Cal State Fullerton has taken its first step toward a more safe and sane football schedule, replacing a 1992 season-opening game at Hawaii with a home game against Cal State Northridge.
The Sept. 5 game will be the first in the Titans' new 10,000-seat, on-campus stadium, which is expected to be completed in January. It also brings the number of Fullerton home games to five, the most the Titans have had in an 11-game schedule since 1985.
A Fullerton-Northridge game should also be more competitive than the Titans' Oct. 3 game against Mississippi State, which would have been the home opener under the original schedule.
In recent years, Fullerton has played schools such as Auburn, Florida and Louisiana State for large guarantee checks, which help balance the athletic budget but have demoralized coaches and players.
Though Hawaii's guarantee wasn't in the range of some Southeastern Conference schools, which have paid Fullerton up to $250,000, it still was considered an extremely difficult trip. The Titans are 1-10 against Hawaii and 10-1 against Northridge.
"I don't like the current pattern of scheduling," said Bill Shumard, who took over as athletic director in August. "It doesn't give you a chance to be successful when you're playing seven of 11 games on the road and you're playing teams like Georgia, and for what?
"Just to get (large) checks and balance the budget? That teaches the young men nothing. It sends a hopeless message to the coaching staff."
Fullerton, 1-11 in 1990, opened this season with losses at Mississippi State (47-3) and Texas Tech (41-7) and travels to Georgia Sept. 28. The Titans are contracted to play Georgia again in 1992 and have agreements for future games at Clemson and Syracuse.
Shumard hasn't attempted to break any of those engagements, but he didn't rule out the possibility.
"I pledge to look strongly at our schedule for solutions and options," Shumard said.
"We're trying to change an image, gather some momentum and get this turned around. I want us to play a schedule more conducive to how we compete. Hopefully this is one small step in that direction."
It's certainly one big step toward pleasing Titan Coach Gene Murphy.
"This is one of the most positive things that has happened since I've been here," Murphy said.
Shot In The Arm: The Titan baseball team's pitching staff has been bolstered by Chad Dembisky, who went 12-5 at Loyola Marymount last spring but transferred to Fullerton this fall.
Dembisky, a 6-foot, 175-pound senior right-hander, had a 4.23 earned-run average in 1991, striking out 100 and walking 28 in 115 innings. The Darby, Mont., native played at Lassen College in Susanville, Calif., where he was named junior college pitcher of the year in 1990.
The addition of Dembisky, who led state community college pitchers in victories (15), ERA (1.28) and strikeouts (142) in 1990, eases the loss of pitcher Jack Bailey, who didn't enroll in school this fall.
Bailey, former Mission Viejo High School and Rancho Santiago College standout, went 6-2 with a 4.46 ERA last season but did not attend summer school and would have been academically ineligible, according to Titan coaches.
Licensed To Kill: Sophomore outside hitter Becky Howlett had 117 kills in six J.M.N. Premiere Volleyball Tournament matches last week to move into second on Fullerton's all-time kill list.
Howlett, who has 1,086 kills in only two seasons, is on course to break Susan Herman's record of 1,534, which she set in four seasons (1986-89). Howlett also was named to the J.M.N. all-tournament team for the second consecutive year.
The Titans, off to a 3-9 start, open Big West Conference action this week at San Jose State (Thursday) and New Mexico State (Saturday).
Banged Up: The Fullerton football team had a bye but still suffered an injury over the weekend when reserve tight end Gary Stick was involved in a hit-and-run accident.
According to Titan trainer Chris Mumaw, Stick is suffering from whiplash after the parked car he was in was struck by another vehicle. Murphy said the driver of the other vehicle fled the scene. Stick wasn't injured seriously, and Murphy said he should play Saturday against Northridge.
Last season, starting cornerback Nuygen Pendleton was hit by a car in the parking lot of a Lakewood restaurant, suffered torn ligaments in his knee and missed Fullerton's final five games.