The redshirt senior was hospitalized at the end of last year with viral meningoencephalitis, and doctors told him his football career was over. He was able to battle back to play this season. He is the second San Jose State player to win the award, following Neil Parry in 2003.
He will be honored at a banquet at the Orange Bowl in January.
He had beaten cancer once before, having been diagnosed with it in 2008 and going into remission in 2009. He had a recurrence recently.
Tully helped found the program in the late 1990s after years coaching at different levels, including founding a club team (San Jose Splash) and a stint at Menlo Junior College in the early going.
Tully was one of several coaches who came back home to San Jose State. He played water polo for the school in the 1960s and got his master’s degree there in 1970. Unlike so many other coaches at San Jose State, he had a winning record — 250 wins, 245 losses in 16 seasons at the helm, and the Spartans were ranked in the top 10 nationally 12 times in his career, including top 5 finishes in 2001 and 2011.
To quote Spartan Athletics obituary: “Since 1999, Spartan water polo players earned 24 All-America awards and 32 Association of Collegiate Water Polo Coaches (ACWPC) All-American Academic awards since 2009.”
His passing comes on the eve of the season on the eve of the season. The Spartans were set to open the season on Jan. 11 at Cal State Monterey Bay. Associate head coach Johnny Bega will likely take over the team.
Chandler Jones turned a 15-touchdown, 79-catch season into a spot on the honorable mention list for Sports Illustrated’s All-America team, the only San Jose State player to land on the team. The Mountain West landed a slough of honorable mentions from the magazine, but no actual spots on the first or second team.
The team’s top two recruits were the show: Rashad Muhammad, in continuing with what is becoming tradition for the Spartans, led in scoring with 21 points, including a 3-pointer in the final minutes that gave them the lead for good.
More impressive, though, is Jalen James’ triple-double, just the second in school history and third in Mountain West history. The freshman guard had 12 points, 10 assists and 13 rebounds against the Cougars on Saturday. It is the first in the conference since 2006, and first since 2001 for San Jose State.
This was a big win for the Spartans. They came back from an 11-point deficit with about eight minutes left, playing strong defense and taking advantage of Houston going cold from the field. They had 17 assists, by far the most in a game this season, and shot a season-high 48.9 percent from the field, including a 14 for 26 mark from 3-point range.
D.J. Brown added five assists and four steals in the game, and Devante Wilson had 16 points. The Spartans are off 10 days before facing UC Davis on Dec. 18.
The Spartans led 28-6 to open the game after Devante Wilson hit back-to-back 3-pointers, and really the team never looked back. Wilson finished with 16 points, and Rashad Muhammad and D.J. Brown each added 17 off the bench.
It’s the first 20-or-more-point win for the Spartans since they beat UC Davis in 2011 79-59.
The team is starting to figure this out earlier than expected, although they are still shooting poorly (just 37.7 percent in Saturday’s win.) It helped that the Titans shot a season low 37 percent. The Spartans also hit 11 of 28 3-pointers on Saturday, making 25 from beyond the arc in their two wins this season.
San Jose State is going to do certain things that are just expected. The custom of a rebuilding season is that a team isn’t going to move the ball well, won’t shoot well, will be caught with their pants down on defense, and will lose. A lot. And it is the new coach’s job to make sure the young team learns from all of this so they get better next year.
Fans got a reprieve from the standard operating procedures of Dave Wojcik’s total rebuild, because few of those customary things actually happened Wednesday.
The Spartans (1-4) got their first win after being left for dead, as per protocol this season, trailing by 10 at halftime Wednesday against Pepperdine. They opened on a 21-10 run to open the second half, outscored the Waves by 16 points in the half to pick up their first win, on the road no less, 83-77 on Wednesday.
They shot a little better overall from the field and certain from 3-point range, played strong defense in the second half, grabbed rebounds and moved the ball some. And it all equaled a win over a decent West Coast Conference squad that entered the game undefeated (3-0).