Tim DeRuyter never has been told by a recruit that he was rejecting the Fresno State coach’s offer because of the Bulldogs’ bowl showing.
But DeRuyter understands the importance of playing well in the postseason for recruiting sake, even though the Bulldogs have struggled in their first two bowls under DeRuyter with a 43-10 loss to Southern Methodist in the 2012 Hawaii Bowl and a 45-20 loss to USC in last year’s Las Vegas Bowl.
“We’re looking to have a really good national name as we reach out to different areas in recruiting,” DeRuyter said. “And because people see us out on ESPN regularly, things are real good when you win on national TV.
“But when the last thing you leave out there, especially on Christmas Eve when we’re the only game of the day, it’s not a good look for you. It can hurt your image nationally and hurt you down the line if recruits are influenced by it.”
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Fresno State (6-7), seeking its first bowl win since 2007, ends this season against Rice (7-5) in the Hawaii Bowl on Wednesday.
A win could further help Fresno State’s cause in recruiting the Texas area with recruits from the Lone Star state possibly familiar with Rice’s recent string of success. The Owls, whose campus is located in Houston, are making their third straight bowl for the first time in school history.
It’s unclear how Fresno State’s postseason failures have impacted its recruiting classes. Could the Bulldogs have brought in better recruits with a bowl victory?
Fresno State’s 2014 signing class, for one, was rated fourth in the Mountain West by recruiting service Rivals.com despite the Bulldogs coming off back-to-back conference championships. Fresno State’s 2013 signing class, however, ranked second in the Mountain West behind Boise State despite the Bulldogs ending their 2012 season with what was then the largest margin of defeat in a bowl game.
“What you want to do is play your best game at the end of the season,” DeRuyter said. “Brand yourself as a winner, especially while a lot of people are watching your game. And maybe recruits will say ‘Hey, I want to be a part of that.’”