Sacramento State’s football program had a solid year.
The Hornets went 7-4 this season following consecutive 2-9 campaigns, and their 6-2 mark against Big Sky competition is their best since joining the conference in 1996. Those seven wins came against Division I competition, the first time in school history they’ve done that.
Not bad for a roster with just 11 seniors (three starters), a group predicted to finish 12th in the 13-team conference.
Unfortunately for Sacramento State, it won’t get a chance to add to its win total this year.
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The Hornets did not receive an at-large berth for the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs Sunday, meaning their season is over.
Coming off a wild, 52-47 victory over rival UC Davis in Saturday’s Causeway Classic, Sacramento State was hopeful for a chance to make the FCS bracket. Conference rivals Southern Utah (9-2, 7-1), Weber State (9-2, 7-1) and Northern Arizona (7-4, 6-2) are going instead. Southern Utah, which shared the Big Sky crown, got the automatic bid. The others were at-large selections.
Despite victories over Southern Utah and Weber State, the Hornets lost to Northern Arizona, which had a similar record as them, and likely would have ranked below Eastern Washington (7-4, 6-2), which beat them as well.
With the season over, the focus at Sacramento State shifts to coach Jody Sears. His four-year contract is up, but he told The Bee he wants to go forward with a team that should have several returners next year.
“I am not working for my next gig,” Sears told The Bee’s Joe Davidson last month. “The big time is where my feet are right now. I love this place, and I want these kids in our locker room to enjoy success, a championship, something this community and our university to lavish.”
That decision falls on athletic director Mark Orr.
“This is a high-profile sport and we need football to be successful for all our sports,” Orr told The Bee’s Ailene Voisin on Saturday. “ ‘What do we do to make this program better?’ It’s an evaluation, not something I’ll do on a whim. But it’s been a great year. I wasn’t sure what to expect coming into the season, but to be sitting here at 7-4, I couldn’t be prouder of the effort.”