Tonight’s nationally-televised Bulldogs game v. Rutgers will be the first for new Fresno State President Joseph I. Castro and he is wasting no time making the most of enhancing “collegial relations.”
He challenged Rutgers President Robert L. Barchi to some gamesmanship: a Bulldogs victory will result in a gift of some honey from President Barchi. A Scarlet Knights win will have Fresno State’s new president shipping a gift basket from the student-run Gibson Farm Market on campus.
The game will be the season opener for both teams and will air 7:30 p.m. PDT on ESPNU. The new flagship radio home of Fresno State Athletics is 940 AM ESPN Radio.
According to President Castro, the Rutgers president will be 2,900 miles away, watching the game in New Jersey.
“President Barchi and I both have health science backgrounds and know many of the same people,” the Fresno State president said. “He just finished his first year as president and offered me some thoughts about that experience. I initiated the call and will do the same for each football game.”
Thursday’s game is the second meeting between the defending Mountain West co-champion Bulldogs and Rutgers. Fresno State won the 2008 season opener in Piscataway, N.J, 24-7.
That game is the furthest east the Bulldogs have played and featured Ryan Mathews, the No. 12 overall pick of the San Diego Chargers in 2010.
This opener kicks off Fresno State’s 33rd full season with Bulldog Stadium as its home venue. The ‘Dogs have an all-time winning percentage of .776 in their 41,031-seat stadium, including a 56-19 mark at home since 2000. Last season, Fresno State went 6-0 at home.
Fresno State will pay tribute tonight to the man instrumental in filling that stadium in its early years, former Bulldog coach Jim Sweeney who died Feb. 8 at the age of 83. He is Fresno State’s all-time winningest coach and the field is named after him. There will also be a tribute to coach Sweeney during tonight’s game.
Traffic around Fresno State will be altered to accommodate football fans attending the game.
The University Police Department advises motorists who are not attending Thursday classes or the football game to avoid streets around the campus, as some lanes will be closed for bus transport to the game.
Beginning at 3:30 p.m.:
- Barstow Avenue becomes one‐way westbound between Woodrow and Cedar Avenues.
- Woodrow Avenue is closed between Barstow and Shaw.
- One lane westbound Shaw and one lane northbound Cedar are closed for the bus lane.
Bulldog Marching Band
In other game-related news, the 240-member Fresno State Bulldog Marching Band is ready to take the field despite some early season challenges including only one week of practice. They do so with some new instruments including 20 brand new King Silver Sousaphones.
And a familiar face returns to the scene: Fresno State’s director of bands, Gary Gilroy, is interim marching band director. He fills in for David Fullmer who left for a position at Utah Valley University.
For today’s game, the band departs the Music Building at 5:45 p.m. and marches on Keats Avenue on campus to Cedar, north to Bulldog Lane and into the Blue Lot (outside the south grates). Depending heat conditions, the band may break into smaller groups and visit tailgate areas. The band will take field shortly after 7 p.m. for its traditional pre-game show facing the west seats. For halftime, the band faces the east seats.
Other Athletics Department game news:
- March to Victory – New this season is a pre-game “March to Victory” by the team through Bulldog Boulevard, located in the Red Lot on the east side of the stadium. The players, accompanied by the Bulldogs Spirit Squad, will arrive at Bulldog Stadium at 4:30 p.m. from Cedar Avenue and walk through Bulldog Boulevard. Fans are encouraged to line the walk and welcome the Bulldogs. Bulldog Boulevard opens at 3:30 p.m. and will feature the Bella Frutta food truck row, a live band, the Bud Light Fan Zone, sitting areas and the Valley Credit Union kid’s zone. Gates to the stadium open at 6 p.m.
- New Uniforms – Beginning with the season opener Fresno State will break from its traditional red and white uniforms and feature different color combinations. For the season opener against Rutgers, players will wear all white, including a new all-white helmet. The Bulldogs will wear all black for the first time in school history when they take on Nevada, Nov. 2. During the Oct. 19 homecoming game against UNLV Fresno State will wear its retro red helmets that feature the Bulldog script. The last time Fresno State’s helmets featured the Bulldog script was 1996.
- Year Two – Coach Tim DeRuyter enters his second season as head coach of the Bulldogs after leading Fresno State to its first conference championship in 13 years. The Bulldogs went 9-4 overall and 7-1 in league play during their first season as members of the Mountain West and shared the league title with Boise State and San Diego State. DeRuyter set a new school record for wins by a first-year coach and also became just the second Bulldog coach to lead a team to a bowl in his first season at the school.
- White cheer cards – 15,000 white cheer cards will be distributed at the entrance gates. Game programs are sold at each entrance and at each Bulldog Shop kiosk around the stadium for $5.