SAN JOSE -- Actions speak louder than media conference sound bites. And the choice of Ron Caragher as San Jose State's new football coach tells us several things, much more so than any of the words uttered in Caragher's introductory press session.
1. A man's alma mater matters. Caragher is a former UCLA Bruin quarterback and former UCLA assistant coach. Gene Bleymaier, the SJS athletic director, is a former UCLA tight end and former UCLA assistant athletic director. Dick Vermeil, a famous San Jose State alum with a well-respected voice on the campus, is a former UCLA head coach. This might not be the only reason Caragher was hired. But the connections could not have hurt him.
2. Bleymaier was clearly eager to hire someone with head coaching experience at the college level — even if it was at the University of San Diego, a Football Championship Subdivision program. That's the exact opposite approach SJS took the last time in selecting Mike MacIntyre, who was an up-and-coming assistant coach at Duke with experience at the NFL assistants' level. Ron Turner and Terry Shea are two other successful former Spartan coaches who came aboard with no college head coaching experience.
3. The exiting MacIntyre, of course, was hired by Bleymaier's predecessor, Tom Bowen. Perhaps that's just a philosophical difference between the two. There were plenty of highly-touted assistant coaches available for the Spartans'
4. Caragher likely distinguished himself from other candidates with his Bay Area and California ties. Wouldn't you try to do that if you were him? Caragher is a Bellarmine College Prep grad who grew up in Morgan Hill. He has recruited the entire state for the last six years at San Diego. The USD program offers no football scholarships, so much as Jim Harbaugh did when he coached there, Caragher had to beat the high school bushes and mine the prep coaching network to find motivated players. He inherits a number of good players from the current Military Bowl team, with 13 starters returning for the 2013 season as San Jose State moves into the Mountain West Conference. But to keep things going, Caragher will need to work his California connections intensely. As such, it would be smart for Caragher to retain current SJS recruiting coordinator Terry Malley, who has longtime roots in the South Bay and probably won't follow MacIntyre to Colorado.
5. Caragher is 45 years old, two years younger than MacIntyre. It means Bleymaier was unafraid to tap a coach who, if he's a big winner, could leave the school as quickly as MacIntyre did. This speaks volumes about the niche SJS occupies in college football — and Bleymaier has apparently decided to treat it as a potential advantage instead of a disadvantage. If he can get the Spartan program established as a springboard program for ambitious ladder-climbers, it could set in motion a successful cycle and make SJS a prime destination for that type of coach. Nothing wrong with that, as long as recruits understand the landscape when they commit.
6. Caragher did say at his official introduction Monday that as a youth football player and Bellarmine quarterback, he attended San Jose State summer camps operated by former Spartan coaches Darryl Rodgers, Jack Elway and Claude Gilbert. However, with UCLA in Caragher's sights, he was apparently not recruited by any of them. Caragher surely won't make that mistake about any talented local kid attending one of his San Jose State camps. He might not land the signature of every high schooler who wants to play in the Pac-12. But with the Spartans joining the Mountain West, more recruits of that level may give SJS more of a look.
7. Caragher said he is "not a square peg in a round hole kind of guy" in terms of adapting his talent to a specific X-and-0 scheme. That tells you next season's SJS team and scheme will probably look a lot like this season's team and scheme. Why would he mess with such a good thing?
8. Answer: He won't. Caragher's hiring should be good for Spartan football in 2013. After that, we'll truly find out if Bleymaier succeeded in his first important move since replacing Bowen.