Tim DeRuyter is happily cruising on a sunny morning in the San Joaquin Valley not far from the matchless glory of Yosemite National Park and the ancient natural towers of Sequoia National Park.
"We love the weather out here," DeRuyter says. "We love the people."
DeRuyter's state of bliss is wonderful news for football fans at Fresno State, where he serves as head coach. His plan to remain in The Valley is bad news deluxe for the rest of the Mountain West, and this includes his alma mater, the Air Force Academy.
During DeRuyter's reign as defensive coordinator for Air Force from 2007 to 2009, I quickly sensed his bountiful brilliance and sonic boom of a speaking voice. When stepping out of my car in the parking lot overlooking the Falcons practice field, I could often clearly hear DeRuyter shouting instructions to his defenders.
And he was a block away.
Big things were obviously ahead for the man with the big voice.
Last week, DeRuyter signed a $7.5 million contract extension through the 2018 season. The agreement includes stiff buyout payments if DeRuyter departs The Valley.
I don't believe he's going anywhere. DeRuyter is a native Californian clearly smitten by the Sunshine State. He's married to Kara, his high school sweetheart, and the couple savors this return home after 27 years of wandering our nation as football vagabonds. After being in exile for decades, the DeRuyters are thrilled to be surrounded by family.
"We plan on being here for a long, long time," DeRuyter says.
Here's where the bad news arrives for every other team in the Mountain West. DeRuyter is 14-2 in MW games in two seasons and 20-6 overall, and this display of power is only beginning.
DeRuyter is a formidable recruiter, and his persuasive powers are multiplied by geography and experience. He worked the fertile football fields of Texas during his days as defensive coordinator at Texas A&M, and recruits from South California are essentially in his backyard. SoCal has produced such football greats as John Elway, Junior Seau and Glenn Davis.
Fresno will struggle to win a national championship, but expect the Bulldogs to take frequent visits to the top 10 during the DeRuyter era, which could stretch another dozen years.
Success follows him. DeRuyter coached at Air Force during one of the happiest eras in Falcons football history. When Troy Calhoun took the Air Force job in 2007, one of his first calls went to DeRuyter, who was coaching the defense at Nevada. Calhoun, in a superb sales job, persuaded DeRuyter to join forces in a crusade to revive Air Force football.
This football duo performed magnificent work, winning 25 of 39 games. In 2009, DeRuyter's final season, the Falcons ranked 11th nationally in total defense and fifth in pass defense.
Since DeRuyter's departure, Calhoun has struggled as a solo act, losing 28 of 52 games while overseeing a defense - and a program - in steady descent. Air Force's defense surrendered nearly 46 points per game in 2013 MW play.
DeRuyter is a defensive animal. This past season, he oversaw a team with a go-go offense and a so-so defense. The Bulldogs finished 11-2 despite allowing 30 points per game.
This generosity will not last. Expect DeRuyter's defense to gain in violent might. The rest of the MW faces a gloomy future when visiting sunny Fresno.
DeRuyter is looking out the window as he drives through his favorite state.
"You have it all right here," he says. "It's a fantastic job."
DeRuyter is not going anywhere soon. This is great news for Fresno fans.
And dreadful news for everyone else.