San Jose State, with Arizona coaching candidate Brent Brennan as head coach, held off Boise State on Saturday, winning 34-20 in Las Vegas to claim the first Mountain West championship in Spartan history.
With the title, San Jose State (7-0) has earned a spot in the Arizona Bowl at Arizona Stadium in Tucson on New Year’s Eve. Bowl officials stated that the Spartans will either face Buffalo (5-1) or Ball State (6-1) and that determination from the Mid-American Conference will be made most likely Sunday, if not Monday.
Ball State won its first MAC championship since 1996 in a 38-28 win over Buffalo on Friday night at Detroit.
Brennan, a former graduate assistant under Dick Tomey at Arizona in 2000, has become a “hot coaching commodity,” according to ESPN during its College GameDay telecast this morning.
— San José State Football (@SanJoseStateFB) December 19, 2020
The Arizona Bowl will be played in an empty Arizona Stadium because of COVID-19, but the game will be televised live nationally on CBS at noon Tucson time.
The MAC said last week that Buffalo and Ball State will play in either the Arizona Bowl or a yet-to-be determined ESPN bowl game.
Ball State clinched its highest win total in a season since Mike Neu took over as head coach in 2016. The Cardinals notched their highest win total in a season since they won 10 games in 2013.
Buffalo is in position to play in a bowl game for the third consecutive year.
“We’ll see where we have a chance to go play another game, and hopefully win the second (bowl) game in school history,” Buffalo coach Lance Leipold said Friday to the Buffalo News. “We’re going to turn our attention to that, once they tell us where we’re going.”
— San José State Football (@SanJoseStateFB) December 20, 2020
Buffalo’s staff includes former Arizona recruiting coordinator and assistant coach Rob Ianello, who is in his sixth season as the Bulls’ associate head coach, recruiting coordinator and wide receivers coach.
From 1994-2002, Ianello was at Arizona, serving as recruiting coordinator from 1994-96, and wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator from 1997-2002. The Wildcats played in two bowl games, the 1997 Insight.com Bowl and the 1998 Holiday Bowl with Ianello a coach on Tomey’s staff.
The 1998 Arizona team finished 12-1, which stands as the best record in school history.
Ianello is married to former Arizona assistant women’s basketball coach Denise Dove, whom he met when she served on Joan Bonvicini’s staff.
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon.