Doing nothing was not an option.
Neither was starting over.
Fresno State took the first steps toward trying to reverse two years of football backsliding by relieving offensive coordinator Dave Schramm and possibly defensive coordinator Nick Toth of their respective duties, effective at season’s end.
Both will coach in Saturday’s season finale against Colorado State at Bulldog Stadium. Toth, whose relationship with coach Tim DeRuyter dates 20 years, could be released or reassigned to position coach.
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DeRuyter hinted at impending changes during his Monday news conference, saying the coaching staff had not “produced well enough.”
Bottom line as coaches, we’re in a production business and we haven’t produced enough.
Fresno State coach Tim DeRuyter, during his Monday news conference
As word began to circulate that Schramm and Toth could be getting the ax, the exact meaning of DeRuyter’s words became clear.
When DeRuyter says the coaching staff has underproduced, there’s more to it than Fresno State’s 3-8 record with the three wins coming against opponents that are a combined 9-26.
It’s about the Bulldogs being unable to score (their 21.5-point per game average ranks 108th out of 127 FBS teams) – or prevent their opponents from scoring (38.5 points allowed, 118th).
It’s about the Bulldogs being unable to gain yards (307.6 per game, 121st) – or prevent their opponents from racking up yardage (455.3, 109th).
It’s about the Bulldogs being ranked 126th in the country in tackles for losses allowed, 125th in red zone offense, 119th in time of possession and 115th in both first downs and completion percentage.
It’s about the Bulldogs being ranked 122nd in the country in third-down conversion percentage defense, 117th in rushing defense and 103rd in team passing efficiency defense.
I could go on, but you get the point. Besides fumble recoveries (seventh), net punting (23rd) and fewest penalties (15th), Fresno State ranks near the bottom in just about every way football teams are statistically measured.
Besides fumble recoveries (seventh), net punting (23rd) and fewest penalties (15th), Fresno State ranks near the bottom in just about every way football teams are statistically measured.
“There’s not one thing you can say had we fixed this we would’ve been better,” DeRuyter said. “Bottom line as coaches, we’re in a production business and we haven’t produced enough.”
Even the stats don’t reflect how badly Fresno State has been physically manhandled on both lines. Not only against Mississippi, Utah and BYU, but also in Mountain West Conference contests against San Jose State, San Diego State, Utah State, Air Force and the second half vs. Nevada.
Not since the late 1970s have the Bulldogs been so toothless.
So, yes, changes were necessary and warranted – and from what I’m hearing DeRuyter did not put up much resistance. (Fresno State athletic director Jim Bartko has not returned my messages this week.)
Why was DeRuyter spared the same fate? There are $4.6 million reasons.
Following the 2013 season, when DeRuyter was 20-6 and coming off back-to-back MW championships, he signed a five-year guaranteed contract through 2018. Fresno State still owes him $4.6 million following this season. (And don’t blame former AD Thomas Boeh for that deal; I’m told university President Joseph Castro negotiated the terms himself.)
Fresno State does not have that kind of spare change sitting around. Especially when Bartko already is tapping big-money donors for the $15 million to $20 million needed to kick-start his vision of a new and improved Bulldog Stadium.
The Bulldogs’ woeful season already has impacted the athletic department’s finances. According to a department source, revenue for home football games has fallen $750,000 below budget projections.
$750,000 Amount that revenue for Bulldogs home football games has fallen below budget projections
In reality, jettisoning Schramm and relieving Toth of his coordinator title are Bartko’s best options. He has to do something to show Bulldogs fans he is addressing the problems, to give them a reason to buy tickets for 2016.
I can’t in good conscience tell you Schramm and Toth are bad coaches. I can’t do that because I’m not in meetings, or the film room. I don’t wear a headset. All I can do is judge performance and results.
The truth is Fresno State has floundered on offense these past two seasons, and we’ve seen little to no improvement from quarterbacks with multiple years in the system. Schramm has to bear responsibility for that.
The defensive woes have gone on even longer. Some fans never will forgive Toth for his unit allowing 62 points to San Jose State in 2013, a loss that cost Fresno State an opportunity to play in the Fiesta Bowl.
But just because the Bulldogs will have new coordinators next season doesn’t mean everything is A-OK.
Just because the Bulldogs will have new coordinators next season doesn’t mean everything is A-OK.
Unlike most Power Five conference schools and some in the MW (notably Boise State and San Diego State), Fresno State always has shied away from giving multiyear contracts to assistant coaches.
That will have to change if Bartko wants to attract quality candidates. Question is, will he be granted the power to do so? Another question: What quality coordinators will come to a place where the head coach is already on the hot seat?
On offense, the first decision will be whether to continue running a no-huddle spread. I suspect the Bulldogs will continue that style, and the challenge will be finding a coordinator who has experience developing quarterbacks in that system.
Schramm also has a fairly abrasive personality. The young quarterbacks would benefit from someone who is less of a yeller and more of a patient teacher.
On defense, I’d expect the Bulldogs to retain the 3-4 system DeRuyter knows best. At the very least I’d expect DeRuyter to take on more of a hands-on role. He could even take a page from San Diego State coach Rocky Long’s book and assume the coordinator title himself.
The fallout from Fresno State’s worst football season since Disco has begun.
FRESNO STATE VS. COLORADO STATE
- Saturday: 6 p.m. at Bulldog Stadium
- Records: Bulldogs 3-8, 2-5 MW; Rams 6-5, 4-3
- TV: CBS Sports Network (Comcast 418)
- Radio: KFIG (AM 940), KGST (AM 1600)
- Series: Rams lead 7-6