Wednesday, July 30 was the setting for the official start of college football in the Bay Area as the Seventh Annual Bay Area College Football Media Day took place at the brand new Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, CA. San Jose State was represented at the festivities with Head Coach Ron Caragher, Senior center David Peterson and Senior wide receiver Jabari Carr. All three men looked ready to begin a 2014 season that will have San Jose State on national television a school record ten times. Adding to the festivities was the setting itself, beautiful Levi’s Stadium. More on the stadium later. As for the Spartans, each representative of the program brought a different mindset to the upcoming season, with Coach Caragher starting off the festivities with opening remarks. After introducing the media to Carr and Peterson, Coach Caragher’s opening remarks focused on that which is outside of football. Unfortunately for San Jose State, perhaps the most notable off-season news came from an apartment fire that severely burned linebacker Jared Leaf. Caragher updated the media on his condition, reporting that the Junior had shown up at a recent practice.
Caragher went on to declare, “It’s not a matter of if Jared Leaf makes it back, it’s really a matter of when.”
The coach beamed with pride when discussing academics, highlighting an APR score that has improved for the sixth straight year and nine seniors on the squad who are pursuing Master’s degrees. Caragher also addressed the Spartans being picked in a media poll to finish fifth in the West division of the Mountain West Conference. He seemed rather relaxed and at ease with the prediction and looked eager to let the Spartans’ play on the field determine the actual standings. “I’m not worried about the pre-season. I’ll worry about the post-season rankings and where we finish up,” he stated.
Media day also allowed me a brief sit down with Jabari Carr, who was candid and measured in his responses. When asked about the lack of fan support over the years the wideout acknowledged that “fan support is huge.”
“We need fans just as much as we need our coaches (and) our trainers,” he added.
Carr was also not interested in looking ahead to the tough schedule at the end of the year with road games against Utah State and Fresno State. “Home or away we’re gonna’ come out and play,” he declared.
My session wrapped with Carr stating that the team believed it was good enough to make it to a bowl game and perhaps win the Mountain West. Although restrained and very concise with his responses, I sensed that Carr wanted to prove critics wrong in 2014 and end his collegiate career on a high note.
I also sat down with center David Peterson, who, although blunt with his responses, was also very candid. In contrast to Coach Caragher’s response to the pre-season rankings, Peterson had a different approach stating “we definitely heard it.”
Peterson also reflected on the quarterback situation of the Spartans with the departure of record setter David Fales. He seemed comfortable not knowing who would be under center in 2014 and added, “I have confidence in both of the guys competing right now.”
When asked about the Rimington Trophy, which Peterson is on a watch list for recognizing the best center in college football, the Senior was frank. “I notice it, I want to be the best…I’m gonna try to win it,” he professed.
San Jose State seemed the equal to Stanford and Cal during the event and it appears the program is on the rise. Coach Caragher even mentioned that maybe someday San Jose State would be playing at Levi’s Stadium. Time will certainly tell. It was apparent that the players and their coach are hungry for success, although how many wins that translates into is hard to predict, especially with a brutal schedule that includes Auburn, Minnesota, Fresno State, and Utah State all on the road. Taking care of business at home will be of premium importance.
It was a somewhat odd display walking into Levi’s Stadium Wednesday morning. Every single staff greeted you with a “Welcome to Levi’s Stadium.” The property looked like a high-class lounge inside, yet as I made my way to the room where the press conference was being held, you could still hear construction vehicles and their beeping horns. Apparently some finishing touches were still being done, although the stadium already looked great. After the presser I made my way up to the interior concourse and out to the seating area. The stadium is massive from inside and quite a sight. San Jose State football was here, even if it was just for a press conference. Perhaps this is a sign of the times in Bay Area college football; that of the Spartans’ true arrival.