Question, InsideTheSpartans.com: Former San Jose State assistant coach Donte Williams was largely credited for the program’s recruiting success in recent years. How big of a hit will his departure be?
Answer, Brandon Huffman: “It’s a big hit because he was probably over the last three years the best recruiter in the Mountain West. Having San Jose State mentioned with recruits, probably when they shouldn’t have been mentioned, because of his relationship with those recruits.
I think Will Harris has a chance to be that same type - he played at USC, he played under Pete Carroll, he tasted success at the collegiate level, he’s a California kid himself. I think he’s trying to make his mark too. He may not have that same resume, Donte came from Washington and Will Harris comes from Dixie State.
Donte went from the Pac-12 to the Mountain West, but was still recruiting like he was in the Pac-12. It’s always a step up coming from a lower level to a bigger level. You wonder, do you look at the same talent through the same lense. But I think Will Harris has a chance to be that energetic recruiter that San Jose State needs to have on their staff.”
Q: Though the Spartans lose their recruiting ace, they have added another veteran coordinator in DC Ron English. What does it mean for San Jose State to have two coordinators like English and Al Borges.
A: “From a pure coaching standpoint, that’s great. From the late 90’s to the early 2000’s those are two of the most well-known coordinators in all of college football. In terms of X’s and O’s, you are very fortunate to have those guys. On the flip side, when you have those veteran guys, recruiting may not be as much of their forte. That’s why you really need to have good recruiters on staff to kind of balance it out. But usually, X’s and O’s outweigh the coaches that are just known for their recruiting.”
Q: Nearly everything we are hearing from coaches, players, recruits and others gives the impression that the San Jose State program is doing things the right way and has been a positive experience for those involved. However, the win totals have been lacking in Caragher’s three years. What is your impression of San Jose State and how soon do they need to start winning more?
A: “It certainly wouldn’t hurt for them to start getting those wins next year. I think that MacIntyre Took them to a level they were so unfamiliar with and showed what good coaching can really do there at San Jose State. But I think they have also recruited well enough these last couple years that the guys they have brought it are getting older and more experienced. You have guys like Jermaine Kelly that transferred in, and his brother - you’re getting more talent. Now it’s a matter of winning with the talent they are getting.
They don’t want to spoil the riches that Donte Williams brought them these last couple years. Even though he’s gone, most of his players are still there. They don’t want to squander that and not have the same type of success when you bring in those caliber recruits.
That being said, it has definitely been a step down from MacIntyre. Though now MacIntyre is seeing the same thing at Colorado where having success at one place doesn’t guarantee the same success elsewhere when you have shadows casting over you.
San Jose State is never going to get the traction from the community like a Fresno State will. It doesn’t take much when you win there, fans will get excited, but they are also not winning consistently enough. People are hesitant to buy-in because they have been burned too many times.”
Q: That being said, the program has survived tough times. How do you look at SJSU today considering the Fittz Hill era and surviving the sinking WAC ship into the Mountain West?
A: “Yeah, It was definitely not good. The strange thing was that Fittz Hill had a PhD and left to be in administration, but the program was absolutely rock-bottom. Dick Tomey really saved that entire program and then MacIntyre took it to another level. Dick Tomey was a long-time head coach that had success at a number of stops. You could probably look at Dick Tomey and say he single-handedly saved the program from extinction.
MacIntyre took it to another level, but you don’t want that to be the peak and then it goes back to dwindling. Caragher is a San Jose area guy, he has been at UCLA, he followed Harbaugh to San Diego. He’s been on the good path, but now it’s a matter of taking the program to another level. You don’t want it to peter out and have MacIntyre’s years as good as it will ever get for the foreseeable future.”