Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Easy there Coach Hill

How many of you listened to the Pat Hill Show Monday afternoon on KMJ radio? On his weekly show hosted by Paul Loeffler (it's a heck of show by the way) Hill talks about the previous week's game, looks ahead to the next opponent and then takes calls from fans.

So far this year it's been a pretty cordial exchange between fans and the ball coach who can soon be referred to with an "ol'" in front of his title. But that changed today, when a caller voiced frustration about Hill's strategy and Fresno State's ticket prices. (The show should be posted at some point on the KMJ site, and was even blogged about by Bee reporter Daniel Lyght.)

Hill didn't like the caller's opinion, which, granted, was way off base, and proceeded to put him in his place. At one point, Hill told the caller he knows nothing about competition (not exact quotes here, but not far off) and asked if he's ever even played the game?

The caller's response: My name's Vincent Petrucci.

For those of you new to Bulldog Football or not yet read up on the history, Vince Petrucci is the name of a former Bulldogs kicker whose jersey number is retired atop the Bulldog Stadium press box. It seemed from the radio show, Hill believed it was that Vince Petrucci calling. And therefore so did some listeners. But just this morning on 1430 ESPN radio, that Vince Petrucci was a guest on Paul Swearengin's show and said it absolutely was not him who called, and that he was at the last home game and has been a Bulldog Foundation member for years.

Anyway, the guy who really did call in said $50 was too much to pay to see his former team take on Boise State, so he watched the last home game from a sports bar.

Problem is, there were plenty of tickets available for $35, a three-game deal for $89 or so and a family pack for about $340. Translation -- Bulldog tickets are very reasonably priced. Just compare 'em to similar programs around the nation:
Boise State (charging more for premium seats to see Nevada than FS did for Boise)
Utah (heck, just look at the Air Force game, which wouldn't be a premium price at FS)
BYU (charging $50 for end zone, $75 elsewhere for Utah)
Hawaii (charging comparable prices to FS for its upcoming game against FS)

The caller said tickets should be $15 -- please show me sir where you can find tickets for an upper echelon program for $15. Heck, Fresno State actually DID sell a batch of tickets for $16 a pop for the opener against UC Davis. But don't expect that for the premium game of the home schedule. This program is already in great need of generous donors and Bulldog Foundation members to step up and help it reach its highest potential. It can't afford to sell itself short here. Would any of us argue that Fresno State football is more entertaining than even the very best concert? Not me. Yet concerts regularly charge upwards of $100 for big names.

But here's the thing, as right as Pat Hill was today in this little call-in debate, he didn't handle the situation as well as he could have. And it's not the first time that's happened in his reaction to fan feedback. Hill's a public figure, maybe the most famous person in the Valley, and he has to be prepared for the criticism and questioning that sometimes comes with that. Especially as a Division I college football coach. Every coach deals with constant evaluation of how they're doing their jobs. It's part of the deal, and part of the reason they get compensation of hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars.

Sure, some fans are uneducated on the facts, some aren't good at analyzing the happenings of the team and some indeed ask irritating questions. But that doesn't mean the coach should alienate those people by publicly putting them down. That's bad PR, and bad fan/potential donor relations. No positives come out of it. There's a way to be respectful and stern in your point at the same time, but this didn't come close.


  1. Updated this post after hearing former Fresno State kicker Vince Petrucci on ESPN radio this morning saying it actually was not him (maybe a different Petrucci?) who called in to the Pat Hill Show on KMJ yesterday.

    The former kicker should be applauded for being a member of the Bulldog Foundation and giving back to his roots.

  2. I had a feeling it would come out that it was not him...

  3. Check out the most recent blog post from Daniel Lyght of The Fresno Bee: http://fresnobeehive.com/sportsbuzz/2009/09/a_big_apology_to_the_real_vinc.html

    Hard to fault Lyght for the mistake when Hill seemed so sure of who he was talking to. Sounds like the former Bulldogs kicker Vince Petrucci is one heck of an alum, and one who's proud to represent Fresno State.


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