Andrew Pang - Scout

Commentary: Disqualified

San Jose State has been disqualified from bowl eligibility with a loss at Boise State. The Spartans' head coach Ron Caragher might be disqualified himself, if reviewed on the same scale used on SJSU students.

When I first enrolled at San Jose State University a number of years ago, the course catalog was one of the first items I bought from the campus bookstore. Around 50 pages towards the end of the book contain academic and administrative policies and are marked in gray. One section of those gray pages is titled “Disqualification and Probation” and outlines that students whose cumulative grade point averages fall below a C average are subject to academic probation. On a sliding scale depending on class year, students on probation will be academically disqualified should their grades fall further.

Who would have thought that the course catalog contained a perfect analogy to the Ron Caragher era of San Jose State football? Suppose that a 12-game football season were weighed like a four-point grading system. As 12 divided by four equals three, the number of wins divided by three would produce a theoretical grade point average per season.

Caragher’s first season in 2013, in which he had only a 6-6 record to show for inheriting many starters from an 11-2, top-25 season, would have a 2.0 GPA. The 2014 season, with a 3-9 record, would have a 1.0 GPA and drop Caragher’s cumulative football GPA to 1.5. As described earlier, this lower cumulative GPA would put Caragher on probation if he were a student.

Although the 2015 team went 5-7 in the regular season, the team qualified for the inaugural Cure Bowl due to a lack of qualifying 6-6 teams for every available bowl spot. San Jose State won that game and finished 6-7 in 2015. While a 6-7 record would return a GPA of less than 2.0, let’s give Caragher a bonus point for winning a bowl game, similar to how high school students can earn weighted grades for taking Advanced Placement classes. The “unweighted” GPA for the 2015 season would be 1.85, but it would be a weighted 2.85. With the bowl grade weight, Caragher’s “junior year” GPA after the 2015 season becomes 1.95, enough to remain enrolled albeit still on probation.

Coming off a bowl win, many fans had high expectations for Caragher’s “senior season” of 2016. Those expectations turned to concern after Tulsa ran San Jose State off the field early with a 45-10 blowout to open their seasons. Before long, San Jose State was 1-5, for the worst first half of the Caragher era. On Friday night at Boise State, San Jose State fell to 3-7 after a 45-31 loss. This seventh loss officially disqualifies San Jose State from a bowl game, and Boise State’s long, run-heavy drives in the second half perfectly symbolized the slow, painful death of San Jose State’s bowl eligibility. If the grading period ended today, Caragher would get only a 1.2 GPA in his “senior year” for winning just 30 percent of games.

Okay, okay, you might wonder, “what’s the point in reading all this?” The answer: It is a creative way to show that Friday night’s loss should be the loss that officially disqualifies Caragher from being head coach of the San Jose State football program. To move on with the analogy with the academic policies, Caragher’s cumulative GPA is now 1.76, which would disqualify Caragher as a student because San Jose State requires senior-year students on academic probation to maintain a 1.95 or higher GPA.

However, those who have observed the team’s play since 2013 have seen countless examples of why Caragher is not the answer to Mike MacIntyre’s sudden resignation that followed the 10-2 regular season in 2012. How many times do we need to hear cringe-worthy remarks to media like “were we favored?”, “I’m very pleased we won’t have to face [Keenan Reynolds] again,” or “built for the WAC”? How many times do we need to see the defense struggle to contain opposing teams late in games? Even without all this technical information comparing Caragher’s seasons to college grades, failing to reach the minimum six wins for bowl eligibility for the third straight season should be an obvious sign that it is time for new leadership in San Jose State football. The players, campus community, and fans deserve better than the mess they have experienced for the past three years.

By the way, San Jose State athletic director Gene Bleymaier had the same position at Boise State for nearly three decades before getting the job at San Jose State. One wonders if he met former Boise State associates who nagged him about the way his new school’s football team was playing. If the fourth straight losing season is not enough to convince Bleymaier that it is time for a change, it calls into question his decision-making skills.

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