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Know your enemy: Fresno State edition

Ethan Miller
KYE Fresno

Well, we're just one day away from yet another meeting with the Fresno State Bulldogs. The Bulldogs will limp into the game at 2-3 after putting up good fights against the likes of Cal, Nebraska, and Ole Miss, and the Broncos will limp into the game at 4-0 after a somewhat yawn-inducing beating of Nevada last Saturday. Things are always interesting when the Broncos head to the Valley, and this year should be no different. Kevan's done the heavy lifting this week with game previews and here's something completely pointless. Know your enemy.

Ten things Bronco fans might not know about the Bulldogs or their vineyard-heavy valley

10) In 2009 and 2010, Fresno was ranked last and third from last, respectively, in a study of the smartest cities in the United States. If you're looking for a yardstick comparison—based on the study's grading criteria (college grads, voter engagement, reading habits, etc) Fresno was tagged with an IQ score of 3, while Raleigh, NC...the top performer in the same study had an IQ score of 170. Maybe this explains why Fresno's town motto is "Derp".

9) The city of Fresno actually has its own flag—which can be seen below:


The center leaf is apparently that of an ash tree, which are plentiful in the area and the icons on the left and right represent the town's largest employer, Spacely Sprockets—who manufacture tiny gears and bright yellow blades for circular saws. Gotta say, staring at that flag really gets me thirsty...


Only 3 IQ Calories.

8) The green "V" on the back of the Bulldogs' helmets doesn't stand for "victory" or "vendetta" and it isn't a pre-emptive memorial tribute to Abe Vigoda. The "V" actually stands for "valley"—as in San Joaquin Valley—and were added to the helmets in 1997 by fashionista Pat Hill. The Bulldogs are the only Division 1 program located in the SJV and Hill stated that he wanted to make the Bulldogs "the Green Bay Packers of college football". Considering that, much like the Brett Favre saga, people often are left wondering just when Pat Hill will retire—I'd say mission accomplished, sir. Mission accomplished.


"Win one for me anyway, fellas"

7) Following such literary icons as Alphie the Wolf and the Phillies Fanatic, Fresno State's bulldog mascot "TimeOut" was featured in his own book, TImeOut's Great Baseball Adventure that documented Fresno State's run to the 2008 CWS championship. The book features illustrations that look to have been done by a small child (or one of our own OBNUG MS Paint artistes) but were actually done by a Fresno State communications student. The New York Times Book Review said of the book, "it's like if you took Homer's Odyssey and then put an anthropomorphic bulldog and baseball in it."


What exactly am I looking at here?

6) What does it say about your city when your first mayor is a mortician? Ask Fresno—because that's exactly what their first mayor, L.O. Stephens was. The second mayor of the berg, W. Parker Lyon, was a furniture salesman. So basically, between 1901 and 1908, Fresno's mayor was either trying to sell you a pine box, or put you in one.


$2.95? Throw in the bowler hat and you've got a deal.

5) Former Boise State head coach Lyle Setencich is a Fresno State alum. After serving as DC for the Broncos during some of their Big Sky glory years, Setencich—which is pronounced "Skip Hall"—became one of the more "meh" head coaches in the program's storied history. Setencich was a shade over .500 in his 4 years at the helm (24-20), but committed the unforgivable sin of never beating Idaho (a very en vogue thing to do in the 80s) and guiding the team to the first losing season in 40 years—something that made Lyle Smith very angry.

4) Generally, obscene football scores are found in the earlier part of the century when parity was rare and coaches were praised for being a-holes...but Fresno bucked that trend in 1991 when they defeated New Mexico 94-17. Why the old school curb stomping from Jim Sweeney's Bulldogs? The oldest reason in the book: revenge. Lowly New Mexico had upset the 10-0 (and 23rd ranked) Bulldogs two years earlier and whilst exiting the field, the ultra thick-skinned Sweeney had been taunted by Lobo onlookers who dropped the "s" on the headman's last name, likening him to a frankfurter, if you will.

Sweeney, like an elephant, never forgot...and when the Lobos hit Bulldog Stadium, Sweeney, reluctant to again be a "weenie", became "Sweeney the meanie". The score was 59-7 before halftime and Sweeney still had his team throwing like a June Jones/Hal Mumme fantasy—even calling a timeout to make sure they could punch in one more before halftime (which they did). Utlimately, it was the biggest rout in Fresno State's history, and sadly, only the 2nd worst beating the Lobos have ever received. Lesson: Don't ever call Jim Sweeney a "weenie" because next time he won't be so nice.


"I'm rubber and you're glue."

3) Supporters of the Fresno State football team are known as "The Red Wave". The origins of the nickname are mysterious, but some say it came about when someone looked up "Crimson Tide" in a thesaurus.

2) A name everyone should know is that of Cornelius "Dutch" Warmerdam, who was born and bred in Fresno and attended the school for a time. Warmerdam was a track and field star of his time and the first person to clear 15 feet in a vaulting competition. Warmerdam always competed with a bamboo pole and excelled at the sport that was somehow more dangerous than it even is today. Of course, back then having "moxie" was the equivalent of rigorous athletic training and if Warmerdam were too ever impale himself on a broken pole, I'm sure he would have just taken two laudanum and been back on his feet the next day. Warmerdam's records stood from 1940 all the way until 1957 when his arch-nemesis Octavius Külerdam finally broke through (with a metal pole, mind you).


A man with a death wish.

1) Actress Dot Marie Jones is a Fresno alum who also holds several shot put records at the school. After leaving school she became a 15-time women's arm wrestling champion and then appeared on the American Gladiators knock-off Knights and Warriors. You probably don't recognize most of her film roles, as she's generally typecast as "lunch lady" "huge lady" "scary woman #2" and so on, but she does have a recurring role on the show Glee, so if you know her from there, I'll be collecting your man-cards now.


Speaking of man cards...