It was one of those weekends.You know, the kind where you take a deep breath on Sunday night and say, “Aha!”We think we’ve learned something.Maybe right, maybe wrong, but here’s what I believe:
THOUGHT: Pat Hill’s much-repeated mantra — “Anyone, anytime, anywhere!” — has gotten the Fresno State football program some national recognition, but it has a fatal flaw.Playing four difficult non-conference games, three of them on the road, is a recipe for disaster in the WAC.That 32-29 loss to a fairly pitiful Hawaii bunch on Saturday night wasn’t really a shock.Oh, maybe the defeat itself.But the Dogs were due for a mighty letdown — the kind that’s happened so often in the past.Without incredible depth, you simply can’t handle the physical and emotional battering of criss-crossing the country, facing big-time opposition — and still believe you won’t pay a price.Fresno State wasn’t ready to play against Hawaii, and it showed with all those lazy turnovers and special teams breakdowns.I blame the scheduling more than the athletes — after all, they’re not robots.If Hill ever asks me — which he won’t — I’d suggest playing two high-profile opponents early in the year and two others that present little difficulty.And I’d make darn sure the last non-conference game was against Weber State or Northern Arizona — especially since those wins now count toward bowl eligibility.That way, the Dogs would enter the WAC race on a high and with key players rested, if necessary.Everyone could put the first four games in the rear-view mirror and completely re-focus for the conference.After this year’s war of attrition — and then the utter joy of beating UCLA — there’s no way Fresno State could have been prepared for Hawaii.The price they paid was predictable.
THOUGHT: Who knows if it’s the Billy Goat Curse or whatever else, but none of us will live long enough to see the Cubs win a World Series.Forget the regular season.The Cubs freeze like car engines in the Yukon once they reach the playoffs, and it never changes.After the first two losses to the Dodgers, manager Lou Piniella said: “It ain’t over until it’s over.”OK, Lou, it’s over.You could bring the 1927 Yankees back to life, put ’em in Cubs uniforms and they’d gag in the playoffs.See you next year.
THOUGHT: Back to the subject of letdowns…Merced was hung over after its loss to Edison and doggone lucky to slip past a Loomis Del Oro team that was missing at least three key starters Saturday night.Here’s something else: For all its talent, Merced is not a cinch to blow away the field in the CCC.The passing game is wildly erratic, and although Stephon Mathis and Co. should offer an almost unstoppable running attack, Merced often negates that with a bushel of holding calls per game.Thus, there’s rarely much flow or continuity to the offense.That’s a potentially fatal flaw — which leaves this team ripe for an upset if they make mistakes on the wrong night.Can the brilliance of Bernard Bolden save them every week?Unlikely.
FINALLY: Yes, this will sound like heresy — or kicking guys when they’re down — but I truly believe Merced College should consider giving up football.That’s not just a knee-jerk reaction to this horrendous 0-5 start, either.The Devils simply don’t have the budget to recruit, nor hire enough full-time assistants to produce a consistently successful program.Tony Lewis is trying to sink battleships with a pea-shooter.There’s a reason so many junior colleges around the country ignore football.It’s expensive and you don’t get the money back from game revenue, because JCs simply can’t draw crowds.Why not sell Stadium ’76 to the Merced Union High School District and rent it back at a bargain-basement price for other events?MC then could put the money spent on football into all of its other successful sports.Sorry, but it makes sense in so many ways.I feel badly for Tony and his players, but…How about some reality here?
Steve Cameron is sports editor of the Sun-Star. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.