San Jose State athletic director Gene Bleymaier tapped into a coaching pipeline familiar to the Bay Area when it was announced Monday that University of San Diego coach Ron Caragher would replace Mike MacIntyre as head coach.
It’s the same route former Stanford athletic director Bob Bowlsby took when he hired current 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh in 2007, who was then replaced by Caragher.
Upon learning of the hire at his Monday press conference, Harbaugh was about as visibly excited as he gets.
“Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful guy and coach,” said Harbaugh, who got to know Caragher well after Caragher inherited the program at USD. “I would stop back down there when I was in San Diego. Talked on the phone many times and just through players who were still there at USD.
“Like I said when I’d be recruiting in San Diego I’d always stop by the trailer and see if anybody was there. Ron’s been up here recruiting in the Bay Area when I was over at Stanford.”
The hire did come with one negative in the Harbaugh family.
“My son will be disappointed,” Harbaugh said. “He’s friends with Ron's son. They go to the same high school. But that’s great. Great hire by San Jose State.”
In Caragher’s six seasons at USC, the Toreros were 44-22 and won at least a share of the Pioneer Football League on three occasions, including each of the past two.
"Ron Caragher stood out in a very strong field of applicants that see our recent success and achievements as a solid foundation for more great things to come from Spartan football in the near future," Bleymaier said in a release. "During his six years as a head coach, Ron clearly demonstrated he is a proven winner. He is a man of integrity and a leader who clearly understands what it takes for our program to take the next positive steps on the field, in the classroom and in the community."
A Bay Area native, Caragher was born in Redwood City and grew up in San Jose. He graduated from San Jose’s Bellarmine Prep in 1985 and later played quarterback at UCLA.
"Having grown up in the San Jose area, I understand the rich tradition of Spartan Football - it's lineage of great coaches, terrific teams, and outstanding players," Caragher said in the release. "I very much look forward to getting to know the young men in the program and building upon the success of this most recent and outstanding 2012 season."
Under the direction of MacIntyre, San Jose went 10-2 this year and finished the regular season ranked No. 25 in the Bowl Championship Series standings. The Spartans will play Bowling Green in the Military Bowl on Dec. 27 in Washington D.C with Kent Baer serving as interim coach. Colorado lured MacIntyre away last week by reportedly quadrupling his salary from about $500,000 to $2 million plus incentives.
MacIntyre took over the Spartans after they finished 2-10 in 2009 and was masterful in resurrecting the program. The team was just 1-12 in his first season, but improved to 5-7 last year before this year's 10-2 campaign.