Fresno State A.D. offers apology
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By Stephen Tsai
Advertiser Staff Writer
Fresno State athletic director Scott Johnson yesterday apologized to Hawai'i football coach June Jones for the behavior of some Bulldog fans in last week's game at Bulldog Stadium, specifically citing an incident in which a screwdriver was thrown in Jones' direction.
"After a complete investigation by our staff, which included a discussion with coach June Jones earlier today, we believe that a screwdriver was thrown by one of our fans at the University of Hawai'i team bench during Friday night's football game," Johnson said in a statement distributed to Jones, UH officials and the media.
"We sincerely apologize to June Jones, the Warrior football team and the University of Hawai'i for the incident," Johnson added. "I am embarrassed by that type of fan behavior. It tarnishes the 'Red Wave,' which has a great reputation across the nation for it's outstanding support of Bulldog athletics."
The Red Wave is the nickname for Bulldog supporters, who often line the path leading to the field, yelling insults at visiting players.
But after UH's 31-21 victory last Friday, its first in Fresno since 1973, UH players and coaches complained of being the target of thrown objects. Jones said there were beer bottles thrown near the UH bench, and after the game, he found a screwdriver near where he was standing.
"We will not tolerate fans throwing objects onto the field," Johnson said. "This is a serious issue. Anyone caught throwing anything on the field in the future will be dealt with accordingly, including criminal charges."
When told of the apology after this morning's practice, Jones said, "It's unfortunate one or two drunks do something that affects the whole school."
As a whole, Jones said, Fresno State officials "did a great job with security. They can't control 35,000 people."
Jones said the crowd's behavior was better than the previous time UH played in Fresno, in 2000, and comparable to what a visiting player goes through in the National Football League.
"It's like Cleveland or Philadelphia or New York when you go into those stadiums," Jones said. "It's the same way. Unfortunately, one or two people give 35,000 a bad name."
Jones said he will not hesitate to play in Fresno again. The Warriors' next scheduled football game in Bulldog Stadium is in 2004.
Health report: Defensive end Houston Ala, who was diagnosed with a badly bruised Achilles' heel, practiced yesterday morning, but it has not been determined if he will be available to play in tomorrow's game against San Jose State.
UH defensive coordinator Kevin Lempa said he will wait until after today's closed practice before deciding if Ala will be used.
"It probably will be a game-day decision," Lempa said. "He's going to go as long as he can (in practice), and we'll see. It's a matter of the bruise healing and withstanding the pain."
Ala, a junior, missed the last two games. Still, he leads the Warriors with four sacks.
Ala is used in every defensive situation. He is the right end in the base 4-3 scheme, the rush end when the Warriors use five defensive backs and the nose tackle when six defensive backs are employed. If Ala cannot play, middle linebacker Chris Brown will be used at rush end and nose tackle in passing situations.