What a difference a Fresno loss makes
By Stephen Tsai
Advertiser Staff Writer
You could assume that there was some good in Fresno State's football loss to Boise State last Friday.
You could argue that now that Fresno State (6-1) is out of consideration for a berth in the Bowl Championship Series, the national media will appreciate the quality of the Western Athletic Conference.
You could insist that more opportunities will become available for WAC teams, such as Hawai'i, which plays host to Fresno State on Friday afternoon at Aloha Stadium.
You, of course, would be wrong.
Fresno State's loss cost the WAC an extra opportunity for a bowl berth. Under the current arrangement, without one of its teams qualifying for a BCS berth, the WAC is assured spots in only the Silicon Valley Football Classic in San Jose, Calif., and Humanitarian Bowl in Boise, Idaho. Last year, each WAC school had to pony up $50,000 to offset expenses for the Silicon bowl.
Boise State's victory, coupled with Louisiana Tech's overtime loss to Auburn (which beat then-No. 1 Florida the previous week), did not elevate the league's power rating. In the Associated Press poll, Fresno State dropped 10 spots, to No. 18, because of the conference loss.
"It's the media and the way things are perceived," Fresno State coach Pat Hill said. "It's hard to fight the perception."
He said WAC teams "have to win our nonconference games. That's what it's going to take. Being close doesn't get it done. It's not about being competitive, it's about winning. Until we start winning those games over and over, the perception will not change. People will not allow it to."
Fresno State's loss also proved to be costly to WAC members. A BCS participant earns an appearance fee of between $14 million and $8 million.
Under league bylaws, a WAC team competing in a BCS game receives $1 million off the top, with the rest divided evenly among the league members. Figuring that an unbeaten Fresno State would play in the $8 million BCS game, WAC schools would split $7 million. UH's share would have been $700,000.
UH athletic director Hugh Yoshida said he would rather have a UH victory over Fresno State instead of BCS payout. "No question about that," Yoshida said.
Still, he said, "the money would have helped us."
UH could have used the $700,000 for:
- Most of the cost of renovating the Cooke Field track ($850,000).
- Most of the annual expenses for Wahine volleyball ($536,000) and women's tennis ($174,000).
- Most of the Wahine basketball program for two years ($362,000 annually).
- Eight charter flights to the West Coast ($83,000 per round trip on Aloha Airlines).
- Associate athletic director Jim Donovan's salary for the next nine years ($75,000 annually).
- $25 gift certificates for each of the 24,000 season ticket holders for football.
- Ten subscriptions to The Advertiser for the next 283 years (current rate of $4.75 per week).
- All but $20,000 for three-year contracts for men's basketball coach Riley Wallace ($120,000 annually), men's volleyball coach Mike Wilton ($70,000) and softball coach Bob Coolen ($50,000).
Meanwhile, Boise State coach Dan Hawkins said he has not received any negative reaction to his team's victory.
Then again, he told The Advertiser, "I don't live in the real world to hear any of that stuff."