The Bulldog Way
They always keep your interest. Each year there is a team that makes a run only to break our hearts in the end. They always make us believe that they are capable of far more than they truly are. They are the Fresno State Bulldogs. Whether it is the men's or women's basketball team's, the football team, the softball team, or the baseball team at the end of the year you will be left with that same empty feeling that the Bulldogs often give you when they lose. The problem isn't that Fresno State loses. Instead the problem is that they make us believe they are capable of far more than they truly are. How many Bulldog fans thought the Dogs had a shot at beating Hawaii at the Stan-Sherriff Center last night? I know I did but only because of the success the Dogs had to begin the year. How many Bulldog fans thought the Bulldog football team would make some noise in the WAC last year? (and I mean in a positive manner) I know I did not have the same expectations as most but I felt the Dogs could win 7-8 games and play in a decent bowl game. How many of you followed the baseball team last year after their two streaks of 15 wins in a row or more? I know I did because I thought maybe this team could get over the super regional hump that they have been stuck in since well forever. How many of you followed the Lady Dogs basketball team last year going into the WAC tourney only to watch them lose their first game? I know I did.
Fresno State is always competitive in ever sport they have at the university. Truth is Fresno State is actually one of the better WAC schools out there with respect to athletics. We have the largest athletic budget and are able to bring in the best all around athletes for many of the sports the WAC entertains. Our baseball recruiting usually places in the top 25 in the nation as does the baseball team by the end of the season. The football team usually makes noise across the nation with a big upset of a team they have no business beating. The softball team usually maintains a top 15 rank the entire season and qualifies for a regional yearly. The basketball team is currently on the rise hoping to capture the glory that Tark was able to bring the Bulldogs basketball program (followed by scandal of course). The problem is regardless of how good Fresno State is at each of these sports, they never quite make it all the way. They always take us to the edge and never make it past that spot. They get the fans involved and make us believe that they are going to be a player in whatever sport it is that they are succeeding at only to fall to the opponent in the end. Each of the sports I have mentioned earlier have examples of how they have toyed with Bulldog fans and their supportive hearts throughout the years.
Bulldog Football: We all know the story here. In 2001 the Dogs start out 6-0 and rise to the #8 spot in the nation only to fall to Boise and Hawaii in back to back weeks. Fresno fans had dreams of a national championship but instead the Dogs end up in the Silicon Valley Classic game losing to a 6-5 Michigan State team. 2004 gave us a similar story as the Dogs began the year 3-0 moving up to #17 in the nation. After their 3-0 start the Dogs promptly dropped their next three games and fans quickly were reminded of 2001. 2005 had the Dogs starting 8-1 and taking on the mighty Trojans of Troy. Although the Dogs played outstanding against USC they would lose their last four games to finish the season at 8-5. That is enough heart break for a football fan alone. However it doesn't stop there, Bulldog fans have plenty of sports that have left fans with heartache.
Mens basketball: Oh the Bulldogs basketball team, how they kill us as fans. Does anyone remember the Tark days? Each year the Dogs would win 20 games only to get passed on for the NCAA tourney. When they finally were selected they played their worst game of the year and lost to Wisconsin handily. The year after it finally seemed like the Dogs were poised to make a run. Instead they lost in the second round to Michigan State. The following season Fresno State moved all the way up to #14 in the rankings only to see their season fall apart with a loss in the NIT to Temple. And to think I am not even mentioning the Dominick Young and Chris Herren years.
Womens Basketball: Womens basketball has actually spared us for the most part as they have not been great until the past few years. However with that being said 2005 probably caused as much heartache as any season for Lady Dogs fans. The Bulldogs had rolled into the WAC tourney tied with La. Tech only to drop their first game and miss out on a NCAA tourney bid. If the Dogs had won their first game and found their way into the WAC tourney final they most certainly would have qualified for the NCAA tourney for the first time. But remember, this is a Fresno State team after all.
Mens Baseball: it is quite possible that the mens baseball team has left more Dogs fans wondering what happened than any team ever at Fresno State. Mens baseball has been the one constant over the past twenty years that always seems to compete regardless of the talent level. Most remember the years of Bobby Jones where the Dogs marched into the College World Series only to lose to Florida State 2-1 to be eliminated. Countless times the Dogs have qualified for a regional only to lose to a team they should have beaten. There is no telling what the future holds for Fresno State Baseball but more heartache is sure to come.
Womens Softball: I saved women's softball for last because they are the one team that actually did not leave Bulldog fans out in the cold. In 1998 the Womens softball team won the national championship, the only one I believe in the history of Fresno State. This championship came as a surprise as the Bulldogs made a name for themselves by qualifying for the college world series year after year only to lose. Although the Dogs have continued to qualify for the regionals and world series since 1998 they have yet to accomplish what the 1998 team did. The 1998 team will go down in history as one of the only teams at Fresno State to finish the job.
Overall being a Fresno State fan is more difficult than most think. Each year we have a team make a run that leads us to believe they are going to do something more than they are truly capable of. The sad truth is we should all know better by now. These are the Fresno State Bulldogs, the team that will give you hope for most of the season only to break your hearts in the end.
Note: I think the one thing I forgot to mention is that I love Fresno State sports and I was not saying that the Bulldogs are failures. Instead I find it ironic that we always seem to get bitten in the end and a school like Boise seems to have all of the luck. I wish I knew the reasons for this but sometimes it is good to be lucky in college sports, but remember one thing: Boise may be a good football team but we have the better overall athletic programs at Fresno State.