The stands at Bulldog Stadium were basically empty by the beginning of the fourth quarter during Saturday’s nonconference showdown against No. 21 Utah. (Daniel Leon/The Collegian)

Leon: These fans ain’t loyal

The Red Wave is back at it again – the trend of Fresno State football “fans” leaving games early was back on full display in Saturday night’s blackout game against No. 21 Utah.

As soon as the Bulldogs started to fall behind by a couple scores, “fans” made their way up and down the stairs of Bulldog Stadium to head to their respective exits.

But those few that stayed would know that quarterback Zack Greenlee led three scoring drives in the fourth to cut Utah’s lead to 14 with just over seven minutes to play. This enabled the Bulldogs to steal the momentum, but there was one problem – there were no fans left in the stadium at the time to help the ‘Dogs keep the momentum going. They were all long gone.

Yes, Fresno State ended up getting blown out by yet another Power Five opponent – and ultimately falling 45-24 – but in the midst of all that chaos there was one small window of hope.

Things got a little hectic for the Bulldogs early in the fourth as they had lost starting quarterback Chason Virgil and were already down 24-3. But, instead, the situation only improved for the ‘Dogs moving forward as Greenlee would come in and finish the drive the offense had started by finding receiver Josiah Blandin in the back of the end zone for the score.

This would trim the Utes’ lead to 24-10 and provide a little spark for Fresno State. But Utah quickly stomped on the Bulldogs’ attempt to gain momentum by turning a kick and a punt return into a pair of touchdowns to go up 38-10.

However, what basically seemed like the end for Fresno State was anything but that. Greenlee would put together two more scoring drives, the latter coming after a successful onside kick.

By the time the ‘Dogs had clawed and scratched their way back into the ballgame, there was no one to cheer them on or provide some crowd noise to help the defense get a crucial stop.

So by midway through the fourth quarter – when the game was arguably at its peak– there were only three noticeable sections with people left in the stands. Those three sections belonged to the Bulldog Marching Band, families of the players and Utah’s fans.

Even the Fresno State student section lost hope and left. Yes, Fresno State’s most energetic fans gave up too.

It’s as if “fans” expect to see a high-paced shootout every game, like back when Derek Carr was slinging the rock for Fresno State. “Fans” need to realize that not every game is going to feature that type of exciting, high-scoring, back-and-forth affair.

If there was a time when the “fans” were needed to express support the most, it was then – when the ‘Dogs were within striking distance of the nationally-ranked Utes. These Fresno State “fans” need to realize that it’s college football and anything can happen on any given Saturday. Upsets happen all the time!

It should be interesting to see what the turnout will be for homecoming on Oct. 10 when the ‘Dogs host Utah State. But by now we should have a clear idea of what to expect – “fans” will show up at some point in the first quarter and then slowly trickle their way out if the Bulldogs get down by a couple scores.

It is apparent that “Red Wavers” all have something better to do on a Saturday night than sit through a Division I college football game and cheer on their Bulldogs, who could have been a few plays away from knocking off one of the top teams in the country.

After the game, coach Tim DeRuyter even said: “We feel like we had an opportunity to win tonight.”

But even if Fresno State had pulled off the upset, no one would have been there to witness it.

  • Nitronerd

    Well, after all, the temps are hot, the seats are hot, the air is nasty, the concessions are pricy, and the football team is, ah, well…

  • Chip Was Here

    Yes, “Fans” like watching the same ineffective running play being run over and over again to the same ‘3 & punt’ tune. Same damn play from Ole Miss, over and over again against Utah. That’s the definition of insanity: Repeating the same routine expecting different results.

    Have a scrawny offensive line that can’t part the waters to make a hole for the runner? Try something different. Better yet, DO something different. (Maybe even review game tapes, do research on the opposing team’s line staff, basic strategy / tactics, etc.)

    “Fans” also like watching the opposing team score on punts and kick-offs, one-after-the-other. (The opposing ball carrier breaking 5 tackles, no less.)

    Virgil started the game, and played most of it, because in the first two games of the season, Greenlee, consistently threw the ball over his receiver’s heads.

    There was potential when Greenlee came in. But watching the opposing team walk the ball down the field to score two more times in short sequence isn’t one of those things you want to sit around and watch in the bottom of the 4th Quarter when you’re already down by 2 or 3 touchdowns.

    Yes, it may just be Fresno, but there are better things to do on Friday, Saturday, Sunday, or any night of the week. Not everyone is as narrow as believing in the typical / traditional Hometown Hoedown. As good a job as University and Fresno Police do for managing traffic (ingress/egress routes) — it’s also nice to leave early and trickle out to avoid even worse traffic if everyone stayed and left simultaneously after the game.

    It might be fun to berate the “Fans” (who largely came out in Blackout) on the school Blog. This doesn’t change the mumbling and grumbling I heard in the stands from season ticket holders in the Red Seats bemoaning issues with coaching staff and recruiting (long-term observations about the same issues over & over again). Rather, one interesting argument was the “age” and “experience” of the current team, met with observations about the long-term. In other words (in simpler terms): The Fans don’t make-up the team, nor the coaching staff. Quite a few people who do have better things they could be doing are fed-up with watching the same ineffective plays being run over and over again to the same tune. (And, for reference, I’ve gone and read the very, very intriguing coaching staff Bio’s — puff pieces — on the Fresno State Athletics website. A similar waste of time.)

    What’s next for the October 10 game against Utah? Well, we can’t very well recruit bigger, better players. Same plays? I’ll bet we’ll see the same thing against both San Jose & Utah — same plays, over and over again, as if each opponent is the same and the best we can do is treat each opponent the same because of such a limited playbook.

    It reminds me of a Nine Inch Nails song: “I believe I can see the future, because I repeat the same routine.”