Monday, September 25, 2006
Is The Ride Over?
For Fresno State it all began with the man to the left. David Carr brought a sense of euphoria to Fresno State that had never been witnessed in this mid-sized central valley city to date. With a 6-0 start in 2001 including victories over Wisconsin, Colorado, and Oregon State the Bulldogs of Fresno State climbed all the way to the eight spot in the nation. The city of Fresno for the first time was on a national stage as Sports Illustrated put David Carr on the front cover and did an article on the small school that could hang with the big boys of college football. However, was this the beginning of the end for Fresno State? Fresno State would drop two conference games to Boise State and Hawaii that in turn cost the Bulldogs a shot at the national championship. Since that season Fresno has lost at least three games each year although they have had promising starts in two of those seasons only to see the same thing happen each time. Because of our slow start this season and the outlook on the 2007 season I ask all Bulldog fans out there: Is the ride over for Fresno State? Are we slowly returning to the football program we were before David Carr arrived?
To prove my point let's take a look at Fresno State over the past five years since David Carr departed. While it is true we have played in a bowl game each year, aside the Virginia game what bowl game was against a top 25 team? UCLA, Georgia Tech, and Tulsa were not ranked teams meaning we played average schools at best in each of these bowl games. In each of these seasons we also lost three games or more. I realize we lost three games with David Carr in his senior season, but the wins we compiled that season thrust the Bulldogs into the spotlight, something that has only happened one time since. In 2004 Fresno State opened with road wins against Washington and Kansas State only to lose it's fourth game of the season to La. Tech. So where does that leave the 2006 Fresno State Bulldogs with respect to what the team has done over the past five years under Pat Hill?
This year the Bulldogs could legimitely lose six games. With remaining games against Hawaii, @ LSU, @ Boise, and @ La. Tech Fresno State is going to have a hard time finishing the season at 7-5. If the Bulldogs were to pull out an 8-4 year (which is what I felt they would do at the starting of the year) they will have done an outstanding job to get to that point with two losses already in the books. However, Fresno State may have an even worse season next year. With road games @ Oregon, Hawaii, and possibly Auburn or Tennessee Fresno State is already looking at three losses and that is not including the rest of WAC play. We will lose Dwayne Wright, all three of our senior receivers, Kyle Young, Marcus McCauley, and Dwayne Andrews. I realize Wright is a junior but he would be crazy to pass up the NFL with the season he is on his way to having. To say Fresno State will be weak next year would be an understatement. If the Bulldogs do not get some outstanding recruits who can step in immediately and contribue it will be a long season. In other words, expect this team to be down for a year or two. Football is a cyclical game with teams winning for years at a time followed by down years. Fresno State will be going through some hard times here in the future and it is quite possible that the high we have experienced over the past five seasons will be gone. However, all is not lost.
With the national recognition came better recruits, a brand new scoreboard, ESPN telecasts, and an overall sense that the Bulldogs had become a national player for the first time in Bulldogs history. The Dogs may be down for a year or two but they will be back. One day Pat Hill will have moved on and we will have someone else step in and do a great job in his place. Remember the years of David Carr. Remember Pat Hill. Remember Dwayne Wright, Bernard Berrian, and Mracus McCauley. These were the men that started it all for us. Ten years from now when Fresno State has become a top 25 program year after year, it will be these men that we reference to our children as the beginning of it all for the Bulldogs. One down year does not mean the program is going to fall off the map. Continue to support the Dogs, the foundation has been established and it is only a matter of time before everything comes together for this team. I know it's hard to see right now, but give it time. Every team has it's year and I still believe our best is yet to come. Let me know what you as fans think as well. I know I am a bit of an optimist, but I love Fresno State's football team and always will. There is nothing that will ever turn me away from following the Bulldogs and I hope most of you Bulldog fans that read this blog are the very same.