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Dr. Saturday

Pat Hill fights for his Fresno State future as his seat heats up

Graham Watson
Dr. Saturday

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Fresno State coach Pat Hill can feel his tenure with the Bulldogs slowly fading.

After the Bulldogs 41-21 loss to Louisiana Tech last week, the heat of Hill's seat became so unbearable that the coach who has guided the program for the past 15 seasons, went on the defensive.

"It's a feeding frenzy," Hill said during his weekly press conference. "I just told the team [to] let the fingers all go to me. It's my fault.

"If you want to see a coach bleed, if you want to see somebody bleed at the table, I'm bleeding right now. If that makes everybody happy -- fine."

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Hill has seemingly been on the hot seat for years, despite posting winning seasons in every year but one since 2000. But during Hill's tenure, the Bulldogs have never won an outright conference title — shared one with TCU and Hawaii in 1999 — and were never able to compete with Boise State once the Broncos joined the WAC in 2001. Under Hill, the Bulldogs are 4-21 against teams with at least a .500 record since 2008, including 0-5 this season, and they are just 4-7 in bowl games.

This year, the Bulldogs are 3-6 overall, 2-2 in conference play. With Fresno State moving to the Mountain West next year, it's no surprise that Bulldogs' supporters are looking for a change of coach to go with the change of conference.

But what's most disturbing is that the fans are starting to take out their Pat Hill disillusionment on the team. Only 27,965 showed up for the Louisiana Tech game, the third crowd of less than 30,000 this season for a stadium which seats 41,031. According to the school website, much of Fresno State's success has been attributed to its home crowds, in front of whom Hill has won more than 84 percent of the time.

Hill said this week that fans taking out their frustration on the players isn't the right move: {YSP:MORE}

"Hey, listen, I'm not dumb," Hill said. "There's a lot of Pat Hill haters. There's a lot of venom that spills all the time. I can't worry about that. ... I don't know what I've done to make them mad.

"If people are missing the games because of Pat Hill, that's a shame. They should be coming to watch the team. If you're not coming because you hate Pat Hill, I feel sorry for you. Come because you love the Bulldogs, because you love your team."

Through it all, Hill has been here before. While the vitriol hasn't been nearly as amped as it is this year, he's always found a way to survive and even thrive in the following year. After Fresno State's last down year — a 4-8 campaign in 2006 — the Bulldogs went on to win nine games in 2007 and beat Georgia Tech in the Humanitarian Bowl.

"I've been here 15 years," Hill said. "I've had a lot of friends [who've] said 'Man, you shouldn't stay that long. Your shelf life won't last. You'll never make anybody happy.' I've heard all of that. I know that.

"I feel like I'm the best guy for the job at Fresno State. There's no doubt in my mind. With everything that goes on, I feel like I'm the best guy. I understand it very well. I understand this job. I get it. And you know what, I like it.

"And I'm going to do everything I can to make this team better. That's all I can do."

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Curtsy (female version of the hat tip) to Fresno Bee
Graham Watson is on Facebook and Twitter: Follow her @Yahoo_Graham.

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