San Jose State in transition entering Military Bowl game

Maybe they should call it the Transition Bowl.

For the third consecutive year — which accounts for 60 percent of the lifespan of this particular event — the Military Bowl had coaching news between the selection date and the game.

Ralph Friedgen was fired by Maryland in 2010, but he was allowed to coach the game and ended his Terrapins career with a big win over East Carolina.

Last year, Tim Beckman left Toledo for Illinois, leaving replacement Matt Campbell to lead a one-point victory over Air Force.

This year, it’s even more complicated.

Having rebuilt San Jose State ?(10-2), Mike MacIntyre left for Colorado after the Spartans accepted the bid that will have them facing Bowling Green (8-4) today at RFK Stadium. Defensive coordinator Kent Baer was selected as the interim coach for the game and wanted the job full-time, but he wasn’t even granted an interview.

Instead, San Diego’s Ron Caragher was hired, and Baer is going to follow MacIntyre to Colorado.

So, talk about awkward: Caragher has already started to set up shop with the Spartans during Baer’s final days at the school. Caragher watched practices in San Jose last week and traveled with the team to the nation’s capital as an ?observer.

“In some ways, it can be very confusing,” said Baer, who also had an interim bowl gig with Notre Dame in 2004.

“Sometimes it’s confusing to me, to be honest with you. But once we get out to practice and we’re handling our business in meetings, it’s this group of coaches and this group of players that’s been here all year.”

The shake-up has jarred the players just as they were hoping to put an exclamation point on perhaps the best season in school history. The No. 24 Spartans are playing in a bowl for the first time since 2006, are in the AP rankings for the first time since 1975, and will be trying to win 11 games in a season for the first time since 1940.

“I’ve been here with a group of young men, a couple of coaches, that have seen some really tough times and seen this thing turn around,” Baer said. “Really the goal is — I don’t know if it’s a parting gift to the university or the kids, or just saying, ‘Look, we’ve been in this together. Let’s finish this together.’”

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