Gary Bernardi Brings Wealth Of Experience

During last Thursday's press conference when San Jose State introduced four new members of Coach Mike MacIntyre's staff, Inside Sparta was able to speak with new offensive line coach Gary Bernardi. Coach Bernardi spoke about his decision to come to San Jose State, his philosophy on the type of linemen that he likes to recruit, and how the recruiting has gone thus far.

In his thirty seasons as a major college football coach, Gary Bernardi has had lengthy stops at some of the biggest college football programs in the west. Six seasons at the University of Southern California, 11 seasons at UCLA, and seven seasons at the University of Arizona make an impressive resume. For the past five seasons Bernardi has been the recruiting coordinator and offensive line coach at UNLV. So, when asked what was it about the job of coaching the offensive line at San Jose State that attracted him, he was quick to answer. "I really appreciated, and I really like the approach in the way that Coach (Mike) MacIntyre and I interacted and handled the transition," said Bernardi. "There was a nice mesh. There was a nice chemistry, in particular in (the) thought process towards offense and how (he) wanted the offensive line coached."

Bernardi also made a strong connection with newly hired San Jose State offensive coordinator Hugh Freeze. "I think that what he's looking for, what I like, and how I like to handle things, we're on the same page. I think that's the key," said Bernardi.

Although Bernadi did not know MacIntyre prior to his being approached regarding the San Jose State position, they did have some common friends in the coaching community that, as Bernadi said "helped develop that (relationship)" "Needless to say you have common friends," said Bernardi. "But, when it gets down to it, you have to have common thoughts and nuts and bolts of an every day program. That part went real smooth. I just thought Coach McIntyre just handled everything very professionally."

Another thing that attracted Bernardi to San Jose State was the program's proximity to those recruiting areas that he knows very well, specifically within California. "I think you could say it's close to home, which is always nice in regards to recruiting connections and things you can continue on," said Bernardi. "In regards to recruiting, I think the continuity that you can keep, it's amazing how many phone calls you get, that there's a guy out there, and that type of thing. It doesn't mean you always recruit them, but I think that was important."

When asked about the type of offensive lineman he was looking for while on the recruiting circuit, Bernardi indicated that pure size was not necessarily a key factor. "I think in today's world, unless you're just a smash mouth offense, you have to find kids that are fairly athletic," said Bernardi. "What I really look for is the competiveness, and toughness, and intangibles that make kids good players." Intelligence is also a key quality that Bernadi looks for. "I think they have to be smart, because there's so much going on in that short period of time between the play being called and the ball being snapped," said Bernardi. "They've got to be communicating and they've got to be smart. Book smart and football smarts, there's a difference in that. GPA and football smarts are not always parallel."

Bernardi is excited about the players that he's been recruiting the past couple of weeks. "I really like the kids," said Bernardi. "If we can get a handful of the core group of kids that we've been recruiting, that's going to be great.

"I'd like to get three or four guys that have those things, those intangibles, the attitude and character, and football smarts are really important. I want football to be important to them. I want what we do to be important to them. I want them to be doing well in school and that being important to them. I think that all works hand in hand."

Because school has not been in session since Bernardi was hired, the coach has yet to meet many of the returning Spartan players. "I have met a handful of them," said Bernadi. "I think they're attracted to the vision that Coach (MacIntyre) has on offense and defense and the vision Coach Freeze has."

Bernardi is not concerned about the struggles the Spartans' offensive line has experienced the past couple of seasons. "I don't know anything about what's gone on in the past," said Bernardi. "What's happened and what's gone on before, has gone on before. I'm just moving forward and not looking in the rear view mirror. "We're going to try and create a unit of togetherness that communicates; one of toughness; one of trying to protect the quarterback the best we can, and making the run game efficient."

Bernardi is experienced enough to know that his new offensive line is going to have both ups and downs. "There's probably going to be some times when it looks like you're making progress, and some times it looks like you're hitting a wall. But, there's going to be progress, and we're going to get better and continue to work."


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

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