Claude Gilbert, the only San Jose State University football player to earn a varsity letter, be named a team captain, later return as an assistant coach and be named the Spartans head coach, is adding another honor to his noteworthy football career.
On February 1, Gilbert will be one of three inductees into the Breitbard Hall of Fame during the 72nd annual San Diego Hall of Champions "Salute to the Champions." Joining the San Jose State one-time fullback as Hall of Fame inductees are shortstop Garry Templeton, who played 10 of his 16 Major League seasons with the San Diego Padres, and Robbie Haines, a 1984 Olympic Games gold medal winner in sailing.
Gilbert earned his latest Hall of Fame honor coaching at San Diego State University from 1967 through 1980. He was the offensive line coach in 1967 and 1968 and the defensive coordinator from 1969 through 1972. During those six seasons, the Aztecs were undefeated in 1968 and 1969 and compiled an overall record of 54-9-1 with Don Coryell as head coach.
He succeeded Coryell, a local legend, as head coach in 1973 and coached the Aztecs to a 61-26-2 mark and two conference championships in eight seasons. The Aztecs had back-to-back 10-win seasons in 1976 and 1977. Defensive end Fred Dryer, cornerback Willie Buchanon and wide receiver Isaac Curtis were three first-round National Football League draft picks Gilbert coached.
Gilbert duplicated back-to-back 10-win seasons at San Jose State and led the Spartans to conference football championships in 1986 and 1987. Gilbert and Dudley DeGroot in 1937, 1938 and 1939 are the only head coaches to lead San Jose State football to successive 10-win campaigns. In his six seasons as the Spartans head coach, San Jose State had 38-30-1 overall win-loss record. His 38 coaching wins are second to DeGroot's 60 in the Spartans' football history.
For the 1959 San Jose State grad, the Breitbard Hall of Fame is his latest Hall of Fame honor. Gilbert is enshrined in the San Jose State Sports Hall of Fame, Aztec Hall of Fame at San Diego State University, the Bob Elias Kern County Sports Hall of Fame and the Shafter (Calif.) High Hall of Fame. Gilbert's name also is on the CEFCU Stadium Ring of Honor, the home of San Jose State football.
The San Diego Hall of Champions ceremony takes place at the Hyatt Regency in La Jolla.