Hill, Baxter Named 2006 Clovis Co-Citizens of the Year
May 11, 2006
FRESNO, Calif. - College football coaches are used to receiving a variety of awards during their careers. Fresno State Head Football coach Pat Hill and Associate Head Coach John Baxter will be sharing a special award in 2006 that has very little to do with their coaching ability.
The two have recently been selected by the Clovis Chamber of Commerce as the Clovis Co-Citizens of the Year. Hill and Baxter will be honored at the 23rd Annual Clovis Chamber of Commerce Awards dinner held Friday, May 19, at TorNinos beginning at 6 p.m.
"Coach Hill and Coach Baxter brought so much pride to the Valley and the City of Clovis," said Mark Blackney, COO of the Clovis Chamber of Commerce. "We are so proud of the Bulldogs and what they accomplished. Through the national media attention the Bulldog received, the City of Clovis was mentioned prominently. We are so very proud of the scholastic accomplishments of the Bulldog football players and the work that both Coach Hill and Coach Baxter have put into the program and what they do for our community."
Hill enters his 10th season as head football coach at Fresno State and has built one of the nation's premier programs. The Bulldogs have played in bowl game each of the last seven years, the longest streak in the western United States, and Hill's career winning percentage as a head coach ranks among the top 20 among NCAA active coaches. Under Hill, the Bulldogs have been leaders in producing NFL players and for academic achievement. Hill and wife, Cathy, have three sons, Mike, Matt and Zak.
"I'm humbled by this honor," said Hill. "It shows how much respect the Bulldog program has gained in the community. All of the credit goes to our staff and student-athletes. They are great ambassadors for the university and I'm proud to be their leader."
Baxter was the first assistant coach Hill hired and is in his 10th season as Associate Head Coach. He is responsible for the wide receivers, special teams and the team's academic program and authored the nationally-recognized Academic Gameplan program used by the Bulldogs. Fresno State's specials teams are annually ranked among the best in the nation and the NCAA Academic Progress Rate (APR) of the team is among the best in the nation. Of all of the schools in the west, Fresno State's APR ranks fifth-best. Among Division I-A schools in California, only Stanford has a higher APR score. He has been nominated for the Broyles Award, given annually to the nation's top assistant football coach. Baxter and wife, Jill, have two daughters, McKenzie and Kelly.
"I've grown-up my whole life around team sports, so individual recognition makes me somewhat uncomfortable," Baxter said. "Obviously we've been able to accomplish some great things here, none of which could be accomplished without a total team effort. We have great leadership in Pat Hill and have a strong group of coaches and players who have been responsive to the program. It's nice that people to recognize the positive things we have accomplished."
The Bulldogs spent 13 weeks of the 2005 season ranked in the nation's Top 25 polls and finished the year with the school's only berth in the historic AutoZone Liberty Bowl. The Bulldog nearly pulled off the upset of the season, taking two-time national champion and No. 1 ranked USC to the wire in a classic college football game played in front of a capacity crowd the Los Angeles Coliseum. USC prevailed 50-42, but not before the Bulldog held a lead late in the fourth quarter.
Under Hill, the Bulldogs own a record of 72-43, including a 43-8 record in Bulldog Stadium. Fresno State has made 41 national/regional television appearances since the 2000 season, and won three straight bowl games over teams from BCS Conferences (Georgia Tech, UCLA, Virginia) in the last four years.