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|| News Item: Posted 2005-11-30

Leading Off: 'Fresno? Nobody Goes To Fresno Anymore!'
By Robert Hanashiro, Sports Shooter

Photo by Robert Hanashiro / USA TODAY

Photo by Robert Hanashiro / USA TODAY

Signboards with advertising line the sidelines of Bulldog Stadium, along with fans.
When your alma mater turns up on the schedule of the #1 ranked team in the country ... for the last THREE YEARS ... it grabs your attention. Especially if you went to Fresno State, like someone I know...

It's not often that I get to cover my old school, FSU (not Florida State University!) but to get the chance to do it twice within a couple of weeks was sort of a treat.

Getting to go home to have dinner with my mom, sister and brother at our favorite Chinese restaurant ("Hon's" on Shaw Ave.) the day before the Bulldogs played Boise State was a real perk. The thought of Fresno State playing top-ranked USC a week later was ... a little scary.

Fresno State football has been on a roll the past few seasons, the darling of sports columnists when they write about BCS - busters. They've had successes ... I guess if you call a couple appearances in the Silicon Valley Bowl and a win last year in the MPC Computer Bowl success.

Nonetheless, I still scan the sports agate pages for Bulldog scores and say a silent cheer when I see them creep into the Top 25 rankings.

But after covering their emotional win over Boise (getting DRENCHED in the process ... who says it doesn't rain in Fresno anyway?) and then be just a couple of turnovers away from upsetting the Trojans in the LA Coliseum ... I couldn't help but ponder the two schools: One that I attended in my youth and the other that I cover regularly.

"It All Started at a 50,000 watt station in Fresno, California..." - Ted Baxter from the "Mary Tyler Moore Show"

My hometown of Fresno has been the butt of jokes for years, like the line I used in the title of this column taken from the movie "Airplane". And what town can boast having a two-term mayor they call "Bubba" (former actor Alan Autry, famous for playing a TV deputy named ... Bubba")?

But it's no joke that things have changed since I left school way back in 1978.

Fresno State doesn't play in crappy Radcliffe Stadium anymore and JR (No Periods) Boone is not the head football coach.

And playing USC is not like the games against Cal Poly and Fullerton I covered for the Daily Collegian.

Photo by Robert Hanashiro / USA TODAY

Photo by Robert Hanashiro / USA TODAY

USC defensive back Darnell Bing cross the goal line as fans celebrate, scoring an apparent TD after intercepting a Fresno State pass. But the play was call back on a penalty during the run back.
But when the score went to 21 - 10 late in the second quarter in favor of the Bulldogs, I couldn't help but wink and smile at Sports Illustrated's Peter Read Miller (a USC alum).

Covering a game involving a school you attended can be tough ... I guess Peter does it about every weekend and he's no worse for wear and always has an honest outlook on USC. For me, it was a new situation, but I covered the game like I would normally ... I didn't wear FSU colors, didn't jube when the Bulldogs' lead built up and I didn't yell at referees like the fans did when calls didn't go Fresno's way.

I was a model of neutrality and objectivity ... albeit with a lot of Fresno and Bulldog history rattling around in my head.

I could see that the lead couldn't last and when a Matt Leinart 1-yard touchdown, followed by a Reggie Bush 45-yard jog for another TD made the score 27-21 USC, the parking lot and the 110 Freeway were looking pretty good.

But football is a funny game and the cliché of clichés is: "On any given Saturday ..."

When the dust cleared, the scoreboard read USC 50 - Fresno State 42. There would be no firing of the USC coach in the aftermath (as then coach Larry Smith was after losing to Fresno State in the Freedom Bowl in '92), no talk of being the "BCS-Buster", no tearing down goal posts like the Red Wave did after upsetting top-rated Oregon State in 2001.

A loss is a loss and no coach or sports journalist will concede a "moral victory" even though the score reflects otherwise. But it was fun and interesting to be close enough to observe and later reflect.

"Me and Fresno Bob ..." Snake Plissken talking about a fellow outlaw in the movie "Escape From New York"

So what is the difference between USC and Fresno State (with tongue planted firmly in cheek)?

Photo by Robert Hanashiro / USA TODAY

Photo by Robert Hanashiro / USA TODAY

Fresno State fans.
• The sidelines at the LA Coliseum are crowded with high-roller Trojan boosters wearing $1,200 loafers, semi-celebs and Photo-Weenies with zoom lens on monopods. The sidelines at Bulldog Stadium are over-crowded by high-roller Bulldog boosters wearing boots, Photo-Weenies and signboards advertising a local oil changing business and pizza restaurants.

• The Fresno State marching 50 (which was disbanded a few years ago because of state budget cuts and recently resurrected) plays charts from Tower of Power and James Brown. The USC Trojan marching cast of thousands wear hats that looks like something Chuck Jones created for Marvin the Martian and they still play that riff from that old Fleetwood Mac song.

• While the Trojan Faithful were tailgating in the parking lots adjacent to the Coliseum a few hours before the kick-off, enjoying grilled meats of all kind and adult beverages, hundreds of the Red Wave were standing along Figueroa Ave. in front of the LA Convention Center trying to figure out how to get to the game (about 2 1/2 miles away).

• Under the lights: LA Coliseum - 1/500 @ f/2.8 ASA800; Bulldog Stadium 1/400 @ f/2.8 ASA1000.

• The best BBQ near the Coliseum: Barbecue King (a short drive to Cesar Chavez Ave.); Best BBQ near Bulldog Stadium: Tony Roma's.

• USC: Has Reggie Bush. Fresno State: No answer for Reggie Bush.

'Nuff said!

I wrote a few years ago about not being able to "go home again" ... but it was fun to see Fresno come to me here in LA.

* * *
It's probably over-kill, but after the wonderful weekend of great photography, inspiring stories and sharing, I can't thank enough all of the people that help put on the Sports Shooter Commuter Short Course earlier this month.

Photo by Eric Thayer

Photo by Eric Thayer

Matt Brown, right, conducts a lecture on Friday night at the Sports Shooter Commuter Short Course in Ventura, California.
While there were a couple of small glitches in the weekend ... come-on the CAOS on Friday evening was like being at a photographic rave! ... overall it was the kind of weekend that had something for everyone.

So thanks to our featured speakers Deanne Fitzmaurice, Kathleen Hennessy and Jack Gruber (if you missed the Karaoke version of "Love Shack" Saturday night ... well, you missed it!).

The breakout sessions were capably lead by Chip Litherland, Damon Winter, Rod Mar, Donald Miralle, Wally Skalij, Rick Rickman, Anacleto Rapping and the staff of the Ventura Star: Juliette Coughlin, Dana Bowler, Jason Redmond, James Glover Matt McClain and Joseph Garcia.

My partners Brad Mangin, Grover Sanschagrin, Jason Burfield and Joe Gosen are always there for me and without their help and advice, there would be no Sports Shooter.

This workshop would not have had a home if it weren't for Jim McNay and the wonderful faculty at Brooks Institute of Photography.

I could not do the things that I do with Sports Shooter without the support and help of my family ... Deanna & Emma.

Doug Murdock from Think Tank Photo and Louis Feldman from Samy's Camera are true "Sports Shooter Supporters" and always come through when I ask for a "favor"...

And lastly, this event would not have been possible (AND FREE) without the financial support, commitment and vision of Ron Taniwaki and Bill Pekala from Nikon and Dave Metz, Michael Nadler and Amy Kawadler from Canon.

* * *

This issue of the Sports Shooter Newsletter features a provocative report on the new Canon EOS Mark II N written by Brad Mangin. Getty Images' Donald Miralle gives us a peeking into his camera bag ... and more.

In the "Sports Shooter Conversation" the Columbia Tribune's G.J. McCarthy chats with the Chicago Tribune's Scott Strazzante on respect and documentary photography.

USA TODAY's Bob Deutsch contributes a couple of articles for Sports Shooter's "New & Notable" on an update to Photo Mechanic and putting some thought into how to carry your gear.

In the middle of a controversy over posting images from Syracuse games to his member gallery, student Kirk Irwin recounts the situation and the compromise that was reached.

So sit back, adjust your monitor, turn up the volume on that Judith Owen "Lost and Found" CD ... and enjoy Sports Shooter v.85!

As always, thanks to Special Advisors & Contributors: Deanna & Emma Hanashiro, Brad Mangin, Rick Rickman, Rod Mar, Vincent Laforet, Trent Nelson, Jason Burfield, Grover Sanschagrin, Joe Gosen, The Photodude, Reed Hoffmann, Anne Ryan and Bob Deutsch.

Thanks this month to: G. J. McCarthy, Scott Strazzante, Donald Miralle and Kirk Irwin.

I welcome any comments, corrections, suggestions and contributions. Please e-mail me at

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