Pat Hill suffering his first loss of the 2011 season
at Candlestick Park against the California Golden Bears.
Dalton Runberg / Collegian File Photo
For the past 15 years, Pat Hill has been the face of Fresno State football, leading the school to multiple bowl appearances and implementing his “Anybody, Anytime, Anywhere” mantra along the way, never shying away from squaring off against some of the nation’s premier schools.
But following Saturday’s season-finale loss to San Diego State, Hill has been fired by Fresno State after the ‘Dogs didn’t meet expectations in the past couple years, especially this season during which Fresno State finished 4-9 overall, the worst season in the Hill era.
Director of Athletics Thomas Boeh and President John Welty came to the decision to relieve Hill of his duties as the head coach.
“The last six and seven years we’ve had in regular season and postseason play has resulted in the financial situation that we are in,” Boeh said. “The community has not responded to the record we’ve had the last six-to-seven years.”
The Bulldog faithful hasn’t been filling Bulldog Stadium as seen in seasons past. For the final home game of the season against San Jose State, the attendance was at 25,492, which is not close to filling a 41,031 seat stadium.
With Hill leaving the football program, Fresno State now embarks on a search to find his replacement soon with National Signing Day in February and many universities nationwide also in mid-coaching search. When the new head coach is hired he will need to act fast to get recruits in Bulldog red.
Boeh talked about what he is looking for in a replacement to get the fans in the stands.
“It takes time I think for folks to gather steam and embrace a program and a direction,” Boeh said. “What we need to do is get the very best coach possible to build the program and build it right. What we’re looking for is a program that is sustainable and a coach that can lead it over a period of time.”
Hill’s final game against San Diego State went the way most Fresno State fans have come to expect from the ‘Dogs this year after seeing promising on-field efforts result in losses during the coach’s 15th season at the helm.
The inconsistent play didn’t just start this past season as the ‘Dogs haven’t met expectations since nearly dethroning USC in 2005.
Fresno State lost that game 50-42 and since that point the ‘Dogs have gone 28-19 in the six seasons since.
The ‘Dogs never won an outright Western Athletic Conference championship and only shared one in the 1999 season with Hill at head coach.
Hill’s inaugural seasons at Fresno State didn’t necessarily result in instant-success. The 1997 and 1998 teams finished with six and five wins, respectively.
But after the initial struggles, the program started getting on a roll as Fresno State won eight games in Hill’s third season. After the eight-win season came the David Carr era and the program soared to new heights.
Carr led the ‘Dogs to an eleven-win season during his senior year at Fresno State. The Bulldogs were ranked as high as eighth in the country.
From 2002 to 2004, Fresno State won nine games and defeated UCLA, Georgia Tech and Virginia in three consecutive bowl games. But Fresno State has struggled to break away from mediocrity, losing three consecutive lower-tier bowl games.
Fresno State will now go into the Mountain West Conference with a new head coach and a handful of returning players that will need to have a productive offseason to get the program moving back in the right direction.