Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Future Schedules

No more SC, anytime soon?

Since Pat Hill has been head coach at Fresno State his calling card has been playing the best schedule possible. In the past years the schedules have been dotted with many Bowl Championship Series schools but few finished the year in the top 25. 2003 and this year's schedule were the exceptions. Both of those schedules the Bulldogs played two legit top 10 teams, Tennessee and Oklahoma in '03 and Oregon and USC this year.

Hill and former inept Athletic Director Scott Johnson were never able to get a BCS team to come to Bulldog Stadium besides those that were already committed to prior to Hill's arrival in 1997. Of the upcoming non-conference games very few have that big-time feel like a Tennessee, Oklahoma or USC. Oregon should be a preseason top 15 team when they play at Bulldog Stadium next year, but that is only marquee game. There is still one spot left on next year's schedule.

It could be filled with a game against a team from the ACC or SEC, most likely on the road Labor Day Weekend. There is the possibility of a second game against Hawaii in Japan. What may make matters worse is the likelihood of Colorado State backing out of their game in Fresno and leaving the Bulldogs with two hard to fill spots. If CSU ends up of dropping out of their commitment for the second time in three years, then I expect Hill to schedule a big-time road game against a BCS team if given the opportunity. Then the other open spot probably will be filled with a game against a I-AA school. Ideally, a warm up game at home against a middle-tier BCS school prior to Oregon would be great, but that is dreaming.

The best case scenario depends on your mentality as a fan. If your mentality is to play the best teams possible then your best case 2006 schedule could look like this:
Sept. 2 at LSU/Georgia/Virginia Tech
Sept. 9 Oregon
Sept. 16 at Washington
Sept. 23 open
Sept. 30 Colorado State
Oct.-Nov. WAC Schedule

If your mentality is to go unbeaten and have the best chance at a BCS game then your best case 2006 schedule could look like this:
Sept. 2 open/IAA team
Sept. 9 Oregon
Sept. 16 at Washington
Sept. 23 open/IAA team
Sept. 30 Colorado State
Oct.-Nov. WAC Schedule

If Colorado State does back out then it could really screw things up and the likelihood of playing Hawaii in Japan may only happen if the game is played in late August or early December. Personally, I was against scheduling a big-time BCS school at first but this philosophy is Hill's mantra and he can't change that. After taking USC to the wire, it seems the Trojans no longer desire a rematch with the Bulldogs anytime soon. Many other schools might follow USC's lead, so play them while you can.

Pat Hill's philosophy might need some other changes but as long as teams like LSU, Georgia or Virginia Tech will play Fresno State he can not back away from these type of games. Hill and the Bulldogs need to win them and not just make it close. Otherwise, teams will be scared to schedule the Bulldogs, just like USC and former Fresno State alum Jeff Tedford at Cal. These respective school's coaches know their alumni will no easily forgive a loss to Fresno State no matter how good the Bulldogs are.

Hill needs to forget dreaming about playing USC, UCLA, Cal, Stanford or anyone else in the Pac 10 other than those schools in the Northwest. Hill needs to beat the schools that are not afraid to play the Bulldogs like LSU, Tennessee, or Georgia. It is real sad that schools and fans(including Fresno fans) on the Left Coast give Fresno State less respect than those east of the Mississippi.

Are those fans showing less respect out of ignorance or because Fresno State never seems to finish off a successful season?

2006 will be Hill's tenth year, and maybe his last to make a real big splash nationally if LSU, Georgia, Virginia Tech or another ACC or SEC team signs on to play Fresno State. After '06 the schedules look ok not spectacular, but never has a future schedule under Hill been set in stone, it has always changed. Those schedules were done by Johnson, I doubt the same mistakes will be made by Thomas Boeh.

There is an open spot in 2007, maybe two. There has never been any clear any indication from the athletic department if the San Diego State series is set after the teams backed out of games from 2003-2005. USC has already filled their spot in '07 and Ohio State dropped their game against FS in '08 back in the spring, thanks SJ! Other than Oregon in '07 and '09 there may not be another top 25 team on the non-conference schedule.

Wisconsin and Kansas State will be under new coaches next year and there is no guarantee they will be great if or when Fresno State plays them in '07-'09. These new coaches might what to rethink their previous coaches' scheduling philosophy and drop their games with the Bulldogs. Kansas is making strides under Mark Mangino but he dumbed down his team's schedule this year, which included moving this year's trip to Fresno to 2009. Kansas may end up dropping their series altogether.

What happens if Fresno State plays lets say Georgia tough or even beats the 'Dawgs Between the Hedges? Does Georgia eliminate Fresno State from future schedules? Does the same happen whether the Bulldogs play LSU or Virginia Tech instead? It is pretty safe that Oregon will play Fresno State again win or lose in '06 at Bulldog Stadium, but the same can not be said for other programs. This can not be the only reason why schools will not play Fresno State, is it?

Scott Johnson was one the worst hires the University ever made and the football program's scheduling woes are just one of his many foul ups. Besides the Ohio State goof, there were weak contracts with Texas Tech and Oklahoma State, the Michigan error in '02 and he almost lost the return game with Oregon State in '03. His stupidity, I think, is the main reason Hill's program has had such little success getting games with BCS teams at home.

Many tend to forget Jim Sweeney tried to get games with the Big Boys, but he was not going to whore out the program to play them. Sweeney tried for years to get home-and-home series in the late '80s. A lengthy series with Washington State began in 1987 and was to continue until 1998, but SJ messed that up in 1996, his first year in charge of scheduling. That year Sweeney finally caved in and scheduled a "body bag" road game at Auburn in 1996. SJ was seen as the guy who got Fresno State a big game against a SEC school, Sweeney retired that year. I don't blame the guy, who in the hell would want to work under an idiot if you didn't have to.

SJ was nothing more than a used car salesman. He never returned phone calls and was a terrible AD. SJ and his many, many fuck ups along with the "stellar" basketball program has given Hill's football program a so called "renegade" persona that we all know is false. I received a return email from CSTV's Brian Curtis a while back and he said he has spoken to many athletic director's that think of Fresno State as a renegade program. He gave this as a reason why some schools shy away from scheduling the Bulldogs. We traded some more emails and pretty much came to the conclusion that the theory is out there despite Hill running a tight ship.

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