San Jose State knew all along it would find a safe landing spot

Graham Watson

San Jose State coach Mike MacIntyre knows the next time he's in a recruit's home, he won't be bombarded with questions about the Spartans' future.

For the past couple years — since Boise State, Nevada, Fresno State and Hawaii announced their intention to leave the WAC for the Mountain West — MacIntyre has been asking recruits to have faith in San Jose State football and trust that when the dust of expansion settles, San Jose State would be in a stable place.

On Friday, that stability came in the form of the Mountain West, which added the Spartans and Utah State to compensate for the loss of Boise State and San Diego State to the Big East.

"We got those questions all the time," MacIntyre told Yahoo! Sports. "We actually had some kids that decided not to come here because they weren't sure about the conference alignment at the time because it was just always on the Internet, it was always out there and other schools were always bringing it up, that kind of thing.

"So we told recruits don't pick the school on the conference at that time, pick it on the school. And now that we're in a stable conference and a stable area playing geographical football - I think it's great that we're not having to fly all over the country and play all over the place - I think that makes it even better for us."

The move also signified impending doom for the WAC as a football conference. Only New Mexico State and Idaho remain as football-playing schools after Texas State and Texas-San Antonio also left the league.

MacIntyre admitted that joining the Mountain West was a sigh of relief, but he was always confident San Jose State's geography would be enough to keep them in major college football.

"I felt like because of our location, the population, the television market, the Silicone Valley deal, one of the wealthiest areas in the world — you've got Apple, you've got IBM, you've got Netflix, you've got Facebook starting — so there's so much here that I knew that a conference would say, 'Hey wait a minute, there's so many options there to tap into that that would be a place that we'd definitely want to have a team.' MacIntyre said. "To me, our history as a university, our location, and just the overall television market were key factors that I thought someone would have to be able to take into consideration."

The addition of San Jose State gives the Mountain West a piece of the Northern California television market. According to Nielsen, the San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose television market ranks sixth nationally. Of course, the Mountain West has to share that market with the Pac-12, but it's still a bargaining chip as the conference moves forward with it television deals.

Now, San Jose has to prove it belongs on the football field as well. The Spartans have not had a winning season since 2006 and have had just two winning seasons since 1992. In MacIntyre's first season, the Spartans suffered major injuries across its depth chart and limped to a 1-12 campaign. But last year, they were 5-7 and three of those losses were by seven total points. The Spartans also beat Fresno State for the first time since 2006 and Hawaii for the first time since 2008.

There was marked improvement.

MacIntyre said there's a drive to win the WAC this year because the conference probably in its final year of existence, but he expects the entire season to be bittersweet as such a storied conference comes to an end.

"I think it's sad that the WAC has broken up," MacIntyre said. "I remember in 1996, I was coaching at Tennessee-Martin in West Tennessee and I remember picking up the USA Today paper and reading about the megaconference WAC, 16 teams. And to see now that there's only two left, I think it is a sad day as far as that goes. And then on the other side of it, I look at it as a happy day for us in the future. So I kind of have mixed emotions on both sides."

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