SAN JOSE -- The San Jose State football team is attempting to put itself on the map. From the sound of it, it might help if the Spartans provided some maps.
It isn't uncommon for people to confuse San Jose State with San Diego State. That happened during a conference call Sunday when a reporter asked SJSU coach Mike MacIntyre what the reaction to the team's Military Bowl berth was like "in San Diego."
"They get it confused, it happens sometimes," MacIntyre said later.
Whatever the reasons, the Spartans (10-2) still are fighting to be recognized nationally while enjoying their best season in 25 years. Their efforts have earned them a trip to the Military Bowl, where it will play Bowling Green on Dec. 27. It doesn't hurt that they are ranked No. 24 in the BCS standings and both national polls.
"It helps big time," offensive lineman Nicholas Kaspar said. "Our name is up there on all the websites, on all the shows. We're always up there, and so people start asking who San Jose State is."
At least most people keep SJSU in the country. While the Spartans were on a trip in November to play Idaho, Kaspar and teammates were approached by people who greeted them by saying hola and asking in which part of Mexico was San Jose State located.
"We told them it was in California and we don't speak Spanish, we speak English," Kaspar said.
MacIntyre doesn't think the confusion reflects his program's lack of recognition. "I think some
The Spartans share an identity problem with the Military Bowl, which didn't even exist in 2006, the last time SJSU was in the postseason.
The Military Bowl began in 2008 as the EagleBank Bowl. It became the Military Bowl in 2010 when its sponsorship changed to Northrop Grumman, a company that produces military defense equipment.
It is the only bowl game to be played in Washington, and it provides more than 5,000 free tickets to active duty military personnel and their families.
"There's a huge amount respect we have for the guys that fight day in and day out to protect this country," junior wide receiver Noel Grigsby said. "To be able to play in front of those guys is rewarding."
SJSU will spend five days in the nation's capital and enjoy the perks of a bowl game, such as the much anticipated gift packages that will include an Apple iPad Mini and a Timely watch.
"That's one thing everyone says when you go to a bowl game, you get these gifts," senior defensive end Travis Johnson said. "It's going to be pretty awesome."
The bowl exposure might further increase familiarity with the Spartans. When ESPN aired its bowl selection show, the topic of SJSU brought up a mention of the Spartans' 20-17 loss to Rose Bowl-bound Stanford.
"That impacted my perception of Stanford for a long time until I realized how good San Jose State was," ESPN host Rece Davis said on the air.
The Spartans hope more examples like that continue and realize it's up to them to keep it coming.
"What it's going to come down to, to get that recognition nationally," Johnson said, "is having another year like this. And another year after that and continuing it."
Follow Jimmy Durkin at Twitter.com/Jimmy_Durkin.