Matt’s Mailbag: The Brent Brennan Edition
SJSU reporter Matt Weiner weighs in on questions from fans related to former SJSU head coach Brent Brennan leaving SJSU for Arizona
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Hello and welcome to Matt’s Mailbag™ your go-to destination for all pressing SJSU football matters.
Enough chit-chat. Let’s get into it.
DooDooMac: @TheDooDooMac “Who would you hire?”
Here’s a name: Montana State head coach Brent Vigen.
Though MSU is an FCS school, he interviewed for the Oregon State head coaching vacancy last December and brings with him an impressive resume. He’s compiled a 21-3 record since taking over MSU. Prior to that, he was the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Wyoming when Josh Allen was shredding defenses.
HollywoodinSJ @HollywoodinSJ “Will the Administration increase the pay for the assistants? Will they be willing to increase the head coach’s pay a bit as well? What is the health of the athletic department in general? Do we have the cash to do what needs to be done?”
When I asked a source familiar who is familiar with SJSU’s financial predicament about NIL yesterday, I received an interesting answer:
“The whole campus has had cuts to their budgets – including athletics– and we need to generate donations just for scholarships.”
The source then identified “student enrollment being down” as the reason behind the budget cuts.
All to say, this doesn’t reflect well on the “health of the athletic department” or bode well for incoming coaches’ contracts.
And lest we forget, the cost of living in San Jose is 49% higher than the national average and housing is a staggering 142% higher. Plus, SJSU’s donor base is still far from robust.
Sep 1, 2022; San Jose, California, USA; San Jose State Spartans head coach Brent Brennan reacts during the second quarter against the Portland State Vikings at CEFCU Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports
Ryan B: @rbizzle16 “We need a short list, rumors, anything… Nick Rolovich’s phone on? Sounds like they don’t want to promote from within.”
My short list is current Montana State head coach Brent Vigen, former UNLV head coach Marcus Arroyo, former Hawaii and Washington State head coach Nick Rolovich and Georgia defensive backs coach Donte Williams, who was an interim head coach at USC in 2021.
Not promoting from within could be a byproduct of SJSU wanting someone with head coaching experience. Which no SJSU coach has.
Coach Darrow Verdad @mule6019 “Is Gary Patterson in the running to become SJSU HC? “
Gary Patterson, the former TCU head coach, should be looked at, but the chances are slim. SJSU doesn’t align with his ambitions to rebuild his image as a premier college football head coach. There’s operating budget concerns, NIL concerns and SJSU doesn’t return four of its five starting offensive lineman, quarterback, running back and safeties from last year.
Ricky Delgado @RickyDe70535587 “How many players do you think jump ship after hearing the news. Along these lines, do you think our next coach is in house or are we looking outside for the guy.”
I think it’s more likely SJSU goes with an outside hire because of its ambitions to hire someone with head coaching experience.
If that happens, I think players bolt because that coach may want to bring his own staff and that staff could bring players from their former school.
Then again, I’m not sure if that’s wise long term. For most of these players, SJSU was their best option. Either they received offers from schools at a lower caliber which decrease their chances of getting exposure needed to reach the next level. Or they received offers from better schools that they’d ultimately ride the bench at.
Dec 23, 2023; Honolulu, HI, USA; San Jose State Spartans quarterback Chevan Cordeiro (2) scrambles away from Coastal Carolina Chanticleers defensive lineman Will Whitson (44) during the third quarter of the Easypost Hawaii Bowl at Clarence T.C. Ching Athletics Complex. Mandatory Credit: Steven Erler-USA TODAY Sports
Connor Letourneau @Con_Chron “Does [Alonzo “Zo”] Carter have a real shot? he’s been putting on a PR blitz, but would they really hire a position coach?
I think Carter who is the SJSU running backs and associate head coach, will at least get an interview. But he’ll likely serve as a safety net hire if SJSU can’t come to terms with its favorite candidates. This isn’t a discredit to Carter, but it doesn’t fall in line with a tweet from ESPN’s Pete Thamel that said, “head coaching experience will be a preferred trait that they [SJSU] are looking for.”
Though he was successful, Carter’s head coaching experience at the high school and junior college level in the Bay Area doesn’t translate to a place like SJSU.
Brennan taking over SJSU as a former position coach is a rare occurrence. And that was a result of candidates not wanting to become head coach because the result could be so disastrous it hinders their chances of ever getting another head coaching opportunity.
“PR Blitz” front wise, the scores of endorsements from media members helps, but I’m sure those rank at the bottom of Konya, SJSU president Cynthia Teniente-Matson and donors’ deciding factors list.
Fake Matt Mumme @FakeCoachMumme “Who makes a bowl game first Coach Brennan at Arizona or the new SJSU coach?
Let’s circle back to this. I need to see who goes where and who replaces who first.
Al_Bondigas @tichie “Which assistants are staying and which are going?”
It’s difficult to get a read on this. But it’s important to know that Fisch brought his entire offensive staff with him to Washington and current U of A defensive coordinator Johnny Nansen interviewed to replace Fisch. It’s common for someone in Nansen’s position to look elsewhere.
I wouldn’t be surprised if Brennan takes several members of his staff. He’s placed a premium on keeping a continuous unit at SJSU and has praised the school for finding the funds to make his ambitions possible. Furthermore, his current staff is filled with guys he brought with him from Corvallis: SJSU defensive coordinator Derrick Odum, offensive coordinator Kevin McGiven and defensive line coach Joe Seumalo.
Mountain West Wire @MWCwire “How much blame is there for Nick Saban causing this?”
If I’m an SJSU fan, Nick Saban is public enemy No. 1.
Let’s trace this:
On Jan. 10 Saban retired from Alabama. Then on Jan. 12 Kalen DeBoer left Washington to fill in for Saban. Which results in Jedd Fisch leaving Arizona to head to Washington on Jan. 14. Then, on the lord’s day of Jan. 16, 2024, Brennan left SJSU for Arizona.
Nov 25, 2023; Tempe, Arizona, USA; Arizona head coach Jedd Fisch shakes hands with Arizona State head coach Kenny Dillingham after winning the Territorial Cup 59-23 at Mountain America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Michael Chow-Arizona Republic
Matt Hamilton @MattHamilton19 SJSU “AD [Jeff] Konya said there would be a national search. Alabama, Washington and Arizona didn’t need a national search. Isn’t that his job? Shouldn’t he have been thinking about this possibility months ago?”
According to one source, SJSU AD Jeff Konya has likely been preparing for this moment. He’s smart enough to know any success this season could result in Brennan leaping to a Power Five.
Now, this doesn’t mean Konya was actively interviewing candidates. Rather, just keeping a list of names he felt could step in for Brennan.
Bru @TXBruce2727 “For the SJSU folks, do we know what BB was making as HC? What FB budget is?”
Brennan received $2.3 million at SJSU in 2023, $1.93 million in 2022 and $1.5 million in 2021.
I can’t provide an accurate number for the budget – just know it isn’t great. Its practice field’s grass was browning a couple weeks into last year’s fall training camp, a field goal post on that same field is broken and up until last year, its facilities were laughably outdated.
Laurie Cottrell @LaurieCottrell “As an Arizona fan, I am happy for us-but so sorry for you. Believe me we know how it feels. Hope you find a solid replacement and that this new era of College Football doesn’t decimate the solid smaller programs!”
Pablo Luis @PabloG90 “Sorry SJSU this is a cruel business and we know how you feel.”
Blueleaf @leafblue16 “Arizona fan here, just wanted to say that we sympathize big time and fully understand any frustration. We were and are still there too.”
“With Brennan’s storied history at SJSU (parents went here and was an assistant under Tomey here), I find it impossible for any coach that has as much success here (definitely not more) to leap at the first chance they get. I don’t blame Brennan, but man it hurts.”
In Judaism, when someone passes there’s a week-long mourning session that follows called “Sitting Shiva.” Essentially, you do nothing but grieve, eat, and reminisce on the person who passed. Then you move on with your life.
We need something like this for college football fans who are forced to watch their coach get poached by a bigger school.