Tim DeRuyter woke Monday morning and when his feet hit the ground, he was ready go to work.
He instead continued to make his way through those unavoidable but surmountable five stages of grief, but between denial and anger and all of that, two things stuck out:
The former Fresno State coach already is itching to get back to it, hours after he was relieved of his duties after a loss at Utah State left the Bulldogs 1-7 and 0-4 in the Mountain West this season and 4-16 and 2-10 over the past two years.
He appreciates the opportunity he had at Fresno State and for the players, coaches and staff that helped the Bulldogs win two MW championships and a West Division title in his first three seasons.
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Tim DeRuyter went 30-30 in four-plus seasons at Fresno State – 20-6 in his first two seasons and 10-24 in his last two-plus years.
“I absolutely look back on the really good times – winning the championships, the coaches and players that helped get us there, the fantastic support that we get from so many in this community,” DeRuyter said, in a brief telephone interview with The Bee on Monday evening. “Kara and I feel like we have some fantastic, life-long friends now. We feel truly blessed for this opportunity and wish we could have made more of it.
“I wish nothing but success for the Bulldogs and hopefully this change will see our players have some success the rest of this year.”
The Bulldogs on Monday morning went through a 90-minute practice under interim coach Eric Kiesau to see about that success – Fresno State plays Air Force on Friday at Bulldog Stadium and finishes the season at Colorado State and against Hawaii and San Jose State at home.
DeRuyter will have to wait, but opportunities will come. It’s the nature of the business.
Kara and I feel like we have some fantastic, life-long friends now. We feel truly blessed for this opportunity and wish we could have made more of it.
“There’s probably going to be a lot more movement this year,” he said. “That’s more and more typical each year, so you try to keep in touch with a lot of your contacts and see where the openings are during the offseason. I’d love to get back in as soon as possible, but where it’s going to be nobody knows at this point.”
DeRuyter, who was the defensive coordinator at Texas A&M when hired by Fresno State and had a 30-30 record in his four-plus seasons in his first head-coaching job, put a lot on the résumé.
He took over a team that had gone 4-9 the previous season and won two Mountain West championships – the first conference title for Fresno State since 1992 and the first back-to-back titles since 1992 and ’93.
Fresno State had 14 players selected first-team all-conference and seven taken in the NFL draft, and in the classroom the Bulldogs had 71 players selected to the Academic All-Mountain West team.
Tim DeRuyter is one of seven Fresno State coaches to win two or more conference championships, a list topped by Jim Sweeney with eight.
“We felt really good about things. We were on a great roll. Obviously, having Derek (Carr) and some other great players around him helped,” he said. “But a year later, with a difficult schedule early on – starting off with USC, Nebraska and Utah, coming back from 1-3 to win six of our next nine games and find a way to win the division and go to the championship was a lot of fun. But the last two years, clearly the lack of success wasn’t fun. We’re in a production business and when you don’t produce, things like this happen.
“I don’t really want to talk about the would have, should have, could have, but you go through that. Sometimes when you reflect back you maybe change some of the things you did, but you have to live life. You make the best call at the time, live with the results. It’s hard not to, but you can’t look back.”
Robert Kuwada: @rkuwada
FRESNO STATE VS. AIR FORCE
- Friday: 7:30 p.m. at Bulldog Stadium (41,031)
- Records: Bulldogs 1-7, 0-4 Mountain West; Falcons 4-3, 1-3
- TV/radio: ESPN2/KFIG (AM 940), KGST (AM 1600)