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June 7, 2013
This past Wednesday Fresno State head football coach Tim DeRuyter was in Bakersfield (Calif.) for the Bulldog Express tour. We got a chance to sit down with the head coach and talk about conference championships, Derek Carr, 2012, 2013, and beyond.
DeRuyter is completely aware that his Bulldogs have a target on their back. Furthermore, he is also aware of the upcoming Heisman campaign being mounted for his quarterback, Derek Carr. But most importantly, DeRuyter is aware of the fact that building a winning program starts with recruiting at home. As the Bulldogs look to repeat as Mountain West Conference champions, DeRuyter has this team focused on the present, not looking at the past or the future.
"I addressed our team a couple months back and I asked our guys," DeRuyter said. "I said, 'Hey, what was this team's record last year?' A couple of the young guys told me 9 and 4 and I said, 'Uh-uh. B.S. This team won zero games last year. We were zero and zero.' It's all about what this year's team is gonna do.
"I think our older guys have embraced that," DeRuyter continued. "They realize if you start thinking you're pretty ripe, you're almost rotten, and that's what happened to us in Hawaii when SMU got after us. I think that was a great wakeup call for going into this season because we've had a renewed energy. When our guys came back, to me a guy like Davante Adams is a prime example, a lot of those guys as freshmen have a great year and go into a sophomore slump. But I look at Davante and he's worked harder than he ever has. He's gonna be a big time force for us this year."
DeRuter has to think about the future, however. He has to set Fresno State up for success in the years to come. DeRuyter feels like his staff is up to the challenge of meeting those demands.
"Well, it was good," DeRuyter said of recruiting. "We had a great chance to get out to lot of different places, into the states of Texas, Arizona, Nevada, as well as throughout California, and especially the Valley. We've got a great list of guys that we're actively looking at right now. We're gonna have a bunch of 'em coming into our Day One camp on Sunday."
The vast majority of the recruits we've talked to here at Rivals.com have been very bright individuals. When asked if Fresno State was headed in a new direction of focusing on student-athletes who place a high priority on education, DeRuyter was quick to point out that Fresno State is keeping tradition alive rather than creating a new one.
"Well, I don't know if that's a new direction, but we obviously want guys that want to be student-athletes," DeRuyter said. "We want guys that can figure out that it's not gonna detract from you winning championships by going to class and doing things the right way. I think when you get the guys that are dependable off the field, they're dependable on the field. We're gonna find guys that maybe other people won't look at from those different schools, and if we like 'em, we don't care who's recruiting 'em; we're going after 'em."
Keeping tradition here in the Valley is important to DeRuyter and his staff. DeRuyter believes you can still carve a new future while retaining elements of past success.
"Well, each coach has their own nuances," DeRuyter said of taking over for former Bulldog head coach Pat Hill. "Pat [Hill] was very big on anybody, anytime, anywhere. We'll still embrace that as part of our tradition, as part of our history, but our focus from when our staff came in has always been, our number one goal, is to win this conference. Everything we do is gauged around winning this conference. We'll play a very competitive, non-league schedule, but we wanna win the conference, number one. That's where we probably differ a little bit."
Of course, DeRuyter knows that winning your conference may not even be enough under the new playoff system set to take effect next season. Still, DeRuyter believes that the new playoff system is something they can use to their advantage moving forward, while also sharing some thoughts on the system as a whole.
"Well, I look at it, in an ideal world, we get to eight [teams]," DeRuyter said of the playoff. "But with it being four right now, I still think it's much better access to those higher-money host bowls for our conference, and those other conferences outside the Big Five (Pac-12, B1G, SEC, Big XII, and ACC) than we've ever had. I feel very confident going into a recruit's home and saying, 'you've got a better chance to go to a host bowl if you're at Fresno State or one of the top teams in the Mountain West than you do if you're in the bottom half of the Pac-12 or the bottom half of the Big XII. You've got very little chance if you're there because of the road you've gotta carve out to get there.'
"We feel we've got a very competitive league and if we schedule some non-league games like we have on our schedule the next couple years, we're gonna have a very attractive resume, if we can get done what other people have done in the non-BCS," DeRuyter added. "The thing I like about it is that we've got a guaranteed spot in it."
While DeRuyter was extremely forthcoming about everything else, the one aspect of the Bulldogs' 2013 season that he wouldn't share was the highly anticipated new uniforms. He did have some information for us, though.
"Well, I think one of the big things is that our players are very excited about 'em and I think our recruits will be, and our fans will be," DeRuyter said with a coy smile. "We are gonna have a white-out. We'll have a brand new, all white uniform and a white helmet for our opener. For homecoming, we'll have a throwback uniform with script Bulldogs. Then, come November, when we play the University of Nevada, we'll be having a brand new black uniform. And that one we'll actually have for purchase for fans, if they would like to do that."
Coach DeRuyter was quick to add a little piece of information that may excite fans.
"After the game," DeRuyter said of when they would go on sale. "'Cause it'll be the actual helmets that we're gonna be using in the game."
Coach DeRuyter appears to be manning a very formidable squad for 2013. From where most Bulldog fans are sitting, this year is shaping up to be a special, special ride.
Stay tuned to FSBulldogs.com for more updates on the 2013 Fresno State football season.
Josh Webb is a special contributor to FSBulldogs.com. You can follow him on Twitter at @BulldogsTwist.
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