Team preview: San Jose State

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(All information as of June 20, 2008)


The step back San Jose State head coach Dick Tomey feared his program might take after winning nine games in 2006 came to fruition last season.

Throughout the spring of 2007, Tomey's mantra was to put 2006 in its proper context and focus on what '07 held for the rapidly improving program. Three lopsided losses to start the season made things crystal clear in a hurry.

"When a program hasn't had a lot of success and then suddenly gets it, there are some adjustments you have to make," Tomey said. "It's a process, and sometimes you take a step back, before moving forward again."

After losing at Arizona State, Kansas State and Stanford by a combined 116-17, the Spartans got back on track, winning their next three games. But whatever momentum San Jose State had gained was lost in a crucial overtime defeat at home to Hawaii, a team Tomey once coached in the 1980s. Ahead by two touchdowns late, the Spartans managed to lose, 42-35.

That huge victory kept Hawaii on its path to the Sugar Bowl and sent the Spartans on another three-game slide en route to a 4-4 finish in the WAC. The step back was complete. The question now is, can San Jose State take another big step forward?

Well, the Spartans do welcome back six starters on offense and six on defense from a team that could have avoided a losing season just by winning a close game here or there. San Jose State hadn't managed back-to-back winning seasons in 15 years, so you can see what Tomey is working with here.

The veteran coach is 17-19 since taking over a program on life-support three years ago. He not only led the Spartans to a bowl game in 2006, but won it, giving the players a much-needed belief system and the fans something to cheer about.