WAC second team moved up to the first team in 2015: junior striker Rory Knibbs and junior midfielder Simon Colunga. Also, the Spartans’ shots-on-goal percentage improved slightly from 43.9% in 2014 to 44.8% in 2015. More significantly, opponents’ shots-on-goal percentage went down from 43.0% to 40.6%.
Tobin grade for fall 2015: D. Despite a losing record, there are some signs of improvement.
Women’s soccer (Coach: Lauren Hanson)
2015 record: 10-8-4 (8-3 MW, 2nd place)
Postseason: MW Tournament champion; lost NCAA Tournament first round to Stanford 2-0.
Season summary: It took just three years of the university’s affiliation with the Mountain West for Spartan women’s soccer to mark an important milestone: winning San Jose State’s first-ever Mountain West championship. Winning that title was no easy task, because both MW Tournament wins required penalty kicks.
The team jumped five spots from its previous seventh-place finish in the MW that resulted from a 5-5-1 MW record (8-8-3 overall). In 2014, junior goalkeeper Zoe Makrigiannis was the only all-conference honoree on the team. Makrigiannis ended her college soccer career with both first-team all-MW and Defensive Player of the Year honors in 2015, and four other players joined her with all-MW honors: sophomore forward Dorthe Hoppius and senior forward Darlene Rodriguez (both first team), freshman forward Darriell Franklin (second team), and senior defender Rachel Docherty (honorable mention). Hoppius and Makrigiannis also earned national all-region honors. Hanson also won the MW Coach of the Year award.
Hanson grade for fall 2015: A. The team has accomplished much under Hanson’s leadership and delivered the message that San Jose State does belong in the conference. Other programs on campus should follow through with titles of their own.
Women’s volleyball (Coach: Jolene Shepardson)
2015 record: 13-18 (5-13 MW, tied for 9th place)
Season evaluation: Shepardson inherited a team that went 8-23 in 2013 under Oscar Crespo. In her first season as head coach in 2014, only two players returned from the previous season and the team went 4-27 (1-17 MW). The results of 2015 reflected on the increased collective experience of her team. The Spartans won the UMass Lowell Invitational and had winning records in two other invitational tournaments. In conference play, the team swept rival Fresno State and beat third-place finisher Wyoming, who went 23-7 on the season. Senior outside hitter Tyanna Roy earned honorable mention all-MW honors and became the first volleyball player to earn all-conference honors since Hanah Blume in 2013.
Shepardson grade for fall 2015: Incomplete. Given that the roster was heavily overhauled in Shepardson’s first year, it would not be fair to assign a grade to Shepardson with the young roster she has. Volleyball has had success at San Jose State in the past but took a downturn during the Crespo years. It is still up in the air if Shepardson will bring back the winning records from the Craig Choate era.
Men’s cross country (Coach: Jeff Petersmeyer)
2015 MW Championship result: 6th place of 8
Postseason: NCAA West Regional Championship, 14th of 30 (also second among MW teams, behind fifth-place Boise State)
Season evaluation: The team won the Santa Clara Invitational and appeared in its second straight NCAA Tournament. This year’s sixth-place finish in the Mountain West Tournament was a historic high and improvement from two straight eighth place finishes in previous years, and its 14th place finish in the NCAA West Regional Championships was an improvement from 18th place last year and best finish in regionals since at least 2003.
Petersmeyer (men’s XC) grade for fall 2015: C, for improving in conference competition and NCAA regional competition, as well as winning an invitational.
Women’s cross country (Coach: Jeff Petersmeyer)
2015 MW Championship result: 8th place of 11
Postseason: NCAA West Regional Championship, 8th of 11 (second among MW teams, behind second-place Boise State)
Season evaluation: The team’s second-place finish in the Santa Clara Invitational was the highest finish in an invitational in the Mountain West era. In NCAA West Regionals, the team improved from 33rd of 34 in 2014 to 18th of 35 in 2015.
Petersmeyer (women’s XC) grade for fall 2015: C, for showing significant improvements this season like with men’s XC. However, a B or better grade will only come with a better performance in the Mountain West championships.
Men’s water polo (Coach: Bruce Watson)
2015 record: 4-25 (0-9 MPSF, 10th place)
Season evaluation: Men’s water polo at San Jose State resumed competition this year following a hiatus of over three decades. Nearly half of the team transferred from other colleges, and another half were freshmen. Of the team’s four wins this year, two were against non-Division I schools, Division II Fresno Pacific and a junior college, Diablo Valley.
Watson grade for fall 2015: Incomplete. Watson is starting a program from scratch, so this one year does not paint an accurate picture of his coaching capabilities. However, Watson deserves credit for helping to reinstate the program in the first place.
Later this week: The Gradebook will evaluate spring sports: basketball, baseball, softball, beach volleyball, gymnastics, golf, swimming & diving, tennis, track & field, and women’s water polo.