Forget the Hawaii Bowl. It’s nothing more than a slice of pineapple cake to celebrate a Fresno State football season that railed against belief, and suspended most applicable laws of physics.
Sure, it’ll be cute to see Jeff Tedford coach in a lei, and his Bulldogs just might beat Houston to cast a six-bowl losing streak to sea. Who’s going to bet against a team that went from 1-11 to 9-4 in a single-season bound? (Answer: those who deserve all the homeless shelter they can get for betting the ranch against these guys).
But enough about Sunday. Let’s get back to the future of a football program that finally has one again.
The real news of the week came Wednesday to the dazzling sounds of ’80s technology, when 15 football recruits faxed over their consent to work for free at Fresno State Inc.
Never miss a local story.
(The Bulldogs could have got 19 national letter of intents, but four of the poor kids had no clue what a fax machine was, much less how to work it).
But, we regress. Digress. Whatever. Fresno State just got better, and they got better without ever leaving the local produce aisle. That hasn’t happened in these parts since Pat “Pat” Hill was teaching kids how to manicure their own Fu Manchu.
You don’t even need an out-of-state map to find those 15 players. Every one of them has a California mailing address. Eight of them could have delivered their letters by mule express because they live in our Central Valley.
Eight, as in about 15 more local kids than the previous coach bothered to sign.
Fresno and Clovis and Tulare, oh my!
The Bulldogs are going to force the Boise State empire to capitulate by being what the Bulldogs always were. Homegrown. Quarterback driven. Three-star athletes with 9-to-5 work ethos.
“We got a lot of new Bulldogs,” said Tedford, fondly remembering a time when he signed players with tablets and hieroglyphics – uphill, in the quicksand, both ways.
What a brilliant strategy, this starting from the inside and working out. It’s as if the Bulldog-born Jim Sweeney reached back from the Bulldog-dead to inspire his former player. Or, as if Hill himself was reaching down from the radio booth to encourage his former play-caller to go local, local, local.
Fresno State is never going to beat Boise State by being Boise State. The Bulldogs are going to force the Broncos empire to capitulate by being what the Bulldogs always were.
Homegrown. Quarterback driven. Three-star athletes with 9-to-5 work ethos.
If this year’s turnaround team was powered by a homecoming – welcome back from Oregon State, Marcus McMaryion – this year’s class is anchored in not letting all the homecoming kings get away from home in the first place.
Clovis West receiver Rodney Wright III? Pick up where your dad left off setting records on Bulldog Lane.
Tulare receiver Emoryie Edwards? Fresno State is matriculating seven receivers after next year, so you’ll not sit long on the Bulldogs bench.
You like your recruits Sunnyside up? Tedford’s dished up two commitments from the east Fresno campus.
Fresno State hasn’t had this many local recruits since 2010. That class played in three straight bowl games. So yeah, there is something to be said about cherry-picking the local all-league rosters.
Name the last time Fresno State signed someone from outside of California/Nevada who became an All-America star, or an NFL draft pick. And don’t give us that “Derek Carr lived in Houston for a minute” trivia end-around, either.
Go ahead. Keep looking. We’ll be waiting over here, watching Tedford make the Valley grass grow greener.
1. Game-winning catches that aren’t catches at all if they’ll beat the Patriots. First downs are determined by ruled index cards and smirking refs. Are you sure WWE chief Vince McMahon, who wants to relaunch the XFL, hasn’t already taken over the NFL? Because that would explain why Roger Goodell turned heel.
2. Firebaugh dairy hand Josh Allen is never going to make it in the NFL because Wyoming is too small-school of a college program, and who did he ever beat anyway? Great point, critics. Now, explain that to Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz, by way of North Dakota State.
3. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady wins a few more Super Bowls and rides off on top; 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo decides he’s had all the Jed York he can take and signs as a free agent with the Patriots. Garoppolo wins a bunch more Super Bowls. Because, what else would you expect?