WASHINGTON -- While digesting the season just completed, it's hard to not already begin to look ahead at what next year has in store for San Jose State.
Even those who are departing are looking forward to what the future holds after the Spartans capped an 11-2 season with Thursday's 29-20 Military Bowl victory over Bowling Green.
"It just showed everyone what we were made of as Spartans," senior defensive end Travis Johnson said. "Just to set it up next year and let David (Fales) lead them to another bowl game. That's what we wanted to do."
Fales, the Spartans' junior quarterback, closed out his record-breaking season with another fabulous performance. Expect the buzz around him to grow as next season rolls around when he's one of the nation's top returning quarterbacks.
"He's unbelievable," interim coach Kent Baer said. "He's the best I've ever been around. He's got a heck of a future."
The future, of course, does include some uncertainty. While it hasn't been officially announced, Baer is expected to join former coach Mike MacIntyre as his defensive coordinator in Colorado. Several other assistants are likely to also follow.
"It's been a little emotional the last few days, knowing it's the last time this group is going to be together," Baer said. "That's the nature of football anyway. But there's going to be a few more changes than normal."
Ron Caragher officially takes over now. He was in Washington as an active spectator. He cruised through the alumni pregame party and took in some of the game from the sidelines.
His staff should begin to take shape soon. Wide receivers coach/recruiting coordinator Terry Malley and running backs/special teams coach Fred Guidici will remain with the Spartans, although its unclear if their positions will remain the same.
Jimmie Dougherty has acknowledged he's accepted an offer to become SJSU's offensive coordinator. He previously worked with Caragher at San Diego and comes to San Jose after serving as an assistant at Washington.
None of that coaching staff uncertainty can tame the excitement for the players who will return to a team that will finish the season in the top 25, perhaps the top 20, and possibly be in the mix for a preseason ranking next year.
"We've been dreaming of this," junior wide receiver Noel Grigsby said. "You dream of going to a big-time program where year-in and year-out, in the preseason you're ranked. At the same time, it's a lot of pressure. We have to enjoy this win, but in the offseason, we have to get right back on it because that's what got us to moment."
Follow Jimmy Durkin on Twitter at twitter.com/Jimmy_Durkin.