Fresno State got some good play out of its football home opener last weekend.
For one, the game was well attended. Close to 40,000 fans showed up, despite the heat and lingering memories of last season. Also, Derek Carr was there and gave a heartfelt speech and the team came away with a blowout win. All of which was enough to get a mention from New York Times writer Mike McPhate (not his first nod to Fresno).
Mostly, the piece uses the home opener to recap a thing we already know – the San Joaquin Valley loves itself some college football. McPhate uses the Times’ interactive social-media map to prove the fact, while burying the real nugget toward the end: Fresno State will continue to get national attention because it is cranking out some massively successful (and popular) pro athletes.
“Fresno State was the nation’s only college this year with former players chosen as all-stars in three major professional sports,” McPhate writes.
That’s Paul George (basketball) and Aaron Judge (baseball) and Carr (of course). (And, yeah, we knew that, too.)
The school needs this, given recent stats. That red wave that “swept Fresno last weekend,” it’s turning gray, as the school struggles to bring in younger fans. There’s been an overall drop in ticket sales (across sports) over the past five seasons.
The hope, no doubt, is that the current excitement is more than just a one-off, though one wonders where this story was last season. Or, if we’ll see it again when the Bulldogs return home in three weeks.