Another old home week for Tomey
BELIEVE it or not, Fresno State head football coach Pat Hill was once a young guy, a 26-year-old assistant coach at Utah in 1977.
Rookie assistants rarely interact with rival head coaches, but Hill met Hawaii's Dick Tomey on the recruiting trail and the two became friends.
"He was easy to talk to and personable and that impressed me a lot about him," Hill said.
Hill made an impression on Tomey, also -- enough for Tomey to hire him away from Fresno State in 1990 (where he was recruiting coordinator) to be his offensive coordinator at Arizona. The Wildcats went to the Aloha Bowl in Hill's first year at Tucson.
"It was great working with him. Whenever you're an assistant coach you pick up a lot of things from different head coaches as you go along," Hill said. "And Dick was a great mentor for me, he's a great person."
After two years at Arizona, Hill was an assistant with the Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens before returning to Fresno as head coach in 1997.
Now Hill and Tomey meet as head coaches in a traditional rivalry game: San Jose State at Fresno State. The schools have been playing each other since 1921, and although the Bulldogs own the Spartans recently, they lead the series by only 34-32-3.
"This is a game that means a lot in this town," Hill said.
Fresno State special teams coach John Baxter was also an assistant under Tomey at Arizona.
"I have great respect for the job (Hill's) done building a program," Tomey said. "Just like Boise, it's an example of an outstanding program. We need more programs like that. Their special teams are just extraordinary. John Baxter is a lifetime special teams coach and their play reflects that."
Tomey said he respects three-time Western Athletic Conference champion Boise State, but that he thinks Fresno State is the best team in the league.
"It seems like they've got more bullets in their gun than anybody else," Tomey said. "That's just my opinion."
Taking a dive: Idaho and New Mexico State had one win between them going into their game. Who'd have thought they'd make ESPN's Top Ten?
It was for the Vandals' "dog pile," as described by coach Nick Holt, who dived on top of players celebrating their 2-point conversion to win 38-37 in double overtime.
"Good thing we have a lot of soft bodies," Holt said.
Mumme mum: New Mexico State coach Hal Mumme is rarely at a loss for words. But he said he can't talk about the American Civil Liberties Union's grievance filed against him on behalf of former Aggies running back Muammar Ali, whose scholarship was rescinded.
Ali claims he was harassed by Mumme, who allegedly repeatedly asked him about al-Qaeda. Ali also said the football staff required the team to recite the Lord's Prayer at the end of practices.
"No, unfortunately I'm not (allowed to talk about the issue)," Mumme said. " I'm sure in the future we will. But there's guidelines we have to go by and I'm not allowed to say anything."
Dave Reardon is a Star-Bulletin sportswriter who covers University of Hawaii football and other topics. His column appears periodically.
E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org