By Ryan Vermont:
It’s the one or two games circled on the calendar at the beginning of the season.
A crosstown battle for bragging rights between universities locked in an eternal war to draw attention and attract the best student-athletes in the area.
An in-conference showdown between two teams that see each other and every year that can’t stand to lose against each other — maybe even with a trophy on the line.
Rivalries have been and continue to be a central aspect of sports, the stakes and intensity are jacked up and that can’t be argued.
What can be argued is what qualifies teams as rivals.
Is a rival based on location? Do the teams need to be in the same league, conference or division? A rivalry could also be formed from one individual play or circumstance. Skill level may or may not also play a role.
The truth is, it’s sort of a mixture of all of the above.
San Jose State’s most commonly thought of rival would be Fresno State, but the argument could be made for a number of different schools.
Santa Clara University is the closest four-year university, has several NCAA Division one athletic programs and is one of SJSU’s biggest competitors for quality local recruits.
The cross-county institution would surely be considered more of a rival if the teams played in the same conference. Having a football program would also help, but that was discontinued at the end of the 1992 season after playing in lower division then SJSU.
Stanford, just over 19 miles north in Palo Alto, might also be considered a rival, but if the head-to-head records need to be close, in no way are these teams’ qualify.
Football: 45-14 Stanford. Baseball: 103-40 Stanford. Men’s Basketball: 17-8 in favor of the Cardinal And it goes on and on.
San Jose State’s women’s program does however have the edge on the basketball court with a 13-10 overall record having last played in the 1997-98 season.
The teams play in separate conferences, so really the only connection between San Jose State and Stanford is some freeways and bus lines.
San Diego State has been thrown in the conversation as a rival, since SJSU’s transition from the Western Athletic Conference to the Mountain West.
Apparently just being in the same state meet the requirements a team as a rival.
I can write about the topic as much as I please, but it’s the athlete’s on the field or court whose voices truly shed the light on who they feel are their rivals.