Hill's tough attitude and willingness to take on all comers made him a fan favorite, but the program has never regained its footing since a 50-42 loss at USC in 2005, a spectacular game that secured the Heisman Trophy for Reggie Bush.
The Bulldogs fell hard, a tailspin of 11 losses in 12 games. Overall, they are 20-22 since the loss to the Trojans.
Clearly the momentum is gone and Hill knows it. He interviewed at Washington and openly talked about it. The strategy backfired. Fresno State fans responded by purchasing only 161 tickets for the Bulldogs' appearance in the New Mexico Bowl.
Matt James of the Fresno Bee senses that Hill's stay in Fresno is drawing to a close. The Bulldogs open at home against UC Davis before a trip to Wisconsin. Then Fresno plays host to Boise State and before hitting the road again with games at Cincinnati and Hawaii.
James writes: "This season is set up to be Hill's last. Not that someone's set it up. It just is. I'm not trying to be cynical. I hope it isn't. ... We don't need to re-hash the entire thing, why this season will be so tough, the seven road games, the trip to Hawaii, the loaded Boise State team, the new offensive and defensive coordinator, the new quarterback, the inexperienced offensive line. OK, I guess we did re-hash it.
"It's just hard to look at the schedule and see anything but a 1-3 start, and that's followed by a game at Hawaii, where Fresno State never wins. And that would lead to a lot of empty seats at Bulldog Stadium in the last half of the season. Empty seats mean lack of money coming into the athletic department, and that, ultimately, is even more important than winning. It's been a rumor thus far, but a donor might really come forward to help Fresno State buy out that last year of Hill's contract."