Photo credit: sjsuspartans.com
By: Ana Kieu
Dennis Erickson’s last stop as an assistant football coach was at San Jose State for the 1979 through 1981 seasons before a long, successful career as a head coach. Even though it’s just the first week of the New Year, Erickson will be planning a December 10th visit in New York City for an induction into the College Football Hall of Fame.
Erickson and Joe Taylor, who won 70.6% of his games and four national championships at historically black colleges, are the two head coaches joining 13 players to be named to the 2019 College Football Hall of Fame class.
During his three seasons at SJSU, Erickson oversaw one of the most potent offenses in college football with Jack Elway as the Spartans head coach. SJSU had a winning season in each of his three years and was the 1981 Pacific Coast Athletic Association champion.
With Ed Luther at quarterback in 1979, SJSU was second nationally in passing offense and seventh in total offense. The next two seasons with Steve Clarkson at quarterback, SJSU was 10th in passing offense. The 1981 team included future NFL players: halfback Gerald Willhite, wide receivers Stacey Bailey, Mervyn Fernandez and Tim Kearse, and tight end Tracy Franz, was sixth in Division I-A in scoring offense.
Erickson came to SJSU after assistant coaching positions at Idaho and Fresno State. His first college head coaching position was at Idaho from 1982-85 followed by stops at Wyoming in 1986, Washington State from 1987-88, Miami (Fla.) from 1989-94, Oregon State from 1999-2002, back to Idaho in 2006 and Arizona State from 2007-11. Erickson’s teams were declared national champions for the 1989 and 1991 seasons and won six conference titles. He was a two-time national Coach of the Year and compiled a head coaching record of 179-96-1.
Erickson also was a head coach in the NFL for the Seattle Seahawks (1995-98) and the San Francisco 49ers (2003-04). He was the only one of six FBS coaches on the ballot named to the 2019 College Football Hall of Fame class. Taylor was the coach selected from the Divisional ballot covering NCAA Divisions I-AA (now Football championship Subdivision — FCS), II, III and NAIA.
Coaches are eligible for consideration after 10 seasons as a head coach and achieving a winning percentage of .600 or higher for a career of 100 or more games.
Former SJSU head coaches John Ralston (1993-96) and Fielding Yost (1900) and halfback Willie Heston from the 1898 through 1900 Spartan teams are enshrined in the College Football Hall of Fame based in Atlanta, Ga.