Calling all Fresno State football fans, bandwagon fans, or the fans that have stumbled across Bulldog Stadium. Yes, you! What is it going to take for you to support and pack Bulldog Stadium? No, Derek Carr will not be there, but I can tell you who will. The First place Fresno State Bulldogs. What will it take to fill up Bulldog Stadium? A win versus an FBS opponent? Check! Back to back wins? Check! A winning streak? Check! How about having won more games this season, than the previous two years combined? Check! What about beating back to back Mountain West Conference champion San Diego State? Check! Last one, how about being undefeated at home and in Mountain West play? Check!
There is this old saying, that if you win, people will show up. Now, more than ever will that saying be put to the test. Fresno State (5-2, 4-0 MW) fresh off a beat down of in-state rival, and current two time defending Mountain West champion San Diego State (6-2, 2-2 MW) is now in the drivers seat to make a third conference championship appearance, and first since 2014. Not only do the Bulldogs have the inside track to come out of the western division, but also are in prime position to host the Mountain West championship game in December.
Fresno State is undefeated at home, and could really use that home field mystique it once had, that intimidating feeling it gave opponents, that hostel environment Bulldog Stadium was when visiting players walked up and down that ramp to a warm welcome and a lot of barking. What more does this Fresno State team have to do? One more win, and this 1-11 squad from last year, will become bowl eligible. One of the factors of being selected to a bowl is... you guessed it, attendance! But, that is beside the point. Fact is, these Bulldogs are exciting to watch on both sides of the ball. The offense is putting points up on the scoreboard. The defense is putting points up as well, but also playing tough, physical, shutout defense. As the Bulldogs have two, in three games.
Fresno State is averaging 48 points at Bulldog Stadium, They have done more than enough, to show you the casual fan, not the die hard, always there no matter what fans, but the casual fans that need to do their part and show up and support a great product. These last three games should all be sell-outs, and who knows, the way the Bulldogs are playing, there could possibly be a fourth game (Mountain West Championship) Fresno State is also sniffing around the Top 25.
October 23rd, 2016 Fresno State relieved then head coach Tim DeRuyter, and one year later the Bulldogs are in first place, in the hunt for a chance to be in the Mountain West title game, might also be ranked in a couple weeks, and again I ask where would you be starting this Saturday night when Fresno State faces off against UNLV? (2-5, 1-3 MW) November is fast approaching, and in college football the games you always remember are in November. These upcoming games will have a huge impact on what is in store, but up to this point the Bulldogs have done far more than enough to have Bulldog Stadium rocking again.
November 10, 2016 Fresno State hired its new head football coach in Jeff Tedford, November 11, 2017 Fresno State Plays at Hawaii, almost a year to the date, and the Bulldogs have a chance to clinch the western division with a win, and be at the Mountain West Conference championship game. But all of this happens this Saturday night at Bulldog Stadium with a win. The question remains the same. Where would you be?
From left to right. Stephen Van Hook (44), Nathan Madsen (91), Patrick Belony (94), Kevin Atkins (90)
BY ERIC BARBOZA
On November 14, 2015, lead by a career night by then quarterback Zack Greenlee, throwing for six touchdown passes to help Fresno State beat Hawaii 42-14. That was the last win the Bulldogs had over an FBS (Football Bowl Subdivision) school, that was also the last time Fresno State won a Mountain West Conference game. Since then Greenlee has transferred to The University of Texas at El Paso, (UTEP) where he serves as the back-up quarterback. Head coach Tim DeRuyter is now the defensive coordinator at Cal, and Jeff Tedford has come back to his alma mater to take over a 1-11 squad.
Fast forward to Saturday, September 30th, the Bulldogs sitting at (1-2) with their lone victory being a
66-0 blowout of Incarnate Word an FCS (Football Championship Subdivision) school, welcome winless Nevada (0-4) to open Mountain West Conference play. It will be exactly 686 days since that night in the islands, and do not think for a second that this Fresno State State football team does not know what is at stake. In fact they knew this was going to be the year Fresno State gets back to respectability. At the 2017 Mountain West Football Media Summit in late July, the media predicted Fresno State to finish last in the western division. Last to fellow first year head coaches Jay Norvell of Nevada, and Brent Brennan of San Jose State. When I spoke to Paul Loeffler (play by play announcer for 940 ESPN, Fresno) better known as the "voice of the Bulldogs" he along with others had this Nevada game circled as the one that can make or break this season. "Well, I think you do have to be optimistic that this coaching staff can make a difference. The physicality can make a difference." Paul Loeffler Key words that stood out, "this coaching staff can make a difference" because not only were the Bulldogs predicted to finish last, but last to a couple of first time head coaches in Brennan and Norvell from San Jose State and Nevada respectfully. Loeffler continues "The word that I know that is graded on people in the community when they heard and said about their Bulldogs was that these guys are soft. Players don't want to be called soft, the team doesn't want to be called soft, and its up to this years team to prove that they're back to Bulldog football. That they're tough, that they're aggressive, they're physical, and they have a chance to show that early on against some of the most physical teams in the country. So, I think if they can do that, grab some momentum early, that Nevada game to me is really pivotal. First conference game, you've got Alabama and Washington in your rear view mirror by then, you've got a bye the week before and its a chance to start off in first place in your division. If you get a little momentum going then that's the most powerful force." And if the voice of the Bulldogs had this game circled, Imagine the coaches and players.
Not only will the monkey, the 400 pound gorilla or whatever else you want to call it come off their back, but they will also be 1-0 in Mountain West Conference play, and be atop of the western division standings. Not only that, with a favorable match-up next week, when Fresno State travels to San Jose and take on the Spartans (1-4, 0-1 Mountain West) who could be winless in conference play pending Saturday nights match-up at UNLV, The Bulldogs could be on dare I say... A winning streak! If you thought 686 days without an FBS win was bad, try 1,036 days since Fresno State posted back to back wins. You would have to go back to November 29th, 2014 against Hawaii, as the last time the Bulldogs posted back to back wins. If you are curious about who started that streak in 2014, it was none other than Nevada. But all of this is irrelevant if Fresno State can not produce a win Saturday night at Bulldog Stadium. Yes, the distractions will be there regarding the last time they beat an FBS school, the last time they won back to back games, how ESPN's football power index or FPI has the Bulldogs favored to win seven out of their nine remaining contest. But a win will give Fresno State that much needed "momentum" that Loeffler mentioned in July, that can be the start of bringing Fresno State football back to what it once was. Respectability.
MOUNTAIN WEST CONFERENE: 2017 FOOTBALL MEDIA SUMMIT--LAS VEGAS,NV 8/26/17
The voice of Fresno State Athletics, Paul Loeffler was at the Mountain West Conference Football Media Summit, held at The Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas, NV
MOUNTAIN WEST CONFERENCE: 2017 FOOTBALL MEDIA SUMMIT--LAS VEGAS,NV 8/25/17
Fresno State WR KeeSean Johnson and DT Nathan Madsen in the Mountain West Conference Football Media Summit, held at The Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas, NV.
MOUNTAIN WEST CONFERENCE: 2017 FOOTBALL MEDIA SUMMIT--LAS VEGAS,NV 8/25/17
Fresno State Head Coach Jeff Tedford, participated in his first Mountain West Conference Football Media Summit, held at The Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas, NV.
FRESNO STATE FOOTBALL: SPRING FOOTBALL 2017
Fresno State football completed the first day of spring practice. New head coach Jeff Tedford, who's been with the Bulldogs since November had the Dogs up early, today marked the first time the coaching staff, and the players were on the field at the same time. Former head coach Pat Hill was also in the stands, taking a look at the new Dogs'. It was a very basic first day, a report along with more details will be available on Saturday, as that will be the first day that the Dogs will put on the pads. Keep it here for more information.
Fresno State fires head football coach Tim DeRuyter; Offensive Coordinator Eric Kiesau named interim coach
Former Fresno State head football coach Tim DeRuyter was fired Sunday after a 1-7 start to the 2016 campaign, and going 10-24 since capturing the Mountain West Conference championship in 2013.
“Bulldog born, bulldog bred, gonna be a bulldog till the day I’m dead.” Are the words of the late great Jim Sweeney, and are the words DeRuyter used during his introductory press conference back in December of 2012. That reference resonated well with the Red Wave, as it showed DeRuyter paying homage to the legendary coach.
On Sunday Fresno State director of athletics Jim Bartko, along with University president Dr. Joseph Castro made the somewhat surprising move to go in a different direction now, rather than wait to season ends. "Tim DeRuyter is a man of high character - a class individual who is a leader of young men," said Bartko "Over the time I've been here, the football program has shown it has the ability to be a product the Red Wave can be excited about, but the results have not been to the standard we anticipated and expect. "When you make a coaching change the evaluation process covers many aspects of the program. Through this process the decision was made to make a change at this time. There are four remaining football games on the schedule, and the focus will be to prepare and put this team in a place to create success and engage the fan base. We look forward to Eric's (Kiesau) leadership, starting with Friday's Salute to Service game against Air Force." Jim Bartko Fresno State athletic director.
Offensive coordinator Eric Kiesau takes over as interim head coach. Kiesau is in his first season at Fresno State, last season he was an offensive analyst at Alabama. Prior to that he's made stops at Kansas, Cal, and Washington. He was in a similar situation in Kansas, when head coach Charlie Weis was fired, and Kiesau was elevated to play caller for the remainder of the season. Kiesau was notified around 8 a.m. Sunday morning. Bartko called and asked if he were interested in being the interim head coach, which Kiesau was. He's been hard at work, and on a short week nonetheless filed with staff meetings, player meetings, and getting up to speed on head coaching duties. Kiesau expressed how he wants the final five weeks to go, and didn't pull any punches, he knows this is a five week audition. "Right now, where we are you can't change the players.... The one thing we can do is change how we play the game." Eric Kiesau interim head football coach. He continues " You got to figure out if you're really all in. If we're all in. I just didn't ask the players, I asked the staff, I asked the water technicians, I asked the managers, I asked the trainers, everybody in the organization that was there. When we do this for the next five weeks we're not going to go 70 percent, we're not going to go 60 percent, if we're going all in, we're going 100 percent." Eric Kiesau.
Winning and meeting expectations were obviously not met, and a key factor in Sunday's decision. Other factors were attendance, and recruiting or lack thereof. Bartko was very straight forward, talking about recruiting the valley, about reaching out to the south valley, particularly Bakersfield, and the "Small towns" in between. Something that DeRuyter and his staff has not done. Several high school and, junior college coaches, say the same thing. There was absolutely no interaction, no dialog, nothing from this staff, or DeRuyter's previous staff. Countless football players from the valley, have said the same thing. Many Mountain West Conference schools were making it out to practice, building relationships with coaches, making it a priority to recruit the San Joaquin Valley, knowing that Fresno State was not recruiting their own back yard. One recruit said, that when other Mountain West schools come to visit at school or their home, that they joke around saying that Fresno State is moving away, and not worried about the valley. No doubt the next head coach at Fresno State will make it a priority to build relationships throughout the valley, from Bakersfield to Sacramento.
As gracious as Tim DeRuyter was when he first set foot on campus, he was just as gracious leaving. Thanking everyone, and leaving with class.
Jeff Tedford, Fresno State alum, and former quarterback. Former CAL coach, and QB guru is ready to coach college ball again. Coached at Fresno State as well. He's currently at the University of Washington as a consultant. Tedford is rumored to be the leading candidate, and option number one.
Lane Kiffen, former Fresno State quarterback, and grad assistant. Has head coaching experience in college and professionally. Currently serves as Alabama's offensive coordinator.
Tim Skipper, Fresno State alum. Has been coaching. Currently he's the running back coach at Florida, with former Fresno State offensive coordinator Jim McElwain.
Doug Nussmeier, former Fresno State offensive coordinator. Turned down to be Southern Miss head football coach last season. He currently serves as Florida's offensive coordinator.