SJSU Coaching Search Down To Final Four

With the targeted date of having a new head coach named fast approaching, and our sources telling us that there are four finalists, Inside Sparta takes a stab at who the four finalists for the San Jose State job might be.

Based on the comments made by San Jose State Athletic Director Tom Bowen during Head Coach Dick Tomey's retirement announcement on November 16th, San Jose State should be entering the home stretch in their search for a new head football coach. Bowen indicated that the school wants to have the new coach named before the end of the current semester. Final exams end on Thursday, December 17th, so it appears very likely that the announcement will come in the next few days. In the 25 days that have elapsed since that announcement, the names numerous of potential candidates have swirled around internet message boards and television and print media outlets. Inside Sparta sources have indicated that, as of today, no final decision has been made, but the list has been trimmed to four final candidates. Our sources also indicated that final interviews have not yet been concluded.

Trying to determine the names of the final four candidates, and which of them has the best chance at becoming the new head coach, takes a certain amount of guesswork on our part. Based on what we've been told, here is who we believe San Jose State has had the most interest in.

David Shaw – Offensive Coordinator at Stanford:
Shaw is clearly a coach whose career is on the rise. Whether or not he's quite ready to be the head coach at an FBS school is a question that needs to be asked. San Jose State may be wary of hiring a coach under the age of 40. Given that, it seems unlikely that Shaw would be San Jose State's first choice, but may have a chance if other candidates rated above him pass on the job.

Rob Ianello – Wide Receiver Coach & Recruiting Coordinator at Notre Dame:
We believe San Jose State had serious interest in Ianello prior to his being named the new head coach at Akron this past week.

Ron Caragher – Head Coach at the University of San Diego:
Caragher, who replaced Jim Harbaugh as San Diego's head coach in 2007, has roots in the South Bay, having been raised in Morgan Hill and graduating from Bellarmine Prep. Caragher also has D1-A coaching experience as an assistant at both UCLA and Kentucky. After back-to-back 9-2 seasons in 2007 and 2008 as San Diego's head coach, Caragher's team slipped to 4-7 in 2009, which could be a sign that his early success had more to do with his having Harbaugh's recruits.

Jim McElwain – Offensive Coordinator at Alabama:
McElwain is highly regarded at Alabama, who will face Texas in the BCS National Championship next month. As quarterback coach at Fresno State in 2007-08, McElwain was instrumental in turning Tom Brandstater into one of the top quarterbacks in the WAC. He has a wealth of D1-A coaching experience, having also coached at Louisville (2000-02) and Michigan State (2003-05). Local television station NBC11 reported that McElwain interviewed with San Jose State. It would seem very likely that McElwain is one of the finalists and is high on San Jose State's short list.

Bobby Hauck – Head Coach at Montana:
Several San Jose State "insiders" are adamant that Hauck is the guy. Hauck's success as the head coach at Montana the past seven seasons (80-16 / .833 overall; 40-6 / .869 Big Sky Conf.) makes it understandable that San Jose State would have a very strong interest in speaking with Hauck. The problem, however, is that Hauck's team has been in the FCS playoffs for the past several weeks, which has limited his availability to interview. Unless an interview was done over the phone, or someone from San Jose State travelled to Missoula, Montana, it would seem unlikely that Hauck could be considered a viable candidate, much less a finalist. Reducing the chance of Hauck being considered is his team's 24-17 victory over Appalachian State on Saturday, which means that their season will not be completed until after the FCS championship game on Friday, December 18th. San Jose State may already have a coach named by that point. If they don't, then Hauck has to be considered a very strong candidate.

Tom Rathman – Running Backs Coach – San Francisco 49ers:
Our sources indicate one coach from the NFL is in the final four. Rathman did interview for the position, but whether or not he's made the cut remains to be seen. Working against Rathman is his limited college experience. He was offensive coordinator at Menlo College in 1996, and has worked in the NFL since that time (49ers, Oakland Raiders, and Detroit Lions). Due to his lack of experience at the collegiate level, and as a coordinator beyond his one season at Menlo, Rathman has to be viewed as a long shot.

Mark Banker – Defensive Coordinator at Oregon State:
No word as the whether or not San Jose State has interviewed Banker, but he is known to be interested in landing a head coaching position after being an assistant at Oregon State for the past seven seasons. Other coaching stints include Stanford (2002) and Hawaii (1995). Our source indicated that at least one of the finalists is a coach from an FBS school that is headed to a bowl game. Banker, who has also been mentioned as a candidate for the UNLV job, fits that description.

Sonny Dykes – Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks Coach at Arizona:
Put Dykes in the same category as Banker. His name came up very early on in the rumor circles. No confirmation as to whether or not he has interviewed at San Jose State. But, given his background and success as a recruiter, it would not be a surprise if San Jose State had interest.

Given the high level of interest in the job from potential candidates, and the quality of those candidates, it would seem unlikely that the new coach is going to be hired from within. That would rule out either wide receiver coach Ken Margerum or defensive coordinator Keith Burns.

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Mike Morgan is a Senior Editor for Inside Sparta. You may contact Mike with any questions, comments, or tips at

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