Coin Toss a Special Moment for Former Bulldog Stars
Nov. 7, 2008
FRESNO, Calif. - It's always nice to go home.
Trent Dilfer, Mark Gardner, Terry Pendleton, and Clifton Smith, who each cemented their place in Bulldog lore, joined the captains from both teams at midfield for the coin toss before tonight's Fresno State-Nevada football game.
"The memories I have at Fresno State far outweigh any I had outside Bulldog Stadium," Super Bowl champion quarterback Trent Dilfer said. "Fresno State is one of the hidden gems in the country and it is always nice when they have the national spotlight on them."
During his 14-year NFL career, Dilfer threw for 113 touchdowns and amassed 20,518 passing yards while playing for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1994-1999), Baltimore Ravens (2000), Seattle Seahawks (2001-04), Cleveland Browns (2005) and most recently with the San Francisco 49ers (2006-07). Dilfer, who had his No. 12 retired by Fresno State, now works as an NFL analyst for ESPN.
With a 97-yard kick return for a touchdown in his second NFL game that sparked the largest comeback (21 point deficit) in his Tampa Bay Buccaneers' history, Clifton "Batman" Smith cherishes his Bulldog roots.
"I love being home," Smith, who sported a varsity letterman jacket with a big "FS", said of being back at Bulldog Stadium. "I learned here to always play tough, hard-nosed aggressive football that leaves no doubt and how special teams can make a huge difference in a game."
Terry Pendleton beamed with pride on his first trip back to Fresno in more than 25 years and couldn't stop smiling while soaking in this moment.
"It's a major thrill to be back," the former Braves and Cardinals star third baseman and current Atlanta hitting coach said.
Fresno State honored Pendleton by placing his number on the left field wall in Beiden Field this past spring. While he couldn't attend the ceremonies as he had family obligations back in Atlanta, he grinned with excitement when he viewed the honor earlier today.
"I never envisioned or could have dreamt when I starting playing just for the fun of the game that I would have my name on a wall and have so many people recognize you when you come back," Pendleton added.
The current Georgia resident soaked in the joy of his Bulldogs defeating the University of Georgia Bulldogs for the 2008 baseball national championship.
"Our guys on the Braves would give me updates after they got out of the batting cage or the locker room and were rooting," Pendleton recalled. "There is definitely a sense of pride in being a Bulldog."
Mark Gardner, former Bulldog All-American and San Francisco Giants star pitcher, expressed the pride he feels as a Bulldog alumnus and took time to meet Victor E. Bulldog while standing on the Fresno State sideline after the ceremonial coin toss.
"I always enjoy coming back to campus and wish I was a freshman again," Gardner said. "It's definitely an honor to be recognized, especially with guys like Terry, Trent and Clifton."
Gardner, who won 99 games and struck out 1,256 batters during his 13-year career between the Giants, Florida Marlins, Kansas City Royals and Montreal Expos, also spoke to the pride he felt in Fresno State winning the College World Series.
"When you pass the torch, you hope they hold onto it," Gardner said. "They definitely set the bar for future Bulldog teams."
The pride of being a Bulldog never wavers and there is always a special placed called home ready to welcome you back with open arms.