Looking back on first year in Fresno

Joseph Edgecomb / Collegian File Photo

Looking back at the past year for Fresno State athletics, it’s been a roller coaster for the Bulldogs.

The Valley’s water coolers heard lots of talk this year, perhaps more of it about the administration than the teams.

There was a brand-new sport, another lawsuit, the arrival of Derek Carr and sadly, the passing of former defensive coordinator Dan Brown.

Highlights abounded, as did moments most would rather forget.

Rumors circled about Mike Batesole’s players not liking him. Rumors circled about Marge Wright’s players not liking her.

All visible traces of the Ray Lopes era ended along with Dwight O’Neil’s career. And while we’ll miss O’Neil, forgetting Lopes’ reign can only be a positive for the men’s basketball team.

This was my first year at Fresno State and my first on the West Coast, and I had great fun seeing how things work here.

I attended a Football Championship Subdivision school (where they have playoffs) for my undergrad and was ecstatic to finally be in the big leagues. It’s beyond exciting here, but when I left the Wisconsin game I couldn’t shake the feeling that the entire season was already a waste.

Bowl Championship Series (BCS) controversy is fun, but the pressure to win every single Saturday might be too much.

Bryan Cole / Collegian File Photo

Anyway, wasn’t it great to paint the Rose Bowl red for a day back in September? Before the game even started I talked to a UCLA fan who said, “Congratulations on your victory.”

Now that’s respect for the Valley.

Of course, the wheels fell off, but they’ve got a “new Carr” now and the future looks bright for the ’Dogs and the man with the ’stache.

Men’s basketball has certainly been better, but good times should return there as well with young stars like Paul George lighting up YouTube and getting early experience.

I heard the words “Title IX” more times in the last nine months than in my whole life previously, and I was shocked to learn about the end of men’s soccer and wrestling.

Many I’ve talked to blame the Title IX amendments for the entire plight of the athletics department, from the red budget to the lawsuits to that bad taste in your mouth.

Ironically, the women’s sports brought most of the glory the school saw this year. Women’s basketball and softball won the WAC regular-season and tournament championships. Women’s tennis won their eighth-straight conference championship. They’ve got a quiet dynasty.

Lacrosse was a little less successful, but head coach Sue Behme dismisses the naysayers with the confidence of a champion. She says, “They need to look at the big picture.”

This controversy and others aside, one thing about the sports scene at Fresno State impressed me above all. I arrived expecting to see a myriad of glory-hunter fans proudly sporting gear from Cal, Florida, USC, whoever.

To my pleasant surprise, these fans (the worst fans in the world) seem to be a small minority here as Fresno State shirts dominate the campus and city. When it comes to college sports the Valley is committed to Fresno State and the ’Dogs. That cannot be underestimated.

So I look forward to returning for another year and watching whoever dares take on the Valley’s Team.
And the best part? Everyone starts with a clean record.

So, whether graduating or not, enjoy your summer and keep in good spirits: there’s always next year.

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