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The San Jose State Spartans represent San Jose State University and the Silicon Valley in NCAA Division I FBS college football. The Spartans play all home games in Spartan Stadium, which offers a seating capacity of over 30,000. The current head coach is Ron Caragher.
In Mike MacIntyre's third season as head coach, the 2012 San Jose State Spartans football team finished the season with a win over Bowling Green in the 2012 Military Bowl en route to an 11-2 season record and ranked 21st in the BCS rankings.
On July 1, 2013, SJSU left the Western Athletic Conference, the Spartans' conference home of 17 years, to begin competing in the Mountain West Conference.
SJSU first fielded a football team in 1893 and has won 16 conference championships dating back to 1932.
The first regular football seasons began in 1898 and mostly consisted of games against local high schools and some colleges and junior colleges. During the 1930s and 1940s, the Spartan football program was considered a powerhouse, winning eight conference championships over an 18-year span. The 1932 and 1939 teams went 7-0-2 and 13-0 respectively, the only undefeated seasons in school history.
Spartan Stadium was completed in 1933 with a capacity of 18,000. The Spartans won the first football game played in the stadium, 44-6, over San Francisco State on October 7, 1933. Two stadium expansions and renovations in the 1980s increased the seating capacity from 18,000 to 30,456.
The San Jose State Spartans football team served unexpectedly with the Honolulu Police Department during World War II. The team had just arrived in Honolulu to play a series of post-season games (including the Shrine Bowl) against the University of Hawai'i Rainbow Warriors and the Willamette University Bearcats, but the team was stranded on the islands for a number of weeks after the Pearl Harbor attack. The team members were then employed to improve island defenses against a possible Japanese amphibious assault and as guards for military bases on the island.
The San Jose Mercury News reported in March 2004 that budget cuts led some faculty members at San Jose State to advocate removing the SJSU football program from Division IA athletics.
In 2004, San Jose State defeated the Rice Owls 70-63 in a game that set the NCAA Division I record for total points scored and total touchdowns for a non-overtime game.
SJSU has produced over 70 All-America team members, including five first-team selections.
Coach Dick Tomey took over the program in 2005. After showing moderate improvement that year, the Spartans had a breakout season in 2006. In fact, it was the team's best season since joining the WAC ten years prior. Tomey guided the Spartans to a 9-4 record, a win over rival Fresno State, and a win in the 2006 New Mexico Bowl, thus ending the team's 16-year bowl drought. The 2006 Spartan squad produced two 2007 NFL draft picks in wide receivers James Jones and John Broussard.
The 2007 San Jose State Spartans football team was not as successful as the previous year's team, with the Spartans going 5-7 and finishing 5th in the WAC. The post-season showed a positive result, however, with several players being named to all-star games including Dwight Lowery, Marcus Teland, Matt Castelo, and Adam Tafralis. The Spartans produced another draft pick in the 2008 NFL Draft, in defensive back Dwight Lowery. Lowery was named a 1st-team All-America winner in 2007.
The 2008 San Jose State Spartans football team gave the school its best start since joining the WAC. The Spartans jumped to 3-0 and led the WAC for 3 weeks until losing to Boise State. The Spartans finished the season in 6th place in the WAC with a conference record of 4-4, and a 6-6 overall record. Three players were picked in the 2009 NFL Draft, those being defensive tackle Jarron Gilbert, defensive back Christopher Owens, and defensive back Coye Francies
After playing an unusually tough non-conference schedule, the 2009 San Jose State Spartans finished 2-10 with wins over Cal Poly and New Mexico State. Head Coach Dick Tomey announced in November he would retire at the close of the season, thus ending his legendary coaching career. Tomey's record at SJSU was 25-35.