Aloha means goodbye.
Unless you’re Fresno State football coach Tim DeRuyter because, after the Bulldogs play Rice in the Hawaii Bowl this coming week, DeRuyter isn’t going anywhere except the Fresno State recruiting trail.
Not after a 6-7 regular season. Not after a grotesque and unqualified failure to replace one-tenth of quarterback Derek Carr. All apologies, former WAC paramours, but beating Rice on Wednesday will do less than nothing to pack DeRuyter’s bags for bigger and better places. Rice provides nothing more than a path back to average, and that’s exactly what a 7-7 record is — average, with a lower-case “a.”
Let other coaches fill vacancies from Oregon State to Nebraska and Wisconsin. DeRuyter is here to stay for another season.
Believe it or not, that’s a good thing for Fresno State, no matter how the Bulldogs come out against the Owls in Honolulu. Seeing that padding the résumé hasn’t worked out, DeRuyter can put all his attention on building the program.
Recruits aren’t wondering if DeRuyter has one foot out the door and the other on the gas pedal. Just ask plum recruit Chason Virgil, the Texas high school quarterback who gave his commitment to DeRuyter and Fresno State last week with Oklahoma and Louisville left kicking rocks.
Fresno State administrators don’t have to worry about bumming for spare change on a local median to give DeRuyter another raise. The athletic department (brought to you by Dollar Tree) can afford DeRuyter at his current going rate, and still have enough leftovers to kick dimes to a new wrestling program.
If DeRuyter wants out of Fresno at some point — and you can be sure he does, whether he ever says it or not — there’s only one viable way to check out.
Build a winning program where his feet already stand.
It worked for program godfather Jim Sweeney, who ended up falling in love with the place and staying until his retiring hour. It worked for Pat Hill, who came bent on turning Fresno State into a known commodity — turning down big-school overtures because he wanted to make the grass greener where he already farmed.
Both coaches made Fresno State better and stronger for it. Because all they cared about was making Fresno State a power, it drew job offers from elsewhere. Sweeney and Hill turned their exit strategies down. DeRuyter probably won’t, nor should he.
He has roots east of California, and it shows in his recruiting. If he wants to go back east of the Sierra snowpack, here’s a good place to start: start acting like you’re from here, and recruit accordingly.
DeRuyter doesn’t paint the Valley green. He signs high school players from anywhere but here. Sweeney and Hill built their houses with homegrown stars, from David Carr to Kevin Sweeney to Lorenzo Neal to Logan Mankins.
Fresno State doesn’t have enough out-of-state tuition dollars to build a program with outsiders. A Virgil signing for impact is great, but for every Virgil he needs five 559ers.
Name the last winning Fresno State team that wasn’t fueled by local pride and joys. It doesn’t work that way, not in this neck of the woods. Winning is good. Winning with Bakersfield and Clovis and Kerman and Merced is better.
DeRuyter’s going to sit on our shelf for awhile. Since he can’t leave us, he may as well join us.