Bulldog Blog - Football
Smith Still Bringing Home Awards
The USA Football and NFL Players Association selected former Bulldog Clifton Smith to the All-Fundamentals team.
USA Football honored 26 NFL players to the inaugural All-Fundamentals team. This 26-man roster honors the NFL's most fundamentally-sound players who also commit themselves to service in their communities.
The award recognizes players at each offensive and defensive position, as well as four special teams positions, as examples for youth players.
Smith was named the All-Fundamental player as the kick returner. He was the only Tampa Bay Buccaneer to earn the honor.
The USA Football/NFLPA "All-Fundamentals" Team was selected by a six-person selection committee including.
As part of this honor, each selected player will designate a youth or high school football program to receive a $1,500 equipment grant from USA Football. USA Football is the official youth football development partner of the NFLPA, the NFL, and each of the NFL's 32 teams. Each player also receives a pewter-dipped "All-Fundamentals" Team helmet trophy produced by Riddell, USA Football's official helmet and equipment partner.
USA Football teaches the game's fundamentals and inherent values through more than 80 annual training events and innovative football training resources employed by its members who reside in all 50 states and Washington, D.C.
After a fast-scoring first half, Fresno State went to the locker room trailing 24-14 at the half. But the game is far from over. While Nevada honors their band and cheer seniors, the 'Dogs are recharging for a second half comeback. Stay tuned to BSN as Fresno State returns to the field in less than five minutes.
"Games in November are the ones you remember." - Jim Sweeney
It's time for the Homecoming Kickoff and what a perfect night! The Red Wave has a great night to look forward to. Two years ago, when Fresno State hosted San Jose State for homecoming, we shut them out. Go Dogs!
Both teams are in the stadium and players are starting to warm up on the field. Fans are slowly coming into the stadium to watch what is expected to be an exciting game. This is the first home game for Hawai'i in 36 days. The Bulldogs will catch a red eye flight right after the game and will be in Fresno by Noon on Sunday after arriving Thursday afternoon.
White Out II
For the second straight week the Bulldogs are playing in front of a White Out crowd. For the second straight week the Bulldogs will be wearing their red uniforms. The only difference is that this week the 'Dogs are playing on the road at Cincinnati. The 35,000 seat Nippert Stadium will be in white for what is expected to be a sold out crowd as on Thursday there were less than 2,000 tickets remaining for the game.
Former `Dogs Make UFL Debut
The United Football League announced its "Premiere" season training camp rosters and three former Bulldogs are participating in training camp. Former linebacker, Marcus Riley is on the Las Vegas Locomotives, while Orlando Huff and Jason Stewart are both on the California Redwoods.
Riley, the most recent Bulldog alum, played line backer for the `Dogs 2003-2007. During Riley's career he tallied 225 tackles, 118 of them were solo tackles. He had 21 tackles for a loss of 65 yards and five and half sacks. Riley was named the WAC Defensive Player of the Year in 2007 and help the `Dogs beat Georgia Tech in the Humanitarian Bowl.
Huff, a former linebacker, played for the Bulldogs in 1998-2000. In his career, Huff played in 24 games and started 19. He recorded total of 134 tackles and 78 solo tackles. Huff also had 21 tackles for a loss of 108 yards and 14 sacks.
Stewart played for Fresno State's defensive line from 1998- 2002. He played in 49 games and started 31 throughout his career. Stewart recorded a total of 198 tackles, 108 of them solo tackles. He had 25 tackles for a loss of 90 yards. He also recorded eight sacks.
The United Football League is a new professional football league that will kick off its "Premiere" season on October 8th when the California Redwoods travel to Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas to take on the Locomotives. On October 10th, the Florida Tuskers will host the New York Sentinels. The UFL's games will be broadcast live on VERSUS and HDNet, will culminate with a championship game on November 27 in Las Vegas.
Remembering a Hero
"These guys are heroes every day," said Shari Tolbert of her husband, Lieutenant Commander Otis Vincent Tolbert Jr. and all those who serve in the armed forces.
Fresno State Athletics will honor Tolbert with a fly over Friday night before the football game against Boise State. Tolbert, a former Fresno State defensive end, was killed in the Sept. 11 attack on the Pentagon.
Tolbert was working in the C corridor on the first floor of the Pentagon when the hijacked American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into his office in the Department of Defense building in Arlington, Va. He was one of 125 Pentagon personnel killed or unaccounted for in the terrorist attack. Tolbert was buried Sept. 27 with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.
Tolbert, a native of Lemoore, Calif., was a four-year letterwinner for the Fresno State football team from 1980-83. A 1980 graduate of Lemoore High School, Tolbert went on to Fresno State and eventually graduated in 1985 with a degree in criminal justice.
Tolbert joined the Navy after following his father's footsteps. His father had been a naval officer before him, one of the first black pilots to fly an A-7 jet.
Remembered as a hero to many throughout the Valley, Tolbert was honored by Fresno State in 2005. The athletic department placed a plaque in his honor at the north end flag pole in Bulldog Stadium.
"Otis was always very proud of his days as a Bulldog," said Shari Tolbert. "We are so thrilled that the athletics department is honoring him in this way. He would be proud to have his name next to the flag that he lost his life defending."
Tolbert has also been honored with a conference room being named after him at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa and portions of State Route 198 near Lemoore, Calif. are named in his memory.
Recently, the military's Central Command dedicated the new Lt. Cmdr. Otis Vincent Tolbert Joint Intelligence Operation Center in Tampa.
It's halftime and the Bulldogs lead 21-17 at halftime. Wisconsin kicker Philip Welch booted a 57-yard field goal, the second longest in school history right as time expired. The Bulldogs have done a good job of keeping the 80,000 fans in attendance quiet through out most of the first half. Fresno State has 259 total yards to 195 for Wisconsin. The band is on the field and the weather is perfect outside as it is in the upper 70's.
The Bulldogs are leading 7-0 at the end of the first quarter. Ryan Colburn led the Dogs to a touchdown on the second possession of the game by connecting with Chastin West on a 14-yard touchdown pass. The stadium is nearly full to capacity as the students have just about filed in. This will be the sixth largest crowd the Dogs have played in front of. The Bulldog defense held Wisconsin to 33 total yards in the first half.
The fans are filing in and we are less than 10 minutes until kickoff. There is alot of red in the stands as both schools primary colors are red and white. The students are entering into the student section and by the end of the first quarter the section will be full.
It's gameday and we are almost two hours away from kickoff. The stadium is empty as it has yet to open to the public. Come kickoff at 11 a.m. Central Time 80,000 fans are expected to be here at Camp Randall Stadium. Eat breakfast and watch the game on ESPN. It should be an exciting game. All the field workers are currently on the field getting set up for when the gates open 90 minutes before kickoff.
`Dogs Road Trip Destination: Camp Randall
The Bulldogs battle Wisconsin on Saturday morning, they will play in a building that has been around for nearly 100 years. Camp Randall opened in 1917 and is the fourth-oldest Football Subdivision stadium. The only facilities that have been around longer are Georgia Tech (1913), Mississippi State (1914) and Cincinnati (1916).
The stadium received its name because it lies on the grounds of Camp Randall, a former Union Army training camp during the Civil War. It also held Confederate soldiers, many of whom died and were laid to rest on the west side of Madison.
Camp Randall's current seating capacity is 80,321 and is the fourth largest stadium in the Big 10 Conference. Since the 2004 season, the Badgers are 31-3 at home in Camp Randall. This is the third trip to Madison for the Bulldogs. Fresno State is 1-1 at Camp Randall.
Wisconsin is tied with Texas for the fourth-best home record since the start of 2004. The Badgers trail only Boise State (33-1), Oklahoma (30-1) and USC (30-1). The Badgers have allowed fewer than 10 points at home on 11 occasions over the past four seasons.
Camp Randall has become known for their game day experience. Some traditions around the stadium are "Jump Around" and the wave.
"Jump Around" is one of the newest traditions at Camp Randall. Between the third and fourth quarters, the song "Jump Around" by House of Pain is played in the facility and 80,000-plus fans do just as the song says, jump around.
Camp Randall performs their own version of the wave during football games. The student section begins the wave by sending it around the stadium once counter-clockwise, then once in slow-motion, then once at double the original speed, then reversed (clockwise), and finally, splitting it into two counter-rotational waves. This is traditionally completed at least once every home game in the second or third quarter.
Tune in to ESPN on Sept. 12 at 9 a.m. to watch the Bulldogs take on Wisconsin at Camp Randall.
Bulldog Firsts in Dominating First Half of Season Opener
In the first half of the season opener, five different Bulldogs have scored a touchdown against UC Davis. For three of the five, it is their first career touchdown as Bulldogs. Ryan Colburn, Ebahn Feathers and Nico Herron all scored their first touchdowns against the Aggies.
Herron returned an intercepted pass for 94 yards for a touchdown. Colburn ran it into the end zone from the one yard line. Feathers ran it in two the end zone from the 20 yard line.
Also, contributing touchdowns were Marlon Moore and Ryan Mathews. At half time the Bulldogs are winning, 35-0.
The Fresno State defense returned an interception from the Aggies own six yard line for a touchdown. Nico Herron intercepted a pass from Greg Denham and returned it for 94 yards to increase the Bulldogs lead to 21-0. The last time the Bulldog defense scored was in the 2008 season against Boise State when Damion Owens returned an intercepted pass 68 yards for a touchdown.
The longest interception return in Bulldog Stadium is 103 yards set by Nate Ray versus SMU in 2002. The longest in school history is 107 by Gary Hayes versus Long Beach State in 1976.
I already caught a tight spiral pass from true freshman backup quarterback Derek Carr and headed over to Bulldog Boulevard to watch the new "Bulldogs Live" pre-game radio show with Alexan Balekian and Steve Gonzalez.
Bulldog Caravan at RiverPark
Our players have been working hard this off season to get ready for an exciting 2009 campaign. They are committed to winning and working toward achieving our team goals. Once again, we are playing a tough schedule and looking forward to some great games on national television.
We are excited about the Football Fiesta Night to open the season on Sept. 5 with a great celebration of the Central Valley's Hispanic culture. After a tough game at Wisconsin, we come home for a great match-up against Boise State on Sept 18 on ESPN2 on a Friday night.
ESPN Writer Says Bulldogs Have Fifth Toughest Schedule in Country (11:57 a.m.)
Since Pat Hill has taken over the Fresno State football program his teams have not backed down form opponents. 2009 is going to no different as the Bulldogs play games at Wisconsin, Illinois and Cincinnati. The tough schedule continues to bring recognition to the program as ESPN writer Mark Schlabach tabbed the Bulldogs with the fifth toughest schedule in the country. He said Virginia Tech, Georgia, Oklahoma and Oregon were the only other schools who had tougher schedules.
Here is what he had to say.
Since 2000, the Bulldogs have played 21 games against BCS schools and have recorded some memorable wins on the road, winning at No. 13 Kansas State in 2004, at Washington, at Camp Randall Stadium in 2001 and at UCLA in 2008.
In all, the Dogs have posted favorable records over teams from the ACC (3-0), Big 12 (3-2), Big East (1-0) and Big Ten (1-4) conferences in the decade. Prior to 2000, Fresno State had never beaten teams from any of those conferences.
All of those road contests are starting to reap benefits, as the Dogs have paid their dues in becoming a nationally recognized program. In the coming years, Fresno State scheduled home-and-home games with Nebraska, Colorado, Illinois, Rutgers, Cincinnati and Mississippi. Starting with the Wisconsin game in 2008 schools from the Big Ten, SEC and Big East Conferences will be playing in the Valley for the first time ever.
"I think what we have done and the program that we have built now makes it okay for schools to come to Fresno to play," said Hill. "We have paid our dues. By getting some wins at difficult road stadiums and the amount of television exposure teams know they will get when they come to Fresno, it all helps making those match-ups in Bulldog Stadium more viable."
To view the ESPN release CLICK HERE
Harris Spotlight on ESPN.com (4:29 p.m. PT)
As a finance major, he tracks down and spends time finding as many opportunities to learn his craft for life after college. For example, he spent part of his summer last year studying in Hong Kong. He is expected to be a candidate for Academic All-America honors. He is a leader by example and is undeterred by hard work and challenges - Moses flat out excels in the clutch.
As a true Bulldog, he's always flying to the ball and plays with an unquestioned passion that inspires his teammates to be better and stifles opposing offenses by being prepared for anything.
In the final Q&A of the spring in a national college football series by ESPN.com's Graham Watson, Harris touched on how the team has bonded to dedicate the season to former defensive coordinator Dan Brown, the mindset of a team that is focused and commitment to reestablish their fierce Bulldog personality, a behind-the-scenes look at the beauty of Hong Kong and his long-term goals for using his education at Fresno State after graduation.
A couple of highlights from the Watson's Interview with Harris:
It's a great read --- You can check it out here: http://myespn.go.com/blogs/others/0-4-340/Spring-Q-A--Fresno-State-s-Harris-keeps-the-student-in-student-athlete.html
Get your season tickets today by clicking on the Tickets icon at the top of the page... as there are 127 days to kickoff and the Bulldogs' season and home opener on Sept. 5 against UC Davis.
Fresno State Media Relations
April 25, 2009
Excitement (5:28 p.m. PT)
"I just can't wait for the season to get here," Keith B. of Fresno, Calif. said. "The offense was really clicking today and I am so excited to see how good we looked today."
His sentiment was shared throughout the stands on a perfect April day to be outdoors.
"Could we have had a better day to see our Bulldogs take the field?!" Judy V. of Visaila, Calif. said with a smile from ear to ear while sporting the new Fresno State "My Team" said that she purchased at the Bulldog Shop's Tent sale before the scrimmage. "That No. 3 (Ebahn Feathers) runs all over the field and is just a joy to watch. And the No. 3 in the white uniform (Moses Harris) can really play defense. My Bulldogs looked sharp today."
The crowd also got a preview of freshman quarterback Derek Carr, who channels some familiar traits of his brother.
"Just seeing Derek on the field reminded me of all the days I saw David play - the sidearm throw, the way he runs, his ability to find the open receiver," longtime season ticket holder Mike W. of Bakersfield, Calif. said. "We have three talented quarterbacks and they showed us today that we could have the makings of a special season no matter who is under center."
Ryan Colburn is the third quarterback vying for the starting spot and provided plenty of plays worthy of highlight reel footage.
"Ryan has an amazing arm and surprised me with his ability to scramble out of the pocket," Jenny P. of Madera, Calif., who is 12 years old but is one of the loudest and passionate Bulldog supporters. "I just love football and Bulldog Stadium feels like home to me since we never miss a game. I am always on the edge of my seat."
Jenny and hundreds of other Bulldog fans spent time after the game on the field getting autographs from their team.
The excitement filled the air and the countdown to Sept. 5's home opener officially started. Did I mention there are just 132 days until kickoff?
Buy your season tickets TODAY! Click HERE for more information...
Fresno State Media Relations
March 27, 2009
Where's the Schedule?
At Fresno State, we are anxious to have the schedule out for our fans to see. We know they can't make plans to attend games -- or buy tickets -- if they don't know who the Dogs are playing and when. We so appreciate those faithful Bulldog Foundation members, and season ticket holders who have already renewed for the 2009 season without knowing the details of the schedule.
The reason for the timing of the schedule announcement has to do with the Western Athletic Conference's agreement with television partner ESPN. The network and conference work closely to place particular games on dates when it's most beneficial for the WAC's television exposure and opportunities. Fresno State has been a valuable part of this plan in recent years, averaging almost seven nationally televised games this decade.
Once the WAC and ESPN agree on the programming needs for the network and schedule those games accordingly, the league office will them complete the remainder of the conference schedule.
We expect the WAC schedule to be finalized within the next week and we here at Fresno State are looking forward to sharing it with the fans.
The majority of the attention on spring ball, certainly from the media and fan perspective, has been focused on the race for the starting quarterback position. There are plenty of positions that need to be flushed out. For instance, the Dogs lost both starting offensive tackles with the graduation of All-WAC left tackle Bobby Lepori and right tackle Kenny Avon. If I were in the quarterback battle, those are two positions I'd be VERY interested in watching!
After announcing three new coaches and a restricting of the Bulldog football coaching staff, the majority of the questions are about Fresno State's newest play-caller, Jeff Grady.
Grady, a former Bulldog quarterback and owner of bachelor's in economic, spent two years as a graduate assistant coach and two as tights coach. Starting this spring, he has been elevated to the position of quarterbacks coach and passing game coordinator. With that comes the responsibility of calling the offensive plays during games, something that is intriguing to many fans and media members. Needless to say, he has been thrust into a bright spotlight.
His background at Fresno State in the quarterback lineage is also impressive. He was a team mate of three record-setting Bulldog passers, Billy Volek, David Carr and Paul Pinegar. Grady has been tutored by some excellent coaches both during his time as player and as a coach. Under the guidance of Andy Ludwig, Frank Cignetti, Steve Hagen, Jim McElwain and Doug Nussmeier, Grady has learned plenty. Each of those coaches had such success at Fresno State, they landed jobs at premier programs.
I chatted with two of Jeff's former mentors about his progress, and neither Ludwig nor McElwain are surprised Grady has earned this position.
Ludwig, who is the offensive coordinator at Cal after successful stints at Oregon and Utah, had high praise for his former player.
"As a player, Jeff was a grinder," said Ludwig. "He watched a lot of film, which is a prerequisite for this position. He worked hard and knows the game of football."
Grady shared the film room at Fresno State with two current NFL quarterbacks, Carr and Volek.
"Jeff has great passion for the game of football. I'm not surprised he's risen to this level. He's a smart guy with a great work ethic. I see him having an outstanding future."
McElwain, Alabama's offensive coordinator, also coached at Michigan State, Louisville and with the Oakland Raiders. He, too, liked what he's seen from Grady.
"I think the Fresno State offense is in great hands," said McElwain yesterday. "He's a first-class guy and has a great football mind. I think working with the tight ends the last two years was the one piece of the puzzle he hadn't had previously, but that experience will serve him well. As a former quarterback, he'll be a great teacher of the fundamentals of the game and be able to make quick decisions when calling a game. I think he's a perfect fit at Fresno State. It's his school and he's going to work danged hard."
With the Academy Awards being handed out tonight, it's always a fun time to go back and remember the great year in films and films from years gone by.
It's also a fun time when friends ask the question about greatest all-time movies.
While it's hard to pick on favorite movie of all time, although Silence of the Lambs is always one that comes to mind when I'm asked this question, I did decide to put together a list of my favorite football movies. It's not a list based on Academy Awards won or which grossed the highest at the box office, but those that I enjoyed most and still enjoy watching frequently.
Here are my honorable mentions football movies that I enjoyed but didn't make my top 10: Wildcats, All the Right Moves, Facing the Giants, Radio and We Are Marshall.
10.) The Longest Yard (remake)
Signing Day Hoopla
But due to the internet, most diehard fans already have learned about which players are headed to which schools. There will always be a couple of surprises, like a few years ago when Bulldog receiver Jamel Hamler, who had given a verbal commitment to attend Oregon, changed his mind on the signing day and elected to join San Leandro High teammates Nico Herron and Damion Owens at Fresno State. Some of the most surprised people were the football coaching staff who thought Jamel was signed, sealed and delivered to Eugene. He called Pat Hill that morning that to say he'd had a change of heart.
Some of the recruits will come to Fresno State's campus with a lot of stars next to their names. Most recruiting services rank players by a 5-star system of five being the best. As Hill often says, he's not into stars. He wants to know if guys have what it takes to be a Bulldog. There are likely some guys in this year's recruiting class who have 4 stars, including quarterback Derek Carr, who joined the team at the beginning of the semester.
The star system is not perfect, however. There are 5-star players who never see the field and there are guys who had no stars as seniors in high school who are getting paid to play on Sundays. The Bulldogs have seen some of those on both sides.
Some of those players who were not highly recruited and didn't have a lot of fanfare on signing day who earned their way onto NFL rosters include Joe Fernandez, Adam Jennings, Paul Pinegar and Bernard Berrian,
In addition to the players who will sign on Wednesday, which means they are being offered a full-ride scholarship, there are players who are snubbed on signing day and therefore have to earn a place on a team as a walk-on (no scholarship) if they want to continue their careers.
One of the best walk-ons in Bulldog history is Logan Mankins, who not only became the first offensive lineman in school history to be named the team MVP, but has in a few short years already earned a reputation as one of the best linemen in the NFL. Others who have walked on to the program include 2005 WAC Defensive Player of the Year Garrett McIntyre and NFL players Stephen Spach, Cameron Worrell, Chris Denman and Wendell Mathis.
Watch Pat Hill's media conference on gobulldogs.com Wednesday at 1 p.m. to learn more about the 2009 Bulldog signing class. And don't forget to keep an eye toward the future for those gems. There will be someone who was passed over in signing day but will soon be making an impact on the college level and beyond.
January 27, 2009
Dogs in the Super Bowl
The Cards will play the AFC Champion Pittsburgh Steelers in Tampa Bay on Sunday afternoon at 3 p.m. PT on NBC.
Robinson is in his 14th year in the league and will be the starting nose tackle for the Cardinals. He spent a week in Fresno last spring, just prior to signing as a free agent with the Cards, in which he talked with the Bulldog players and coaches. There's a great photo of him in the hallway of the Duncan Building playing against Cal.
After the NFL career that featured stops in Chicago, Cincinnati and Miami, Robinson will be making his first Super Bowl appearance. He was a force in the middle for the Cards against Philadelphia recording three tackles.
Spach's trip to the Super Bowl is bitter-sweet. After making a big catch from quarterback Kurt Warner that helped seal a win over the Falcons in the Wild Card game, he suffered a knee injury against Carolina in the Divisional Playoff game that caused him to miss the NFC Championship game and he will not be able to play in the Super Bowl.
Last year's Super Bowl featured four Bulldog players, including Spach and his Patriot teammates Logan Mankins and James Sanders. On the Giants roster was former Bulldog running back Derrick Ward.
Super Bowl XLI featured two former Bulldogs as members of the Chicago Bears in receiver Bernard Berrian and safety Cameron Worrell.
Other recent Bulldogs who have played in the Super Bowl include current ESPN NFL analyst Trent Dilfer, who guided the Baltimore Ravens to a World title eight years ago, and Lorenzo Neal, who played for the Tennessee Titans in Super Bowl XXXIV.
Former Bulldogs running back Michael Pittman rushed for 124 yards to lead Tampa Bay to a victory in Super Bowl XXXVII.
Ron Cox, considered by some Bulldog fans as the greatest player ever to put on a Bulldog uniform, led Green Bay to a victory over New England in Super Bowl XXXI as the starting middle linebacker for the Packers. The defense held the Patriots to 43 rushing yards and featured some notable Packer greats like Reggie White, Gilbert Brown and Eugene Robinson.
On the coaching front, former Bulldog player and assistant coach Mike Martz won a Super Bowl as an offensive coordinator and then as head coach of the Rams guided them back to the Super Bowl two seasons later in Super Bowl XXXVI, losing to New England 20-17.
As you can see, the Bulldogs have been well represented in recent Super Bowls.
January 21, 2009
I spoke with outstanding receiver Chastin West about his recent semester break and his plans for this semester. He graduated at the end of the fall semester even though he has one year of eligibility remaining. He plans to take to prerequisite classes in hopes of entering the Sports Administration Master's program offered by the Kinesiology department.
Among the topics of the meeting were an academic orientation, going over the schedule for the spring semester, and former Bulldog Garrett McIntyre was invited by Pat Hill to talk to the team about the importance of nutrition. McIntyre was the 2005 WAC Defensive Player of the Year and spent the last two seasons with San Jose Sabercats of the Arena Football League.
While most people would consider this a "down time" for the student-athletes, that couldn't be further from the truth. The Bulldogs will go through a rigorous training program of weight lifting, endurance and speed development. These workouts will be held at 6 a.m. each morning and begin Thursday, Jan. 22, and continue through March 20.
The Bulldogs are scheduled to hold their first spring practice on March 23 and that will run until April 26.
Needless to say, being a Division I football player is a year-round commitment.
January 13, 2009
Something to be Proud Of
While many Bulldog fans are disappointed in this past football season -- and I can tell you that not a single player or coach was pleased with the final outcome of the 2008 campaign -- looking back on the season or a recent block of time really made me have a better sense of appreciation for things.
While the season started with super high expectations and a Top 25 ranking, few could have seen the number of devastating injuries that ravaged what could have been a truly special season.
Playing the "woulda, coulda shoulda" game is maddening, especially when asking: "What could have happened if Ryan Mathews, Cole Popovich, Lonyae Miller, Jon Monga, Bear Pascoe, Marlon Moore, Devon Wylie, Marvin Haynes, Wilson Ramos and A.J. Jefferson would have been healthy all season?" Hmmm...
Because of those injuries and others, Fresno State never started the same offensive team for consecutive game the entire season. Yet, a ninth bowl game appearance was a nice reward.
As people look at the "body of work", I think the Pat Hill program is something to be proud of. Examples like these are what built an extremely strong foundation for a nationally respected football program.
Then consider the national notoriety the school and Valley have enjoyed because of the recent success of the Bulldog program.
And finally, a look at some of the fantastic ambassadors the Bulldog football program has produced in recently years in staggering. With more than 20 players on NFL rosters, including several recent All-Pros, the Fresno State program is widely visible to millions on Sunday afternoons in the fall. It brings a lot of pride and recognition to Fresno State to see players like Stephen Spach, Logan Mankins, David Carr, Lorenzo Neal, Derek Ward, Bernard Berrian, Marcus McCauley, Richard Marshall, James Sanders, Bryan Robinson and Clifton Smith all making excellent contributions on some of the NFL's best teams.
Countless others are teaching and coaching in the communities all over the nation.
Former coaches have gone on to bigger and better things in college football, including coordinators Andy Ludwig, now at Kansas State, Jim McElwain at Alabama and Ruffin McNeil at Texas Tech.
Four former Pat Hill assistants are college head coaches: Jeff Tedford at Cal, Lane Kiffin at Tennessee, Dennis Wagner at Western Carolina and Trent Miles at Indiana State.
I'd say those are things to be proud of.
Here's looking forward to an exciting 2009 season filled with plenty of touchdowns and hard hitting tackles!
Dec. 20, 2008
Also just like home, the Bulldogs will be wearing their red jerseys and will be the designated home team for their second straight bowl appearance in red. While the team feared cold and snow and prepared to layer under their jerseys, Fresno State has nothing to worry about. Perfectly clear skies provide a panoramic view of the Sandia Mountains in the 41 degree weather that feels more like the upper 50s. One other thing about the jerseys... the bowl patch required for the game has been placed in an unconventional spot. You'll see the New Mexico Bowl logo on the Bulldog's backs in the place of last names. Something I've never seen before.
The Bulldog band is taking the field to bring Fresno State onto the field. Turn your television to ESPN now!
Dec. 20, 2008
Brown Family Reunion For His Final Game
Brown has been battling brain cancer for two years and will be stepping away from coaching to take care of his health.
Brown's wife, Mindy, six children and two grandchildren are at the game, as are eight of his 14 siblings. Brown's mother, Sue, is among those in attendance. Sue Brown, who has 60 grandchildren and 17 great-grandchildren, made the trek from Southern California to attend the game. The remainder of the 101 members of Brown family will be watching today's game on national television from their homes in Alaska, Boston and Southern California.
While in New Mexico, Brown was greeted by dozens of his New Mexico friends. They held a dinner to honor Brown on Thursday night. Brown is nationally respected as a coach and family man, as well as a long-time member of the Fresno community. His family, including several brothers, are regular visitors on the Bulldog sidlelines during games, and his family affair at Fresno State includes his son, Eric, a sophomore linebacker on the team.
His footprint on the Bulldog program will last for a long time.
There are 34 college football games played across the country from Dec. 20 - Jan. 8. Each bowl has its own unique story as to how it became created, its own link to the community in which it's played and the conferences from which the teams are selected. Another important and unique part that goes into a bowl game is the creation of the bowl trophy.
When I was doing my researching on the New Mexico Bowl trophy last week I was really impressed when I first saw the pictures and read the story behind it. (You can read the story of the football page of www.gobulldogs.com) The New Mexico bowl trophy is definitely unique amongst the college bowl trophies. I then decided to take my research a bit farther and see what some of the other bowl trophies across the country looked like and the stories behind them.
I heard from the Las Vegas Bowl that their trophy was designed to be "flashy" like the city in which hosts. The New Orleans Bowl has symbols that represent the city engraved along the outside of the trophy with a replica or the Superdome in the middle. The Aloha Bowl boasts a pineapple on top to represent Hawai'i and it's favorite fruit.
Some are bronze, some are glass, some are long, some are tall, some are short, some are small. No matter what the trophy looks like, it definitely is a prized possession for whoever wins and is able to take it home.
To view a gallery of some of the other trophies across the country please click on the photo gallery below: GALLERY
Bulldog Blog - Football
As the Bulldogs prepare for the third New Mexico Bowl, you can't help, but look back at the history between Fresno State and bowl opponent Colorado State. The history between the Bulldogs and New Mexico is even good for a record or two.
The New Mexico Bowl will be played in University Stadium, which is an old stomping ground for the Bulldogs. The University of New Mexico was a WAC opponent from 1962-1998 and a rivalry arose between the Lobos and Bulldogs. Overall the `Dogs are 8-4 against the Lobos and three of those losses came in University Stadium.
The Bulldogs have a 3-3 record in University Stadium. The last time the Bulldogs traveled to Albuquerque was in the 1998 season and they came up with a win, 28-20. The win in 1998 marks the only meeting of the `Dogs and Lobos with coach Pat Hill leading the way.
One of the most memorable games in Fresno State history was against New Mexico in 1991. Jim Sweeney and the Bulldogs beat the Lobos 94-17 in Bulldog Stadium. The high-scoring affair has put the Bulldogs in the NCAA record book. Fresno State hold the record for most points scored in a quarter with 49. They also hold the record for most points made after a touchdown with 13.
Aside from playing in a familiar venue, Fresno State is also facing a familiar opponent in Colorado State.
The `Dogs have faced the Rams six times and have a 3-3 record under Pat Hill. Hill described two games that stuck out in his mind. The first game that stuck out to Hill was his first game against the Rams. The Rams beat the `Dogs 41-3.
"The first game was big because they beat us so badly, it was my first year here and they were the powerhouse of the league," said Hill. "They beat us 41-3, so that one really stood out in my mind."
Another game that stands out for Hill is when the Bulldogs beat the rams in overtime.
"The biggest game was when we beat them in 2001 in overtime, We stopped them on fourth down and we kicked a field goal to win it," said Hill. "We were 8th in the nation and everyone thought the roll was over, but we came back and won in overtime."
Tune in Dec. 20 at 11:30 a.m. as the Bulldogs take on the Rams in the third annual New Mexico bowl.
Nov. 27, 2008
Thanksgiving in Boise
The team arrived at the Duncan Building this morning and packed their gear in preparation for their trip to Boise, Idaho for Friday's game against the Boise State Broncos.
Coaches and staff were in ties while the players donned their usual gameday travel uniform, a blue sweatsuit and red Bulldog cap.
Leaving the Fresno airport via an Allegiant Air charter at 10:45 a.m. PT, the Dogs arrived in Boise shortly after 1 p.m. MT.
The team was greeted by unseasonable warm Rocky Mountain weather. There's no snow on the ground and temperatures in the low 40s. In fact, the temperatures in the Treasure Valley have been so mild that the lawns are still a deep shade of green.
The Bulldogs had their team Thanksgiving Dinner on Wednesday, complete with Turkey, dressing and pie. With Thanksgiving behind them, they are ready to focus on the task at hand and trying to beat the nation's No. 8 ranked team.
The team will head over to Bronco Stadium in a few hours for a short "walk-through" practice before returning to the team hotel for scheduled meetings and final game preparation.
The last time the Dogs were on the blue turf of Boise State's stadium, they enjoyed a "home team" welcome as the WAC representative in the 2007 Roady's Humanitarian Bowl on Dec. 31, 2007. Fresno State defeated Georgia Tech 40-28 in that game and many local football fans wore their blue and orange colors but came to the bowl game and cheered for the Dogs. Fresno State had a similar reception from the fine people of Idaho in 2004 when the Bulldogs beat No. 18 Virginia.
With Boise State looking to wrap-up an undefeated season senior day, I wouldn't expect that same hospitality toward Fresno State tomorrow afternoon.
Joining the Dogs on the trip is former Bulldog and NFL player Cory Hall. Cory, now retired from professional football, is a Bakersfield native who makes his home in Fresno. He has become a highly successful businessman and recently made a large donation to the Bulldog athletic department and follows his beloved Dogs closely.
Nov. 21, 2008
ESPN2 and Fresno State
Fresno State has enjoyed quite a bit of national exposure this year and Friday seems to be the day for it. It's been a short week as the Bulldogs hosted New Mexico State last weekend for Senior Day. Today, Fresno State returns to ESPN2's Friday night stage for San Jose State's Senior Night. The Bulldogs are playing their second of three ESPN2's Friday night games. Two weeks ago, Fresno State hosted Nevada in the fifth national television appearance this season. Tonight's primetime broadcast will be the sixth for the Bulldogs, with another to follow next Friday at Boise State. The Spartans have just won the coin toss and have elected to kick to begin the game. Switch your tv to ESPN2 to see the Bulldogs take on SJSU for the first time on television.
Nov. 21, 2008
Big Day for the Dogs and Spartans
There's a lot on the line for both teams. A win for either team should lock them into a bowl. A loss for the Spartans, which would be their third in row and leave them at 6-6, might not bode when well bowl invitations are handed out. It doesn't mean the Spartans won't get one, but all the WAC teams with seven wins would need to get invited first.
Pat Hill and the Bulldogs have generally been strong teams late in the year and making a bowl run is nothing new. With a seventh win tonight, Fresno State should be locked in for their ninth bowl appearance in the last 10 years. Where the Dogs might go would need to be worked out as some key games remain, not only within the WAC but other conferences as well.
The last time this rivalry was played with a bowl bid at stake was in 2000, when the winner of the game was set to get an invitation into the fledgling Silicon Valley Football Classic. The Dogs won 37-6 at Spartan Stadium to secure that bowl berth, the second under Hill. He's taken the Dogs bowling six times since, a streak unprecedented in Fresno State history.
The best part about the game is that both teams still have their own destiny in their hands, and at the end of college football seasons that's a rarity. There are not manyother games where both teams have that control.
The one with biggest national implications is in Norman, Okla., this weekend where No. 2 Texas Tech plays the No. 5 Sooners. Both of those teams have a lot at stake, not a berth in the Big 12 Championship game, but the potential for playing the BCS National Championship game.
While Fresno State's game with San Jose State hasn't garnered much of the national news media attention, it will tonight. It's the only college football game on the national television schedule tonight. Enjoy!
Nov. 15, 2008
Bulldogs Gain Advantage with Touchdown
Dogs Take Back-to-Back Plays to the House
Bulldog Stadium Names Radio Booth for Bill Woodward
Athletics Director Thomas Boeh, former head football coach Jim Sweeney, and current men's basketball coach Steve Cleveland presented Woodward with an autographed College World Series framed commemorative poster, a No. 37 football jersey (for the years Woodward as spent at the microphone for the Bulldogs), and a special plaque after the coin toss. The Red Wave gave Woodward a standing ovation before he returned to the booth to call his last home football game as the voice of the `Dogs.
Fresno State also recognized 13 seniors during the pre-game festivities.
The Aggies started the scoring on their second drive of the game by kicking a field goal.
Fresno State just answered with a Goessling field goal of their own... Keep checking the blog for the latest on Bulldog football and visit www.kmj580.com to listen to Woodward's final broadcast from Bulldog Stadium.
Nov. 14, 2008
Ode to the Seniors
It's a culmination of a lot of hard work and achievement. As they wrap-up their playing career and prepare for graduation, a big wide world awaits.
On Saturday, 14 Bulldogs will be honored at the football game, their final appearance.
For some members of the athletics department, including yours truly, it's a sad time. For me, getting to know and working with them on a daily basis creates special relationships and bonds. Senior Day is a sad reminder they will soon moving on with their lives and I won't see them much.
I've been fortunate to make some life-lasting friendships with countless former student-athletes through the years.
This senior football class is no different, special and unique.
As a whole this group has accomplished much. On the football team, members of this class were instrumental in Fresno State's victory over Georgia Tech in the 2007 Roady's Humanitarian Bowl and earned the program's first-ever win over UCLA in the Rose Bowl. Off the field, they made few headlines, which in today's media culture is an accomplishment. Not a single member of this senior class had a run-in with the law that embarrassed the school or football program. They continued to excel in the classroom as their high Academic Progress Rate scores attest. Two of the 14 members of the class (Tom Brandstater and Ikenna Ike) have already graduated and are working toward their master's degrees. Another handful will earn their degrees at the end of this current semester. The remaining members of the class are within two semesters of graduation.
I'll always respect Tom Brandstater for his toughness, qualities he displayed on the football field and within his inner self. Playing quarterback at tradition rich program like Fresno State is a blessing and curse. He's had the unenviable task of following in the huge footsteps of former greats like Kevin Sweeney, Mark Barsotti, Trent Dilfer and David Carr. Each experienced their shares of highs and lows and all were appreciated more after they were gone than while they played here. I suspect it will be that way for Tom.
I'll remember Bobby Lepori for his toughness, leadership and love for his family. It was great seeing the No. 72 jerseys in the crowds at every home and road game.
I'll never forget the "kissing bandit" Cole Popovich, While he always shied away from the media and interview requests, he would often interrupt others being interviewed by kissing teammates on the cheek when they were in the middle of television interview.
I'll miss Bear Pascoe, who will go down as one of my most favorite Bulldogs of all-time. He played like a Grizzly bear on the field, tough and ferocious. He attacked the line of scrimmage as a blocker better than most offensive tackles, and when caught a pass, it took more than one defender to bring him to the ground. Off the field, he's was gentle as a Panda bear. Bear always had a kind word for folks. No one worked harder or cared more. He is a gentle leader, who will graduate at the end of this semester, and I predict a bright NFL future for him.
Thanks, seniors! You have represented you school with pride and class. Best of luck to you! Bulldog born, Bulldog bred...
Nov. 7, 2008
Dogs in Battle with Wolf Pack
Nevada started the scoring with the shifty Turlock-native quarterback Colin Kaepernick dancing into the red and white checkers for a 16-yard rushing touchdown. Brandstater followed with a 23-yard strike to wide receiver Seyi Ajirotutu to even the tilt at 7-7. Miller's score came after Kaepernick found the endzone again, this time through the air with a pass to Mike McCoy, and Brett Jaekle delivered his first field goal of the night on his second attempt.
We are working a great story of four Bulldog legends, who helped with the coin toss at tonight's game. One of the superstars is on his first trip back to Fresno in more then 25 years. You can follow the game live on ESPN2 or on GameTracker.
When the Bulldogs came out to Lousiana in 2006, it rained and Fresno State whisked away with the win in the final minute of the game. Dwayne Wright, who played for the Buffalo Bills last season, ran for a 33-yard touchdown to break the tie and win the game for Fresno State. Wright did more than just score the winning TD, he also set a new record for the Bulldogs for rushing in a single game. The Bulldog racked up 295 yards in the game on 25 carries, breaking the previous record of 252 yards set by Larry Wiloughby in 1952.
The games between this pair of Bulldogs have been close since 2003. No contest between Fresno State and LA Tech has been decided by more than 12 points in the last five meetings. Fresno State holds a 7-2 lead on the series with two wins and one loss here in Ruston, so anything is possible.
The Fresno State Bulldogs are in Ruston, La. A cross country flight and scenic drive along highway 20 later, the 100 or so members of the Fresno State football travel party arrived in Ruston, La. Players quickly grabbed their keys and headed to their rooms. Coaches scooped up their keys and left the lobby. Some staff members found keys among the pile and took off for rooms. Twenty or so staff members, myself included, looked to the empty key table.
Richard Enns, the football travel coordinator, did his best to figure out what was going on with our hotel, but to no avail. Apparently, Fresno State will, for the second week in a row, play in another team's homecoming. And homecoming, in a town of 20,000, means all the hotels are pretty well occupied.
The Fresno State Bulldogs (since LA Tech's mascot is also the Bulldogs, it's important to clarify) completed their walk-through Halloween (no costumes) in nearly perfect weather. According to LA Tech's media relations director, Friday's weather was the best Ruston has seenin months. Now we're just crossing our fingers for the same weather tomorrow.
Oct. 27, 2008
Kevin Goessling and the Art of Kicking
Calling it "amazing" immediately after the kick, Goessling's understatement described his Bulldog record 58-yard field goal that easily passed between the goal posts and gave his team a 30-28 come-from-behind victory over the Aggies as time ran off the clock. It was the classic "do or die" situation and Goessling, who had been a goat earlier in the season after missing an overtime kick against Hawaii and took the brunt of the blame for a 13-10 loss against No. 10 Wisconsin was a hero. Little kids wearing Blue and White Aggie jerseys who never heard of him before the game stood in line to get his autograph outside Fresno State's locker room after.
Being a kicker on any football team is a thankless job. Few understand the difficulty of the task because kickers make it look so easy. What fans see is the ball gracefully sailing through the sky to land softly in a net. It looks pretty.
Kicking a field goal might be one of the hardest things to do in sports. In my opinion, trying to hit a pitched ball is the only thing more difficult.
A field goal requires that three people touch the football and perfectly execute their tasks in less than 1 second, while 11 screaming, hard-charging behemoths try to stop them.
The center, or "long snapper" as he is often called, must deliver the ball quickly to the holder, who must catch and place the ball in proper position for the kicker to have a chance to do his job. The kicker is in motion as soon as the ball is snapped, so regardless of whether the snap or hold are properly aligned, he's already started his forward motion and leg swing.
As an avid (and not very talented) golfer, I have great respect for kickers. I have been on a tee box, looking at a fairway that's 50 yards wide, and struggle to hit a little dimpled ball in the middle of such green pasture. I get to attempt that shot with peace and quiet. I can't imagine starting to swing the golf club before the ball is even on the tee and have any level of success.
The life of a kicker is very different and more difficult.
Now consider Goessling. He looks like a Catholic altar boy, which is what he was a child. He's a great student, better than a 3.5 GPA with a Pre-Business curriculum, and as nice a young man as you could ever meet. He's respectful and polite, and his big smile and mouth full of braces brighten any room. He's the kind of kid parents want as a son and the type of young man a father hopes his daughter will marry. He works hard on the practice field to make himself and team better and he welcomes the pressure placed on him. He'll do whatever he needs to help his team win. Not a lot of people invite that into their lives.
Factor in those qualities and the composure he's shown during his rollercoaster freshman season, you get a brighter picture of one very special young man. After the Hawaii loss, he was the first player to face the media and stayed until they stopped asking questions.
He's never complained about the abuse he's taken from fans, instead he makes jokes about attending a class after the Hawaii game where classmates booed him when we walked in the door.
As Pat Hill said, "Kevin's a lot tougher than those people who are yelling at him."
That's why Saturday's win in Logan was so special for the Bulldog team. They were happy for the victory but especially happy for Kevin. They raised him on their shoulders and cheered him. He's the kind of person you can't help but like.
It would be great if some fans realized the student-athletes they claim to love are nice, hard working, quality young people. They have families and friends who love them. If you knew Kevin, you could never boo him.
Fans might also consider that some of the Bulldogs have some very tough assignments, with amazing pressures placed upon them. Maybe then they would be a little more understanding and a lot less hateful when a ball doesn't go through the uprights.
Watch Kevin Goessling's 58-yard kick
Oct. 25, 2008
4:30 p.m. MT
GOESSLING WINS IT FOR BULLDOGS ON LAST-SECOND FIELD GOAL
Click HERE to view our full story from Logan, Utah.
3:58 p.m. MT
Goessling Drills 43-yard Field Goal
The Aggies followed with a quick touchdown in under a minute courtesy of 3 plays for 75 yards with sophomore quarterback Diondre Borel using his elusiveness and arm to keep the Aggies in the game and sneak in for a two-point conversion that brought the game within a field goal.
3:15 p.m. MT
Mathews' Touchdown Caps Long 2nd Half Opening Drive
A quick note: the Bulldogs passed for 109 yards in the first half compared to 85 yards on the ground.
2:30 p.m. MT
Brandstater Throws 40th Career Touchdown Pass
Sophomore wide receiver Devon Wylie, who missed the last four games recovering from an injury, caught the pass (Wylie's second career touchdown) on a little out pattern and wound up wide open to jog into the endzone.
The touchdown also gave the Bulldogs their first lead of the game.
2:10 p.m. MT
Former Bulldog Barnes hosts Alma Mater
Yet, Barnes, 46, earned his bachelor's degree from California State University, Fresno in 1986, as well as his master's degree in 1993 in physical education with an emphasis in athletic administration. He and his wife, Jody, were both student-athletes at Fresno State as he was a member of the basketball team while she was a member of the track team.
Today, marks the first football game between his new Aggies and the Bulldogs in his new position. A piece of Bulldog red will always have place in Barnes' heart and pedigree.
1:40 p.m. MT
Miller records 4th TD in last three games
1:10 p.m. MT
Pat Hill Wearing "Coach to Cure MD" Armband during today's game
12:40 p.m. MT
Gameday from Logan
We stayed in Ogden, Utah last night (about 45 minutes south of Utah State and home to Weber State University) and drove over to Logan this morning.
As we were walking up to the stadium, I picked up a copy of the local "Herald Journal" and they had a feature on Odd Laws --- In the city of Logan, it is illegal to...
Here are some of the highlights of what you cannot do in Logan...
The Bulldog Blitz is on BSN right now with the game following our pre-game show. You can watch BSN on MY 53 (Cable Channel 13) in Fresno and in Northern California on Comcast Sports Net. Enjoy the game and you can follow the blog for some updates and a bird's eye of the Bulldogs in action in the Beehive State.
Oct. 24, 2008
Team Arrives in Logan, 'Dogs gearing up for Saturday afternoon contest
This is my first trip to the state of Utah, along with many members of the football team, and I have to say that this is one beautiful place. Most of the guys on the team that I have talked to were expecting much colder weather.
"The weather is nice," sophomore linebacker Nico Herron said. "I thought it would be colder and snowing... it's just mountains. But I am also really looking forward to seeing Nathan Royster (Utah State Aggie sophomore defensive end and Herron's high school teammate)."
The sun was beaming down on Romney Stadium (as the forecast predicts will also be the case for the tomorrow's gamegame) and the campus sits at the bottom of the Utah foothills. We couldn't ask for a better fall setting for a Western Athletic Conference contest in the Beehive State.
A couple of notes for you...
Behind the Scenes of a Road Trip (A Truly Random Note)
Be sure to catch the game on the Bulldog Sports Network tomorrow at noon (Pacific time) to view the game between the Bulldogs and host Aggies.
1:19 p.m. PT
WAC's Bowl Options Expand
Because of that, and that the Pac-10 doesn't have as enough teams headed toward bowl eligibility to fill its seven bowl slots, WAC Commissioner Karl Benson joined forced with the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl officials to announce today that they have signed a contingency agreement with the Western Athletic Conference that impacts the 2008 and 2009 bowl games.
The contract stipulates that if the bowl's agreement with the Pacific-10 Conference doesn't yield a bowl eligible team with six or more wins, then the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl will get a team from the Western Athletic Conference.
The bowl's primary agreement with the Pac-10 calls for the San Diego post-season game to receive the 7th place team. The WAC agreement is activated only if that 7th place Pac-10 team fails to reach the required six wins.
The Pac-10 or WAC participant will face a team from the Mountain West Conference. The bowl receives the second selection from the MWC; the Pioneer Las Vegas Bowl picks first.
"The WAC looks forward to returning to San Diego and hopefully playing in the Poinsettia Bowl this December," said WAC Commissioner Karl Benson. "There is so much history and tradition with the 'red coats' dating back to the 80's and 90's. I know our teams and fans are very excited with this possibility."
The WAC participated in 18 of the first 20 Pacific Life Holiday Bowls. The Holiday and Poinsettia Bowls are produced by the same organizers, the `red coats'.
"We are really excited about this partnership," 2008 San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl President Larry Baber stated. "This contingency plan assures us a great matchup and creates a natural and necessary regional tie."
The 4th annual San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl kicks off at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, December 23rd at Qualcomm Stadium. The game is televised on ESPN. For ticket information visit www.PoinsettiaBowl.net or call 619/285-5061.
The WAC has three automatic bowl ties, the Roady's Humanitarian Bowl, the New Mexico Bowl and the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl.
Welcome Back Monga
"It was good to see Monga out there and running as well as he did," said Hill. "We need him back to help our depleted defensive line. Wilson Ramos is out for the season and we need to do some things there to get more pressure on the quarterback."
Monga has missed the last three games for the Dogs.
Hill praised the play of true freshmen tackles Logan Harrell and Chase McEntee, who continue to play well in their first season of the program on the defensive line.
Oct. 11, 2008
The Bulldogs are definitely feeling the homecoming spirit. Just six minutes into the second half, Fresno State has extended truly taken control of the game, leading Idaho 35-10.
Just under three minutes into the half, Ryan Mathews ran in a touchdown for 20-yards. The Bulldog defense stopped the Vandals at the ten-yard line moments later to bring the Fresno State offense back onto the field.
On the first play of the drive, Tom Brandstater handed the ball to Lonyae Miller. The offensive line opened up the field and Miller took off, running the ball all 90-yards back to the checkered end zone for the touchdown. The 90-yard run is the third longest by a Bulldog in Fresno State history and the longest since 1978.
Miller joins Larry Willoughby (vs . Nevada, 1952), Walt Byrd (vs. Cal Tech, 1934), and Dale Messer (vs. Hawaii, 1960) in the third spot on the longest rushes list. Mathews, the sophomore running back who wears No. 21, had to get Messer's blessing to wear the number, which was retired in honor of Messer's career at Fresno State.
Seji Ajirotutu is determined to make this a homecoming to remember. Ajirotutu scored his first and second touchdowns as a Bulldog in the second quarter. With just 22 seconds left in the half, the junior pulled down a 15-yard pass from Tom Brandstater to put Fresno State up, 21-10.
With his second TD, Ajirotutu became the seventh receiver to score a touchdown for the Bulldogs this season. He has contributed 388 yards this season, easily the top receiver on the team.
For the first time this season, the Bulldogs scored a touchdown on the opening drive of the game, putting Fresno State up 7-3, with 4:19 to go in the first quarter. Last week, the Bulldogs scored on the opening drive of the game for the first time this season as the Kevin Goessling put in a 24-yarder. Idaho drew first blood with a field goal, but Fresno State answered with a 1-yard quarterback sneak by Tom Brandstater for the TD.
The Bulldogs are ready to roll tonight. The first quarter is complete and the stats are looking good for Fresno State. The Bulldogs have 96 yards of total offense, 72 of those yards are from rushes. Ryan Mathews, back in the lineup after an injury kept him on the sideline last week, has 14 yards in two carries and Lonyae Miller has 28 yards in four touches. Tonight has the potential of topping last week's season-high for rushing.
To me, one of the benefits of living in the Valley is the heat. More specifically, the heat that lasts into the fall.
Tonight is not one of the nights that the crowd at Bulldog Stadium will be enjoying the Valley heat. In fact, with the temperature hovering around 60 just 30 minutes before game time, Idaho may be more at home than the Bulldogs.
But that isn't keeping the Red Wave away from Fresno State's homecoming game against Idaho this evening. Spirits are pretty high in the stadium as the crowd files in from Bulldog Boulevard. Tonight, the band has a hard act to follow as Smashmouth took the stage at the "Ultimate Fan Experience" this evening. Bulldog Boulevard really is a great pre-game experience- definitely something to check out if you haven't yet this season.
Another pre-game experience that was awfully tempting this evening as I climbed the stairs to the press box - tailgating. The amazing aromas drifting through the air rivals any restaurant or cookout I've been to.
This is going to be a great Homecoming game. Last season, Fresno State overpowered the Vandals, 37-24, for their Homecoming in Moscow, Idaho, and the Bulldogs haven't lost to Idaho since 1967.
Oct. 4, 2008
Junior running back Lonyae Miller has been a respectable fill-in for the injured regular starter Ryan Mathews in blazing 155 yards on the ground (a career-high) highlighted by an absolute lightning bolt explosion of energy in an 80-yard run up the far sideline for a touchdown. Redshirt freshman kicker Kevin Goessling has been on the mark, hitting all three field goal attempts. Tom Brandstater has been systematic in finding open receivers but falling victim to four turnovers (three interceptions and a fumble). It all comes down to the fourth quarter. It's time to just sit back and watch.
The `Dogs scored first after a solid opening drive that balanced an effective air attack and ground game as Fresno State kicker Kevin Goessling drilled a 24-yard field goal to start the scoring. Hawai'i's Ryan Mouton split the Bulldog special teams for a 90 yard touchdown return up the Warriors sideline before cutting to the west to put the visitors on top 6-3 (UH kicker Dan Kelly missed the extra point wide right). The NCAA kickoff return leader and Bulldog junior A.J. Jefferson fumbled while returning the ensuing kickoff, which led to a 36 yard field goal to extend the Hawai'i lead to 9-3. A promising drive that had Fresno State in Warrior territory ended abruptly on a fumbled exchange by senior quarterback Tom Brandstater.
The crowd is near capacity tonight with the Bulldog Sports Network broadcasting the game for Northern California and ESPN Gameplan. The `Dogs are trying to find a steady rhythm as they march down the field and defend a fast Hawai'i team while filling the void of the nation's 10th leading rusher, Ryan Mathews, missing the game due to injury and playmaking receiver and punt returner Marlon Moore.
The student section is half full of pure red as tonight's game is the WAC opener and the second home game of the season for the 3-1 Bulldogs. There should be a clear distinction between Fresno State and Hawai'I fans in the crowd unlike the Wisconsin game. Fresno State is sporting their traditional all red uniforms while Hawai'i takes the field with their white tops and forest green pants. The Wisconsin game on Sept. 13 made for a red and white bonanza.
Hope everyone enjoys the blog tonight. We may be able to post a few fan comments if you send me an e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
11:06 a.m. PT
Forde Yard Dash
Pat Hill continues to champion his team's Academic Progress Rate as one of the best in the West. He's proud of the Academic Gameplan he has in place.
In Forde's weekly column, he took the AP Top 25 teams and re-ranked the teams based on their current APR score. In that ranking, Fresno State was tied for 10th. Here's what he wrote:
Top 25, With An Academic Twist
1. Georgia. APR score: 965.
When Hill said he was going to build a Top 25 program and shore up the academic program, he meant it. Few believed the program to reach such an elite status.
While not all Division I FBS coaches are completely popular with their fans, the Valley should be very proud of the combined academic and athletic accomplishments of the Bulldog football team under his watch.
Some other great rivalry games this weekend include Miami (Fla.) vs. Florida State and Navy vs. Air Force,
When it comes to rivalries for the Bulldogs, most fans look at San Jose State as the most traditional rival. The two schools have been playing each other since the 1920s and the history has been great. Many times with the winner of that game won a conference championship.
It seems that in recent years in many fans' eyes that Hawaii has replaced the Spartans as the chief rival of the Dogs.
For one reason, the Hawaii vs. Fresno State series is the longest standing WAC rivalry. They are the two schools that have been WAC rivals the longest.
Another reason is the closeness of the all-time series record. Fresno State holds a slight 20-19-1 edge. While the San Jose State series is also close with the Dogs holding a three-win advantage, the Dogs have won 15 of the last 17 games against the Spartans.
The Bulldogs and Warriors have split the last four games in the series and Hawaii holds a 9-7 advantage in WAC games.
The other reason the Hawaii rivalry is emerging has been some of the great stories and legacies to come out in recent years. Take the infamous "screwdriver game", in which Hawaii head coach June Jones said a screwdriver was thrown from the stands and impaled into the Bulldog Stadium turf near him.
The last time the Warriors came to Fresno State, they ran up 68 points on the Dogs at Bulldog Stadium and did a celebration dance on the Bulldog logo after the game that upset many Bulldog fans.
There have been issues on the Islands, including the team waiting on a police escort that never arrived. The Bulldog buses had to traverse the brutal Honolulu game day traffic, arriving much later than expected and had to shorter their pregame warm-up routine.
The was a time when Dogs arrived for their scheduled walk-through at Aloha Stadium to be denied access because the gates were locked and no one there to let the team in.
There have been players and plays that have defined the rivalry.
The Catch: Ashley Lelie made a great catch in the endzone with 13 seconds remaining the 2001 game as the Warriors beat the No. 18-ranked Bulldogs 38-34.
The Hit: When Marcus Riley knocked Colt Brennan out if the game with a wicked hit in the 2007 season at Aloha Stadium.
Run, Run, Run: When the Dogs rolled up a school record 503 rushing yards in a 70-14 win at Bulldog Stadium.
A Win on the Rock: The Dogs beat the Warriors 27-13 at Aloha Stadium in 2005, just the second win on the islands for the Dogs since 1965.
All of these great stories make for a great rivalry.
Sept. 27, 2008
Bruins Staying Alive
Case in point, after the Dogs scored to take a 36-22 lead, UCLA blocked the extra point attempts and return it 97 yards for 2 points. The Bruins sideline went from dobbers-down to "We are going to Disneyland!" in a matter of seconds.
The Bruins used that momentum to drive the ball 80 yards on their next drive tos score a touchdown and pull to within five points at 36-31.
As Fresno State takes over its first drive of the fourth quarter, the Dogs need to get some mojo back.
Mathews to the House Again, and Again
End of Third Quarter: Fresno State 36, UCLA 24
The Dogs were helped by a pass interference call against the Bruins in the red zone.
Fresno State 23, UCLA 19
Big Stop Leads to Touchdown
The Dogs took the ball and had an impressive 82-yard drive in 1:42 seconds that ended with a Tom Brandstater to Bear Pascoe 4 -yard touchdown pass with 48 second left in the half and gave the Bulldogs a 20-16 lead.
On the drive Brandstater completed all five of his pass attempts for 60 yards, three of them to Seyi Ajirotutu.
End of First Half: Fresno State 20, UCLA 19
Bear's Big Block
UCLA 16, Fresno State 13
Mathews to the House Again
Fresno State 13, UCLA 10
1:18 p.m. PT
Harris Gets a Sack
End of First Quarter: Fresno State 7, UCLA 7
12:49 p.m. PT
Knox Earns the Hammer
A tradition of special team's coach John Baxter, the hammer goes to a top performer from the previous game. The player is awards the hammer during a Sunday team meeting and the player is responsible for the hammer for the week and has the honor of leading the team on the field for the next game.
Knox had a couple big hits on specials teams plays against Toledo to earn the award.
Some player have treated the hammer with so much pride they've taken it to classes and some have even slept with it.
The Magic Man
Moore came into the game ranked in the NCAA top 50 in punt return average, but give credit to his team mates who have the philosophy that "block so one can run" and opened a gaping hole in the UCLA punt return so big a Mack truck could have gone through/
This marks the second straight week Fresno State has taken a 7-0 lead with the offense taking a snap.
Fresno State 7, UCLA 0
Sept. 27, 2008
Rose Bowl is an Incredible Site!
For those who do love football, some of the greatest players and coaches ever associated with the game have walked the same pristine turf, and his historic stadium had hosted some of the greatest games ever played.
Butch Harmon Sighting
Sept. 25, 2008
Bernardi Returns to Rose Bowl
As a kid growing up, he got pretty used to the setting at the Rose Bowl. And he really didn't like Fresno State very much. His father, Gary, is a college football coach and Fresno State got him fired not once, but twice.
Joe was 5-years old and remembers watching the Freedom Bowl when his dad was an assistant coach at USC. Right after Fresno State beat the Trojans, Gary and the rest of the USC coaching staff got fired.
Fast-forward 11 years and when Joe was a junior in high school Gary was on the UCLA coaching staff. He'd been coaching the Bruins for a long time and needless to say Joe was a UCLA fan. He was on the sidelines when Fresno State played UCLA in the Silicon Valley Bowl in San Jose. After Fresno State beat the Bruins in that game, Gary and a couple other assistant coaches were fired.
So for Joe, this game means something more. It's not just another game.
Joe talked fondly a lot about the Silicon Valley Classic. He actually caught Bernard Berrian in his arms once when he got pushed out of bounds on the Bruins' sideline. And before the game, when the teams were warming up, Pat Hill approached the UCLA sideline to say hello to him in front of the UCLA people.
After Gary got fired from UCLA, the Bernardi family, including his twin sister Briana, moved to Flagstaff, Ariz.., because he got a job at Northern Arizona. Joe was pretty bitter because he had to leave his senior season at Hart High School and all of his friends behind.
Having grown up going at the Rose Bowl, including when the Bruins played in the 1998 Rose Bowl game against Wisconsin, Joe was pretty excited when he found out in the Spring the Dogs would be playing the Bruins. It gave him extra motivation to get ready for the 2008 season. Joe suffered a season-ending knee injury in 2007 and had undergone his third knee surgery.
UCLA tried to recruit him even after they dismissed Gary but he parents threw the letters away and never opened them. They later told him the Bruins had tried to recruit him.
"I guess you could say things work out for a reason and coming to Fresno State has been a blessing," said Bernardi." I've met a lot of great people and am part of a great Top 25 program. This was a great decision for me. I always wanted to play college football. When my dad got fired it was tough but that part of being a college coach. It's the business."
You can expect that when Saturday comes and it's time to go out on the turf of the Rose Bowl, Joe will have lots of friends watching and some of special feelings about playing the Bruins in the Rose Bowl.
Sept. 20, 2008
What a Play!
It was Moore's first touchdown catch of the season and one of the most unlikely plays in recent years for the Dogs.
Fresno State has scored on all four of its possessions in the second half and its 41 points are the most by the Dogs since scoring 45 against Kansas State last season.
Sept. 20, 2008
Harding Scores, Dogs Lead 34-24
Fresno State scored on all three of its third quarter possessions and outgained the Rockets 189-86 in total yards. Tom Brandstater was 9-of-10 passing for 108 yards in the third quarter. UT was 2-of-5 passing for 18 yards in the quarter.
Sept. 20, 2008
Bear Gives Dogs Lead
Pascoe is an All-America and Mackey Award Candidate, an award that goes to the nation's top tight end.
Sept. 20, 2008
Toledo 24, Fresno State 20
There was as scary moment two plays before the field goal when Bulldog Chastin West and Desmond Morrow collided with the Rocket cannon in the back of the end zone after a long pass play attempt. Both players were slow to get up and the cannon, which is shot after each Toledo score, was broken and removed from the Glass Bowl. The cannon has been a fixture at Toledo since 1953.
Sept. 20, 2008
Toledo 21, Fresno State 17
Fresno State will start with the ball in the second half.
Sept. 20, 2008
Fool Me Once
Sept. 20, 2008
Dogs Lead 14-7 at end of First Quarter
Sept. 20, 2008
Sept. 20, 2008
Sept. 20, 2008
Since then, Toledo has added a real rocket to its campus. In 1961 Toledo procured a Nike-Ajax missile from the U.S. Army. It's located at the northeast corner of the Glass Bowl and rumor has it the rocket is aimed directly at Bowling Green, Toledo's arch-rival.
Other famous Rockets teams include the Houston Rockets of the NBA and of course, the Midway Union High School Rockets from Taft, Calif., the fictional team from the 1980s sport movie "Best of Times".
Sept. 20, 2008
Top 25 Shake-up
Boise State's impressive win at No. 17 Oregon will likely move the Broncos into the Top 25, as will Colorado's win over No. 21 West Virginia on Thursday. Both the Broncos and Buffs are undefeated this season and coming off wins over ranked teams.
With Arizona State's game tonight against No. 3 Georgia in Tempe, the Sun Devils would likely return to the Top 25 should they win.
Needless to say, the Dogs need a win tonight to keep themselves considered for the Top 25 voting in Sunday's polls.
4:26 p.m. PT
Home Away From Home
It could be said that the midwest is Fresno State's second home. The Bulldogs will be making the trek to the midwest many times over the next three years. Next year Fresno State plays Sept. 12 at Wisconsin, Sept. 26 at Cinninnati and November 21 at Illinois. In 2011 the Dogs play at Nebraska. This is Fresno State's first trip to Toledo. We are less than an hour from kick off in what should be a very entertaining game.
2:55 p.m. PT
In addition, the Glass Bowl has installed new Field Turf and this will be the first game on the new surface.
Sept. 17, 2008
Fresno State, through the WAC television package, has created a great relationship with ESPN over the years. Needless to say with the number of nationally televised football games this decade approaching 60 games, ESPN has been very good for Fresno State and vice versa. So when ESPN selected this game to fill its ESPNU program needs, it was a bittersweet dilemma. It provides the Dogs, a Top 25 program, a platform to showcase the program and players to a larger national audience, but it also meant that some fans in the Fresno market might have to find a place to watch the game.
It also took the game away from the Bulldog Sports Network, which has originally planned to televise the game back to the Valley. [BSN has picked up the Hawaii game, Fresno State's next home game, to replace the Toledo contest.]
That's the nature of the television beast in today's college sports. Hopefully Comcast can add ESPNU to its menu and those future Bulldog events on that channel will be easily available to Bulldog fans.
Until then, we can be thankful that ESPN and others think so well of the program that a national audience is interested in watching the Bulldogs play. The Dogs now have seven national TV games, which is four more than Arizona State has this season and five more than the Rockets, who were thrilled to get this game on TV.
This is a night that Fresno will remember for a very long time.
Check out our full release at: http://gobulldogs.cstv.com/sports/m-footbl/recaps/091408aab.html
Injury Update: Wisconsin quarterback Allan Evridge suffered from cramps when he left the game during the fourth quarter and could have returned to the game if needed.
"This game is big for the Valley," Molale said. "This is the No. 1 show in town. I feel like a big kid when I come back here. There is nothing like walking down the ramp of Bulldog Stadium."
Molale makes the trip up from his current hometown of Los Angeles, Calif., at least once or twice a year. He is currently working on a couple of Rob Schneider films, a Spike TV film, and a special project with former San Francisco 49ers great wide receiver Jerry Rice.
"This is how it should be," Molale said when thinking of the fact that No. 10 Wisconsin had made the trip to Bulldog Stadium. "Most big time teams duck and dodge playing the Bulldogs here in Fresno."
Molale is a proud Fresno State alumni and that he has an opportunity to give back to the community that gave him his start.
"I put my blood, sweat, and tears into Bulldog football," Molale recalled. "I am Bulldog born. I am Bulldog bred. I will be a Bulldog until the day I am dead."
The famous Jim Sweeney mantra is a perfect definition of Molale. You can stay up-to-date on Molale's projects by visiting his website at: http://www.brandonmolale.com
Members of the national championship baseball team, who captured the heart s of America in the June nights of Omaha, Neb., and the Fresno State teams that won WAC championships (Women's basketball, women's golf, and women's tennis).
The teams just walked in... and the `Dogs have just sprinted out of the Doghouse. This atmosphere is so loud and incredible. We are moments to game time.
The rest of the sellout crowd is filing in through the gates, but the student section is loud and about 99% red.
Members of both teams are on the field warming up with the energy continuing to build as the sun is setting.
The band looks bigger than ever as they wrapped in a big "U" around the south side of the field a few minutes ago.
TimeOut reappeared to Bulldog fans at Bulldog Boulevard and walked with his team down the ramp with some newly minted grey fur and a big smile.
While today's date will go down in Fresno State lore as the day the first Big-Ten team entered the Doghouse, Sept. 13, 2008 is also McCall's 62nd birthday. His family threw him a surprise birthday tailgate over by Bulldog Diamond, with what might have been 51 family members donning a shirt with McCall's famous No. 51. We stopped by to say "Happy Birthday."
"It's really exciting to have a Big-Ten school here," McCall said. "It is a tremendous opportunity for the team and hopefully they can pick up a victory."
The current Merced resident recalled his former teammates and playing in Ratcliffe Stadium as some fond memories of his days in a Bulldog uniform. McCall issued some big hits during his time in red as he lettered in 1967-68, but posted a couple of school records that still stand today that relied more on his hands --- most interceptions in a game (3 - he did twice) and most interception return yards in a game (143 yards versus CS Los Angeles in 1968).
Happy Birthday, Tom! The next time you see the number 51 or a Bulldog interception, remember this Bulldog great.
I just got up to the press box and the field looks absolutely gorgeous as it is painted to perfection with the traditional red and white checkers of the endzone and the Bulldog logo marking midfield.
I made my way around Bulldog Boulevard, the tailgates, and the stands to talk with Bulldog and Badger fans, who all just can't wait for game time.
There are some interesting stories that we get to you shortly as we talked with a former Fresno State Bulldog on his 62nd birthday, a house divided over which team to root to victory, and a host of other stories that you will enjoy.... Stay tuned as we are under an hour and half to kickoff.
Sept. 1, 2008
Big on Fourth Downs
3:14 p.m. PT
Big Play for Seyi
2:58 p.m. PT
Dogs Score First
2:54 p.m. PT
First Half Starting Position
2:23 p.m. PT
Where did the time go?
1:39 p.m. PT
Haynes Picks It
1:34 p.m. PT
Great on the Goal Line
1:22 p.m. PT
Goessling's First Attempt
1:08 p.m. PT
Jorde is a senior and Bell is a sophomore.
12:10 p.m. PT
Even more eerie is the look of the coaching staffs. Both staffs are wearing red Nike polo shirts, red hats and khaki colored pants.
McDowell on the Move
The move allows the offensive coaches to use McDowell in short yardage situations and on the goal line as an extra big blocker. He's shown good hands in practice, so don't count him out as a pass catcher.
10:15 a.m. PT
The good news is that Fresno State is one of two featured games this afternoon on ESPN and kicks off a very good college double-header of action. The UCLA vs. Tennessee game follows the Dogs on ESPN.
The team will be arriving at Rutgers Stadium in a little over an hour. There's a great atmosphere already and the weather is beautiful with skies and temperature at game time in the mid-80s.
ESPN Talent Likes Fresno State to Win the WAC
Of those picking Fresno State were: Bob Davie, Rece Davis, Joe Schad, Mark Schalbach Andre Ware, Todd McShay, Bruce Feldman, Rod Gilmore and Ivan Maisel. Boise State picked up the other three votes. Colin Cowherd, Jim Donnan and Pat Forde picked the Broncos to win the WAC this year.
It will be great to have Ware, a former Heisman Trophy winner, in the booth for the Rutgers game. Ware has been part of the ESPN broadcast team for a handful for Bulldog games this decade. He's familiar with Fresno State's great quarterback tradition because he is the radio analyst for the Houston Texas network and broadcast many of David Carr's professional games.
In other national media news, A.J. Jefferson was named to the Sports Illustrated preseason All-America team as a kick return specialist. Of course, last season Jefferson led the NCAA in kick return average, nearly 36 yards per return.
Dogs in the House
August 26, 2008
National Media Taking a Look
On Monday, Hill appeared as a guest on national ESPN radio with Colin Cowherd and he's scheduled to appear on Tim Brando's show on Sporting News Radio (Sirius 123) on Wednesday morning at 9 a.m.
ESPN.com is working on a feature on Tom Brandstater to preview the Rutgers games and USA Today has a story in the works this week as well. Hill was interviewed by Chris DuFresne of the Los Angeles Times and is schedule for an on-camera interview with the NFL Network for the "College Football Now" show.
These are a couple examples of some of the large media agencies who are taking a closer look at the 2008 Bulldogs. If the Dogs win ion Labor Day, you can expect even more national media interest heading into the Sept. 13 home opener against No. 12 Wisconsin.
Dogs to D.C.
Since the President is a big baseball fan (former owner of the Texas Rangers), many figured it was just a matter of time (and working with schedulers) to make this event a reality.
While Mike Batesole is known for his stoic demeanor in the dugout, make no mistake he's very excited about his team making this "once in a lifetime" trip. He and his "Wonderdogs" captured the hearts of America in June and are reaping the benefits.
August 21, 2008
Sellouts and Such
That might be right.
The visual of a stadium packed and the buzz it generates is truly amazing. I've been lucky to be in attendance of at some major sporting events and seeing a venue completely full is awesome.
Some of the most memorable sellouts I've seen have been at Bulldog Stadium. The first time I saw it packed was in 2000 when the Dogs beat Cal 17-6 in front of a then-record crowd of 42,285. That was a special night for Bulldog fans.
The second memorable sellout was the next year when the Dogs hosted Oregon State. In front of a national television audience, Fresno State man-handled Dennis Erickson's 10th-ranked Beavers for a 44-24 win. That was the most electric environment I've ever seen in Bulldog Stadium. It was simply awesome.
Under Pat Hill, Fresno State has enjoyed 17 sellout games. While a couple thousand tickets remain for Wisconsin, there's no reason to think that game won't be sold out. The Badgers are the first Big Ten team to ever play in Fresno and enter the season ranked No. 12 in the nation.
With an excellent tradition that includes recent Rose Bowl appearances and a Heisman Trophy winner in Ron Dayne, the Wisconsin program is considered an elite program in the Big Ten.
Anyone who went to the USC-Fresno State game in 2005 for a sellout at the Los Angeles Coliseum will probably never forget that stadium environment.
Let's hope we can generate that kind of excitement again when the Badgers come to the Valley on Sept. 13.
Wonderdogs Make an Impact from Orlando to Hermosa Beach
After a couple recent trips, it was great to see the Bulldog baseball team, and the Fresno State program in general, get recognized.
In the Las Vegas airport a couple weeks ago Tom Brandstater and Bear Pascoe were approached by a man from Orlando, Fla. He saw the Fresno State shirts the guys were wearing and came up to talk to them. He didn't recognize them, but wanted to know if they knew any of the Bulldog baseball players. As it turns out, he watched the College World Series with great interest from his home in Florida.
Tom told him proudly that College World Series MVP Tommy Mendonca was from his hometown of Turlock.
While at Hermosa Beach last week my wife, Kathryn, proudly wore her Fresno State national championship tee shirt. when we went to a cafe for breakfast. We met a nice couple from Georgia there on vacation. They saw her shirt and stopped by the table to say they were Georgia fans and had a daughter who was a UGA graduate. They wished us congratulations on beating their Bulldogs for the nation title. It was classy gesture.
A few minutes later a USC fan noticed her shirt and stopped by the table. I assume he was a USC fan because he was wearing a Trojan colored coordinated outfit that included a hat, tee shirt and sweat pants. He, too, told us how impressed he was with the Bulldog baseball team and wanted us to wish Pat Hill and the Bulldog football team luck this year.
Bill Self, the national championship coach from Kansas, sought out Bulldog baseball skipper Mike Batesole to say congratulations during last month's ESPY Awards show. Self said he and his family watched every game on television and were rooting for the Bulldogs.
While everyone loves an underdog, it's apparent that these folks were also especially impressed with the "Wonderdogs".
Once called a "rolling ball of nails" by an opposing coach for his style of play, McIntyre was the 2005 WAC Defensive Player of the Year after leading the Dogs to a Top 16 national ranking and the most historic bowl game in school history, the Autozone Liberty Bowl.
Since leaving Fresno State, McIntyre has continued his passion for the game by playing professional football in the Arena League for the San Jose Sabercats. The last two years, he was on the Sabercats team that reached the Arena Bowl championship game. San Jose won the Arena Bowl in 2007 and lost to Philadelphia this season.
McIntyre was an excellent student at Fresno State and earned Academic All-WAC honors. He's back on campus this fall to complete his degree in construction management. He's on schedule to finish that this fall and graduate in December.
August 11, 2008
As his usual custom after the first week of fall camp, Fresno State football Pat Hill has closed practices to the general public and that always ticks off some fans and media members (when closed to them).
It's is an age-old custom that still begs the question: "why"?
Some coaches - the majority of college football coaches in fact - close practices from time to time (or altogether).
What closing a practice means is prohibiting all persons except those associated with the team to attend.
Coaches will tell you their reasons for closing practices include:
Case in point: When I worked at the University of Wyoming the Cowboy football team was scheduled to open the season against a regional non-conference powerhouse. One of the assistant coaches from that powerhouse was charged with calling alumni who lived in the Laramie area asking them to record any television news programs, send newspapers clippings (before the internet age) and urged them to stop by the Cowboy practices and report back to the coach what they had seen. Unbeknownst to the assistant coach, one of his alumni solicitation calls was to a long-time administrator on the UW athletics staff. Needless to say, that coach hadn't done much homework.
All are valid reasons. I'd like to offer a couple more.
First of all, there's technology.
In today's information age with mind-boggling access to all things via the internet, opponent scouting is global. When well-meaning fans want to share a great play by one of their college football heroes on You Tube, they use their cell phone to take some photos, or worse - video clips. Those are easily available to opposing coaches and players, who can watch the play unfold, recognize formations or player tendencies.
Secondly, more than any other sport, football coaches have fewer opportunities to prepare their team for the season. It is the rare team sport that doesn't allow for exhibition games and the only one without a playoff at the end of the season, so there is little room for error in a 12-game schedule. There are no "Mulligans" or "do-overs". Teams only get one game per week to be perfect. If not, there's a lot (read: money) riding for athletics departments when the football team has a down year.
Third, since college football coaches keep their jobs based on how well 18 to 22-year old young people perform on Saturday afternoons, the pressure is, needless to say, quite intense. Georgia Tech, UCLA and Texas A&M all made coaching changes even though their teams advanced to bowl games this past season. In the last two seasons, four of the 10 schools in the Pac-10 have fired football coaches. So giving coaches a break when it comes to closing practices isn't too much to ask.
Finally, it always amazes me how much access some people expect when it comes to their favorite teams. Putting it into a business perspective, how many businesses open their offices for the general public to sit in on meetings, watch managers supervise, teach or discipline employees, or allow strangers to video tape staff meetings. My guess is not many.
August 9, 2008
It was just over a year ago that the Bulldog family learned that defensive coordinator Dan Brown was diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumor and the prognosis was not good. That news rocked the Bulldogs as they began their first week of fall camp last August.
Yet, one year later, after an exhaustive battle against the deadly disease, Brown was there at practice with more energy than ever.
Brown spent the afternoon heat literally on his hands and knees working with defensive players who were several inches taller and 50 pounds heavier than him. He was teaching proper techniques of how to protect themselves against dreaded "chop" blocks.
While his mind was sharp and willing during practice sessions last fall, Brown's body was ravaged from the disease and grueling treatments and medication. He could not take such rigorous activity.
Brown has been an inspiration to many around the nation for his strength and perseverance. He and his family are thankful for the outpouring of support and prayers they've received this past year.
One of Brown's biggest fans was former NFL linebacker and ESPN college football analyst Chris Spielman. When in Fresno to broadcast a Bulldog game last fall, Spielmen had a handwritten note of support delivered to Brown's office. Spielman had been through a similar personal struggle as his wife battled cancer. That message, and hundreds other Brown received, helped him continue to battle cancer.
Brown's treatment program was an amazing success, nothing short of miraculous, and he enters this fall camp happy, healthy and full of energy. He, and wife Mindy, welcomed their second grandchild this summer.
We are all better for knowing Dan and his amazing family and it's a privilege to work with him.
Wisconsin Ticket Going Fast
Bulldog fans, using their first opportunity to order single game tickets for the game with Badgers, ordered 900 tickets in the first 12 hours of the on-line only sales program.
That means that only 6,000 tickets remain to the general public for that game. Fans can continue to order on-line by clicking the tickets icon at the top of this page.
Sales will continue at the Bulldog Ticket Office or via phone (559) 278-DOGS beginning Monday, August 11, at 9 a.m.
August 6, 2008
As an added feature for our faithful Red Wave fans, starting this school year members of the Fresno State Media Relation staff will begin posting blogs on each sport page.
These blogs are intended to be fun and informative and provide insightful inside information about the teams, coaches and student-athletes. From time to time, we will have special blogs from Bulldog players and coaches.
Please watch for these updates and, as always, we appreciate questions and feedback. Emailed responses or questions we receive regarding the Bulldog Blogs may be used in future blogs.
Training Camp Talk
Inevitably some players change numbers from one year to the next. A couple of notable number changes this year include linebacker Chris Carter (91 to 43), redshirt freshman quarterback Matt Faulkner (16 to 10), and junior receiver Seyi Ajirotutu (6 to 2).
For Seyi, No. 2 is his third number since becoming a Bulldog. He started as No. 19 but was forced to change early in the 2007 season because he was going to be playing on the same special teams unit as another player with that same duplicate number (No. 19 Marvin Haynes). [NCAA football game rules prohibit two players from the same team wearing the same number on the field at the same time.]
He chose to wear No. 6, a number assigned to fellow receiver Chastin West. Since West was injured and couldn't play last season, that number became available. West returns to his No. 6 jersey this season, which left Seyi searching for a new number.
If history means anything, his new number is a great choice. The last two Bulldogs to wear No. 2 -- Bernard Berrian and Clifton Smith -- were pretty darned successful. Keep an eye out for No. 2 as a receiver this fall...he's the same guy who wore No. 6 last year.
Smith Making an Impact
Where's the Heat?
Last summer, the Dogs experienced some pretty intense August heat during training camp and that helped them for the road opener at Kyle Field at Texas A&M where the heat index was off the charts.
The Bulldogs weathered that just fine through a three-overtime thriller against the Aggies. You can expect a Hill team to be in excellent physical shape and he's extremely pleased with the level of fitness of the team as it reported to football camp Monday.
For those looking ahead to this weekend and Sunday's Fan Night at Bulldog Stadium, the forecast calls for a high of 94 degrees that day. The scrimmage will begin at 7 p.m. and is open to the public.