Over the past eleven years we as Bulldog fans have witnessed a change in Bulldog football. It all began with the head coach. Pat Hill took over Fresno State in 1997 and immediately made an impact as the head coach of this team. At the time recruiting was not nearly viewed in the same light as it is in today's world. Recruits were not under a microscope in the same respect that they are today as everyone desires to know what a recruits strengths and weaknesses are before they commit to a school. As fans we feel like we can evaluate a player based on what we have seen from him in his high school years. I for one thought Beau Sweeney would be hands down the best QB for the Bulldogs after watching him play during his Junior season. However, I realize I was wrong only because I let my heart and desire for valley football get in the way of what is truly best for Bulldog football. While we may question Pat Hill and his recruiting style, the fact remains that Hill continually finds players that fit the Bulldog football program perfectly. Regardless of what we think of his efforts as the head coach when it comes to recruiting Pat Hill does it exactly how all head coaches should. He recruits with respect to what the team needs and will only take players that he feels fit into the program perfectly.
In 2006 The Bulldogs underachieved at a level we had not seen since the mid 1990's. The question of who should play QB came up early and often. Sean Norton was the backup to Tom Brandstater who most felt was not ready to be the starting QB. However, Pat Hill showed tremendous faith in Brandstater by making him the starter for the majority of the season. Although a large amount of fans disagreed with Pat on the QB issue only one season later we were able to see that Pat was right in keeping Brandstater in as our QB. Headed into his senior year Brandstater is viewed as the man to lead this team to their first WAC title in nearly ten seasons. Without Pat Hill's support who knows what would have happened to Brandstater during the course of his sophomore season. He was continually put down by the public and criticized for his play on the field. Week after week Hill supported Brandstater and we as fans could not figure out why. Today we know that Pat was able to see what Brandstater could truly do on the field while we as fans were not able to see past his performances early in his career.
The difference between Pat Hill and your average fan is that Pat understands what it takes to be a college football player at Fresno State. He realizes what players will help the team and what players won't. When Hill goes on recruiting trips he understands the needs of the team and does not have the desire to tell a recruit that the Dogs are going to offer him if he does not believe it is in the best interest of Fresno State to do so. While schools such as Florida, Cal, and UCLA can offer scholarships to hundreds of players only to pull them back when they reach their allotted amount, Fresno State on the other hand only offers scholarships to players they want in their program. The Bulldogs do not offer every single five star recruit because it is not realistic to do so. While it makes sense to show a top flight recruit attention, if that attention falls on deaf ears then what exactly is the point of the attention in the first place? Pat Hill did not actively recruit Derek Carr but Derek decided to attend Fresno State. Travis Brown may be the first five star high school recruit in Bulldog history. However, to find other recruits Pat is forced to earn his money as head coach.
I realize that many times we as fans think we know what is best for our hometown team. I think at times my knowledge of offense is exactly what allows me to understand what type of players the Bulldogs need. The truth is only the coaching staff and Pat Hill know exactly what is best for this program. Regardless if I have been a fan of Bulldog football for the past five, ten, or fifteen years I am not a coach in the Bulldog football program. In other words when all is said and done trust Pat Hill and his recruiting style. He may not be flashy with the way that he recruits, nor will he promise anyone more than they will actually be able to accomplish at State. Pat will be honest and that is something to be remembered in today's world where lying seems to get you ahead and a players word means absolutely nothing. Pat has done a great job recruiting here in Fresno and if we are lucky as Bulldog fans we will be able to enjoy his recruiting classes for many years into the future.