Will Fresno State Always Be Second Best To Boise State?
Growing up in Fresno, you know the pride that goes along with being a Fresno State Bulldog fan. You know the blood that runs through you and you know the excitement that goes along with going to Jim Sweeney Field at Bulldog Stadium on game day.
What you also get used to is the mediocrity that has encased the Bulldog football program over the years. They had their great years with guys like David Carr, Trent Dilfer, Lorenzo Neal, and others. The list goes on and on.
You can go back to the 2001 season when the Bulldogs were ranked among the top 10 teams in the nation.
They knocked off Colorado in Boulder, Wis. at Camp Randall Stadium, and topped that off with a win over Sports Illustrated preseason No. 1 Oregon State.
Those wins were quickly followed with victories over Tulsa, Louisiana Tech, and Colorado State. It's what brought Fresno State to the eighth spot in the rankings. The highest ever given to a mid-major program since BYU's national championship back in 1984.
Enter Boise State.
The game took place in Fresno and it would become the Broncos' coming out party. Boise State took down the then eighth rank Bulldogs, 35-30. Thus ending what looked to be a Cinderella season for Fresno State.
Since then, though the Bulldogs have picked up a win over Boise here or there, the Broncos have been the creme de la creme of the Western Athletic Conference. They've been the bully and the example of what mid-majors are capable of.
Since then, Fresno State has wondered when it was their turn. When will it be their time to be spoiled in the national spotlight. While Boise State is hated by most of the country, well, at least points east of Colorado, the Bulldogs could only dream of having that kind of national attention.
When Pat Hill entered the scene as the head coach at Fresno State, he brought with him a mantra of "Anyone. Anywhere. Anytime." It was a mantra that Hill wanted everyone to know. He was ready to take his Bulldog team to any spot in the country to take on any team in the country.
To date, he's done just that.
They've traveled to Norman, Knoxville, Baton Rouge, Madison, and Manhattan, Kansas among several other locations outside of their home in Fresno.
Hill hasn't been afraid of any team in any conference nor is he afraid of playing the best team in the nation. Doing so on at least two different occasions in Norman against Oklahoma and Los Angeles against USC.
Some might say that doing so has hindered the Bulldogs from becoming the top team in their own conference. Most say that Hill's teams will get up for the big teams than suffer a letdown against teams they should be be defeating.
But it leaves fans wondering if the mantra brought in by Hill is one that needs to continue. Is it hindering the program in the wins and losses column just to improve it on the recruiting and television revenue side?
Fresno State has been the understudy and the little brother that has been ignored by big brother over the last few years. Big brother is getting a lot of attention and it leaves little brother wondering when they'll have their day in the sun.
The move to the Mountain West Conference could be the thing that changes Fresno State and allows it to become the contender they used to be. It could be the thing to vault the football program to another level.
The Bulldog fans are tired of the MPC Computers and Liberty Bowls being good enough for the end of their season. They have their sights set on higher goals and they're ready to see their goals met.
Maybe this program is only a few years away from being just that or maybe that goal is right around the corner.
Whatever the case may be, Boise State is the the top dog and it only leaves Fresno State wishing they were on the same level.
Their day is coming. At least, that's what us Fresno State fans continue to say. Or maybe that's the broken record player I keep forgetting to fix.
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