San Bernardino Valley College football coach Pat Meech admits his cell phone started ringing late Saturday and didn’t stop for a couple of days. Word was out. Most probably thought they heard the score backward. The Wolverines throttled almighty Grossmont, the juggernaut, the team many considered invincible.
27-25, Good guys!
Grossmont is one of those teams with a definite swagger. Cocky? Definitely! So many of those trying to contact Meech were other coaches, silently cheering that someone finally knocked the Griffins off their pedestal. They had won 36 straight conference games dating back to 2002. So maybe they had earned the right to be cocky.
But it was a much-needed win for Meech and the program. It is his fifth year and the team has taken baby steps every year. A 2-8 his first year, then 3-7, 4-6, 5-5 last year. They were 0-2 this season going into that game. Progress is one thing but at some point you want a team that can start competing with the best in the conference. Maybe this will be that year.
Meech’s teams have tended to beat the teams they’re supposed to beat, lose to the teams they were supposed to lose to. With middle tier teams it is pretty much win one, lose one . . . thus a .500 record. No doubt this was the marquee win in Meech’s tenure, maybe in the school’s recent history.
Next up is San Diego Mesa on Saturday. This team believes. Now the trick is to avoid the letdown that sometimes comes after such a big victory. It wouldn’t do much good to beat Grossmont, then turn around and lose to Mesa.
The Wolverines showed character in coming back from a 21-0 deficit. Let’s hope they show just as much character this week in preparing for another foe. If so this could be a very special season for a team that hasn’t won a conference title in a decade.
I ran into SBVC men’s basketball coach Gerry Wright recently at a
Wolverines football game and he is excited about the coming season. You
might remember Wright was put in the precarious position of taking over
the Wolverines in December when previous coach Derrick Pugh was relieved
of his duties just as the team was leaving for an afternoon game in
Wright did an admirable job, directing the team to a Foothill
Conference title. (In a preseason poll of memeber coaches, SBVC was
picked to finish fourth.) A playoff run ended with a second round loss
to Saddleback. The outcome might have been different had the team’s only
presence in the paint not been injured in practice a few days earlier.
The interim tag was lifted and Wright was officially handed the job
in April. He deserved it.
It looked like he was going to be loaded this year since most of his
key players last year were freshmen. But other coaches went after his
players like vultures while SBVC administrators tried to make a
decision. Wright said there is no animosity between himself and the
other players. Most were from out of state and Wright said they didn’t
have the financial means to stay here.
The only returning player is Bo Harrison, a local product out of
Redlands East Valley. But that is OK with Wright who says he wants to
prove you can win with local talent.
Former Coach Phil Mathews, who took the team to the state tournament in
both his years here, had connections all over the country and used those
when it came to recruiting. The team that played at SBVC last year was
There is nothing really wrong with that. This is college, not high
school. Recruiting is part of the game. But it still seems to violate
the spirit for which junior colleges were intended. Most of the local
players who have played at SBVC in the past few years were nothing more
than seat fillers on the bench. It could not have been easy for them to
practice hard every day for their neighborhood school when they knew
they were going to be pushed aside for highly touted players from across
the country who probably never heard of San Bernardino.
Having the majority of players from out of state also helps add to a
disconnect between the school and the community when there should be
just the opposite. Let’s hope Wright is successful in his mission.
Cal State San Bernardino finally has a new athletic director with
Kevin Hatcher being named the successor to Nancy Simpson earlier today.
Hatcher comes to San Bernardino from Colgate University where he has
been instrumental in working with the budget, fund-raising and working
as a liasion between the school and the community.
He has also worked in similar roles at USC and University of Texas-El
It sounds like he is just what the school here needs. It isn’t
unusual for there to be a disconnect between a school and the community,
especially at a commuter school. But head to downtown San Bernardino
and chances are few people could tell you where Cal State San Bernardino
is located. That shouldn’t be the case.
The university has national championship caliber teams in its primary
spectator sports – men’s basketball and women’s volleyball. And it has
one of the finest facilities in the country in which to play.
Cal State will probably never draw the crowds and get the booster
support of a school like Chico State which is truly the center of its
community. But a better job needs to be done here of promoting the
college’s team here in the community and even within the school.
(Student attendance at athletic events is pretty much non-existant.)
The first step would be enticing youth teams, middle schools and even
high school teams to come to different events. Then go to community
groups. It shouldn’t be that hard to market teams with that kind of
track record of success.