Santa Clara County Executive Dr. Jeff Smith has made it crystal clear he believes San Jose State’s magical 7-0 season should be over.
The Spartans plan on playing one more game anyway.
After returning home following a win over Boise State in the Mountain West title game last weekend, the Spartans announced plans to travel to Tucson on Sunday to meet Ball State (6-1) in the Arizona Bowl on Dec. 31.
Smith’s argument against San Jose State’s desire to continue its season has to do with the team’s failure to adhere to Santa Clara County’s Mandatory Directive on Travel, which requires a 10-day quarantine for anyone entering from more than 150 miles away.
“That’s not leadership,” Smith said Thursday. “It sends a message that the health of their players and the community and their families is less important than a football game.”
Multiple San Jose State players responded to Smith’s comments on Twitter this week, including star quarterback Nick Starkel. The second-team All-Mountain West passer said, “Good luck stopping Tyler Nevens… you’ve seen him run over a few people this year.”
– Nicholas Starkel (@NickStarkel) December 25, 2020
Two other players, wide receiver Tre Walker and tight end Derrick Deese, Jr., borrowed the phrase the program has used throughout the season to describe their journey to becoming a championship-caliber team.
You know we got another mountain to climb all good ✌🏾 https://t.co/4PwXcS8fYL
– Derrick_deese (@ _Dnasty8_) December 25, 2020
Deese tweeted, “You know we got another mountain to climb,” while Walker added, “Stop we still climbing our mountain.”
Stop we still climbing our mountain fr https://t.co/3h0bPbEfRJ
– DTA (@BambinoTre) December 25, 2020
Head coach Brent Brennan has guided the Spartans program through a challenging season that initially began with training camp in Humboldt County after Santa Clara County health officials barred the program from practicing locally during the pandemic. The Spartans were ultimately allowed to return to their home stadium for practices and regular season games, but were forced to depart Santa Clara County again after a new health order banning professional, collegiate and high schools from playing contact sports was introduced on November 28.
The Spartans played their final three games against Mountain West foes on the road, including one at the University of Hawaii and another at the University of Nevada in Reno before “hosting” the conference title game at Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas on Saturday, December 19.
The Spartans announced they’ll travel by private charter on Sunday to “prevent concerns of the potential spread of COVID-19,” and added that their itinerary does not circumvent the county’s travel mandate. It’s unclear how San Jose State has interpreted the mandate to make that determination, but Smith also acknowledged that there’s nothing officials can actually do to prevent the Spartans from leaving Santa Clara County again.
“We can’t stop them,” Smith said. “Just from a practicality perspective we wouldn’t know when or how or who they were or anything like that.”