Spartan Notes: San Jose State’s Larceval wins courage award from FWAA for comeback from illness

San Jose State defensive end Anthony Larceval was picked by the Football Writers Association of America for its courage award this year, after he battled back from a viral infection that could have ended his career to play in nine games this season.

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.

For more: Spartan Athletics release on Larceval’s award.

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Spartan Notes: San Jose State WR Jones earns honorable mention on SI all-America 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.

Check out the team here.

The long and short of it: David Fales got snubbed. Again.

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Spartan and MWC notes: Faulkner emerges in CFL and Winston wins MWC top freshman award

Courtesy of the Ottawa Redblacks Twitter account (original source TBA)

Courtesy of the Ottawa Redblacks Twitter account (original source TBA)

Matt Faulkner, perhaps best remembered the serviceable but unremarkable starter in 2011 for San Jose State, has signed as the first quarterback for the expansion Ottawa Redblacks of the Canadian Football League. He is the first quarterback under contract for the team, which will begin building its team in earnest on Monday with the expansion draft.

In his one year starting for the Spartans, he completed a shade under 65 percent of his passes for 3,149 yards, throwing as many touchdowns (13) as he did interceptions (13). He had transferred from Fresno State and Mt. San Antonio College.

The Ottawa Citizen places him as likely third on the depth chart, since the Redblacks will at least get two QBs with CFL experience in the expansion draft.

This is the third attempt at a CFL franchise in the Canadian capitol. The Ottawa Rough Riders went for more than 75 years before folding in 1996. The Ottawa Renegades went from 2002 to 2005 before the league forced the team to cease operations.

Winston is MWC freshman of the year; 3 more on first team

Tyler Winston parlayed a strong freshman year as Noel Grigsby’s replacement into an award from the Mountain West Conference this year, winning the conference’s freshman of the year award after a strong first season.

He caught 58 balls this season for five touchdowns and 858 yards, a 14.8 yards/catch average. Not bad for someone who was needed as an emergency replacement for the senior Grigsby, who was lost for the season in the early going.

He leads a class of three other Spartans on the all-Mountain West first football team, with David Fales predictably losing out on the first QB spot to Derek Carr from Fresno State. Receiver Chandler Jones, cornerback Bene Benwikere and linebacker Keith Smith all earned first team honors.

Fales was the second team quarterback along with offensive lineman Nicholas Kaspar and kicker Austin Lopez. Freshman tight end Billy Freeman and offensive lineman Ryan Jones were honorable mention.

The conference awards were: Offensive player of the year, Derek Carr, Fresno State; Freshman of the year, Tyler Winston, San Jose State; Special teams player of the year, Carlos Wiggins, New Mexico; defensive player of the year, Shaquil Barrett, Colorado State; Coach of the year, Matt Wells, Utah State.

In other news from San Jose State and the conference …

  • More awards for San Jose State’s young’uns: Tyler Winston earned another honor this week to. He and three other San Jose State freshmen and sophomore kicker Austin Lopez earned honorable mention on the College Football News’ freshman and sophomore all-America teams. Winston, running back Jarrod Lawson, linebacker Christian Tago, tight end Billy Freeman earned spots on the freshman team, while Lopez was honorable mention on the sophomore team.
  • Jon Wilner doesn’t waste your time this time: Taking time away from his stumping for the big conferences, he writes about why San Jose State didn’t deserve a bowl game.
  • Check out the recruiting class: Not bad so far, all things considered. Mission Viejo QB and 3-star recruit Ian Fieber leads the class so far (we hope.)
  • From Gary Klein of the Los Angeles Times, next Saturday’s Las Vegas Bowl will be a reunion for two Bakersfield products in USC quarterback Cody Kessler (who graduated from Bakersfield Centennial) and Fresno State’s Derek Carr (who went to Bakersfield Christian.) The two are good friends.
  • Step 1 for UNLV: Make bowl game. Step 2: ?????. Step 3. Profit? So writes Ed Graney of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, which has its postseason berth and now much figure out how it will pay for things like travel and the likes.
  • Side note: No one from UNLV earned first team All-Mountain West honors this year, despite the team’s 7-5 record. Three made the second team: lineman Brandon Boyko, receiver Devante Davis and running back Tim Cornett. My thought: The Rebels got their bowl game, they can deal with it.
  • San Diego State is busily preparing for its bowl game in Boise by trying to practice outdoors as much as possible, reports the Union-Tribune. Two problems: San Diego is rather balmy this time of year compared to Boise (which might not get over freezing for game time), and they are having to share practice facilities with Boise State as they prepare for the Hawaii Bowl on Christmas eve.
  • Bryan Harsin is back home with Boise State, the Idaho Statesman writes, after the school essentially purchased him from Arkansas State. the Red Wolves, in an interesting note, have now had four different coaches in four straight years (Steve Roberts was fired after the 2010 season, Hugh Freeze bolted for Ole Miss after the 2011 season, Gus Malzahn left for Auburn after the 2012 season, and Harsin left after the 2013 season for Boise State.)
  • Colorado State sophomore running back Kapri Bibbs was named second team All-American this year.
  • In a wild bit of speculation from the Fort Collins Coloradoan, reporter Kelly Lyell looks into whether Rams coach Jim McElwain could be an option to replace Nick Saban at Alabama should he leave the Crimson Tide for, say, Texas. McElwain won two national titles as offensive coordinator for Saban in 2009 and 2011. But the reality is, with his buyouts at $4 million this year and $3 million next year, he’s probably not leaving Fort Collins this year.

The alleys are closed: San Jose State won’t be bowling this year, and here’s why.

935_-mountain_west_conference-primary-2011It will be a winter of discontent for San Jose State.

The Spartans will spend December at home this year after a 6-6 record and a rousing win over ranked rival Fresno State, victim to there being too many eligible teams and not enough spots. San Diego State and Colorado State snapped up the last two spots from the Mountain West, with the Aztecs taking their boring act to Boise instead of the Spartans, who spent the entire week campaigning for that spot.

Those were the Spartans last good hopes. There was no magic to be worked, either: the few at-large bids went to mediocre teams in power conferences, and with so many teams fighting over the scraps, the Spartans were bound to be one of the many left out. It’s 2008 all over again.

For a season that started with such high hopes, it’s a disappointing end for everyone involved.

There will be a lot of hand wringing about bad losses to mediocre teams which could have tipped the balance for a bowl game to their favor.

So why did this happen?

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Spartan Notes: SJSU men’s hoops stun Houston, and MWC bowl projections

935_-mountain_west_conference-primary-2011Saturday morning, I said that what ails San Jose State basketball is an inability to move the ball and pick good shots.

Well, then.

Throw that out at least for one game. San Jose State walked away Saturday with its most impressive win of the season, rallying to beat the University of Houston 72-68 on the road.

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.

In other San Jose State news …

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Spartan Notes: Fales wins lots of awards, sees draft stock go up

san_jose_stateDavid Fales is starting to get a lot of attention.

The senior quarterback is winning all the awards this week. The list seems to go to 11 so far. Such are the accolades for knocking off everyone’s favorite — and most overrated — BCS buster in Fresno State.

On top of that, Charles Davis of NFL.com sees the senior quarterback zipping up draft boards also.

In other San Jose State football news …

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Breaking down Chris Petersen’s decision to leave Boise for Washington (with edits)

Chris Petersen is leaving Boise State after eight seasons, ESPN reports.

Chris Petersen is leaving Boise State after eight seasons, ESPN reports. (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

This is some serious deja vu for Boise State.

ESPN is reporting that Boise State head coach Chris Petersen has finally decided to leave the Broncos. His choice? Washington, which is heading to a bowl game after a 7-5 year under Steve Sarkisian, who just bolted for USC (former Raiders QB and Washington alum Marques Tuiasosopo will coach the team in the bowl game.)

Petersen’s path here is not far off from his predecessor, Dan Hawkins, who had three straight one-loss seasons from 2002 to 2004 before losing four in 2005, finishing outside the top 25 for the first time in three years, and bolting for Colorado.

Here’s what you need to know about Petersen’s move:

Why Washington?

Here’s why I think he’s finally leaving after rejecting so many overtures over the years, including the same USC gig his predecessor with the Huskies took:

  • Money. Washington essentially offered to make Petersen one of the highest paid coaches in the Pac-12. And they did not disappoint, giving Petersen $3.6 million per year. That’s a strong offer from a program not looked upon as elite. He made $2.2 million at Boise State, the most in the Mountain West, but that’s small compared to what the Huskies are allegedly throwing on the table.
  • He gets a team on the rise. Washington, in essence, presents a strong chance to do special things with someone else’s recruits, and use it to build a dynasty. Sarkisian recovered the Huskies from the ash heap of irrelevance after a winless season in 2008, and what he’s done there last few years is nothing short of amazing. Petersen likely sees a team he doesn’t have to rebuild or reload, because the previous coach has left for another reclamation project. He can win now and take all the credit.
  • Top level talent doesn’t want to come to Boise any more. It was already hard enough for Petersen to pull in top-level talent given factors like location, but being in a reduced Mountain West has likely made it intolerable. He can offer up a premiere stage to the same recruits he was pursuing now as well as an extremely appealing metropolis in Seattle.
  • Boise State may finally be a program in decline. After seven great years, the Broncos lost more games this year than they have since Dan Hawkins was coach. They will finish outside the top 25 for the first time in Petersen’s tenure. He lost as many games this year than he has in the last four years combined. The team hasn’t had many bad recruiting classes, but a few recent ones have not lived up to expectations. Petersen may have seen the writing on the wall, especially since recruiting to Boise isn’t getting any easier despite more than a decade of success for the program.
  • The Mountain West’s prestige as a conference has gone way down. Boise State remained rather than jump to the then-Big East because the Mountain West threw money at them (and the Big East became a less appealing choice after getting raided by everyone.) The problem is that all the good teams left for other conferences: TCU is in the Big 12 now, Brigham Young is an independent and Utah is happy in the Pac 12. The conference replaced them with the old vestiges of the WAC — Nevada, Fresno State, and later Utah State and San Jose State. These teams may have good seasons, but don’t bring to the table the year over year success the three that left did, and certainly aren’t name brands. This effects everything: Gate receipts, value of their independent TV contracts, ability to get into big time bowl games, and, most of all, recruiting. The Pac-12 is, I would say, the second or third best conference in the nation. The Mountain West is still in the middle when it comes to the 11 FBS conferences, but realignment opened the break between top and middling programs into a chasm.

So what are his prospects with the Huskies?

If history holds for Boise State coaches who have moved on, it’s not good. Houston Nutt had good years at Arkansas, but never did better than OK at Arkansas. Dirk Koetter had mixed success in six seasons at Arizona State. Dan Hawkins was an abject failure in Colorado.

Who’s going to coach the Broncos next?

Again, if recent tradition holds true, they’ll stay in house and offensive coordinator Robert Prince will be the man. After all, Hawkins was Koetter’s offensive coordinator, and Petersen was Hawkins’ OC. Prince, who has been OC for the Broncos the last two years, could be in line for a promotion, especially since he’s been around the team off and on since 2001. This seems unlikely given the other options available.

At this point, it wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility for the Broncos to go out of house for their next coach. The conference may be down and the team may have had a down year by its standards, but Boise State still brings a name brand to the table that could attract a savvy assistant looking to strike out on his own.

[Edit – Petersen is likely to take much of his coaching staff with him, but there are some intriguing former assistants on the table. The Idaho Statesman’s Chad Crippe seems to be zeroing in on two particular former assistants as the leaders: Bryan Harsin, Arkansas State’s coach and a former Boise State offensive coordinator, and Justin Wilcox, Washington’s current defensive coordinator and a former Boise State defensive coordinator under Petersen. Harsin may be intriguing but unlikely since his buyout is expensive; Wilcox has options on the table since two of his former bosses are building staffs. For now, Bob Gregory will serve as the team’s interim coach.]

What does this mean for San Jose State?

Right now, not much. It could mean more later on, especially in the money department.

Boise State is the Mountain West’s cash cow, the best team year over year in the conference. If Petersen’s leaving signals a declining program, then it could equal less for everyone.

There’s also the remote chance that the Spartans could lose someone in this whole coaching realignment. Ron Caragher isn’t going anywhere, but offensive coordinator Jimmy Daugherty has ties to Washington (he was a position coach there last year) and to Steve Sarkisian (whom he worked for), which could mean he could be moving on after just one year for understandably greener pastures.