Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Guest Blog: Where is the Love?

Every year we as Fresno State fans start the season with high aspirations. Lately it seems that the Bulldogs have continually let the fans down by going on numerous losing streaks killing our momentum during the season. While it is true these losing steaks have caused us to finish out of the top 25 most years I ask all of you true Bulldog fans this question: How often have we finished in the top 25? Is Fresno State a school that finishes a season in the top 25 every year or is this something that happens from time to time? I would venture to say the latter half of that is true, that Fresno State is not a top 25 team yearly. Of course Fresno State has the talent to be in the top 25 every season but it can only happen when everything under the sun aligns. First and foremost we need a healthy team in order to compete. Contrary to what most people believe, our depth is not what USC or Texas's depth is and if we lose one of our stars we cannot plug in another player as if nothing happened. Marcus Riley should come to every single Fresno State fans mind when I talk about injuries as he could have been the most important injury of the 2005 season. The problem here is not that Fresno State goes on a losing streak or even that they deal with these injuries. The major problem in Fresno is our fan support is poor.

At the starting of the season Fresno State will sell out both games against Nevada and Oregon. If we win at Washington and are 3-0 we will sell out Colorado State. However, say Fresno loses on the road to Washington. Do you think there is a chance in hell Colorado State will be sold out? The answer is an emphatic no. There is no way the fans of this city will support a team that has lost a game. These fans that will not support a team that loses far less than they win are the same fans that push for stadium expansion, a new scoreboard, and an entrance into a BCS level conference. Fresno will never become an elite team without the fans. When you turn on an SEC game on Saturday afternoon on that beautiful HDTV what is one the first things you notice? Every single SEC game is sold out regardless of who is playing. When Georgia and Florida play they actually play at a neutral site yearly and split the stadium down the middle having no problems filling it up. That is how the Fresno State-Boise State series should be. No I don't think the game should be played at a neutral site but I do think the game should be sold out yearly without a doubt. Year after year I go to the Bark Board and I read these asinine predictions of Fresno State going undefeated and playing in a BCS bowl. Why do Bulldog fans have such expectations at this point with respect to the football program? Have the Bulldogs finished in the top 20 one time since the inception of the BCS? Then why is it that fans expect undefeated year after year? When is the last time Fresno State went undefeated? They never have since moving to the WAC so why is it expected that they must do this in order to satisfy the fans. Why can we not allow the Bulldogs to build and become something much larger in time? I realize the desire is to be the best right now, but we are headed in the right direction. Give this team some time and they will hit the peak we are all hoping for. With the addition of a fifth BCS game there is an even better chance for the Dogs to play in a BCS game in the future, but be patient and support the Dogs.

Lastly we finished the season last year at home against La. Tech. We had a whopping thirty-six thousand fans at that game. The WAC title was on the line and all we could do was put thirty-six thousand fans in the seats? Don't give me the excuse that the game was on the same night as High School football. High school football does not compare to Fresno State football with respect to the stadium and excitement levels. We should never have fewer than forty thousand fans in that stadium regardless of whom we play. I am willing to bet that during our games vs. both Idaho and New Mexico State we will not sell out the games because of who those teams are. BCS teams do not have that problem and will fill the stadiums without a problem regardless of who they play. Do the math; it only takes five percent of Fresno to fill the stadium so support Fresno State. Get out there and watch the damn games, they are not expensive. The AD even gave us 2:00 pm games this season to coordinate with those coming from out of town. There is no reason for lack of fan support even if we do lose three or four games this season. Teams lose, it happens. I am asking our fans to support Fresno State regardless of what happens. I will be at every home game and MDG and I are heading to LSU for the game down in the bayou. I don't care what our record is; it's still Fresno State football. If ever there is a time where you wonder what happened to Fresno State and why they are not in the top 25 just remember the pre pat Hill days and maybe just maybe you will realize how much better off we are today than we ever have been before. -NSC

Guest blogger NSC will give his insight on the 'Dogs throughout the year.


pleasewintheWAC! said...

Dear Neil, Great blog. Thank you for your point of view. I completely agree that Fresno State fans need to support the Dogs. That is the only way they will get a bigger stadium. That is the only way that they will gain interest from a bigger conference. It comes done to dollars and if Fresno State football is not generating dollars, big conferences will not come calling. You'd never see 36,000 fans at a Pac-10 game at the end of the season with the conference championship on the line. Why would a conference like the Pac-10 ever show interest in the Dogs if that is the kind of interest the fans represent for the team.

I think part of the problem though, is since Pat Hill has been the coach, expectations have be so insanely high, because he puts them there. The fans believe that a BCS game is possible because Coach Hill says it is. I believe that if Coach Hill took more of a game by game approach with the media instead of mentioning how going to a BCS game is his goal, every chance he gets, and instead concentrated on mentioning how they need to win the next game or at the most the WAC title, then the fans would tend to be less disappointed at the prospect of having one loss. Instead, Coach Hill always talks about the BCS and as a result, the Bulldog fan frame of mind is that one loss = season over. In order for the fans to lower their expectations to a more reasonable level, Coach Hill needs to keep the fans focused, though what he says to the media (and to his players), on next weeks game, because in the grand scheme of things, the next game is all that matters.

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gofsudogs206 said...

PLeasewinthewac I agree with you with respect to Pat Hill. However, I guess i feel people should be able to look at this team, it's history, and where it is headed and figure out how good they truly are without hearing what the coach says. For example, if Pat Hill were to say the 2006 season comes down to one loss or the season is over, well we all know that to be false. Fresno could very well lose to LSU and still play in a BCS game. At the same time to expect this team to go undefeated would make little to no sense at all. They have inexperienced players at key positions and might play the hardest schedule ever in their history. It is those who expect Fresno to win all of their games and nothing less that bother me. Be realistic with this team. In time it will all come together, the time just isn't at this moment. The Dogs will be a very good team, but greatness may still lay ahead for the this school with respect to football.

Anonymous said...

Faulting coach Hill for making the BCS a goal is wrong.The dogs have to believe they belong with the big boys before they can and thats all coach Hill is doing. It's just a way of getting his team and the public to believe they belong. The part about the fan support is dead on. Bulldog Stadium should never be empty but the problem is not what coach Hill says but the mentality of Fresno's residents. Fresno residents have never supported any team unless they are at the top of their leagues whether it's Bulldog sports or any of the semi-pro teams that have been here. I don't see anything changing anytime soon.

gofsudogs2006 said...

I don't think that anything will change with respect to the way fans support (or don't support) Fresno State football. It's sad that a team that loses at home once a year at most cannot sell out the games there. I don't feel like I am faulting Pat Hill for aiming for the BCS but why is that the goal? Why is the goal not one game at a time? I mean great, you want to take down BCS teams but you cannot ignore the rest of your schedule. Not to mention the WAC will have three pretty good teams aside Fresno State in Boise, Nevada, and Hawaii. La. Tech shouldn't be so bad either. So to ignore the WAC as Fresno State seems to yearly is the wrong way to handle the schedule. Yes, it's fine that they want to beat the BCS teams but you should want to go out and show how good you are against everyone, not just BCS teams.

pleasewintheWAC! said...

How bad are Fresno fans, really? We're talking about a city of 400,000 and a school with an enrollment of 19,000. This is not some Big-10 or SEC school that enrolls 40,000+ and has an an alumni base of several hundred thousand. Fresno is an old farm town that has recently seen a population burst in the past 15 years.

My point is, Fresno doesn't have a strong fan base to fall back on, if they aren't playing up to expectations.

I love Coach Hill, the enthusiasm and ambition he has for Fresno State football. I just think that sometimes he shouldn't be doing radio interviews the week after a loss to USC, just because the rest of the country is amazed that the Dogs got closer then anyone at that time to beating USC. It makes it seem as if, well, since you almost beat USC, you must be a top-10 team. That seemed to be the nationwide media outcry after that game and Fresno State was buying into it by doing as much press as they could.

A win is a win, a loss is a loss, and if you start acting like a close loss to a BCS school translates to a win in conference, you're making a serious mistake. I believe Fresno State over looked every opponant after USC, because they believed in their hearts that being that close to beating the best team in the country they could easily beat the rest of their meager WAC opponents.

It happens time and time again. Year after year. Beat teams you "shouldn't" beat... Believe the hype. Lose to teams you "shouldn't" lose to. That seems to have become the Fresno State mantra over the past five years.

Don't get me wrong. I don't believe that Dogs would have even been in that situation had it not been for Coach Pat Hill and the exceptional job he has done. I do believe, however, that for as much credit he deserves for getting Fresno State to this point Coach Hill deserves the credit for the mental laps that have caused Fresno State to take a 3-game + skid every year for the past few years.

As long as this happens, Fresno State fans will get their hopes up, only to be deeply disappointed. If Coach Hill had more of a "yes, it was a win, now lets move on to the next game" attitude as oppossed to a "we need a new stadium, we want the BCS" attitude, Fresno fans would be less subjected to the great disappointments we have suffered over the past few years.

Please Win The WAC!

Steve Burnes said...

I believe that Pat Hill wants to be a BCS team so badly, that beating them becomes his primary focus. He seeks respect from his peers, and this is how he intends to get it: if you can't be a giant, be a giant killer!

I thank Hill for taking this team where he has--higher than in years past, but I fault him for not understanding the psyche of his players. With each BCS-bowl-or-bust bluster, he should realize his players are buying into what he is selling; when it doesn't come to fruition, the players get down on themselves and lose games they really shouldn't. We then lose the WAC (which real FS fans believe is "below" us), and end up in an inferior bowl game. (This year we got lucky and nailed a good bowl at the height of our hype, prior to our annual collapse.)

Yes, we need to play top caliber competition, and win some of those games. But we need to consistently win our league play to get to the next level. That we have not seems to be more about us losing than the competition winning, and THAT is on Hill.

Fire Pat Hill? No. Get Pat Hill to better understand what it takes to get our players to win the WAC, and while we're at it, to make better second half adjustments to avoid predictability and thus second-half collapses, YES! Until then, we Dog fans will have our hearts broken annually.

Nonetheless...Go Dogs. Have a great 2006 season, and remember: We Love You!

Chrissa said...

Can you put me in touch with neil Coppola? Thanks!