The world of college football was once again turned on its head yesterday when the USC Trojans announced that they had signed Steve Sarkisian away from the Washington Huskies and that Ed Orgeron was no longer with the team.
Social media streams flooded for the next couple hours with opinions and theories about how the Trojans should have handled things. Players and recruits for the Huskies took to social media expressing their sadness and disappointment with learning of the news on the internet. The media could talk about nothing else for what seemed like hours.
Then the announcement from Wake Forest broke that Jim Grobe would step down after 13 seasons and a 77-82 overall record. Despite that being a losing record, Grobe is actually tied with Peahead Walker at the top of Wake's all-time winningest coaches. Once again, the media wondered who would fill the shoes of the legendary Grobe.
These anecdotes are not without a point. The Fresno Bee reported a couple weeks ago that the Bulldogs had entered contract extension talks with head coach Tim DeRuyter, but nothing more has come of the situation. So what does this have to do with Orgeron and Grobe? It's simple: the right or wrong move can affect your program for years.
The future is now for the Bulldogs. DeRuyter and his staff have this team poised to be great for a long time. The fact that Texas A&M locked up Kevin Sumlin long term and the Trojans stayed in-house (kinda) with a familiar face leaves the Bulldogs with a golden opportunity here. The two biggest threats to steal DeRuyter from the Valley have shored up their coaching situations for the foreseeable future and the Bulldogs are home free to do the right thing.
What is the right thing?
The answer is bit more complex than you might think. The Bulldogs have recently made upgrades to their athletic facilities, but there is no doubt that any serious coach in this era would want to see other upgrades to the stadium and facilities. You're going to have to break some ground to keep a coach worth having.
There's also the matter of freeing up enough money to make sure that DeRuyter can keep his rising staff together. Defensive coordinator Nick Toth is also an amazing recruiter for the Bulldogs. Most recruits have some familiarity with Toth and many have been recruited by him. Keeping your best recruiters on staff is a big part of putting together a winning program.
This is why Fresno State is going to have to throw some money after DeRuyter and hopefully soon. The Bulldogs are a win away from their second conference championship in two seasons and DeRuyter is two wins away from being an even hotter coaching prospect than he's already considered to be. While Los Angeles and College Station were the likeliest of destinations, they are not even close to being the only schools that have had their eye on DeRuyter.
But why is it so important that the Bulldogs lock up DeRuyter right now? That's another easy answer - he gets it.
DeRuyter understands the Valley and the values of the community. He gets how things operate around here and he drills that ethic into his players. DeRuyter understands what is important to Fresno and the surrounding communities. He understands the fans and what they consider important.
It's rare to find a coach, especially in an era such as this, who understands and truly gets what it means to be a part of the community. The commodification of coaching has made its way to the college game and leaders of men have turned into mercenaries for hire. Many coaches will come in and right the ship, but few do so without leaving some sort of mark or scar behind.
But DeRuyter has done everything the right way. In fact, he's done it the Bulldog way. He's plugged himself into the media, the community, and the university during his time at Fresno. Did we mention that he's also elevated the play of the football team?
DeRuyter is 19-5 since taking over a Bulldog squad that had gone 12-13 in the previous two seasons. He has also taken guys he didn't even recruit and turned them into absolute studs. Davante Adams was recruited by Pat Hill, but DeRuyter turned him into a household name. This is not to slight Hill, but rather highlighting what DeRuyter has done since arriving in the Valley.
The Bulldogs have become a team that people recognize again. They have found a ferocity under DeRuyter that embodies the working-class nature of the town. The way the players talk about team awards and team efforts is no different than the blue-collar attitude embraced daily by the Valley.
DeRuyter isn't just a resident of Fresno, he is a voice of the Valley. He routinely gives his time, comments, and coaching philosophies to anyone who will hear them. He will admit when something sucks and scream like a mad-man when things are going well. He will tell you all of the things you've done well while still finding a way to make you believe you can give more.
He has given so much to the Valley in such a short time. Now it's time for the Bulldogs to give back to the man who has returned them to the national spotlight. The Bulldogs host the Mountain West Championship game this Saturday. This is the first ever conference championship and DeRuyter has the Bulldogs hosting it at home.
Hey, it's only year two. Imagine what he'd do with the time and resources. This should be an easy decision for the Bulldogs and they already know it.
Tim DeRuyter isn't just a Bulldog, he is the future of the Bulldogs.
Stay tuned to FSBulldogs.com for more updates on the 2013 Fresno State Bulldog season.
Josh Webb is a special contributor to FSBulldogs.com. You can follow him on Twitter at @BulldogsTwist.