On Wednesday evening, Fresno State officially became a future member of the Mountain West Conference. Bulldogs’ head coaches Pat Hill and Steve Cleveland supported the move to the new conference. Both coaches are excited about the move and feel that the fan base will be excited as well.
Coach Pat Hill expressed his thoughts on joining the Mountain West following the press conference.
“We’re playing in a league that’s really, really stepped up.” Hill said, “This is a great move for us. We all look forward to it. I think this is something our community can really embrace. We think the Mountain West is a really exciting conference to be in. It’ll be fun playing in this conference. Our kids are really excited about it.”
Hill also believes that moving to the Mountain West will improve Bulldogs sports and recruiting.
“It’ll help; it all is going to help. I think this conference is a very viable conference… It’s going to be a great challenge, some new and exciting bowls, and some great games. Having San Diego State back on the schedule I think is great for all of us. The travel is not going to be as big. There are some great institutions.”
Those “new and exciting bowls” that the new Mountain West is currently affiliated include The Poinsettia Bowl, Las Vegas Bowl, Armed Forces Bowl, and Independence Bowl. The Mountain West’s fifth bowl tie is the New Mexico Bowl, which is all too familiar to Bulldog fans.
Men’s basketball coach Steve Cleveland was also excited about the move. Coach Cleveland, who coached BYU previously in the MWC, is very familiar with the conference and its affiliates.
”I’m excited about it. It’s a great opportunity. I’m obviously very familiar with that conference.” Cleveland said, “This is another level… The Mountain West has been as competitive as the Pac-10 has been in the last three or four years… Coming into a conference that has such a high RPI is a real bonus for recruiting, it’s opportunities for more postseason play.”
Cleveland also feels that the Mountain West offers teams that fans are going to relate to and enjoy playing against opposed to WAC opponents.
“I think our fan base, I think this community, they relate to playing Las Vegas, San Diego State. Those are natural rivalries we’ve had for years… It’s been hard, I think, for this community to develop the sense of a rivalry with Idaho and La Tech, New Mexico State… We didn’t grow up playing those people. I think what’s going to happen is that you’re going to see a community get excited about not only being in this conference, but seeing the teams that are going to come here… I think that’s really going to impact fiscally and supportive wise.”
Hill and Cleveland both expressed that the university and community will need to step up their efforts to succeed at this next level.
“It’s going to be about our community and stepping up, because you know we’re going to be playing now in a conference that BYU gets 65,000 a game,” said Hill. “Things are different.”
Cleveland also stated, “We’re going to have to make a commitment financially… We’re going to have to continue to probably spend some money throughout the athletic program. We’re going to have to take this thing to another level.”
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