Wednesday, September 20, 2006

A Cal Fan's Notes/ Portland State

There was a time when Portland State and Cal would never have appeared in the same sentence. Of course, there was a time when no TV commentator would have picked Cal to win the BCS. There was also a time when medical marijuana was illegal. Co-incidence? Or a new day? Time will tell.Wake up antsy on Saturday morning. The light is different. There’s a crisp breeze. It’s September. It’s fire season. The Bears are at home. Since #12, Paul Larson was leading the Bears out of the tunnel, there’s no day quite like a Saturday morning when Strawberry canyon is the venue.As a child it was over to the “Uplands”—park near the Berkeley Tennis Club, watch the adults drink gin fizzes, then walk the mile to the stadium. What adventures awaited. There were chin straps to be had, and autographs to be gotten—and orange gremlins to be slurped. Jim Pop would follow me down to the field and throw me the ball as I raced between the chalk lines. I can still recall that acrid smell of damp chalk.But the game isn’t until 3:15. What to do?Have to keep game face on. Can’t get distracted. From David, to Joan of Arc, to Davy Crockett and Sergeant York, a warrior’s heart must be pure. To banish unclean thoughts of fumbles, picks and sacks, I toss the chain saws into the jeep and head out to the ranch. Cutting wood. It was a Saturday morning ritual for my father and me. You see, I’m descended from the man who caused the fumble at the goal line against Iowa in our last Rose Bowl appearance. Jim Pop forced the fumble, by uncrossing his legs while we watched the game on black and white tv.He stormed out of the house to resume cutting wood. He’d caused other Bear faux pas’s as well. He could cause a Joe Kapp interception or a Mike Garret punt return for a TD, just by wearing the wrong boxers. Would you like to know how many shirts he made Maggie burn? And you thought Pat Cannamela broke Johnny O’s leg. But I digress.Of course I wear my hickory shirt (as Jim Pop did). My levi’s are ripped and torn at the knees—something my daughters would pay $300 for. The roar of the saw, like the “wrath of God” of a Nascar engine is almost erotic. As I cut and smell the oil, I am back there with him on those Saturdays, waiting to put the game on the radio.My daughter has called to say they are having a “Champaign Exchange” at the SAE house, but will meet us for the tailgate. Son JJ is no doubt turning over garbage cans at the Beta House, just to get his mother’s goat about how they all live like animals.Cal Football has never been just about Ball.I load the jeep with logs, head back to the house, and see all the fixins’ for the tailgate right in the entry hall. Funny how they just “appear” there. I get chills.“Don’t forget to eat your Spinach—lots of it,” my wife says. She looks out for me.Cindy (The Goobs) and I drive down through the most beautiful scenery in the world. The harvest is moving slowly—and it’s a little early for the vines to have turned orange—they are still green but reflect the sunlight. How many times have we made this trip? How many times have our hopes been dashed? Still we keep coming back.The parking lot is not too crowded. Palowski stops by to say after seeing tape of Tennessee, “we lost it--they didn’t win it.” Tedford had been quoted as saying the tape didn’t look as bad as the game did. We bear fans are suckers for anything positive.Morton comes by to say Kapp is getting a Spirit Award after the game and we should get over there. I offer him some of Cindy’s spinach, but she says it’s only for me.Meet Brandon Ferrigno’s mom. She hopes it’s 42 to 14 with Brandon scoring on a reception and a kick return. When your hubby’s a coach and he’s playing against your kid, that’s a tough balancing act. What a great family.Cassie, (one of the Pom Pon girls) goes up and gives us a big hug. Some of us still got it!No names, but two couples were doing a double header—leaving the game at half to see the Indians get slaughtered by Navy at their new park. We’re so jealous at 42 weeks, and 82 Mill.Tickets are everywhere Cal does a marketing gimmick (it worked for Sac State, too), where you can buy one, get one for a penny.60,184 were in the stands. Good marketing.Something is odd, but I can’t put my finger on it. O’keith is back to return the opening kick off. Is Lynch hurt?Why am I having flash backs. Forsett starts at running back. He carries the first two plays, then Longshore throws deep and free safety picks it off. Suddenly, we are down three zip to Portland State! It can’t be.Then I realize what is wrong. What is wrong, is what is right. We are wearing gold pants! We look like the Bears of old—sartorially that is. Actaully, we are playing like the Bears of old. Is it the pants? Please God, no. We love them.O’keith returns the kick off 41 yards. Forsett is in the backfield and carries. Lynch comes in. Is he hurt? Or being punished? Longshore completes a pass, and then Lynch picks up 23—looks healthy.We score on a short pass to Mora (12 Bears caught passes that day—a record).They go three and out. Lynch catches a pass for 9. Runs for 9. Longshore throws three straight completions. We are inside the 5. Lynch is out and Forsett goes in one yard for the score.We wonder why Lynch doesn’t get the score, but maybe this is how Tedford keeps all the backs happy. It’s a tough balancing act.We just keep dominating. Hughs gets a pick and runs it 30 yards for our third score. In the 2nd quarter, Lynch is stopped—but not stopped. He gets outside and though a db has a clear shot, goes 71 yards for a score. Db’s. At high school and small college level, they are the vulnerable ones. That poor kid was not in Lynch’s league.Suddenly, it’s 28 to three and new numbers are appearing on the field.They go three and out, and then we drive 57 yards in 13 plays with O’keith getting most of the work. He scores from the 1.It’s 35 to 3. It’s been effortless. We’ve knocked out two of their QB’s and the Vikings were hurting. Depth is everything in football.Suddenly, Mom gets her wish. On a razzle dazzle, wide receiver pass, Brandan Ferrigno goes up and comes down with a great reception on a 42 yard pass to make it 35 to 9. PAT is missed.Forsett fumbles at mid field, and PSU scores again to make it 35 16. With 1:25, Longshore takes over on the 28 and looks like a pro prospect running the two minute drill, completing 3 out of 4 (each for around 25 yards) and hitting Jackson for 27 yard TD with 25 seconds left.People complained, but I thought the 2nd half was college football at its best. Everyone played. Ayoob started and played the entire third quarter. Levy got a standing O as he started the 4th. Levy threw a lot of short passes, didn’t score, but looked strong. The kid who had the most fun was Brian Schutte. (No, I didn’t know his name either. #34. He’s the 4th string tailback and he had a ball, catching passes and running (a couple were called back). He even recovered a Levy fumble. He looked great, and may never carry the ball again this year. But today was his day.Props to Tedford and the staff for getting so many kids game time. As George Davis used to say, “It’s the third stringer who will cost you the championship.” In other words, the team with the best third string players usually wins. Is it my imagination, or did more kids play “back in the day?” Kudos to the staff.It was off to an Italian restaurant to celebrate Cody’s 19th b’day--three kids, wife, (one boyfriend)—daughter’s not wife’s—and a Bear win. From dawn till arriving back home at midnight, it doesn’t get much better than that. Go Bears,Jeffrey Earl Warren ' Mark Jensen pointed out that I must have had my head up my old address book when I said last week: “We have a new special teams coach “ Don’t know where that came from. We’ve had the same one for the last three years. Mea Culpa. However, the reference to Lavelle Hawkins as a Sophomore (he’s a jr.) was a direct lift from the website, so that one’s above my pay scale to check out.Trouble is my staff is mostly illegal aliens (they’re cheaper) and Al Qaeda operatives who never listen to what I say anyway. I’ll try water boarding them to see if they can’t get their facts straighter next time. From Greg:The Oregon State game (Sept. 30) will not be televised, and kick-off will be at 1:05 pm from Corvallis. The Arizona State game this weekend will be televised by Fox Sports Net and will mark the fourth game of the year to be on TV (Tennessee was on ESPN, Minnesota on TBS and Portland State on Comcast Sports). In addition, Oregon (ABC), UCLA (ABC), USC (ABC) and Stanford (Fox Sports Net) will be televised. The remainder of the games could be televised, but full broadcast schedules have not been determined. OSU Pre-Game Tailgate, 2.5 hours before kickoff (10:30am) on Sept. 30: This is the place to be before the game! Join fellow Cal alumni to get pumped up before the Cal/OSU game. There is a special discount for CAA members, young alumni, and Cal students. RSVP before September 23rd before prices go up by $10! September 26th is the last day to RSVP online: . Check the Tailgate page at for information on all tailgates. Friday night before the OSU game: Dinner at Tyee Winery with Sandy Barbour Time: 5:30pm meet, bus leaves at 6pm Meet at: Hilton Garden Inn 2500 SW Western Blvd, Corvallis, OR. Enjoy the serenity of Oregon by joining an intimate group of Cal fans for an evening of delicious gourmet dinner, wine tasting, music, beautiful views of the Oregon landscape and vineyards, and then complimentary wine throughout the evening. Athletic Director Sandy Barbour will join us for the entire evening. Matt Grimes says Friday’s Golf Tourney is full up at Tilden.
Also, Sons of California at Kleeberger this Saturday before the Arizona St. Game.
Contact Morton (do you think he’s got that “edu” just so he can get on face place or my space or whatever that is?) for details.

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