Tuesday, September 26, 2006

A Cal Fan's Notes/It was The Best of Times. It was the Worst of Times.

It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. In other words, it was Bear football—as only we have come to love and appreciate it. We dominated the first half. Ok. I lied. We decimated them the second quarter, ending the half with a record 42 points—clearly the Best of Times. But they pretty much took it to us in the first quarter, despite our 14 to 7 lead. For the second week in a row, we failed to score an offensive TD in the second half. It was the worst of times. What are we to make of this? But I’m ahead of myself. If anyone wonders why California is the most expensive real estate market in the country, all they had to due was wake up Saturday morn. Was there a more beautiful spot on earth, than Northern Calif. Sat. September 23rd? The game was at 12:30, so there was no time to dodge rattle snakes while chain sawing wood. It was up and out of the house and down to the parking lot. Again, without effort—miraculously--all the tailgate goodies were waiting in the downstairs hall for me to load into the car. I’m not sure people know how much work I do for these tailgates. On the other hand, maybe they do. The Goobs was “en fuoco” and we tailgated in style. It was “Sons of California” day (read: ex drunk footballers gathering and telling lies) on Kleeberger (ok Maxwell) field. Judge Chris Markey was to receive the Glenn Seaborg award, and hundreds of ex-ballers had turned out for the occasion. Jack Hart (he of the tackling-Skip Face-at-the-Goal-line-to-send-Cal-to-it’s last-Rose-Bow-fame) runs the thing. Morton is the MC. The microphone was recruited by the previous coaching staff. (Ok. Unfair. But the mic was the pits). Mike White was up as well as kids from every team over the past who knows how many years? They gave us name tags, but one only had to go by height to differentiate the years. Either players got bigger, or we got smaller. Matt Grimes pulled off a sensational Golf Tourney the day before at Tilden. Best part about it besides the laughs? Almost half the players were what the Chancellor calls under-represented minorities. (How much do we hate that expression?) It is a rarely talked about fact that for too many alumni gatherings, not enough of the great (how much do we hate this word) “minority” athletes show up. Thanks to Matt’s efforts, we are getting better. We are hip to “minority athletes,” because back in summer of ’67 (or was it ’68) for the first time, we had 13 black footballers. According to Truck Cullom, it was the first time in Cal history we had more than three (you can look it up). Truck brought me down from the Lair for double days, not for my football skills, but because for the first time in its history (according to him) Cal was going to integrate the football team, and blacks would not room with blacks. I was one of a dozen white kids who would be rooming with a black athlete. I can assure you, it made no difference to us, but it was a big deal back then. How soon we forget. Many people think Dr. Seaborg was a genius because he received the Nobel Prize for the discovery of the chemistry of the trasuranium elements. However, his real genius was being the Chancellor while we went to both the Rose Bowl and the NCAA’s Final 4 in the same year. He also “invented” the Pacific Coast Conference—truly like Sir Thomas Moore, a man for all Seasons. 57,000 filled the stadium (48,000 paid). We kicked off and Arizona (like PSU last week) dominated the first drive. They pushed us off the ball (like PSU) and put together a dominating sustained drive to take a 7 love lead. We went 3 and out, then they had an 8 play drive and punted. We scored to make it 7 to 7. They were driving when Zack Follet #56, stripped Carpenter and #10 Desmond Bishop (as Siamas says he should wear 22 so we could call him “Desmond Bishop Two Two”), recovered. On the first play, Longshore hit Lavelle Hawkins for a 31 yard TD to make it 14 to 7. Still, early in the 2nd quarter, my friend said we will only win with turnovers. They are dominating us. Wrong. (Though I was thinking the same thing). Start of 2nd quarter they punt and Jackson takes it on our 20. All I can say is “Deon”. He was so fast it was stunning. Now we are up 21-7 after a beautiful punt return—up the middle, more or less, no less. Now it’s 21 to 7. Arizona goes three and out. We try two plays, and then it is obvious that there is single coverage on Jackson. He runs a slant, and Lynch wheels up the sideline. A perfect pass, and we are up 28 to 7. One has to wonder why we don’t run that anytime an opponent is in single coverage. If the DB let’s Jackson go—throw the slant. If he follows him, what lb can keep up with Lynch? We can’t fathom what’s happening. What is apparent is that Zack Follet is everywhere and #8 Pimentel is in on every play. Have they been playing all year? We just haven’t paid enough attention. They go three and out. However, on their punt, they hit Jackson under his hat, helmet to helmet as he tries to make a fair catch. The fans go crazy. 15 yards is assessed, but the kid isn’t thrown out. Bad move by the refs. We go three and out and punt. Then Arizona passes from their 26, and Damien Hughs steps in front at the 42 and returns it to their 26. In sweet revenge. After Lynch carries twice in a row—(causing a heart attack in row 71, Section D. The paramedics arrived quickly. It turned out to be only a case of shock. They assured the man that it was unlikely that he’d carry twice in a row again in the game, and the fellow regained consciousness). Longshore hits Stevens, then finds Jackson in the endzone for 6. Jackson, very classily, just puts the ball down on the ground. It speaks volumes. Nice “In your face” for illegal hit on the punt. I like to tease, but we shouldn't forgert: No one we’ve met recently knows more about football than Tedford. With Dunbar on board, it’s not just gadget plays which show they have mastered the modern offense. It is blocking angles, blocking schemes (we’d never understand) and just putting kids in the right position to succeed. They’re pretty amazing. Did you note that Longshore is now rated 9th in the nation, just ahead of Tennessee’s Ainge? He was also just named USA Today player of the week. With all due respect to the San Diego product—that isn’t done on talent alone. Big props to the coaching.
After the kick, ASU goes 74 yards in 13 plays. Why can’t we put anyone away? They kick, and Marshawn breaks it off for 40 yards. A pass to Stevens, and a fumble. We are bummed thinking we could have had another score. They throw, and Hughs steps in front AGAIN and returns it for a score with 26 seconds left. 42 to 14. Our chests are out. Hughs making bid to be All-American. No sense to talk about the second half. Why can’t we score? Maybe it was substitutions, but it didn’t appear that way, though Lynch was out for most of it. On the other hand, how greedy do we have to be? Two interesting things happened: We got in field goal range with a 4th and one. The field goal team came in, and then we called time out. It is clear that someone had a special play called for this situation. It must have been something they had seen in the films. Forsett is in the backfield and the field is spread. Longshore moves right, (maybe fakes it I just didn’t notice) and then pitches to Forsett going left. We all saw it. An alley to the endzone. The perfect play had been called. Alas, apparently, Forsett saw what we saw, and forgot to catch the pitch. We lost yardage and didn’t make the first. But we will see it again later in the year. The second thing was #8 Pinmentel. He was clearly (along with Follet) the player of the game. He blitzed the QB, batted the ball into the air, picked it off himself and ran 14 yards or so into the endzone for our final score. Alas, he hot dogged it into the endzone, diving across the goal. Now to me, it looked like he realized what he had done, and tried to stop—in mid-air. Others said he drew the flag for raising the ball above his head, afterwards. I don’t know. `All we know, is that a play like that (Lynch also got a stupid unsportsmanlike conduct penalty)—could cost us the game against an SC. Banged up O line played superbly.
On the theory that I get all my knowledge through rumor, here’s what we heard before, during, and after the game. I won’t identify my sources—except to say that one of them was Valerie Plame. On the other hand if some judge says I have to identify them or go to prison and become someone’s girl friend, I’m going too sing like a canary. Parking lot Palaver: Politics of Big Time football being simple politics--the Big 12 will now vote as though Oregon lost the game. Okalahoma will be treated as a contender for the BCS and once again the Pac 10 will take it in the shorts. Can anyone spell Mac Brown & Texas two years ago? Stanford will take 10 years to recover from Leland letting Willingham go and hiring his buddy, Buddy Teevins. With Markey basking in his justly earned award, talk naturally turned to Truck. They were Marines together—best friends. He’s U-haul’s godfather. I mentioned how Truck had returned to Kwajalein shortly before his death, to climb (actually to be pushed and pulled up) to the top of a mountain where the wreckage had been found of the plane #6—the plane Truck was to have been the tail gunner in. Trailer told us they wanted to take some recon pictures, so Truck was moved to Plane #5. Plane number 6 was shot down. Truck watched the buddy which took his place go to a fiery death. Truck was different. I remember being in the Hospital when Kapp and Thomas arrived to say a final good bye. Truck could barely speak. He grabbed Kapp’s hand and pulled him down, then whispered, “Though I go through the Valley of death, I shall not fear, for I am the toughest son-of-a-bitch in the Valley.” And he was. As I said at his funeral, “The world would have been such a better place had Latree Spreewell tried to choke Truck Cullom.” But I digress. It was verified that Willingham may have left Standford because after proving he could take them to the Rose Bowl, and graduate some troubled kids, they wouldn’t give him two or three extra “do-hickies” to get marginal kids in. Interesting. The “Walk to Victory” (before the game) is a very cool idea, but it may be difficult for a lot of Old White Guys to relate to the way these kids dress. Blue blazers, yellow shirts, and striped ties—it is not. Probably that is the old guys’ problem, but it is a hoot to see how many people remark about it. What’s with Lynch? At least two unsportsmanlike penalties this year. Frank Lynch, Trent Dilfer’s father and a running back (ok, a plodding back) in the 60’s really likes Longshore--and he knows something about QB's. Says he’s super smart. Dinner table question: Should the Oregon kid who touched the ball before it went 10 yards, have told the ref he did so? I know what you are thinking, but should a physics student tell a Prof he in advertently saw the answer to a final which would have netted him an A? Are we not supposed to be teaching character here? In fact, a Cal DB “intercepted” a pass. The ref called it incomplete. The kid yelled and screamed. We yelled like hell (our view from row 74 being clearly better than the ref’s). Alas, on the replay the ball hit the ground. Is claiming you caught a ball you didn’t catch a good thing? Or should we care? Football needs to generate 15 million a year to cover all sports. How much is that per ticket for a new stadium—not counting debt payments? Lastly, Tricky Dick Beahrs and I are ticketed on the Mid-night Coast Starlight Express, leaving Emeryville for Portland on Thursday night at 10:05pm. We’re due in at 3:40 pm (if it runs true to schedule, it will be more like 6pm). However, with luck we will see some of you up there in Corvallis. With the worst of times behind us, we are looking for the best of times courtesy the OSU Beavers.

Go Bears,Jeffrey Earl Warren ‘70
Please check out the new Website. It needs some work, but we’re getting there.www.jeffwarren.com/