Friday, June 30, 2006

Are the 'Dogs BCS Worthy?

The BCS has made it easier for the any non-BCS school to join the party in 2006. The highest ranked non-BCS conference champion, in the top 12 of the final BCS standings, get an automatic bid to one of the five BCS bowl games. If Fresno State runs the table there are a shoe in. Honestly, even with a loss at LSU I still think the 'Dogs could sneak in, as long as no other non-BCS school is ranked ahead of them.

Fellow college football blogger Dawg Sports has posted a poll on his site asking readers to vote for the top non-BCS school capable of making it to the BCS. His choices are as follows: Boise State, Fresno State, Navy, TCU and Utah.

On my other blog MDG CFG, I ranked the top 15 non-BCS schools and the reasons why. Don't jump on my ass for ranking the 'Dogs so low and Tulsa higher, just look at the respective schools schedule. You will see that Tulsa's toughest games are at BYU and Navy.

Of the five schools Dawg Sports list, FS has by far the toughest schedule. Boise State and Utah have the easiest, and I think have the best shot to run the table. If you disagree with me, and think Fresno State will run the table or at least finish in the top 12 of the BCS, then vote now.

However, if you leave a comment, please know your stuff. The last thing I want to read is kool aid drinking Fresno fans talking smack without anything substantial to back it up.

Injury Update by fsufever

Let’s look a little closer at some of the injured Players. I’ve attended the first 2 and the last 4 Summer Practice sessions and hope to attend the rest and have been able to talk to some of the injured.

1. Dwayne Wright: He has complete maneuverability while running. He says he is totally healed and ready to go. However, he needs to lose more than the 5 pounds mentioned. He must be closer to 12-15 pounds too heavy; in fact he went from very muscular in Spring Practice to too heavy now. However, he is very enthusiastic and upbeat at every Practice and looks good in his moves. I don’t think he is as fast right now as he was in previous years Practices and actual games but it may be just because he’s not extending himself yet.

2. Roshon Vercher: He is not working out with the team at this time and I have only seen him at the Practice Field one time and he was in civilian clothes. I have heard he will be back for Fall Practice and I expect and hope that is true.

3. Clint Stitser: He has been working out every day and is kicking the ball a TON! He is attempting about 15-20 kicks a Practice and all from about the 30-35 yard line. He starts out just kicking the ball through the goal posts and working on accuracy and then he starts kicking it harder and harder and ends up somewhere between 50-60 yards in the air. It’s difficult to say exactly because he is just kicking into an unmeasured area.

4. Clifton Smith: I have talked to him several times and also before and after the TV interview he gave yesterday. He is not very positive or enthusiastic about his return and I have doubts he will be back by the Oregon game. He says his knee is healed and that he is doing some jogging but I have not seen him work out at any time. He says his problem is the muscle above the knee and when he working under the supervision of the trainers he personally becomes concerned about stretching it or lifting too much weight on the individual leg machine and that is the holdup. I told him that we all loved him and admired him tremendously and certainly hoped he would be back soon. He is very polite but did not leave me with much hope for an early recovery.

5. Marcus Reilly: I have not talked to him but he is running and his teammates said he hoped to get in the Fall Practice.

6. Kreig Peters: He has gone home for a couple of weeks as he is still not cleared for Practice but his teammates believe he will be back for Fall Practice.

What Does the Future Hold...

What is the future of Fresno State football? Many fans would say Fresno State football will go as far as Pat Hill takes the 'Dogs. Few would say Fresno State would reach new heights with a new coach. Some would say Fresno State football will forever be doomed a "mid-major" no matter who is the head coach. Others might say Fresno State would not be the same if Hill left Fresno State. The future of the program revolves around the head coach, plain and simple.

Fresno State has had the luxury of having only two head coaches leading the program for the last 30 years, save the two years Bob Padilla filled in for Jim Sweeney while he was "testing" the waters in the NFL. Most Bulldog fans don't realize the strength of stability the program has had because of that. If Hill decides to leave Fresno next year, the year after or 10 years from now, the next coach would have to be an exact fit for the Bulldogs.

Fresno State has not been a springboard to a major coaching job, like Boise State has been the last 10 years. The Bulldog program was not a consistent winner prior to Sweeney's hiring in 1976. If and when Hill leaves, Fresno State may or not be the same program it has been the last 2o plus years. It could be like Boise with numerous hot, young coaches proving themselves in a few years before leaving for a bigger name. Or it could just try to survive with big name aging coaches looking to prove themselves one last time, like San Jose State.

The chance of Fresno State hiring another Sweeney or Hill type coach looking to stay long term is remote. Hill has said on numerous occasions he wants to stay and build Fresno State into a consistent top 25 team. But in his nine years the 'Dogs have finished ranked in the top 25 once, and have received just one preseason ranking, as well, in the same time span. Along the way, Hill has developed a pipe dream of winning a national title at Fresno State. Stop the insanity already; it will never happen at Fresno State. BYU's national title in 1984 was an anomaly. A more logical goal is to win the WAC and if you run the table lets see what happens.

Hill has gotten that part. In order for the "what happens" to be something special, you have to beat some decent teams in non-conference play. Hill has beaten a few but not enough to get the masses, beyond the diehard loyalists, to buy into his program. Many are still spoiled from the great start in 2001 and the Heisman hype that surrounded David Carr. Those same fickle fans that are living the past don't realize David Carr only comes around once and a lifetime at a school like Fresno State. 2001 was Hill's season to change everything inside the program from stadium expansion to energizing the masses about becoming diehard Bulldog football fans. However, two WAC losses doomed Hill and the program per se, in 2001.

Hill got a second chance at glory last year in the Coliseum against USC. Even in defeat the fans, media and the nation believed in the 'Dogs. However, two WAC losses doomed Hill and the program, once again. This year Hill has to win, plain and simple. A seven or eight win season will get the 'Dogs into another ho-hum bowl game, but that is not enough. If Hill wants to stay and build a national power he has to win the WAC and win two of the three games against BCS opponents. Furthermore, this year's team can not lose to anymore teams is suppose to beat, and that includes the season opener against Nevada.

The Hill lovers will forgive him as long as the team is competitive against Oregon and LSU, and he gets the 'Dogs to an 8th straight bowl game. The Hill lovers always point to next year and beyond. I support Fresno State and Hill, but I am among the ones that say this year's team has to win the WAC. I don't want to hear about the young quarterback or tough schedule. There is enough talent on this team win nine games with ease. There are only two teams on the schedule with more talent than the 'Dogs, Oregon and LSU, and the Ducks are at home. There are only two road games that can be categorized as difficult or tricky, Washington and Boise State. The other eight games, I believe, Fresno State should not lose to.

The future of the program comes down to 2006. If Fresno State has another down year (6-6, 7-5, or 8-4) without a WAC title, in my opinion, the Bulldog community is not going to be very forgiving. Please, I am not in the fire Pat Hill crowd that is just plain stupidity. But the team will need some major change if losses to Nevada, Hawaii, and Louisiana Tech appear on the 2006 schedule. The media preseason hype might be subtle, but things could get ugly in Bulldog country, if a team with three first round NFL talents has another five loss season. Imagine 2007 without Hill and a team coming off a disappointing season. If and when Hill leaves he has to do it on a high note or, in my opinion, Bulldog football will have to replace more than just a head coach.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

ESPN's Trick

Part of me is happy that the Bulldogs season opener will be televised in prime time on ESPN. But the other part of me is pissed that Fresno State is just ESPN's bitch. It is like this every year, ESPN says jump and Fresno State says how high. I know Fresno State doesn't have a pot to piss in when it comes to negotiating television times, but the University has to grow some balls.

ESPN is available in more markets than the deuce, but a 5 pm kickoff in early September in Fresno, WTF? It will be like 115 degrees on the field, and the poor saps sitting in the East stands will be looking straight into the sun for the entire first half. Honestly, I think the stadium will be half full at best at kickoff. Fickle Fresno fans will bitch about work, the heat, the early Friday night kickoff and the pessimists will be calling for loss. So why even brave the heat, when you can sit on your ass at home and watch it in ESPN HD. The diehards don't seem to mind, but there is just not enough of them to go around.

Fresno State has played on every day of the week, except Monday and Wednesday, since 2001 in Bulldog Stadium. ESPN has been the culprit and will always have their way with Fresno State until the 'Dogs break through the glass. Back in 2003 ESPN moved FS's game with Oregon State from Saturday to a Friday 7 pm kickoff in the first week of September. Only 35,000 showed up in 100 degree heat for 7 pm kickoff against a hated Pac 10 team. I don't see any way FS attracts more fans, against Nevada, with a 5 pm kickoff, while the team is in the midst of a four game losing streak. Fresno fans are just too fickle as it is, give them another a reason to wuss out and they will.

Pat Hill's goal is a BCS bowl bid and a national title. Therefore, he will schedule whoever and whenever to give his team the best shot at his unrealistic goal. Let us not forget the national exposure he covets. In order for most non-BCS schools to get TV time, they must play whenever ESPN deems necessary. ESPN is the pimp and Fresno State is its best ho.

So when ESPN is in a bind and can't find a 'bigger" school to move its game to an 8 pm ET kickoff on Friday September 1, who does it call do the trick?

ESPN: Hey FS, we know it’s f*cking hot in Fresno during the summer, but do you mind bending over and moving your kickoff time right in the middle of that f*cking heat?

FS: OK, but......?

ESPN:Compensation? Don't worry we'll give you a bigger TV audience to showcase your half-empty stadium of fickle fans.

FS: We don't mind taking in the ass, as long as you're happy.

ESPN: Whatever bitch!

I like I said, part of me is happy that the Nevada game has been moved to ESPN.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The Jayhawks are a Bunch of Pussies!

The University of Kansas backed out of last year's game in Fresno to secure three soft home games in non-conference play. The agreed to come to Fresno in 2009, with Fresno traveling to Lawrence in 2007. Well, it is not going to happen. Kansas associate athletic director Larry Keating announced the home and home series will not take place.

So who is at fault? Is this Kansas' doing or Fresno State's? Of course is still listing Kansas as a future opponent, but it also lists San Diego State as home games in the next 4 years, which are not going to happen either. I would hate to think Thomas Boeh would cut ties with the only BCS school to agree with a home and home with Bulldogs in the Pat Hill era. My guess is the Jayhawks are just a punch of pussies.

Their 2005 non-conference was a joke and this year's non-conference schedule's toughest game is at Toledo. The 2007 schedule is by the easiest of the three. It has four games, all at home, against: Central Michigan, Southeastern Louisiana, Toledo and Florida International. Head Coach Mark Mangino is taking the easy road to bowl games. Win those four and the Jayhawks only need to win two conference games to be bowl eligible. Why take a chance against Fresno State at home and get whipped? Pussy!

What else am I going to think? FS was supposed to host Kansas last year in their first home season opener against a BCS team and agreed to move the game at Mangino's request. Now, the series is toast. Is it Boeh or is KU? I say KU.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Summer Workouts: fsufever's take

Let’s get real, if you don’t “Volunteer” to participate in the Summer Workouts you won’t be starting or possibly even playing second string. The first three years Coach Hill was here there was not full participation, but the team learned that you better be out there working! Each day is outlined with certain practice requirements similar to Spring and Fall Practice and each day has weight lifting included (which is why some of these kids pick up 20-30 pounds of muscle between Spring Training and Football Season). The big difference is they cannot have coaching ,as such, by Pat Hill’s staff.

The Seniors and Juniors have gone through these training exercises for 3-5 years and each drill is worked on in a very knowledgeable manner. There is certainly a more relaxed atmosphere during these drills, but the fights last longer without the coaches to stop them. There is almost no horseplay and there is peer pressure to perform well.

I’m not aware that they have to get approval to miss practice but because of summer jobs, summer classes or whatever there may be different faces missing occasionally, but certainly not often.

It does get very hot but some players even stay after others leave to continue their personal practice, and some participate in two-a-day which really helps team bonding but they have ample water, Gatorade and trainers are there. This is not a pick-up type practice; this is a very hard, football practice that is legal because it is not supervised by coaching staff.-fsufever

(ps. I used to attend a lot of these workouts but I'm just not up to it right now).

fsufever will contribute summer workout reports when possible. He has attended numerous spring, summer, and fall workouts during the Pat Hill era. What he says is pretty accurate.

Hill's Recruits Not Afraid to Hit

Bullard's Kenny Hendrington, Buchanan’s Taylor Smith and Sunnyside's Will Smith all signed with Fresno State back in February and all will play tonight in the City/County All-Star Game at Sunnyside High School. High school all-star games have fallen by the wayside in recent years because most college bound athletes rather not risk injury and often skip these types of games.

If I am not mistaken these kids play football, the most physical and dangerous sport at the high school level. There is always a chance to get hurt, but there is always the chance you can get hurt in your daily life. High school kids do stupid things. It was not too long ago I was in high school, and I did a lot of stupid shit. But it doesn't stop there, even grown men make stupid decisions. Just ask Ben Roethlisberger how easy it is to get hurt by making stupid decisions, playing in a high school all-star game is not a stupid decision. Come on, it is not like these kids are asked to play in a backyard tackle football game without helmets. In fact three of the high profile players in this year's city-county game have decided not to play to avoid the risk of getting hurt. I just have one thing to say, pussies!

Clovis West's Chris Lewis chose Miami over Fresno State back in February. He will not play in tonight's game and instead will focus on getting ready for fall camp. Bullard's Anthony McCoy was never interested in Fresno State and signed with USC. He had shoulder surgery back in January and says he is only 90%. If he was 100%, he said he would play. Clovis East's Tracy Slocum has fully recovered from his broken leg he suffered last fall, but was pulled from the game at the request of his grandfather.

Of the three Slocum could have benefited the most from the game. He will enter Cal this year deep on the depth chart. Slocum was a highly regarded prospect based on his great junior season, but he missed most of last year. In my opinion, a great all-star game performance would have done wonders for him.

Any high school football player can get injured from the end of the season until the start of their respective college fall camp. Sometimes college coaches secretly, or not so secretly, tell their recruits not to play in all-star games. Honestly, none of the three highly regarded players will likely play their first year of college anyways. So why be soft? Get on the freakin field and hit somebody.

Unless, Lewis converts to middle linebacker, more than likely he will redshirt at Miami. The 'Canes loaded at OLB, and Lewis is too small to play DE. Middle linebacker is Miami's only weak spot on defense and the only spot a true freshman has a chance to start.

McCoy was recruited as a tight end, but more than likely will be a DE in college. USC lost a ton of talent on offense, including tight end, but Fred Davis is the future start at TE. USC will have one of the best front sevens in nation; McCoy will only get a chance if USC is riddled with defensive injuries once again this year.

Slocum is destined for the pine. Cal has the most potent running back tandem in the nation in Marshawn Lynch and Justin Forsett. Speedy Marcus O'Keith could start for most teams and he is third on the depth chart. If that is not enough Cal signed Parade all-American James Montgomery and Crenshaw star RB/FB R.J. Garrett in February, as well. Slocum will be lost just trying to keep up with the pace.

The Fresno State signees are not expected to be freshmen starters or contributors, but even if they were, there is no reason to think that they would not play in tonight's game. Pat Hill recruits a certain type of player for his program. He often will not go after the blue chip recruit but sign the under the radar prospect that works harder. The three local Fresno-area players Hill signed might even grayshirt. It is not a secret Hill might have to grayshirt some of his incoming recruits and Fresno area kids are the easiest to grayshirt. Last year, Visalia CVC's Ryan Colburn and Clovis East's Frank Padilla were grayshirts.

Hendrington had a great senior year and is the real deal. His position at Fresno State could be tailback or defensive back. He will benefit from a year of redshirting considering the talent ahead of him at tailback. However, he could contribute immediately at cornerback if he can make the transition in fall camp.

Taylor Smith was rated the No. 37 weakside DE in nation by He had off-season surgery but has recovered enough to play in tonight's game. Defensive end is the deepest position Fresno State has on the defensive side of the ball this year. Smith could play outside linebacker but would benefit from a redshirt.

Will Smith has the most potential of any of the recruits Hill signed this year. Smith is a phenomenal athlete that excelled on the gridiron and on the track. Within a couple of years, there might not be a faster or stronger linebacker on Fresno State's roster. With that said, he would benefit significantly from a redshirt year.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Staying On the CFN Tip.......

CFN's Richard Cirminiello is listing the top 50 coaches "you" would want for the next few years. USC's Pete Carroll tops the list, who else can top two national titles and three Heisman Trophies in just five years. Former Boise State Zhen Master Dan Hawkins was ranked No. 17. So who was the highest ranked coach heading a non-BCS program? Yep, you guessed right, Pat Hill.

18. Pat Hill, Fresno State- In nine years, Hill has become somewhat of a folk hero in the Valley. His us-against-the-world, won't-back-down-from-any-fight persona has been adopted by a program that's earned a reputation under the coach as giant killers. He's ultra intense and demanding, on and away from the field, and is a big proponent of old school, smash-mouth football. Hill is a proven winner on the sidelines, which is the chief reason so many college and pro teams inquire about his availability at the end of every season.
Nine-Year Record: 72-43 (3-4 in bowl games)
Nine-Year Record Before He Arrived: 70-36-2 (3-2 in bowl games)

So "Dick" thinks Hill is the best mind of 53 head coaches not in charge of a BCS school or Notre Dame. Is there another guy out there coaching a "mid-major" that is better than Hill? Many last year would have said Hawkins, but this year it looks like Hill is the Dean of the have-nots.

Ironically, Fresno State's record was better the nine years prior to Hill's arrival and that included losing seasons in each of Jim Sweeney's last three years. Hill has only had one losing season, 1998. It seems no one remembers Fresno State had the West's best winning percentage from 1985-1993, and Hill didn't exactly build something from nothing. Granted, I don't think any other coach in America could have done what Hill has done for Bulldog football in terms academics and national reputation.

Hill has had moderate to good success in his nine years, but has yet to win an outright WAC title. But it doesn't seem to bother the critics too much. His football mind is still considered top notch by most. He finds and recruits talent that other coaches overlook. His teams play hard and are not afraid of a challenge, but lack the mental toughness to finish out a season. In short, I don't think I really agree with "Dick" on this one. Hill is a great fit for the Valley and is the face of Fresno State Bulldog football, but I don't think his style would fit universally as some pundits may think.

CFN's Take

College Football News head man Pete Fiutak gives his preview of the 2006 Bulldogs and it really puts things in perspective for every Bulldog fan:

Of course Fresno State wants to play anyone, anywhere; it's a no-risk proposition. If the Bulldogs lose to a big-time team, no one thinks much about it, But a win, or a close loss, and head coach Pat Hill tells anyone who'll listen, and many who won't, how his team deserves respect, and then the national attention follows.

Does all the focus and all the attention on playing the big name teams take away from the concentration on winning the WAC title? After all, how can you get up for playing Nevada when you've come within an eyelash of beating the number one team in the nation?

I don't usually agree with everything CFN writes, much less their rankings, but these guys do know their football. Take CFN for what it is, just a couple of guys who loved college football and now are making a living because of it.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Young Named to Outland Watch List

Fresno State three-year starting center Kyle Young has been named to the 2006 Outland Trophy watch list, an award given to college football's best offensive or defensive lineman. The list include 54 candidates selected by the Football Writers Association of America.

Young has already been named a preseason first-team all-American center by and Phil Steele. He was also named preseason third team all-American by Athlon Sports and was also named to the Dave Rimington Trophy spring watch list.

2006 Outland Trophy Watch List

Player, School Pos. Cl. Hometown
Will Arnold, LSU G Jr. Gloster, Miss.
Sam Baker, USC OT Jr. Tustin, Calif.
Kirk Barton, Ohio State OT Jr. Massillon, Ohio
George Batiste, Southern Miss OL Sr. Avondale, La.
Josh Beekman, Boston College G Sr. Amsterdam, N.Y.
Justin Blalock, Texas OT Sr. Plano, Texas
Conrad Bolston, Maryland DT Sr. Burtonsville, Md.
Levi Brown, Penn State OT Sr. Granby, Pa.
Andrew Browning, Boise State DT Sr. Lake Oswego, Ore.
Ryan Clady, Boise State OT So. Rialto, Calif.
Brent Curvey, Iowa State DL Sr. Houston, Texas
Brian Daniels, Colorado OL Sr. Evergreen, Colo.
Tim Duckworth, Auburn G Sr. Taylorsville, Miss.
Mark Fenton, Colorado C Sr. Inglewood, Calif.
Doug Free, Northern Illinois OT Sr. Manitowoc, Wis.
Roman Fry, Clemson OL Sr. Ironton, Ohio
Howie Fuimaono, UNLV DL Sr. Chula Vista, Calif.
Rhema Fuller, Connecticut DT Sr. Cocoa, Fla.
Jared Gaither, Maryland OT So. White Plains, Md.
Ryan Harris, Notre Dame OL Sr. St. Paul, Minn.
Daniel Inman, Georgia OT Sr. Hope Mills, N.C.
Tanner Jenkins, Arkansas State C Sr. Baton Rouge, La.
Chase Johnson, Wyoming OT Sr. Loveland, Colo.
Ryan Kalil, USC C Sr. Corona, Calif.
Jake Kuresa, BYU OL Sr. Millville, Utah
Jake Long, Michigan OL Sr. Lapeer, Mich.
Enoka Lucas, Oregon C Sr. Honolulu, Hawaii
Kurt Mann, Nebraska OL Sr. Grand Island, Neb.
Brandon Mebane, California DT Sr. Los Angeles, Calif.
Remel Meekins, Rutgers DL Sr. Westwood, N.J.
Dan Mozes, West Virginia OL Sr. Washington, Pa.
David Ochoa, Kansas OL Sr. Houston, Texas
Jeff Perrett, Tulsa OT Sr. Taber, Alberta
Jeremy Perry, Oregon State OL So. Laie, Hawaii
Quinn Pitcock, Ohio State DT Sr. Piqua, Ohio
Kurt Quarterman, Louisville OL Sr. Albany, Ga.
Manuel Ramirez, Texas Tech OL Sr. Sugarland, Texas
SirVincent Rogers, Houston OL Jr. Jasper, Texas
Samson Satele, Hawaii OL Sr. Kaneohe, Hawaii
Arron Sears, Tennessee OT Sr. Russellville, Ala.
Jeremy Sheffey, West Virginia G Sr. Catlettsburg, Ky.
Brian Stamper, Vanderbilt OT Sr. Windermere, Fla.
Herbert Taylor, TCU OT Sr. Houston, Texas
Shannon Tevaga, UCLA G Jr. Paramount, Calif.
Joe Thomas, Wisconsin OL Sr. Brookfield, Wis.
Marcus Thomas, Florida DT Sr. Jacksonville, Fla.
Robert Turner, New Mexico G Sr. Austin, Texas
Kelly Talavou, Utah DL Sr. Santa Ana, Calif.
Tavo Tupola, Utah OL Sr. Kahuku, Hawaii
Steve Vallos, Wake Forest OT Sr. Boardman, Ohio
Greg Wafford, Kansas State OL Sr. Lancaster, Texas
Theodric Watson, South Florida OL Sr. St. Petersburg, Fla.
Eric Wood, Louisville OL So. Cincinnati, Ohio
Kyle Young, Fresno State C Sr. Fallbrook, Calif.

Future Bulldog?

MLB Scott Ramirez (6'0 225) has yet to receive any written offers, but the two-time Downey Warren High School defensive player of the year is starting to receive some attention from colleges.

Cal, UCLA and Nevada visited his high school and all are showing some early interest. Ramirez has received mail from Notre Dame and a host of IAA schools. He names Fresno State and UCLA as his favorites, along with USC, Oregon, Notre Dame among others.

Last season, Ramirez led his team in tackles with 95, and was named to the all-San Gabriel Valley League team. He also doubles as the team's fullback, and is a special teams demon (just look at the clip). He runs a 4.8 forty, benches 315, squats 420 and cleans 245.

He has not attended any camps thus far. However, he is hoping to attend the rising seniors camp at USC on the 26th and 27th of June.

He currently carries a 2.5 GPA, but has yet to take the ACT or SAT.

Friday, June 16, 2006

FS-UO 2005-'06 Comparison: Who Lost More? Who Will Be Better?

Fresno State's biggest home game this year is Oregon. Nevada might be more important, but nothing all year will top seeing the Ducks. I can not wait to see the mallard green and lighting yellow clad helmets butt heads with Bulldog red helmets on Jim Sweeney Field.

The 'Dogs and Ducks have only played against each other six times but to me it seems like this series has been never ending. In my opinion, FS and UO have a bit of a under the table rivalry brewing. After this year's game in Fresno, the 'Dogs will have to return to Eugene in '07 and '10. I believe Oregon has another return game to Fresno scheduled sometime early in the next decade. It is evident why this year's Oregon game will be the biggest of the season. There will be just one game in Fresno, in the span of 15 years, while five will be played in Eugene.

The series has been emulous. The largest margin of victory has been seven points, which was the first game of the series in 1981. That game was considered the official opening of Bulldog Stadium, despite it actually being the second game played on the field. Fresno returned to Eugene in 1982 and beat the Ducks by six. The schools didn't meet again until 1996 in what became the first regular season overtime game between two IA teams. The following year, the series started to pick up steam, and after the 2002 and 2005 games this series has become fierce.

Duck fans don't see Fresno State as just another WAC school and guaranteed victory, anymore, and 'Dog fans don't see Oregon as just another BCS win to notch, anymore, it has become personal.

9/5/81 Fresno State 23 Oregon 16 at Bulldog Stadium
9/18/82 Fresno State 10 Oregon 4 at Autzen Stadium
8/31/96 Oregon 30 Fresno State 27 OT at Bulldog Stadium
9/20/97 Oregon 43 Fresno State 40 OT at Autzen Stadium
9/7/02 Oregon 28 Fresno State 24 at Autzen Stadium
9/17/05 Oregon 37 Fresno State 34 at Autzen Stadium

Quick Comparison....

Oregon was ranked in the top 10 the last month of the 2005 season and were deserving of a BCS bowl invite. The Ducks finished the season 10-1 and ranked No. 6. Their only defeat was a 45-13 beating by USC and their most impressive win was the 37-34 triumphant over Fresno State (until FS tanked its last three). The Holiday Bowl loss to Oklahoma will probably cost the Ducks about five to 10 spots in the preseason AP and coaches’ polls. Yet, UO should be ranked at around No. 20 to start the season.

Fresno State was ranked in the top 25 for 13 weeks last year, reaching a high of 16th the week before and after their 50-42 loss at USC. Fresno State soon plunged to the ranks of the unknown, losing their last three after USC. Had they won those last three instead, FS would more than likely be ranked around No. 25 in the preseason AP and coaches' polls this coming August.

Fresno State and Oregon played as even a matchup as one could expect last September. FS jumped out to a quick 17-0 lead. Oregon stormed back with 20 unanswered points. The game was tied at 20 early in the 3rd quarter, but Oregon took a 10 pt lead into the 4th, 30-20. FS answered with a touchdown, cutting the lead to three, but Oregon answered back and pushed the lead to 10 with fewer than five minutes to play in the game. FS scored a quick touchdown and cut the lead back to three but were unable to stop the Ducks on the ensuing possession and time ran out.

If those same teams played this year in Fresno, most would put their money on the 'Dogs to win straight up. But the teams are different this year or are they?

The personnel might be different but by taking a closer look, both the Ducks and 'Dogs lose key players at the same positions, thus almost making them even once again. But this time the game is in Fresno. The Key Losses and prediction.......

QUARTERBACK- Fresno State is getting rated low by many preseason magazines because it loses four year starting quarterback Paul Pinegar. Oregon, as well, has been hearing the cries about losing starter Kellen Clemens. FS is getting knock because the only quarterback with game experience, Tom Brandstater, has passed for just 49 yards in his career. Oregon's two replacements played last year, with Dennis Dixon getting four starts, after Clemens got hurt in the 8th game. But neither was overly impressive and the Ducks may go into this season employing a two quarterback offense, again. Who loses more- It's a wash. Who will be better 9/9-Oregon

RUNNING BACK- Fresno State is also being downgraded by many because it loses starter Wendell Mathis, Bryson Sumlin, and the leading returning rusher from last year is WR Paul Williams. Oregon loses its starter from last year, Terrance Whitehead. Fresno State's feature back for '06 is, 2003 and 2004 starter, Dwayne Wright. Wright is coming of a two year hiatus due to injury, but looks as good as ever. Oregon's feature back this year will be Jonathan Stewart. Stewart was the top rated true freshman RB in the nation last year in the preseason, but only rushed for 188 yards in an injury plagued year. Stewart had a great spring and was the nation's leading kick returner, 33.7 ypr, last year. Who loses more- It's a wash. Who will be better 9/9- It's a wash.

WIDE RECEIVER/TIGHT END- Fresno State loses two senior WRs, Adam Jennings and Jermaine Jamison, who were four-year contributors and part-time starters. Oregon loses its best receiver in Demetrius Williams. Fresno State's top two receivers both return and have a host of young talented guys ready to contribute. Oregon, despite losing Williams, has an abundant amount of talent, including 2005's second leading receiver, James Finley. Both teams lose their starting tight end but Oregon’s' Tim Day was a 2nd team all-Pac 10 in 2004. Who loses more- Oregon. Who will be better 9/9- It's a wash.

OFFENSIVE LINE- Fresno State has to replace its most important position on the offensive line, LT, for the second straight year. Oregon returns all five of its starters and adds two good JUCOs. Fresno State has very capable replacements to fill the LT spot, including a very highly rated JUCO. Who loses more- Fresno State. Who will be better 9/9- It's a wash.

DEFENSIVE LINE- Fresno State loses the WAC's Defensive Player of the Year, DE Garrett McIntyre. Oregon loses first round NFL draft pick and Co-Pac 10 DPOY, DT Haloti Ngata, and its career leader in tackles for losses, DE Devan Long. Despite losing the ball of nails in McIntyre, FS has more returning talent on the defensive in years. Oregon went the JC route and is bringing in three very good JUCOs, but none will be in until August. Who loses more- Oregon. Who will be better 9/9- Fresno State

LINEBACKERS- Fresno State returns all three starters but loses pass coverage specialist Manny Sanchez and WLB Marcus Riley is still recovering from a season ending knee injury. Oregon returns all of its starters, as well. Fresno State has good depth and brings in very talented freshmen. Oregon arguably has its best LB unit this decade. Who loses more- Fresno State. Who will be better 9/9- Oregon

DEFENSIVE BACKS- Fresno State loses two starters including NFL 2nd round draft pick CB Richard Marshall and two quality back ups. Oregon loses its top two DBs from last year, 3rd team all-American CB Aaron Gipson and 1st team all-Pac 10 CB Justin Phinisee, and loses two quality back ups(including former Bulldog recruit and FCC Ram Rodney Woods). Fresno State returns one of the best cornerbacks in the nation, Marcus McCauley and the other spot could be filled by a former De La Salle prep all-star. Oregon looks to replace its two cornerbacks with two former De La Salle prep all-stars, as well. The safeties look strong for both schools despite each losing a starter. Who loses more- Its a wash. Who will be better 9/9- Oregon

SPECIAL TEAMS- Fresno State loses all-WAC KR Jennings and PR Clifton Smith is still nursing an injury but should be in for fall. Oregon only loses PR Phinisee. Both schools return multiple kickers with game experience, but FS has the more experienced and capable punter. Who loses more- Fresno State. Who will be better 9/9- Fresno State

COACHING- Fresno State is replacing three offensive assistants: offensive coordinator, OL coach and RB coach. Oregon is just replacing a the WR coach. Fresno State brings in a former NFL QB coach to be the OC. A defensive coordinator from an IAA school is the new RB coach and former Bulldog graduate assistant returns to coach the OL. Oregon hired the WR coach from Washington State to fill its vacancy. Who loses more- Fresno State. Who will be better 9/9-

If last year's game was played in Fresno, hands down FS wins that game and the hurry-up offense is not a factor. This year, there is no denying both of these schools lose key starters. But they have adequate replacements on the roster. Based on my quick comparison, FS loses more talent and only will have a slight edge in the DL and SP Teams. However, Fresno State's has more experience returning in the skill positions than Oregon. Both have great offensive lines, but with the better DL, FS should have the advantage in the battle at the line of scrimmage. Oregon's DL improvement rests on the shoulders of JUCOs. Fresno State's weakest link on defense is DB, but Oregon's passing game took a dump last year after Clemens got injured. Oregon averaged 487 ypg in total offense last year with Clemens and 371 ypg without him. Dixon must improve his passing or else it could be a quarterback carousel in Fresno, and FS will be prepared for the spread and hurry-up offense this season.

Bulldog Stadium is worth -3.5 pts alone, throw in the fact that this is a BCS team coming to town, the home field advantage should get bumped up to at least to -4 pts. With that said, I think FS wins by two. If Autzen is given the same home field advantage, FS would lose by 6 or 7 pts if this year's game was played in Eugene. These are non-scientific stats, they are just my opinion.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

'Dog Issues

I have read four preseason previews (Lindys, TSN, Athlon and Phil Steele) and only one points to the positives of the team instead of focusing on the negatives, and that is Phil Steele's. Let's point to the obvious question marks for the upcoming season: 1. Quarterback, 2. Running Back, 3. Left Tackle, 4. Cornerback, and 5. Garrett McIntyre.

1. Quarterback- Ok Paul Pinegar is gone, big freakin deal. After Billy Volek left David Carr stepped in for the irreplaceable Volek. Carr was hyped by Pat Hill as a QB that could play on Sundays, but besides having a cannon for an arm, he was an unproven commodity. I am not saying Tom Brandstater or Sean Norton is Carr-like, but what I am saying is, Pinegar is not Volek-like. He is replaceable. Pinegar was never a quarterback that could carry the team on his back and lead them to victory. Steele points out an interesting stat: a stretch of the final six games in '04 and the first 6 of '05, Fresno avg'd 48.3 ppg but Pinegar topped 200 yds passing just 4 times and one of those was a loss(418 pass in 3pt loss to Oregon) as the team was.......

Anybody want to guess how many yards Pinegar passed for against USC, Nevada and Louisiana Tech? 317, 405 and 358, respectively. In short Hill's teams do better when it leads with the run, which leads me to No.........

2. Running Back- Who is Fresno State's leading returning rusher from 2005? WR Paul Williams (9 carries for 83 yards), you see how that can scare just the average college football beat writer. Wendell Mathis and Bryson Sumlin were the most productive running back duo over a two year stretch in Bulldog history. However, neither one was able to beat out Dwayne Wright in August of 2004. Wright has missed nearly two years of game time and most preseason pubs have written him off per se, but I have seen him in person, as well as, numerous other Bulldog fans have. The guy is bigger and stronger than ever. There is little or no sign of injury.

The preseason pubs have either Clifton Smith or Shannon Dorsey listed as Wright’s backup. These two juniors have less than a 50 yards combined rushing between them in their career. See how that can scare the average college football beat writer? But I have seen Smith make defenders look silly trying to tackle him on a punt return, and I saw him tear it up at the ET back in high school. (That is Edison Tigers for you non-ET people). Dorsey has been hobbled all three of his years in the program. But the scrawny redshirt running back from 2003 is gone. Dorsey has bulked up and that is a huge understatement. He had a terrible spring game, just 8 carries for 12 yards, but he had a good spring overall. He can carry the load if needed.

In 1998 Hill turned a former walk on fullback, Jamie Kimbrough, into the WAC's Pacific Division Offensive Player of the Year. And Kimbrough was running behind a bunch of redshirt freshman linemen, and a few left over Jim Sweeney recruits, that year. Walk-ons Rich Owens, Andrew Jones, and Kreig Peters are all capable of producing decent numbers in Hill's scheme. And each one will have the luxury of running behind one of the top offensive lines in the nation.

Need I mention, Lonyae Miller? Most preseason pubs use recruiting services to rate the incoming classes for their publication. Even Phil Steele, who write all of his college football previews and rates all of his players based on accurate numbers and stats, uses numerous recruiting services to rate the incoming players. That is why Steele will rate Miller the No. 54 incoming freshman RB, but at the same time, will not expect Miller to contribute as a true. Anyone who say Miller in the recruiting video (link on sidebar), knows this cat has a second gear (and 3rd) and is physically ready to play DIA football. Steele has a tendency to expect great things out of great players who were injured, like Wright, or were highly recruited like......

3. Left Tackle- James Paulk. The JUCO transfer is the highest rated recruit Hill has signed since Donyell Booker in 2003. However, Paulk looks to have taken a page out of Booker's book of practice habits. He is lazy. I'll admit I only saw Paulk practice a little over a week, because he sat out the rest of spring because of transfer issues. But in that week he was unimpressive. He was slow, out of shape and over weight. Hopefully, he will participate in summer workouts and be ready to battle Bobby Lepori and Adam McDowell in August.

Lepori took hold of the left tackle spot in spring, but McDowell looked very good in spring, as well. McDowell has made the switch back to offense from defensive end and has added a good 20 lbs of bulk and muscle. Hill is favoring smaller athletic linemen compared to the bulkier linemen in his earlier years. McDowell, at 6-5 270, fits Hill's new lineman mold. Too bad there is no one in the mold of.....

4. Cornerback- Richard Marshall. Steele doesn’t seem too worried about the cornerback problem and TSN even thinks the Bulldog secondary is among the top 20 in the nation. Steele even goes as far to rank every projected Bulldog DB starter in his four all-WAC teams. He is expecting big things from very highly touted recruits, Vince Mays and Damon Jenkins. Although there is great potential, I still have my doubts. Jenkins is a former all-state standout out of De La Salle. He is the first Spartan, I believe, to have signed with Fresno State and was the last Prop 48 recruit signed by Fresno State. If he had qualified academically he would have been a USC Trojan. So what is the deal? Why hasn't Jenkins freakin developed into this awesome shutdown cover corner. His first two years he had to contend with Marshall and Marcus McCauley, but what is his excuse for this past spring? Injuries? Jenkins is soft, in my opinion. He has every physical and tangible talent known to man, but he just does not have the heart, yet, to be a Bulldog cornerback. Now, what is harder to obtain, pure physical talent or the desire to **** out of someone on the gridiron?

If Jenkins does step up his game real quick, Hill has no qualms about playing true freshmen Damion Owens and AJ Jefferson. Jefferson reminds Hill of McCauley, but AJ needs to redshirt and hit the weight room. Owens, on the other hand, is ready to play in my opinion. He is a far better prospect than Boise State's true freshman starter Orlando Scandrick was last year.

Having McCauley at the other cornerback position eases my worries somewhat.'s kind of like letting your grandmother walk freely in Eastside Fresno sporting a blue bandana, but having some relief knowing she's packin'. You just hope she is quick enough to react and not get smoked herself. You know who else scares me as much as a grandmother carrying a loaded gun......

5. Garrett McIntyre- The ball of nails has left the building. It is a shame Big Mac was cut from the Seattle Seahawks because his motor is irreplaceable. Bulldog fans saw this former walk-on develop into the WAC Defensive Player of the Year. He wasn't the most talented guy on the field, but his motor was irreplaceable. Let me say it again, his motor is IR-RE-PLACE-A-BLE. So let's stop worrying about replacing it and focus on all the freakin talent that is on the 2006 defensive line.

The rotation could go 12 deep. I have said before and I will say it again, McIntyre's absence is a blessing in disguise. He was a better DT than he was a DE. But as a DT, that meant either Louis Leonard or Jason Shirley had to sit on the bench. He lacked speed to be an effective DE, but his motor was.... Jason Roberts and Mike Stuart are taller, faster, and more athletic than any other DE that Hill has ever had in his 10 years at Fresno State.

Junior DE Tyler Clutts is a near unanimous first team all-WAC pick by all the preseason magazines and is deservedly so. Clutts is a relentless pass rusher and has gotten bigger but has not lost his quickness. And senior DE Marlon Brisco was still able to hold off Roberts in the spring. Backup DT’s Jon Monga and Kenny Avon had decent springs. This unit is by far Hill’s deepest in his 10 years and very well could be his best defensive line ever.

In short I am looking forward to the season and I am expecting the 'Dogs to win at least 9 games and take home a piece of the WAC title. Hey, when you least expect it, a dog can bite you in the ass.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

What Is TSN Thinking.........

The Sporting News College Football Yearbook has always been my favorite of all the preseason college football magazines. However, the one thing I hate about it is the fact that regional beat writers write the conference previews. The WAC preview was written by Chadd Cripe of the Idaho Statesman, Boise paper, not Moscow. He does a fine job, but his analysis of FS's defensive philosophy needs an added note:

Coordinator Dan Brown's athletic units attack quarterbacks and plays strong pass defense. The weakness, if there is one, is the run defense. The Bulldogs allowed 21 rushing touchdowns last season.

There should be an * next to last sentence. 14 of those 21 touchdowns were scored after WLB Marcus Riley went down with a season ending injury against USC. How important do I think Riley is too the defense, well that is his grill on the banner atop the webpage and is by far the most underrated LB in the WAC.

Anyways, Cripe did a decent job for his first time tackling the entire WAC. The last few years the Fresno Bee's Marek Warszawski wrote about half of TSN's WAC previews, including Fresno State's. Now, I don't know if Cripe is the one that picked the all-WAC team or not but one omission just irks me. Last month I complained that Hawaii's Samson Satele was not named to the TSN preseason all-WAC team, considering he was an all-WAC guard last season and among the best in nation. But, I was not aware he made the switch to center and that is where I am confused by TSN's national player rankings and preseason all-conference teams.

In their national position rankings Fresno State's Kyle Young is ranked the 5th best center in the nation. Ahead of him at No. 1 and 2 are the usual suspects, West Virginia's Dan Mosez and USC's Ryan Kalil, respectively. No. 4 is NC State's Leroy Harris, but No. 3 is the most puzzling, it’s Satele. Satele is a guard making the move to center, a position he is not familiar with. He is, in my opinion, of the top three or four guards in the nation but I have never seen him play center. TSN believes he is the No. 3 center in the country ranked ahead of three-year starter, 2005 first team all-WAC center Young, but is not good enough to make the TSN preseason all-WAC team as either a center or guard.

Satele is monster on the line, so maybe TSN wants to recognize him as such, but as the No. 3 center in nation. It is a new position for him, and I guarantee he will not be as good as Young. The same can be said if Young made the switch to guard, Satele is by far the better guard. This kind preseason bullshit just irks me. I wonder where TSN would have ranked Young if he made the switch to tackle in the spring. I guarantee he would not have been rated among the 20 best in the nation. And I would have not had a problem with it. Young is freaking best in the middle but as tackle he would need time to adjust. Satele very well may be a better center, but I feel preseason pubs should rank on talent as of, not of what you expect it to be. If that was the case, then handful incoming high school all-Americans should be ranked among the best in the nation.

Here is another issue that irks me........ If you ask any diehard Bulldog fan what unit of the defense he/she is worried about, more than likely the answer would be, the secondary. However, TSN thinks FS's secondary is among the top 20 in the nation, huh? (TSN's also ranks Boise State's as the 9th best in the nation, exactly WTF are they smoking?) The Bulldogs lose two NFL draft picks and have only three scholarship cornerbacks heading into fall camp.

Maybe TSN thinks very highly of CB Marcus McCauley? After all, TSN rated Richard Marshall the 8th best CB in last year's CFB yearbook. And if anyone saw a majority of Bulldog games last season, would have seen McCauley more than held his own, and could have easily been considered better than Marshall. Yet, TSN doesn't even rank McCauley among its top 20 cornerbacks in the nation this year. WTF? How is that possible? McCauley is bigger and apparently faster than Marshall. He is a vicious hitter and blankets any receiver he is covering. This MoFo will be a top 10 pick in next year's draft if he stays healthy.

The only other returning starter in the Bulldog secondary is strong safety Josh Sherley. Sherley did well last season and had a great spring, but will be in a battle in the fall to keep redshirt freshman Moses Harris off the field. Free safety Vince Mays had a kick-ass spring too, but the senior has never started a game. The other cornerback spot will be manned by either an untested senior (Elgin Simmons), a former all-state stud turned college bust (Damon Jenkins) or by a true freshman (Damion Owens or AJ Jefferson). TSN either has a lot of faith in the new guys or are simply ranking the 'Dogs solely on reputation. Because the secondary will be a concern all the way until it plays in its first game against the pass-happy Nevada Wolfpack September 1.

After I read the entire preview, I am sure I will find more quandaries, but it still my favorite preseason magazine.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Future BCS (Home) Games

Fresno State fans have been chomping on the bit for the shot to play BCS opponents inside of Bulldog Stadium since 2003. Since Pat Hill's arrival in 1997 there have only been four games against BCS teams, and two were against Oregon State (2001 and 2003). The other two were Baylor in 1997 and California in 2000. What compound the issue are the BCS teams that have backed out of their commitment to come to Fresno.

Texas Tech and Oklahoma State are hated teams by Bulldog fans. Both schools changed their return date to Fresno multiple times and eventually cancelled the game. These schools can't be blamed solely. Maybe if former AD Scott Johnson was competent, and kept his hands off of women's basketball, these schools wouldn't have backed out or the cost to cancel the game would have been too great. Regardless, Bulldog fans are itching to get their claws on a BCS team at home.

Oregon returns to Fresno State for the first time in 10 years this season, and it is easily the most hyped home game since 10th ranked Oregon State visited in 2001. The Ducks are the first of four BCS team that will visit Fresno in the next four years. Kansas State is slated to visit next season, Wisconsin in 2008 and Kansas in 2009. Bulldog fans are relieved Oregon is making the trip since the two other Pac 10 teams that have visited Fresno have vowed not to return in the near future because of stadium and fan issues, among other things(like getting beat). However, Kansas State, Wisconsin and Kansas coming to Fresno might be a different story.

Kansas State's long time coach Bill Snyder has retired and in his place in 36 year-old Ron Prince. Snyder was synonymous for scheduling pasties in out of conference, but towards his later years USC, Cal, Marshall and Fresno State were some of teams that peppered the schedule. Luckily for Fresno State, Prince is going to do him one better. He wants to make playing big-name teams the rule, not the exception:

K-STATE IS CONTINUING its quest to find high-profile non-conference football foes. The Wildcats are discussing possible home-and-home series with a number of power-conference programs......Although Prince wouldn't name big-name programs on his radar, he did say playing such teams will be the rule, not the exception. K-State will battle Louisville and Marshall this season and Fresno State next season....

"It is a fine line you're walking, but I'd like to play a very competitive non-conference game or two every single year," he said.

"When I say very competitive, I mean a top-caliber team, a team that by reputation doesn't need any explanation."

Wisconsin's long time coach Barry Alvarez retired last season, as well, but will remain the Badger's Athletic Director. Wisconsin released its future schedules, back in February, with Fresno State (2008, 2009), thus solidifying the Badgers commitment to visit Fresno. That only leaves the Jayhawks. Kansas has not gotten out on the right foot with Bulldog fans. The Jayhawk coach Mark Mangino wanted to dumb down his non-conference schedule last year and asked to move their trip to Fresno from last year to 2009. The only problem is Fresno State has to travel to Lawrence, Kansas in 2007.

The FS-Kansas series is the only home and home series with a BCS school Fresno State has on the table. Wisconsin, Kansas State, and Oregon are all two for ones contracts. Hopefully, AD Thomas Boeh can work some magic and get the Jayhawks to come to Fresno in 2007 and the 'Dog will travel to Lawrence, for the return game, in 2009. That will allow Fresno State to pursue away games at Tennessee and/or Georgia without having to reduce the number of home games for the Bulldogs.

Fresno State has the chance to have seven home games for the first time since 1994. It could happen two different ways, one, Kansas comes to Fresno along with Kansas State, a IAA team and the four WAC home games, or FS skips games against UGA and UT but KU is still an away game, schedules home games with two IAA teams(or IA pasties) along with Kansas State and the four WAC games.

Fresno State's 2007 Schedule
Sept. 8 at Kansas
Sept. 15 at Oregon
Sept. 22 Kansas State
at Nevada
Utah State
at Hawaii*
Boise State
at New Mexico State
at Idaho
Louisiana Tech
San Jose State
2 non-conference games open

*- game at Hawaii allows FS to schedule a 13th game

Friday, June 09, 2006

Volek's the Man, by Default?

Billy Volek's patience has paid off. He spent his first three years in the NFL as the Tennessee Titans 3rd string emergency quarterback. He was promoted to Steve McNair's backup after the Titans released Neil O'Donnell. He turned a contract offer to start at Buffalo and opted to remain the Titans backup quarterback. Now, at the start of his seventh year in the NFL, he is the Titans starting quarterback after yesterday's McNair trade, but is by default?

McNair's trade to the Baltimore Ravens opens the door for Volek, but there are those who think he is not worthy and 1st round pick Vince Young should start. RealFootball365 said last month that 2006 is Volek's year to shine. There is no doubt Young is the future of the Titans, but why throw him to the wolves as a rookie when they have a very talented and capable veteran in Volek. Kerry Collins has been rumored as a possible free agent the Titans are interested in signing to compete with Volek. Rotowire sums it up the best:

With QB Steve McNair now officially a Raven after passing a physical exam Thursday, Volek steps in as the starter for the upcoming season. While he has shown ability in the past, he will only remain the starter until rookie Vince Young is ready to take the helm. "How things are going to fall right now, I can't be specific, but I can say that Billy is going to line up as our starter," head coach Jeff Fisher told the Tennessean. "He inherits the role now, and we are getting Vince ready to play as quickly as we can."

Volek, who has good deep-ball skills and seems to share a brain with WR Drew Bennett, could put up decent numbers. But don't count on more than half a season or so from him, as the Titans are itching to see Young take the field.

Titan's General Manager Floyd Reese concedes the starting job to Volek. However, he is excited about Young's future and doesn't exactly sound confident Volek will be the game one starter:

Billy Volek's our starter as of today. Billy has been wanting to start. This is going to be a great opportunity for Billy. Billy has got some big shoes to step into, and this is a golden opportunity for him. I'm excited to see him. As I've said before, I think we've got the most exciting young quarterback[Young] to come out of college in the last few years. To see him come along is going to be very, very exciting. Where that ends up, I don't think anybody knows. Does it end up with him playing a little bit? Does it end up with him not playing at all? That'll be up to Jeff and Norm and the coaches. But history tells us it's not too often those young guys come in and play and win a lot of games.

Head coach Jeff Fisher doesn't sound like he is too confident in Volek either. He sounds like the team is desperately looking for a veteran quarterback to help fill McNair's void:

Billy is our starter. Of course we're dealing with this hypothetically. We're all about making this team better, improving every position and creating competition in every position. If somebody is out there that we think is going to create competition at this position and make it better, then we're going to make every effort to get something done there. As it is right now, we think Billy has the best feel for the system and he's now in his second season of Coach Chow's system and he's going to give us our best chance to win. If somebody happens to be available over the next month or two or what have you and we feel like that he can compete and make the position competitive, we're going to jump on it for the competitive situation.

But neither of these two are harsh as the FootballInsiders:

For next year, the Titans now have a decision to make about adding a veteran to compete with Billy Volek. The conclusion of the McNair situation at least brings closure before their last mini-camp. Volek is a solid back-up, but his successful 2004 season was a mirage. He posted excellent traditional stats by feasting on weak defenses. But he had a DVOA of -10.2%, ranking him as a replacement-level quarterback -- which makes sense, because that's what Volek is.

The football insiders are reknowned for their detail stats and immense research. In other words they know their shit. For those wondering what the DVOA is:

The majority of the ratings featured on are based on DVOA, or Defense-adjusted Value Over Average. This stat breaks down the NFL season play by play to see how much success offensive players achieved in each specific situation compared to the league average. FootballInsiders Method of Madness

Volek is as good as any of the veteran free agent quarterbacks available. Tennessee would be smart to start Volek in 2006. If he fails, no one will doubt the early play of Young. And if Young fails, he is just a rookie and he is not expected to succeed his first year. But on the other hand, if Volek has a stellar year, a la Drew Brees 2004, his trade value goes up. Tennessee would be in a win-win situation, having two starting quarterbacks with great trade value heading into the off season. Young would seasoned and ready to start in 2007 and Volek becomes expendable but with high trade value to a team in dire need of a veteran quarterback.


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So many media types feel Fresno State lacks experience in the backfield with the losses of Bryson Sumlin and Wendell Mathis. Just to clarify for those who are not in the know, FS returns the electrifying "Batman" Clifton Smith. He started running this month after suffering a season ending injury against Oregon last year. He should be ready to go by August and resume his "old" self. For the record, Smith has returned 7 punts in his career, four of those in excess of 60 yards and 3 for touchdowns.

Dwayne Wright was the starter in 2003 and 2004 and rushed for over 1,000 yards in 2003. He looks better than ever after sitting out the last two years recovering from a knee injury suffered against Kansas State in 2004. He could have played last year, but opted to sit out and return in 2006. As you can see above, he shows no sign of ill effects from the injury. He impressed in the spring game, but by August he will be in game shape and poised for a 1,500 yard season.

The little known Shannon Dorsey has been injured for most of his Bulldog career, none of them serious but enough to keep him from beating out Wright, Mathis, Sumlin or Smith the last two years. He is bigger and stronger compared to last year, and in my opinion is capable of carrying the load if Wright can not.

....And let's not forget about incoming true freshman Lonyae Miller. Miller is every bit as good as USC's incoming freshmen Stafon Johnson, CJ Gable and Kenny Ashley. Johnson was expected to start for the Trojans after Herschel Dennis went down and before Chauncy Washington became eligible. If needed, Miller is physically ready to step in at tailback and take the reigns as FS's 6th straight 1,000 back.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

McCauley One of 56

Bulldog cornerback Marcus McCauley was named to the Bronco Nagurski Trophy Watch List announced by the Football Writers Association of America. The Bronko Nagurski Trophy is awarded to the best defensive player in college football. It has been a staple of the FWAA's awards since 1993. Nevada CB Joe Garcia and Boise State LB Korey Hall were the only other WAC players named to the list.

McCauley is poised to have a big senior season. The early departure of Richard Marshall puts the focus soley on the senior from Sacramento. The former one star prospect was recruited as a safety out of high school. However, Pat Hill saw him as cornerback and McCauley has become one of the premier ones in the country. He will be expected to shut down the opposing team's top receiver, game after game, and will be the leader of the secondary.

Fresno State's only true weak spot on defense is the cornerback position opposite McCauley. Hill has said he is confident in Elgin Simmons or Damon Jenkins' ability to fill Marshall's spot. But he has not ruled out the possibility of incoming true freshmen Damion Owens or A.J. Jefferson getting the nod over Simmons or Jenkins. This situation puts even more pressure on the talented McCauley. In my opinion, McCauley has a legitimate shot to become the school's only second AP all-American cornerback. James Williams was the first. He was named 3rd team AP all-American in 1989.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

CSTV's Amsinger is at it Again.....

This time the idiot is picking on Fresno State fans personally. He is trying to defend his top 35 poll again, but fails miserably, again. Yeah he might mention Volunteer fans and fans of Utah, Michigan State, N.C. State, South Carolina, UCLA, Nevada, Texas A&M and Boise State, but Amsinger is picking on the Bulldog fans particularly.

Greg, Fresno State fans don't hate, they, along with many other college football fans around the country, just think you are an idiot. I called you an idiot last year, and you have done nothing to make me think different.

Even Kamikazi Dog is getting some "love" from Amsinger. Kami emailed a El Paso news station after their respective sportscaster referenced Amsinger's CSTV top 35 on the air. Amsinger ranks the Miners No. 16 in his preseason poll. Kami's email was merely his way of expressing his right to rant on the inept Amsinger and the equally inept sportscaster. CSTV is still the new kid on the block, it is still below College Football News on the respect meter. The newscaster was not referencing the AP or coaches Poll or even a poll from a respected preseason publication like the Sporting News, Street & Smiths, or Athlon.

Anyways everyone should be entitled to a preseason poll, I even have one, but Amsinger's direct attack of Bulldog fans is just plain funny. He says a team that loses four straight games (Fresno State) to end the season does not deserve to be in his top 35, but he ranks UTEP No. 16 and it lost three straight to end the season.

Fresno State lost to 3 bowl teams, including No. 1 USC, and a 7-4 Louisiana Tech team. What major or bowl teams did UTEP lose to end 2005? The 5-6 UAB Blazers, the 5-6 SMU Mustangs and 9-3 Toledo in the GMAC Bowl, 45-13. A small note to mention, FS beat Toledo 44-14. I know Bruce Gradkowski did not play in that game, but neither did Paul Pinegar per se. Pinegar had his worst game as a Bulldog, throwing for a paltry 69 yards. FS dominated on defense and special teams, the outcome would not have been any different if Gradkowski would have played, in my humble opinion.

So Amsinger what is your response now? Am I an idiot? Maybe I am, but I at least did not rank UTEP No. 16 in my preseason poll.

Another Uphill Battle for Pinegar

Paul Pinegar's career as a Fresno State quarterback is sort of an enigma. He joined Kevin Sweeney as only the second Bulldog quarterback to pass for over 10,000 yards, he broke David Carr's career record of 69 touchdown passes, he is the only quarterback in school history to have started in four bowl games, and is the only quarterback to have won more than two. However, Pinegar leaves Fresno State as one of the most despised players in Bulldog history.

He came to Fresno State in 2000 as somewhat of a risky unheralded recruit and grayshirted. His high school senior season was cut short by injury and that caused many colleges to stop recruiting him. There was a very good chance Pinegar would have been an Oregon Duck instead of a Bulldog. He faced an uphill battle at Fresno State playing behind David Carr as a redshirt and eventually being pegged as Jeff Grady's backup in 2002. He faces another uphill battle trying to earn a roster spot with the Jacksonville Jaguars, yet he still get the chance to chase his NFL dream.

So why was Pinegar so disliked? He was not hated per se, by all fans, but there was a significant faction of Pinegar naysayers. Every game the Bulldogs fell short, Pinegar was to blame. Was it really his fault? Pinegar had a great freshman year in 2002, capped by a gritty performance against Georgia Tech in the Silicon Valley Football Classic. But a mysterious injury in the summer of 2003 will forever haunt Bulldog fans. In August of 2003 Pinegar tore a chest muscle, it was not considered severe at first but he eventually missed the first six games of the year.

He was involved in a single-car accident July 7, 2003 with teammate Bryce McGill, an incident that wasn't believed to be the cause of the injury. Pinegar later threw without pain during the first week of training camp, including an Aug. 13 scrimmage. Pinegar initially said the second-degree tear (third-degree is the worst) could have been from overuse. Hill theorized Pinegar took a hit from a helmet during practice.

"The hard part about it is we don't really know when or how he got it," Hill said.

"There aren't any answers."

Well after three years of play that didn't match his freshman all-American season of 2002, most fans are smart enough to point to this mysterious injury as the start of his decline. McGill was arrested for DUI and charged with a misdemeanor for the single car accident. He was not injured and neither was Pinegar, as reported by the California Highway Patrol. I am not trying to insinuate anything, but if Pinegar had been injured, McGill's misdemeanor would have been a felony charge more than likely.

This injury has been a hot topic among Bulldog fans for the last two plus years. Did he first injure his pectoral muscle in the car accident or not? After Pinegar came back in midseason of 2003 he was not the same. He even said he didn't have the same confidence in his arm. If Grady had been a more capable and durable quarterback, then I highly doubt Pinegar would have played in 2003. Was Pinegar forced into play because FS didn't have sufficient depth at quarterback?

It was obvious Pinegar's arm would tire in the second half of games? In fact, in the 2003 SVFC vs. UCLA, he only attempted four passes in the second half. The 2004 season started with a bang, and Pinegar had his best game in nearly two years against Kansas State. Despite throwing two interceptions, many fans felt Pinegar had recovered from his wows. It didn't last long. Just two games later, against Louisiana Tech, he had his worst game of his career, and began his signature untimely interception in close games. He had begun the worst midseason slump in the history of Bulldog quarterbacks. He finally shook it off per se, and led FS to six straight wins and a capped it off with his best game ever, against No. 18 ranked Virginia in the MPC Computers Bowl. Pinegar completed 23 of 36 for 235 yards and threw for a career best five touchdowns, including the game winner.

2005 started just like 2004 ended, Pinegar was near flawless his first two games against Weber State and Oregon. Yet, against the Ducks he showed signs of poor arm strength down the stretch of the game. The next week against Toledo, he threw for a career low 69 yards. He did finish the season with arguably the second best statistical season by a Bulldog quarterback, but it will forever be tainted by untimely interceptions against USC and Louisiana Tech.

Pinegar, other than Grady, was the only Bulldog quarterback to start and play under now departed offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti. One of the reasons Hill stuck with Pinegar during his slump of 2004, was because no other quarterback was capable of running Cignetti's complex pro-style offense. Few fans realize that Fresno State has been blessed with consistent quarterback play for a number of years. I can count on one hand the number years FS has had uncertainty at quarterback in the last 25 years (1987, 1994, and 1995). Pinegar was not the worst Bulldog quarterback by far nor was he the best, but he faced expectations no other Bulldog quarterback has ever had to endure.

He followed in the footsteps of best quarterback in school history and was expected to duplicate the program's same success from 2001 as a freshman. The 2003 season had monumental expectations and a treacherous road schedule. But he suffered an injury that many players, and people for that matter, never really completely recover from and never had the chance to face those challenges healthy. We will never know for sure if his injury led to his decreased performance or whether a different quarterback could have succeeded in Cignetti's complex offense. However, with Cignetti now at North Carolina, fans have a chance to see if his offense is really that complex and if only a handful of talented quarterbacks can master it. And of course if Pinegar makes the Jaguar's roster then he can not be considered as bad everyone has made him out to be, right?

Monday, June 05, 2006

Paul Williams: The Freak!

<bgsound src="" loop="1">Thanks again to Toadlife for his excellent highlight vids.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

WAC Predictions

I have already ranted on Lindy's WAC preview, and gave my .02 on the Sporting News. The folks over on the Island welcome the idea of Hawaii being a team to watch despite not being picked to finish higher than third in the WAC. The Honolulu Advertiser listed five of the major preseason publications WAC predictions. Notice all have predicted Boise State as the favorite and the Bulldogs are pegged no lower than third, makes you wonder what the folks over Lindy's are smoking.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Garrett Gone!

The Seattle Seahawks released three players yesterday and unfortunately Garrett McInytre was one of them. The reason for his release is unknown but give a pretty fair rational:

In keeping with the new personnel landscape brought about by the revised Collective Bargaining Agreement, the Seahawks didn't let go of any big names this June, but they did release three players receivers Jerheme Urban and Alex Bannister, as well as 2006 undrafted free agent Garrett McIntyre, a defensive end from Fresno State. Urban and Bannister, while flashing potential at times, have both suffered through injuries in the last couple of seasons, which have limited their effectiveness. McIntyre's card may have been punched when the Seahawks signed DE Darrell Wright.

McIntyre signed with Seattle May 1 as a undrafted free agent for a signing bonus of $3,000. Which was the 7th largest among the 12 undrafted players Seattle signed. Some Seahawk fans were puzzled by the move and expected McIntyre to at least be given a shot to earn a roster spot in preseason camp. But with five solid defensive tackles ahead of him on the Seahawks roster, and the signing of Wright, McIntyre has a better chance catching on with another NFL club.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Guest Blog: NSC's 2006 WAC Predictions

2006 should be a good year for the WAC as the top four teams have a great shot at pulling this conference from its mediocre status it currently is viewed as having. Boise, Fresno, Nevada, and Hawaii should all have successful seasons while helping to clear the WAC of any thoughts that they cannot play with the bigger teams in the nation. Without further adieu here is my predicted finish for the WAC in 2006 followed by team breakdowns from the top (Boise State) to the bottom (New Mexico State).

2006 Predicted Finish

1) Boise State
2) Fresno State
3) Hawaii
4) Nevada
5) Louisiana Tech
6) San Jose State
7) Idaho
8) Utah State
9) New Mexico State

1) Boise State - Any team returning 20 starters has to like their chances going into the season. Any Boise State team returning 20 starters has to like their chances of going undefeated. Boise has the most favorable schedule of all WAC teams this season as they draw Fresno State, La. Tech, and Hawaii at home leaving Nevada on the road as their only competitive WAC road game. However, Boise seems to show Nevada who runs the conference yearly and I don't see 2006 being any different.

Keys to Success - First and foremost Jared Zabransky has to have a solid senior season. While Boise State has a great running game last year's season opener at Georgia showed that Zabransky is as important to this team as any one player is. Boise's offense will be strong as their offensive coordinator, Chris Peterson, is now their head coach. I don't see this team losing anything with the departure of Dan Brown to Colorado. Boise is only returning one RB, sophomore Ian Johnson, meaning Zabransky's role on this team is going to be even more vital than in year's prior. They will need him to take this team to the next level much as he did as a sophomore in 2004. Boise will play enough defense to give their team a chance to win every game. They have a solid defensive front which returns three starters. Overall Boise State should be a solid team with a chance to make some noise in the BCS picture.

Predicted Finish - Boise State will win the WAC unless someone steps up and takes it from them. I feel Boise State will lose one game at most this season. Their only real tests will be Fresno, Hawaii, and Oregon State at home and Wyoming and Nevada on the road. There is a chance for a slip up against Wyoming but I just don't see it happening. Look for another strong season from Boise with the possibility of an 11-1 or 12-0 finish in their sights.

2) Fresno State - Fresno State's schedule is not nearly as generous as Boise State's this season and that is one of the many reasons that I believe Fresno will not take home the WAC title. They have a chance to tie for it if they can go into Boise and knock the Broncos off on the blue turf, but realistically that is much easier said than done. Paul Pinegar is gone and for many Bulldog fans that can only make the team better. Fresno returns 16 starters, but lost players to key positions. How the Bulldogs adapt to a new QB, while replacing Wendell Mathis at RB, Garrett McIntyre at DE, and Richard Marshall at CB will tell how far this team can truly go this season.

Keys to Success - Fresno is going to have to rely on an inexperienced QB for the first time in four years. It will either be the speedy Sean Norton or the strong armed Tom Brandstater taking over the starting position. With Dwayne Wright and Clifton Smith being healthy this season the QB will only have to minimize mistakes to make this team successful. The new QB will also have a healthy fullback in Roshon Vercher and great wide receivers in Paul Williams, Joe Fernandez, and Jaron Fairman. If the new QB can avoid the fourth quarter collapses that Paul Pinegar showed so often, Fresno State will enjoy a successful season.

Predicted Finish - Fresno State very well may have the hardest schedule in their history. With games against Oregon, Washington, LSU, Colorado State, Boise State, Nevada, Hawaii, and La. Tech the schedule leaves very little room for error. If Fresno can run off the first six games of the season they will have a legitimate shot at a BCS game even with a loss to LSU. However, that means they must beat Boise on their home turf in order to qualify for a BCS game. I just don't see Fresno doing that this season with such a young QB running the team. Look for an 8-4 or 9-3 finish with losses to Boise, LSU, Oregon, and someone in the WAC they shouldn't lose to.

3) Hawaii - Hawaii may have the best offense in the nation this season. They will score 40+ points per game without many problems. Colt Brennan is the best QB in the WAC hands down. He is a junior and has more weapons on his team than any other WAC offense. It helps that Hawaii runs a spread offense with four to five wide receivers on every play. Hawaii also has a very strong running game with Nate LLaoa averaging over seven yards per carry in 2005. How far Hawaii will go will depend on its defense though, and not what the offense does.

Keys to Success - Defense. It's that easy for Hawaii. With Brennan, Ryan Grice-Mullin, and Davone Bess on offense the defense will only have to be decent to win games. The defense could conceivably give up 30 points a game and Hawaii will still win a majority of their games.

Predicted Finish - Hawaii does a great job scheduling year after year as they are able to get their big out of conference games at the end of the season and at home for that matter. This year they open up with Alabama on the road but do not be surprised if they figure out a way to challenge Bama. Unfortunately with respect to the WAC Hawaii is on the road against both Boise and Fresno. Look for Hawaii to finish with a very similar record to Fresno as long as they play some type of defense. The game in Fresno between these two teams might decide who finishes higher up on the WAC scale this season. Look for a record somewhere in the range of 9-4.

4) Nevada - I realize I might take some heat for putting the division winner in the four spot this season, but what everyone must understand is the top four teams in the division are as equal as I can ever remember. Jeff Rowe is right behind Colt Brennan with respect to talent and ability in the WAC. Nevada will make some noise in the WAC with their modified spread offense they run which allows Rowe to roll out from side to side on the field giving him more time to find his speedy receivers. Nevada should be a strong team this season and if they can get through their first four games with one loss they have a shot to end the season in the top 25.

Keys to Success - Much like last season Nevada will have to spread the defenses thin in order to be successful. Against Fresno last season Nevada spread the defense so thin they were able to run up the middle with ease. Nevada will attack early and often with their senior QB who should put up astronomical numbers in the Wolfpack offense. Nevada is similar to Hawaii in the sense that their defense only has to play decent in order for them to win games. Nevada will score 30+ points a game and it will come down to their defense in the fourth quarter with respect to them winning and losing close games.

Predicted Finish - Nevada begins the season with two tough games at Fresno State and Arizona State. From there the schedule becomes very favorable. Nevada has to ravel to both Hawaii and La. Tech this season, both of those games should be WAC classics. If Nevada can win the game in Fresno or Arizona State look for them to reel off four or five games in a row and challenge for the WAC's top spot as they finish the season with Boise at home. Look for Nevada to finish with a 7-5 or 8-4 record as their schedule just looks to tough for what they have returning this season.

I will cover the final five teams in the WAC tomorrow as they present very little threat to the top four teams in this conference. -NSC

Bowls, Bowls and Bowls

Fresno State has a school record streak of seven consecutive bowls on the line in 2006. It is the longest current streak for any school west of the Rockies. Is this the year the Bulldogs finally make a Bowl Championship Series Bowl? The 2006 team is very talented and for once the home schedule is favorable. However, despite 18 returning starters and Pat Hill leading the charge for the 10th year many fans, and some media, feel the Bulldogs' bowl streak may come to an end. It is not going to happen. The BCS may have to wait another year, but count on Bowl No. 8, at the very least.

I'll say it first; Fresno State will go bowling with a record as bad as 7-5 or even 6-6. Since the NCAA approved a 12 game schedule, Division IA teams only need to have a 6-6 record to be considered bowl eligible. Yet, for Fresno State to be invited to a bowl game with a 6-6 record, all WAC teams with a winning record must be invited first.

There could be as many 32 bowl games, depending if the Houston Bowl is recertified or not. The pickings for the last remaining bowl spots, if BCS conferences can not fill their bowl games, will come down to the "mid-majors". What other non-BCS team is as recognizable as Fresno State? TCU? BYU? Utah? Boise State? Southern Miss? Navy? Army? Not all of these schools will have so-so years.

Of course if FS wins the WAC or finishes among the top three it is assured a bowl berth into one of the conference's three bowl games. The WAC champion will likely head to the MPC Computers Bowl, vs. the No. 8 team from the ACC, or possibly the Hawaii Bowl, vs. the No. 6 team from the Pac 10, if Hawaii does not finish at least third in league play. The final automatic bowl bid will send a WAC team to play the No. 4 team from the Moutain West Conference in the first annual New Mexico Bowl.

But who will invite a 7-5 or 6-6 Bulldog team that could not finish third or higher in the WAC? The Poinsettia Bowl, in San Diego, will. It is the only bowl this year that has at-large spot, is driving distance from the Valley and it needs to sell tickets. The Poinsettia Bowl has a tie-in with the 3rd place team from the MWC. Fresno State finished 4th in the WAC last year and played in their most prestigious bowl to date, the Liberty Bowl. An invite from this second annual San Diego based bowl is not too outrageous of a thought.

Last year the Poinsettia Bowl invited Navy to play 6-5 Colorado State. The game was a dud, but the Naval Academy's national following, about 25,000 fans, filled the stadium. The Poinsettia Bowl was very high on Fresno State, and had a bowl rep at the FS-Boise State game. It probably would have invited the 'Dogs if Navy had not been available. After Fresno State made a national splash against USC, the folks in San Diego knew FS was headed to a bigger bowl, anyways.

The Poinsettia Bowl invited the Midshipmen in 2005 with a verbal agreement that the bowl would like to continue its relationship with the service academy in future years. Navy has had no bowl tie-ins the last three years but has managed to go to the Houston, Emerald and Poinsettia Bowls. Along the way Navy has set attendance records at each of those respective bowls. The Poinsettia Bowl failed to lock in the Midshipmen for future dates and Navy just finalized a deal with the Meineke Car Care Bowl in Charlotte, NC. Now what school is the Poinsettia going to invite that can come close to the amount of tickets Navy sold?

Granted if the 3rd place selection from the MWC is San Diego State, it probably eliminates the need for the Poinsettia to search for a "big" name to sell tickets. But honestly, there might be very few "big" names available come early December. There will be at least 62, maybe 64, out of 119 DIA teams going bowling this year. Of those bowl spots, 16 are guaranteed for non-BCS schools, 17 if one qualifies for the BCS. That means as many 48 BCS teams could be invited to bowls. There are 66 BCS teams, including Notre Dame. The odds that 70% of them will have at least 6-6 records are a bit of a stretch. Just two years ago there were only 59 bowl eligible teams and 56 bowl bids.

So for the fans thinking FS may not make it to a bowl game with a sub par year, think again. Hill may have an off year, but he has brought this program far enough that a bowl bid is practically a sure thing if his 'Dogs can win at least half of their games.

I will go a little deeper by trying to pick bowl games that could be interested in Fresno State and the bowls that Fresno State has a legitimate shot at. Here is a link to the tentative Bowl Schedule.

Automatic Bowl Bids

MPC Computers Bowl Boise, ID Sun. December 31 4:30 pm PT ESPN vs. ACC No. 8
pros- Good chance to face a BCS team, probably one of the Carolina schools or Maryland, and the game is on a weekend.
cons- It's cold and there is a chance the ACC may not have enough bowl eligible teams to fill this spot. It is on New Year's Eve and will be played opposite NFL Sunday Night football.

Hawaii Bowl Honolulu Sun. December 24 5:00 pm PT ESPN vs. Pac 10 No. 6
pros- It's freakin Hawaii. It will be against the Pac 10, possibly UCLA, Arizona or Oregon State.
cons- It's freakin Hawaii, not everyone can make the trip. Again the game will be against NFL football. The Pac 10 had only five bowl eligible teams last year. If they fail to produce a sixth place team, then CUSA gets the bid, Yuk!

New Mexico Bowl Albuquerque Sat. December 23 1:30 pm PT ESPN vs. MWC No. 4
pros- John (kamikazi Dog) has a short drive, and the TV time slot is ideal.
cons- everything one can imagine: terrible opponent, Christmas weekend, somewhat difficult destination, and did I mention a terrible opponent, possibly Wyoming, New Mexico or a rematch with Colorado State.

Fiesta Bowl Glendale, AZ Mon. January 1 8:30 pm PT FOX vs. Big 12 Champ or BCS at-large
pros- Everything about it is pro. It's on New Years Days against a top notch BCS opponent, possibly Oklahoma, Texas, West Virginia or Louisville, in prime time on a Monday night. This is a Bulldog fan's wet dream. I can see Pat Hill!
cons- Things are easier said than done. The Dogs have to pull through a tough slate just to try to get the automatic invite. Like I said, things are easier said then done.

Strong Possibilities

Poinsettia Bowl San Diego Tues. December 19 5:00 pm PT ESPN vs. MWC No. 3
pros- It's only a 5-6hr drive from Fresno. The opponent could be BYU, Utah or TCU. It would be nice reward if this year's team underachieves.
cons- It's on a Tuesday night. The opponent could be a MWC dog and it is the first bowl game of the year. Many fans may skip a WAC vs. MWC dog matchup of 7-5 teams.

Remote Possibilities

Insight Bowl Tempe, AZ Fri. December 29 TBD NFL Network Big 10 No. 6 vs. Big 12 No. 6
This is where it gets complicated. The Big 12 should have enough bowl eligible teams, but the Big 10 could fall short. If the Big 10 only has six bowl eligible teams and two are invited to the BCS, then a spot in the Insight opens up to a host of at-large candidates. FS could be atop that list if the 'Dogs finish 10-2 or 11-1 and are not in the top 12 of the BCS.
pros- This would be a great bowl game for FS. It has moved to Tempe and it is on a Friday night and is in reasonable driving distance from the Valley(and kamikazi). BCS opponent could be Texas A&M, Missouri, Iowa State, Oklahoma State or even possibly Texas Tech.
cons- Highly doubtful the game could open up for FS, and an NFL Network broadcast does not exactly scream national coverage.

Emerald Bowl San Francisco Wed. December 27 5:00 pm ESPN Pac 10 No. 5 vs. ACC No. 7
Either one of these spots could open up but more than likely it would be the Pac 10's spot. If the Pac 10 has another off year like last year, but sends two teams to the BCS, quite possible, then the Emerald bowl is looking for an at-large team. If the ACC only has seven bowl eligible teams but sends two to the BCS, same thing. FS was on the Emerald's possible list of teams the last two years, and certainly would be on it again if it had to invite an at-large team.
pros- It is the closest bowl to Fresno and the game is right in the middle of bowl week in prime time. And against a BCS school, possibly a rematch with Virginia or UCLA.
cons- It's a Wednesday night and a one day trip may be difficult with a 5:00 pm kickoff.

Long shots

Houston Bowl TBD Big East No. 4/Notre Dame or (CUSA) vs. Big 12 No. 8
The Houston Bowl may not even happen in 2006, but if it does there is a good chance the Big 12 will not have an 8th place team to send. FS could be a possibility if there are no CUSA teams available.
pros- If Notre Dame is overrated, it could, in theory, fall all the way to the Houston Bowl. FS will never get another shot to play the Irish on a neutral field.
cons- This bowl is a financial mess. The cost to take the 'Dogs could be more than Thomas Boeh may be willing to risk if the payout may never be made. And the opponent would likely be an Big East dog like Rutgers or South Florida.

Motor City Bowl Detroit Tues. December 26 1:30 pm PT ESPN MAC No. 1/2 vs. Big 10 No. 7
The Big 10 probably will not have seven bowl eligible teams, therefore creating an opening opposite the mighty MAC. FS is long shot here. If no team east of the Mississippi is bowl eligible, and the 'Dogs have no other option, hello MoTown.
pros- It's a bowl game.
cons- It's in cold Detroit the day after Christmas against the MAC.

International Bowl Toronto Sat. January 6 9:00 am PT ESPN2 Big East No. 4/5 vs. MAC No. 3
The Big East would be lucky to get four bowl eligible teams, let alone five. This bowl will be supported by the people of Toronto and the rest of Canada. FS is somewhat of a national name and could add some media hype to game most people will ignore on an NFL playoff Saturday.
pros- It's a bowl game in a different country. The Canadians will be sporting stick on Fu Manchus and Green Vs.
cons- It's played too late in the bowl season and (US)fans would lose interest. Playing the 3rd best team from the MAC in Canada, two days before the national championship game, sounds very depressing.

Birmingham Bowl (AL) Sat. December 23 10:00 am PT ESPN2 Big East No. 5/6 vs. CUSA No. 3/4/5
The Big East would be lucky to have 75% of its conference bowl eligible. If Hill really wants FS to keep its bowl streak alive, Birmingham may be the last resort.
pros- Bowl exposure in the South was part of the rationale for playing in the Liberty Bowl last year.
cons- Does anyone want Fresno State to play a CUSA team in the South two years in a row?