Who let the ‘Dogs out?
After knocking off the big-time programs of Colorado, Oregon State and Wisconsin, the undefeated Fresno State Bulldogs are the darlings of college football, and that has alumni like Greg Ramsey smiling wide.
“It’s been a long time coming,” Ramsey, a South Shore businessman, said of the Bulldogs national attention.
But Ramsey is not just your typical alumni cheering on his alma mater.
As a defensive end for Fresno State from 1983-1987, Ramsey knows what the “Dawgs” are going through in this early season.
In his junior year the Bulldogs steamrolled through teams on their way to an 11-0-1 record, culminating in a 51-7 trouncing of Bowling Green in the California Bowl.
“We were one of the best teams in the country,” Ramsey said. “But (playing in a small program) it’s hard to get the balloters to get over the hump.”
However, now it appears those balloters may be starting to recognize Fresno’s solid program.
Heading into this weekend’s action against Tulsa, the Bulldogs are ranked an all-time-program-high No. 11 in the nation.
Even though they’ve played their three toughest games on the schedule, Ramsey knows that the attention the Bulldogs are getting can be gone in a blink of an eye if they lose their focus on the smaller-tier teams in the Western Athletic Conference.
“It’s a lot different now,” he said. “Everybody in the conference has a chip on their shoulder and they’re looking to knock you off. It definitely raises the level of intensity.”
After their early season win at Colorado’s Folsom field, not many believed. And after they upset Oregon State by 20 points, still people had their doubts. But when they stormed into Madison, Wis., and bit the Badgers two weeks ago, the number of naysayers began to diminish.
Ramsey said he knows one person who never doubted this team, Bulldog head coach Pat Hill.
“With Pat I see a real reserved confidence,” said Ramsey of the man who was an offensive line coach while he was at Fresno. “He does a real nice job keeping the guys grounded. He knows what it takes to get things done and he’ll keep the ship straight and focused on its course.”
While it’s the team that ultimately wins or loses ball games, Ramsey said a big advantage for Fresno State is the backing of the town and their field at Bulldog Stadium.
“It’s a great stadium,” he said. “It gets really loud and raucous in there. Overall, the backing and support you get in Fresno is great; it’s a real fun place to play.”
After graduation, Ramsey enjoyed brief stints in the NFL with the Seattle Seahawks and the Arizona Cardinals. Today, he is enjoying life in Tahoe, working in business development for a South Shore title company.
With their great start, the prospects of a major bowl bid are looking more and more realistic. And while Ramsey would love to see his team play in a BCS game, he thinks the continued success of the program is the key.
“Fresno State is a good team and people are starting to recognize that,” he said. “This has to continue. It’s a matter of getting the (Bulldog) name out there on a consistent basis.”
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Athletes from across the globe will make their way into the National Stadium in Beijing, China, next month for the opening ceremonies of the Winter Olympics.