Oregon transplant Jim Bartko recently took in the sights and sounds at Fresno State, where he noticed a problem that no one else seemed to think was a problem.
“There’s fences around the fences,” Bartko said, and that’s all we needed to hear to think he just might be the guy for the athletic director job.
Don’t get it? That’s exactly the point. Fresno State is so Fresno State, that no one realizes it can be any different.
So we have fences around the fences, and ’80s scoreboard technology, and ’70s fundraising modules. No one seems to mind because no one seems to know any better. After all, Fresno is a great place to live if you’ve never lived anyplace else.
That’s why Fresno State needs an outsider who knows that grass grows greener than our current, tired hue. It needs an outside consultant with some other-world ideas of how to make Fresno State something it’s never been. You know, like the way Boise State has grown over the past 10 years.
Bartko sounded like that guy during his news conference Thursday, except when he didn’t. He said how they’d raise millions of your dollars, unless they won’t, and how they’ll bring back wrestling, unless they can’t.
When pressed for blueprint specifics, Bartko reverted to happy talking points about hitting the streets, and finding people with money to spare, and working hard, and being a team, and working hard again.
It sounds great, and makes people clap, and Bartko most certainly inspires smiles in ways his predecessor only did when he left the room. Minus any specifics, though, his PowerPoint plan may as well boil down to squeezing his eyes shut and wishing really hard upon a star … but that story is time’s to tell.
In the interim, Bartko has our ear, which he has earned by virtue of not being Thomas Boeh. Put another way, Bartko will be given space to win our applause by merit.
Here’s one thing we can be sure of: Bartko knows what Fresno State doesn’t know, which is galactically huge considering Fresno State’s biggest problem has always been that it doesn’t know what it doesn’t know, and never bothered to find out.
Bartko had a box-seat view to Oregon’s rise to prominence. Ever been in the football locker room in Eugene? Bartko knows every nook and cranny. So after looking at Fresno State’s game-day experience, along with parking lots, fences and staff sizes, he knows it doesn’t have to be this way. There’s no telling if he knows how to pull that off at Fresno State, but he’s showing that he knows it can better.
So, it’s a good thing he’s looking to replace the 1,600 donors who have gone AWOL on the scholarship program. New solutions need new everything.
Time to send out the mailers. And, when all else fails, start wishing upon that star.