If there's a feeling of vindication for Lyle Setencich, first-year Cal Poly San Luis Obispo football coach, these days, it's not because his team has won its first five games--the best start for the Mustangs since they won their first eight games in 1973.
The source of Setencich's feelings date back to last season when he was coach at Boise State.
It was a season that Setencich would just as soon forget but probably never will.
With key players returning from a team that finished 7-4 the previous season, Boise State was ready for one of its best years ever. But nobody could have predicted the wave of injuries that decimated the Bronco offense.
Not long into the season, Boise State had lost its top four running backs, three of its four quarterbacks and its two starting offensive guards to serious injuries and the result was predictable.
The Broncos struggled through a 5-6 season--their worst record in 40 years--and everyone focused their frustration on Setencich, who was heavily criticized by school officials, boosters and local media.
Setencich finally bowed to the intense pressure by resigning after the season in November.
The experience didn't diminish his desire to coach again, but it did leave a few mental scars.
"I didn't question my ability as a coach," he said. "I questioned maybe some people in the news media and the school administration for the lack of their perception.
"I guess it's safe to say I don't have good feelings for some people in Boise."
Setencich was afforded a fresh start when he was named coach at San Luis Obispo last January, and he has made the most of the opportunity.
The Mustangs have already equaled their win total of last year when they finished 5-5. Their most impressive victory was a 41-0 shutout of UC Davis, perennial National Collegiate Athletic Assn. Division II power, two weeks ago, which catapulted San Luis Obispo to No. 12 in the rankings.
"I think our work ethic has been very good," Setencich said. "I'm not saying that everything has gone smoothly. A couple of players left the team (before the season started), and we've had to make our adjustments. But for the most part its gone well."
Most impressive has been San Luis Obispo's offense, which has averaged about 38 points and 440 total yards a game. Those figures are especially satisfying to Setencich because his offensive philosophy was questioned by his detractors in Boise.
"Over a period of time people have said I'm a pretty good defensive coach, which is like saying he can't coach offense," Setencich said. "Tags like that tend to stick with you for life."
He said improving his offensive reputation was a prime consideration in his decision to accept the coaching position at San Luis Obispo. "I had several job opportunities (as an assistant) at Division I places, but I wanted to get into a program where I could show myself offensively."
Setencich is happy with the results, although he realizes that success can be fleeting. "At least we have a chance to be successful," he says. "But we could lose the rest of our games and they'd be calling me a bum again."
In a recent meeting of California Collegiate Athletic Assn. athletic directors, defending champion Cal State Dominguez Hills was again selected as the preseason choice to win the men's basketball title.
That was before the athletic directors knew that two of three starters returning for the Toros will not be playing. Junior forward Tony Akins (6-6) has transferred to UC Santa Barbara and junior guard Vico Nomaaea (6-3) has left on a two-year Mormon mission.
Dominguez Hills, which finished with a 22-9 record and reached the NCAA Division II West Regionals last year, had big expectations for both players. Akins, an all-conference player last year, was the team's second-leading scorer (11.8 average) and rebounder (7.0), and Nomaaea, an excellent three-point shooter, was third in scoring (10.5).
That certainly changes the conference title race and could make it a rebuilding year for the Toros, who are left with 6-foot 7-inch junior center Anthony Blackman as their only returning starter.
The Cal State Los Angeles men's basketball team may not finish first in the California Collegiate Athletic Assn. this season, but the Golden Eagles will be the first to practice.
That's because first-year Coach Henry Dyer is holding practice at the stroke of midnight Thursday--the earliest teams may practice under NCAA rules. The 6-3, 240-pound Dyer, a former running back for the Rams, also plans to stage a practice at 4 p.m. the same day.
"I got a late start here (he was hired in July), so we'll have a new start with a new group of kids," Dyer said.
College Division Notes Cal Poly San Luis Obispo faces perhaps its toughest test of the season when it plays host to Cal State Northridge in a Western Football Conference game at 7 p.m. Saturday. Northridge is 4-1 and tied with San Luis Obispo at 1-0 in conference play after rolling to a 36-14 win over Cal Lutheran last week. . . . Senior running back Chris Dabrow of Claremont-Mudd broke a 17-year school record for carries in a game when he rushed 39 times for 161 yards in his team's 21-14 win over Whittier last week. Claremont, ranked No. 12 in NCAA Division III, has an important nonconference matchup against No. 20 Menlo at 1:30 p.m. Saturday in Atherton, Ca. . . . Senior forward Michele Salas became the all-time leading goal scorer in women's soccer at Cal State Dominguez Hills with two goals in her team's 2-0 victory over Santa Clara last week. Salas, who has 24 goals in four years at Dominguez Hills, is also the Toros' career leader in points with 65.