Sacramento State football coach Jody Sears thinks things have worked out for the best.
Sears, who became the Hornets’ interim coach this year after having been fired the previous year at Weber State, agreed to a three-year contact Wednesday that will keep him in Sacramento through the 2017 season. The agreement will require approval from the California State University Chancellor’s Office.
“I’m absolutely elated, and I’m very excited for the kids and the university,” Sears said. “Our seniors put in a tremendous amount of work this season, and we were hoping to be able to continue the stability, continuity and consistency they helped start.”
Sears was hired as the Hornets’ defensive coordinator in January and took over the team on an interim basis three months later when former coach Marshall Sperbeck resigned.
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Sears led the Hornets to a 7-5 record, a 4-4 Big Sky Conference finish and capped the season with a 41-30 win over UC Davis in the Causeway Classic.
The Hornets won their final three games to equal their highest win total in the Division I era (1993-present) while averaging more than 40 points. The 1999 Hornets also won seven games.
“Throughout the transition year, coach Sears kept the team focused and unified while also reaching out to the program’s alumni and to the greater Sacramento community,” said Bill Macriss, the school’s interim director of athletics.
Seniors such as star wide receiver and team captain DeAndre Carter quickly took to Sears’ “player-led, not coach-driven” philosophy during the season as the team bounced back from tough early conference losses, including No. 17 Montana State’s last-second 59-56 come-from-behind win Oct. 4.
“Coach Sears is definitely the man for the job at Sac State,” Carter said. “I think you will start to see this program flourish in terms of wins and success.”
Sears is happy he got a second chance. He was a longtime assistant coach, serving stints at Army, Eastern Washington and Washington State before becoming the defensive coordinator at Weber State in 2012. But when new coach John L. Smith bolted for Arkansas before coaching a game with the Wildcats, Sears became interim coach and Weber State went 2-9.
Sears was then given a one-year contract with a carrot attached. He would get a three-year deal if the Wildcats won four games in 2013. They won two, and he was fired.
“I know coaching positions don’t come along very often, but Lord willing I was hoping to get another chance,” Sears said. “We worked our hearts out and had a great group of coaches at Weber, but we didn’t hit our benchmark, so they wanted something different.
“I’m better off for it, that’s for sure,” added Sears, who has five children. “My wife, Molly, and I love Sacramento. We’d couldn’t be happier that we get to stay here for at least three years and maybe long term.”
Call The Bee’s Bill Paterson, (916) 326-5506.