David White

Fresno State’s climb back to conference respectability starts at the top

Fresno State is a long way removed from the big-time success it enjoyed in the Mountain West Conference.
Fresno State is a long way removed from the big-time success it enjoyed in the Mountain West Conference. Fresno Bee file

Thinking of making a documentary of Fresno State’s attempt at athletics this past year.

We’ll call it Lord of Almost No Rings, with the women’s tennis team being the only reason “Almost” made the title.

One team conference championship in the 20-team bunch. When you hire an athletic director to get this mass-scale rebuild under way, you might want to ask how they’re going to get Fresno State off the wrong side of the linescore.

You do plan on hiring an athletic director, right? Please tell us that you’re going to do something about this, because we are exhausted with this total lack of winning enough games to merit postseason bunting.

This was Fresno State’s worst year since … well, last year. The Bulldogs are closer to catching San Jose State from ahead than they are to catching Boise State and Nevada from behind in the Mountain West Conference’s annual pursuit of meh.

Let that marinate into the front lobe for a minute.

Boise State won titles in football, softball and women’s basketball. Nevada won regular-season titles in baseball and men’s basketball. Fresno State’s average regular-season finish in those sports? Fourth.

The Bulldogs couldn’t make the medal stand in a middle-class conference. In nine MWC sports, five Fresno State programs finished fifth or worse.

Could you imagine if Jeff Tedford didn’t get the football lads to the conference title game?

This is bad, and we know bad – we covered the Oakland Raiders during the Art Shell-Lane Kiffin-Tom Cable trifecta.

So, please, when you finally get around to hiring an athletic director, don’t pretend just any glad-hander will do.

Your athletic department needs a complete makeover, and it needs it two years ago. Good luck finding the qualified person for that job at the prices you’re willing to pay.

In other news where teams actually play in the postseason …

▪ Come on, NBA. Three days off between games in the conference finals, when you’ve got people watching for the first time in years?

Me and the kids were so ready to watch the Cavs lose or the Warriors win on a Friday night. Because of your bacteria-bred scheduling format, we settled for NCAA regional softball. Way to kill your momentum.

▪ Come on, NHL. A Canadian city hasn’t housed the Stanley Cup in 25 years, and you’re going to let an expansion team from Las Vegas beat the Winnipeg Jets out for that chance?

We’ve got to wonder: do the 1992-93 Montreal Canadians break out a bottle of maple syrup every time the last team from Canada is eliminated from the postseason?

▪ The Giants were 22-24 through Friday without pitcher Madison Bumgarner. The Dodgers were 17-26 without ace Clayton Kershaw.

Not good, but not bad, either. If the first-place Diamondbacks want to win the National League West, they’re going to want to pad that single-digit lead before the Giants and Dodgers get well again.

▪ In NFL news … there is no news. It’s May. Nothing matters. Go outside for a walk. Take up a book. Relearn your children’s names between now and August, people.