Monday, November 16, 2009

Dick Tomey to retire

As soon as word leaked out, the phone calls, text messages and well wishes poured in, culminating with Dick Tomey's announcement Monday that he would step away from a coaching career that spanned five decades, including the past five seasons at San Jose State.

Tomey, 71, will end 29 years as a head coach Dec. 5 in the Spartans' season finale at Louisiana Tech.

Until then, he told an overflow crowd of players, coaches, officials and friends at the Simpkins Center, he wanted to focus on winning the final three games, starting Saturday against Hawaii.

Typically, Dick Tomey tried to sidestep the spotlight. But this would be one challenge he could not meet after mentoring hundreds in a career whose longevity rivals the likes of Joe Paterno and Bobby Bowden.

"It would be hard for anybody to do better than what he's done," said Arizona assistant Jeff Hammerschmidt, who played and coached with Tomey at Arizona and was SJSU's linebackers coach in 2007. "What a great leader, coach and father figure to everybody."

Tomey brought stability to SJSU's floundering program after arriving in 2005. He will leave with the most victories of any Spartan coach in two decades.

The coach also left an indelible mark on West Coast football, leading Hawaii, Arizona and San Jose State to bowl games. He is 182-143-7.

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