Fresno State Football: Why Pat Hill Needs To Be Fired
Pat Hill has been the head coach of Fresno State since 1997. He has been known for challenging schools the big schools from BCS conferences under any situation. Some of his accomplishments include a 11-9 record against BCS programs, appearing in bowl games eight of the last nine seasons, and tying Utah for the most players in the NFL of any team outside of the Big Six Conferences with 24. However, the program has been in decline since 2004 and vastly underachieved compared to expectations over the past six seasons. Pat Hill needs to be fired because Fresno State has failed to win beyond lower tier bowl appearances, the lack of fundamentals displayed during games, and the program has stagnated behind WAC competition despite advantages in talent and resources.
The first issue with Pat Hill is his inability to maximize his talent and resources. Fresno State has recruited better than any team in the WAC with 24 bulldogs on current NFL rosters versus only thirteen from competitor Boise State. These players were not only busts like David Carr, but solid starting performers such as Logan Mankins, Bernard Berrian and Ryan Matthews. Fresno State also has the highest athletic budget of any school in the WAC other than Hawaii (which is probably due to travel) as well with top tier facilities that equal some BCS conference school. Despite these inherent advantages, Fresno fails to win big and break the barrier of low tier bowl appearances. Fresno State's has never won the WAC outright and only have one split title in 1999 (8-5 record). They also have fallen behind upstart WAC programs such Boise State, Nevada, and more recently (including Saturday's 49-27 loss) Hawaii (bulldogs have losing record versus Hawaii and Boise). Fresno State has not lost then two conference games during Pat Hill's tenure. These losses include bad losses to low tier WAC teams such as Louisiana Tech and Utah State. 2004 was the only season where Fresno State has finished the ranked in the final polls, even though they have often started the season ranked. Programs of comparable resources and talent such as Utah and Boise State do not have the same problems of losing to the bottom tier of the conference and have made BCS bowl appearances.
Why has Pat Hill underachieved so much? First it comes to lack of fundamentals training during practice. With the exception of the 2009, Fresno State has been one of the nation's leaders in penalties. Their special teams play have also fallen off in recent years. Second, Pat Hill tends to pump up the team for one big BCS road game and revolves the whole focus of the season around it. Whether they win (or more often) lose the game, the team often has a letdown loss and the team loses motivation going into conference play. The most notable example of this is 2005 where after a close loss to USC, the Bulldogs lost the next four games to finish the season. Even though he takes pride in it, Pat Hill puts too much priority and schedule too tough of a non-conference schedule. They need to focus on winning the WAC instead of jumping the gun for the chance at a title based on an improbable chance of winning all of their tough road games. Boise did not begin to schedule tough games until developing a reputation as perennial WAC champion.
Overall, the this is the time for Pat Hill to leave. He has helped make the program more respectable, but with the transition to the Mountain West, Fresno will finish towards the bottom of the league if they continue the current trend of the program. By overly focusing on non-conference games and failing to instill discipline in his teams, Hill squanders his resources and opportunities to turn Fresno State in a WAC and a consistently top ranked team.
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