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Fresno State fans angry with Kalen DeBoer and Jake Haener exit


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Fresno State quarterback Jake Haener speaks with coach Kalen DeBoer during the third quarter of the Bulldogs' 31-24 loss to Oregon on September 4, 2021. Neither will finish the 2021 season at Fresno State.

Fresno State quarterback Jake Haener speaks with coach Kalen DeBoer during the third quarter of the Bulldogs’ 31-24 loss to Oregon on September 4, 2021. Neither will finish the 2021 season at Fresno State.


Last week, Fresno State fans received a crash course in the nasty and tough profession of college football, whether they signed up or not.

Many did not take the lesson well. A few have been extremely hacked.

It was hard enough for Bulldogs fans to watch their brilliant young coach Kalen DeBoer literally get whisked away on the University of Washington private jet. But when word started to spread that starting quarterback Jake Haener was in the process of transferring and likely to join DeBoer and the Huskies in Seattle, it sparked too much outrage.

The most egregious reaction came in the form of two sheets with the words “HAENER IS A TRAITOR” painted on them. One was hung from a Fresno State Student Union railing, the other from a Bulldogs field goal post.

Photos of the two sheets were then shared on social media by former players such as Jeffrey Allison. Among the toughest tacklers in the program’s history, Allison fought back at fans’ hostility to Haener.

“There’s no way you could all be so upset, or mean about this man leaving Fresno,” Allison wrote. “This man (looks at) his future and you guys are crazy. SMH must do better !!!! ”

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Fresno State fans are suspending “Haener is a traitor” from the student union and Bulldogs training post, as the dogsbarstool Instagram account documents. Instagram screenshot

Allison’s tweet and others like it sparked their own uproar online. Bulldogs fans were suddenly arguing with each other over the appropriate level of anger they should be allowed to direct to the star quarterback who followed the coach out the door with one game remaining on the schedule.

Others, perhaps fearing a mass exodus, hung signs with a more positive message on Cedar Avenue, where Bulldogs players are likely to see them heading to football offices or training facilities. “We love our Bulldogs. #BulldogBornBulldogBred, ”one said. “Stay with us boys! We will always stay with you! read another.

It’s been a while since Fresno State fans got so agitated that they turned on one of their own. The last time was probably in 2008, when kicker Kevin Goessling was booed in class and a window in his apartment was smashed after several misfires. close the losses.

Except that the reaction concerned the final score. In Haener’s case, it’s about the pain of rejection: we encouraged you. We adored you. (In what other city of half a million people would the mayor declare “Jake Haener Week” after a victory in September?) And you couldn’t even wait until the end of the season to leave us.

In other words, I understand. On some level, the outcry is understandable. The word fan is short for fanatic, after all. And fanatics, by definition, don’t need to be reasonable. It’s kind of the interest of being one.

An explanation from Haener would have been nice

Haener’s farewell message to the Red Wave should allay most hurt feelings – though the quarterback hasn’t explained why he decided to enter the transfer portal now instead of after the game. bowl.

While it would have been nice for Haener to offer an explanation, he owes no one. And if Fresno State was in the Mountain West Championship with a chance to face another Pac-12 team at the sparkling new NFL Stadium in Los Angeles, things surely would have turned out differently.

But the point is, no one really cares about a basement bowl in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Frisco, Texas, or wherever Bulldogs go. No one, that is, other than the local organizers and ESPN executives who are creating them from scratch just to fill a few hours of holiday programming.

In the world of what’s best for me today, Haener may, in fact, be better off jumping on his final season in Washington, completing the circle of his varsity career, than preparing for take on northern Illinois, central Michigan or UTEP (a sample of Fresno State’s projected opponents) in a game few will watch and fewer remember.

Old-school, traditional, finish-what-you-started-young man values ​​being damn.

I’m not saying someone has to like it. I say it’s like that.

The search for coaching cannot go on forever

During the initial frenzy, there were widespread fears that other notable players, including Jalen Cropper, would follow DeBoer and Haener to Washington. These seem to have been suppressed, and judging by my own measure of DeBoer’s character, I think he has more integrity than emptying the closet more for his successor.

In this regard, sporting director Terry Tumey cannot afford the sails of his flagship program to luff any longer.

Bringing back Jeff Tedford seems the obvious choice, both for his keen sense and the simple fact that a large chunk of the roster is still made up of his rookies. Tedford, via his reputation, also gives Fresno State the best chance of luring a 2022 starting-caliber quarterback out of the transfer portal (i.e. someone like a hometown product as Adrian Martinez).

If not Tedford, Tumey should turn his attention to Sacramento State coach Troy Taylor, another attacking mastermind whose teams have racked up points and distances at every stop. Would Taylor leave his current position, after two seasons, for this one? I don’t know, but Tumey and the Red Wave must find out.

Speaking of Bulldogs fans, I suspect any anger towards Haener will be short lived. Remember the kicker who got booed on campus and whose window was smashed? He still lives in town.

Stories about Fresno Bee

Marek Warszawski writes opinion columns on current affairs, politics, sports and quality of life issues for The Fresno Bee, where he has worked since 1998. He is a native of the Bay Area, a graduate of the UC Davis and always played Sierra. He welcomes speeches with readers but suffers neither fools nor trolls.

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