Fresno State pays for high-profile upsets
By Stephen Tsai
Advertiser Staff Writer
BOISE, Idaho Fresno State earned national attention by upsetting several highly regarded college football teams last season. But the Bulldogs are discovering the price of success is rejection.
Texas Tech canceled its game at Fresno State this year and Oklahoma State is expected to jilt the Bulldogs next season. Michigan decided to drop the Bulldogs in favor of Utah.
Those cancellations have infuriated Fresno State coach Pat Hill, who told reporters here yesterday, "If you sign a contract, live up to it."
Hill said Texas Tech canceled without explanation.
"We go down there (to Lubbock, Texas) to play them and when it's time to come back (to Fresno State) six years later, they drop it," Hill said.
He added, "I feel very badly when administrators don't fulfill their contracts. We preach to our players all of the time: Live up to your contract. ... Then (administrators) turn around and do this."
Hill said Western Athletic Conference member Southern Methodist "can get games now. Once they start winning, it's going to be hard. It's just the way college football is. ... It's like the Christians and the Lions. The Lions didn't mind fighting until somebody gave the Christians swords."
Hawai'i has had similar problems. In recent years, Notre Dame, Virginia, Washington State, Purdue and Texas have canceled games against UH.
Meanwhile, San Jose State, which relies on appearance fees to meet its budget, has a schedule peppered with high-ranking opponents. The Spartans travel to Washington State, Stanford, Illinois and Ohio State.
"The schedule was made before I got there," said Fitz Hill, who will start his second season as San Jose State head coach. "What am I going to do? Say, 'I'm not going to play?' I'm not going to tell my team, 'We're going to boycott.' "
He also refused to complain about playing games on 13 consecutive weekends. "In combat situations, you fight 13 days in a row," he said.
He also welcomed the challenge of the NCAA mandate requiring teams to meet attendance minimums.
"You shouldn't be an imposter," he said. "Either you're going to do it or you're not. Either you do it or you get out. ... The Bay Area has three million people. If you can't create some type of an environment to get 25,000 people out there, you might need to look at doing something else."
TV or not TV: Nine WAC games will be televised on ESPN or ESPN2, but only one will be played on a Saturday. The schedule limits the number of WAC teams available for nationally televised games.
WAC schools in Texas, Louisiana and Oklahoma are reluctant to compete against local high school games on Friday nights.
Dallas-based Southern Methodist was willing to play on Friday night, but the host team, Texas Christian, turned down the ESPN invitation.