The news. The rumors. The texts. The tweets.
All were flowing heavier than usual from more notable news sources when now former San Jose State head coach Brent Brennan finally emerged today as the new lead man for the Arizona Wildcats.
A five-year deal for Brennan and family can certainly be seen as an upgrade in more ways than just money. But underneath, in terms of the business of college football, it hurts.
For the Spartans, the only pragmatic way to look at it is as a new opportunity, especially if athletic director Jeff Konya can vet another great leader of men. Perhaps an unsung candidate from within seems most logical. Or a notable candidate with panache from the outside. But less likely it would be a big name, since it’s simply too expensive in many more ways than just a salary.
Life is change
MWC was there when then 43-year-old Brennan took the reins in 2017. Coming from Oregon State as a wide receiver coach as an unproven commodity, San Jose State took a chance based on character and charisma. Since then, Brennan has proven to have it in spades.
Brennan’s also proven he can take a once program devoid of culture and brotherhood to where it now emanates all throughout the program - proven by the fact that incoming players either from the portal or by recruiting hear it and feel it first-hand from the players and even Brennan’s family.
Brennan was pursued by other institutions before, including Arizona back in 2020. Some would also think Brennan still had much more to do at San Jose State. Though leading the Spartans to a record three bowl games under one tenure and with seven hard years of 24/7 effort and an overall 34-48 record - that mountain may have started to look more and more daunting.
When long-time sports analyst and color commentator Justin Allegri left San Jose State last year to UC Berkeley, Allegri was a true blue-collar media guy. He lugged in and plugged in equipment, did all his on-air prep work and then with vigor was the voice of Spartan athletics. At Cal, Allegri now has the support and resources to just focus on what he does best.
At Arizona, it’s going to be a sure bet Brennan will do even better at what he’s still improving on - a stronger focus on being a head coach and patriarch of men. Brennan wouldn’t have taken the job just based on money.
At San Jose, the hours these coaches and support persons do is mind-boggling, exhausting and would seem to be unsustainable. Brennan was at the head of it and if you’re in close orbit, perhaps it’s a relief after a valiant seven years.
Brennan will in all likelihood be able to handpick a formidable staff given his Arizona predecessor Jedd Fisch is likely to bring most of his underlings to Washington.
In all, it should be about happiness and satisfaction that Brennan has a unique opportunity to evolve into something even more special that Arizona has “captured in a bottle.”
What it means for the Spartans
For a mid-major like SJSU, it’s about heart and blue collar fire vs. college football as a billion dollar business - unless big new money donors want to experiment into the fray, but that’s a mighty big experiment.
Next season, Mountain West football will also have six new coaches. Luckily, Brennan is one of the lucky ones who upgraded in time for Arizona’s inaugural Big 12 debut in 2024, where Brennan was once a graduate assistant with the Wildcats in 2000 under his mentor, the late Dick Tomey.
San Jose State also doesn’t have to start from scratch if they hire from within. The likes of running back coach Alonzo Carter, defensive coordinator Derrick Odum and offensive coordinator Kevin McGiven and others come to mind. But who’s to say one or more may get an opportunity with Brennan?
Konya should have a good range of candidates and surely he’ll look at the larger picture to what a candidate offers, as it’s not for the weak-of-heart. Brennan left big shoes to fill especially, off the field.
San Jose can be a unique, but tough finicky opportunity. It is the Silicon Valley. It is a diverse area of opportunity with high potential for the right ambitious person. And it can be untapped magic for an entrepreneurial leader and head coach.