Thursday, November 29, 2007
Well, we all know who. The Stanford State Indians--that's who! I guess today, that yell is probably not too politically correct. Axing the opposition in the neck is no doubt a little too gruesome for the parents of many of today's tender-eared college kids.
We know the name Indians is frowned upon—which makes some of us want to use it even more.
Saturday is the Big Game.
Thank the Good Lord for giving us fallible memories. Were it not for our inability to remember, women would never have more than one kid; DB’s could never cover after being burned; no one would go on more than one blind date; and my wife would have left me long ago. Since none of us can remember what happened earlier this season, this Saturday is huge. It’s Big Game.
Red Staters think we are so arrogant. No one in the country understands how two schools, one of which couldn't even beat Notre Dame, can refer to their contest as The Big Game. Folks assume that for a game to be labeled "Big" something tangible has to be on the line--you know, the Conference Championship; the right to go to the Rose Bowl; or the holiest of holies, The BCS (whatever that means) championship.
That, of course, is to miss the essence of what College football is all about.
Despite all the bad press, scandals and under the table activities we read about, in the College game, first and foremost, college football is about student athletes competing against one another.
Sure, there are some thugs. And, yes some kids are there just to go on to the pros.
But for the vast majority of seniors out there, this is the last football game they will ever play. And the combination of adrenalin, coupled with the "Ya' ain't got nothing to lose" mentality inherent in one's final game, makes for some extraordinary moments in sport.
We're not talking about a rivalry where each year Heisman Trophy Candidates rise up to accomplish feats of Olympic proportions.
No, from Jack Hart stopping Skip Face short of the goal line on the last play, and sending the Bears to the Rose Bowl a millennium ago (ok, it was only 1958), to Kevin Moen knocking over the Stanford Trombone player to win the '82 Big Game with no time left on the clock--the rivalry is rife with "ordinary Joes" accomplishing extraordinary feats of heroism; and athletic agility.
Does the name Levy ring a Bell? (Quasi-modo. Now there’s a name that rings a bell—but I digress).
It's what makes it great. Is there any finer expression of athleticism and beauty in sport than what was once referred to as "The Old College Try"? The Big Game is nothing, if not a show case for “TOCT.”
And the Beauty of "The Old College Try" is that it is not dependent upon physical prowess alone. Heart, determination, courage, guts and grit are the ingredients of "TOCT".
Each kid who takes the field has the opportunity to give it or eschew it. It's not dependent upon genes or nature. It is simply a state of mind, dependent solely upon the depth of one's character and the size of his heart.
"The Old College Try" is not delivered in a vacuum. It is witnessed by family. One of the finest "families" one could ever be associated with.
You see, as you read these words, I will have disappeared from the earth as you know it.
Thursday, I leave the Valley to join the "family” and do not re-surface until Sunday.
My days and nights are filled with other rummies like myself.
There are dozens of reunion lunches throughout the City. Wherever one gathers, it is the best lunch of the week. For us, The Mother of them all is the Friday Men’s lunch.
It was started by about 7 contemporaries some 30 years ago at the now defunct New Pizza. It was mostly ruggers, and former footballers—-boys, Coach Joe Marvin once called “The fellows who fought the Battle of Berkeley back in the 60’s”. We know what he meant.
That’s when our school yell went from “Roll on you Bears” to “Ashes to ashes/Dust to dust/We hate to go on strike/But we must, we must!”
No one wanted their kids to come to Cal back then. We were considered a bunch of Commie, Pinko, Weirdoes. Actually, worse.
But Franz defined the lunch with this classic: “No invitations. That means no jerks (Ok, maybe he used another word). Just good guys inviting good guys."
We always have a “Speaker.” Last year it was Mike White.
(I don't think this year it'll be Harry--but his kid, Collin, can do it if he wants).
We gather to re-tell the same old stories--laugh way too loud--and return to the halcyon days when everything was possible, and no one could best us--neither footballer nor female.
(In truth, we lost way more times than we won--in both areas--but who's counting). In our minds we gave it "TOCT".
Ours is a friendship held together over all these years--not through our triumphs, but through the rehashing of our failures. For that's where the laughs are. In the screw ups. In the errors in judgment; in the vain attempts to be more than we thought we were.
Had we been suave. Had we succeeded each time--in class--on the field--with girls--we'd have nothing to talk about.
When the sentence begins with "How 'bout the time......." I can guarantee you it has nothing to do with a personal triumph. Mostly it has to do with some humiliating failure which the PCer's would consider a lowering of self esteem--and which we consider too funny for words.
It is good that we are off by ourselves. For the world would never approve of our past shenanigans. It certainly wouldn't approve of the way we laugh about them now.
We were not nice boys. On the other hand, we were just that--boys. Doing things that boys do, and grown men can look back upon and laugh at.
Maybe it's a guy thing. My kids don't believe me, but no truer words were ever spoken than when we tell them at their moment of failure, "Don't worry. We'll laugh about this later."
If only they knew that it's not succeeding that matters. Giving it the "Old College Try" does. Ain't it great to be a Bear!
Go Bears. And “GIVE ‘EM THE AXE!
Jeffrey Earl Warren ‘70
Monday, November 19, 2007
Show me someone who loves road trips and I’ll show you a prime candidate for any 12 step program. Where do I enroll?
No sense to talk about the game. Like the joke about the man who keeps shooting the bear, and receives some major English discipline at the hands of the slightly wounded animal—for those of us who love Cal—it’s not about the football.
It’s no secret to what’s happened to the Bears this year. Anyone who’s ever played a sport—anyone who’s ever coached a sport—in fact, anyone who’s ever watched a talented teenager slip in his grades knows what the problem is. And knows what the solution is, as well.
These two items which appeared in the paper sum it up:
"Cal coach Jeff Tedford ripped into the team immediately after the game, yelling about elementary things: desire, confidence and execution. Facing the worst team in the Pac-10, without its starting quarterback, the Cal football team had no chance. “
Follett said. “We need to just dig deep inside. I don’t think we’re playing with the heart and passion needed to win games.”
What else is there for us say?
We all flew in on different flights. Different groups were at different places on Friday night. We found ourselves at Tulio’s a great Italian joint in the Vintage Park Hotel.
When you’re from the Napa Valley, you have to love a hotel which (rather than numbers) names its rooms after wineries. Why haven’t we thought of that?
We all took turns waxing eloquently about the season and how it would have been different were we the coach, or were we playing. The later the evening, the more expert we became. Clearly our knowledge rose with the decibel level. Has it ever been any other way?
We were mostly in agreement that there were very few scenarios where we would make it to the BCS championship game, though it was suggested that we telegraph Mac Brown and lobby for his vote.
I’m not sure we were in agreement that the Rose Bowl was entirely out of the picture. I’m sure someone put forth an odd mixture of wins and losses which would get us in the back door to Pasadena. To be sure that was possible we ordered another round.
When you are a Bear fan, hope springs eternal. Rational, common sense takes a vacation.
The gals had hit the Army/Navy store, so Saturday morning, they were all decked out in their finest rain gear.
We were to view the game in the 2nd finest venue in the United States. How it must tick them off when they come down to see a game in Strawberry Canyon.
But Washington in the fall (duh!) is like Vermont without the firey red maples. Colors dominate. The stadium is on the water an seems to soar into the sky. It's breathtaking.
“The Bird” (Jerry Bradley—he of the (St. Helena Jim Hunt) 50 yard TD pass with one second on the clock which beat Penn State some weeks back, had come down from Vancouver and would be having a tailgate. As an aside, Rip Engle was the coach of that Penn State team. He lost his job and a kid named Joe Paterno took his place).
Some of his teammates, Nutzie, Cantlon and Jim Pinson would be showing up as well.
Though most of the locals were slathering on sun screen, the rain was coming down harder than the week before against SC. For them it was a balmy Seattle day.
We bought a couple of cases of Beer and prepared to stuff our selves on all the food Jane had brought.
Just like in Tennessee the Huskie fans in the car next to us couldn’t have been nicer. “You can share our tent as soon as we get it up,” they offered. “Want some chili?”
Our group grew with the rapidity of a teenage beer party tied together with cell phones and text messages. We overran the tent next to us, and another one on the other side as well.
We replayed some past games. Until Tedford, the state of Washington has not been kind to us since 1976 when we eked out a 7 love game.
Specific plays were brought up. They always are. Suddenly, I realized that if it weren’t for those individual plays, Cal would have been the top team in the country for the past 50 years.
My father used to talk about the Rose Bowl (was it against Ohio State?) when we scored on the first play, but it was called back to due a questionable back field in motion penalty. And we know about the fumble in the endzone in the 59 Rose Bowl, and the fumble on the one against Washington in 67 or 68. We know about the fumbled punt against SC with 1:30 to go and the lead. We’re aware of UCLA’s upset of SC costing Chuck Muncie and Joe Roth the Rose Bowl. And we know about the interception in the Endzone against Arizona last year, and the stepping on the line which called the TD back—either one, it turned out would have put us in the Rose Bowl.
And none of us will forget Mac Brown’s lobbying to keep us out of the Rose Bowl in Tedford’s third year.
We can cite by heart half a dozen times a bad call or bad break gave Stanford State the win in the 4th quarter.
And we are the possessors of the Ultimate bad luck Play—Roy Riegles ill-fated dash which ended eventually in a safety, which became the margin of defeat to Georgia Tech in the '29 Rose Bowl (Correction by Ray Shine).
Of course it goes the other way. We remember Bradley’s catch, and Sweeny’s and the ultimate one play—THE PLAY.
Now all fans at every school remember specific plays and specific wins and losses. But my guess is that to put together a big time program, we have to drop the focus on the “what if’s” which have cost us over the years.
We’ve got to drop the “one play” stuff and get behind a program which can win on a consistent level.
Say what you will, We’ve got a big time college coaching staff. No doubt they’ve learned a lot this season.
We’ve all learned—what we’ve always known—talent alone will never win out.
The interesting thing will be to watch how the coaches and the fans react next year. Are we going to boo 20 year old children? If that’s where we’re headed, bring back Frank Wickhorst!
Are we going to keep up our end and produce that Athletic facility, and the Stadium? Or are we going to fold because things aren’t going the way we want them.
Old guys like us can’t affect what’s happening on the field, but we can set a tone.
It’s corny but all these things are intertwined.
Do you ever wonder how the alumni treated Andy Smith, Nibs Price, Brutus Hamilton, Pappy (at least in the early days) and Pete Newell?
People that act like winners, and treat others like winners—tend to be winners.
A tone needs to be set which permeates the entire program.
Mostly, it’s up to Tedford—and he’s brought us miles from where we were. We just need to understand how hard it is to get where we want to be.
One minor suggestion however, is to start by dropping the “one play” did us in philosophy. To be big time, we’ve got to move on.
(Speaking of Big Time, how about Frank Lynch's kid, Trent Dilfer, going up against Rick Bennet's kid, Drew Bennet in Candlestick on Sunday. Two old broken down Cal running backs with pro ballers for kids. It doesn't get any better than that).
Go Bears. Beat Stanford State
Jeffrey Earl Warren ‘70
Friday, November 09, 2007
Tonight's Big C Hall of Fame Dinner will be one for the books.
Some greats are going in: Bob Albo, Mike White, and of course "Harry", Loren Hawley.
The lies we'll tell. The laughs we'll have. The memories we'll share.
Naturally, it got me to thinking about athletes and Cal.
Sports weren't necessarily better "back in the day". But they surely were different.
There was a play in the ASU game which, both, summed up the Bears' season this year, and pointed out how much more difficult it is to be a college athlete today.
Deep in the 4th quarter, Longshore moved left, was somewhat pressured, threw off his back foot to a wide open DeSean. You know the rest.
Even my barber, Ernie, pointed out that rather than come back to possibly break up the pass, DeSean threw up his hands in exasperation, (before eventually gathering himself and chasing down the DB).
The plight of the Bears this year can be summed up in two alliterative words. “Frustration” is one of them.
Unlike years past, the O line, awesome as it is, has bent just a bit, and (like on that play) not given Longshore or Forsett, the dominating support they need to succeed at the elite level. They must be frustrated.
Longshore is hurt and gets tired late in the games. He’s very courageous and gutsy, but it must be frustrating to not be able to deliver the ball the way he wants and no doubt thinks he can.
No doubt that wasn’t the only time this year DeSean has been wide upon and the ball either didn’t go his way or wasn’t exactly on target. With his talent and competitive nature, it must be terribly frustrating!
In years past, when QB’s were slightly pressured, balls under thrown, or players hurt we barely noticed. It was par for the course. We were Cal—now national rankings are on the line. Big money is involved.
And we, the faithful, want so much to bask in the light of their glory.
What we’ve all learned, however, is that to play at the elite level of the SC’s Florida schools, or the SEC, is that one needs so many good players, that when one comes up short, another takes his place and no one notices the drop off.
Injuries are a part of football. How about Rulon Davis? He makes two sacks in the first quarter and he hasn’t played in weeks. Then he, too, gets re-injured. What a difference his presence would have made this year.
No on knows how good young Longshore is because he’s been playing on one foot.
Should he be replaced? Only Tedford has the right perspective on that. Given that no one wants to win more than he does, his decision to go with a less than 100% QB, must be based on his best judgment that, even hobbled, the team has a better chance to win with him in there.
Were it otherwise, someone else would be playing. How can folks second guess him?
Jackson’s frustration is not unique to Cal.
Below are the pre-season picks for the Heisman and their teams’ preseason and current BCS ranking.
Preseason Rank Current BCS Rank
John David Booty, Sr., QB, USC: 1 17
Darren McFadden, Jr., RB, Arkansas: 21 NR
Steve Slaton, Jr., RB, West Virginia 3 7
Colt Brennan, Sr., QB, Hawai'i: 23 16
Mike Hart, Sr., RB, Michigan: 5 12
Patrick White, Jr., QB, West Virginia: 3 7
Jamaal Charles, Jr., RB, Texas: 4 14
DeSean Jackson, Jr., WR, Cal: 12 NR
Chad Henne, Sr., QB, Michigan: 5 12
Brian Brohm, Sr., QB, Louisville: 10 NR
Colt Brennan’s team is the only team with a preseason Heisman Trophy candidate which is ranked higher today than it was before the season.
Three teams are not even ranked in the BCS. West Virginia, with two preseason Heisman candidates is holding fairly steady, though they’ve played schools like Marshal and barely held on last week against Louisville (5-5).
As my friend Willy says, “In our day Saturday’s game was everything. It’s all we cared about. Today there is just so much “Stuff” out there. You’ve got Sports Center, Personal Web Sites, interviews, Posse’s, agents, drugs, national polls, unbelievable media attention, hero worship, and of course, the Heisman watch.”
These kids (all of them all over the country) can quote Herb Streit or tell you who Lee Corso picked to win and by how much.
It takes a lot of focus off the simple duty of playing the game week in and week out.
Concentrating on getting the Heisman is not conducive to the type of team play required to win.
Pete Carol and SC pulled it off three out of the past five years. They’ve been remarkable. Most other teams have melted under the pressure of the “Heisman Watch”, and the concurrent media attention which goes with it.
This is not to make excuses for Cal or any other team. They’re all in it together.
To win, 22 guys have to play each and every play each and every game. Their minds can't be wondering.
The challenge for modern day coaches is to figure out how to get these kids focused and ready to play with all the distractions going on around them.
I don't envy them. It’s an impossible task. That's why an SC with unbelievable talent and depth on paper can lose to a Stanford State.
College football has always been about “any given Saturday.” That is one of its charms. But now it is more so than ever.
DeSean didn’t ask to be a Heisman candidate. It was thrust upon him by the national media (and perhaps our sports marketing staff, which was doing its job in this modern web-site era).
But coping with that kind of attention at such a young age can’t be easy—and by definition is not conducive to “team work or team play.”
I don’t know what DeSean was thinking about when he threw his hands over his head. I ‘m sure he regrets it.
It was a youthful error in judgment. (Ironically, were it not on tape, we might have all missed it). It didn’t cost us the game. But it wasn’t an action which helped his team to succeed.
It was an act of utter frustration which, though perfectly understandable, is not conducive to winning at the elite level.
When one looks at the records of the other teams with preseason Heisman candidates, it’s impossible not to conclude that there could very well be some correlation.
We know there's no "I". Dare we be so corny as to say there's no “Hei(sman)” in T.E.A.M.
See you in the parking lot tomorrow. Look for an upset. And congrats to all the inductees.
Jeffrey Earl Warren '70
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
So what are we Cal fans do? Blame the coach? Blame a 20 year old? Jump off the band wagon? Stop watching footage of Paris Hilton?
If your kid gets cut from the varsity do you stop loving him? If your
daughter gets 500 on the SAT’s do you shut her out? What do you do when the one you love doesn’t live up to your expectations?
And isn’t it all about dashed expectations? Whose fault is that? We are the ones with the unreal expectations.
How one deals with this speaks volumes about us—not the team.
One way NOT to deal with it is to put in on the shoulders of someone who is not yet old enough to drink.
Speaking of drinking, how did one root for the Bears during Prohibition? Rooting for the Bears, sober is more taxing than being the father of teenage girls.
Yet, we do live and die with the Bears. How sick are we? 12 steps anyone? Speaking of 12, some of us have loved the Bears since #12 Paul Larson brought them back to a 21, 21 tie in the Big Game back in ’53. My grand parents gave me a blue and gold #12 jersey for Christmas that year. I was 5.
Saturdays were the best. My family would park out near the Claremont Country Club and we’d walk the mile through the Blind School to Strawberry Canyon. My father would toss me the ball on the fields in the Blind School, and then actually on the Cal field after the game. I can still smell the chalk that lined the damp field.
I know what it’s like to get a chinstrap from one’s boyhood idol, #81, Ron Wheatcroft. I remember how my dad’s friend couldn’t believe I had Joe “the Kapp Kapp’s” autograph in my program.
Those of us who were blessed remember the locker room before that first freshman game. We can all still hear Truck giving us the “Andy Smith Eulogy” and telling us about the honor of playing on the Ashes of Cal’s greatest coach, spread ceremoniously on that majestic field.
We know by heart the words of Andrew Latham Smith inscribed in stone on the back of the Bench in Memorial Stadium:
“We don’t want men who will lie down bravely to die
But men who will fight valiantly to live.
Winning is not everything,
And it is far better to Play the game squarely and lose
Than to win at the sacrifice of an ideal.”
To us, football is more than a team, a coach, a win, a ranking or a Rose Bowl. It’s more than a disappointment at UCLA. It is woven into the fabric of our lives. It’s about, friendships, lovers, children, tradition, and of course, beer. There might even be a class or two we attended thrown in on the side.
As we get old, it is true that through the magic of transference, we identify with parts of our past. Some of us know, whether we are in the stands or in front of a TV screen, or listening on the radio, that that is us out there. We are the ones throwing the block, making the tackle, catching the pass or tossing the ball. It’s not some kid. C’est moi! We are the coaches making the decisions—not some University employee.
That is why it hurts so much. Because of the “transference” of identities, it’s not the kid who screwed up, or the coach—it is us. Like when watching a Shakespean play, we enter Coleridge’s “willing suspension of disbelief”—and become the actors or players we are watching.
For three hours each Saturday, the “Slings and Arrows of Outrageous fortune,” the perfidies of adulthood, the betrayals of friends, the unfaithfulness of lovers, the avarice of business partners, the failures, divorces, illnesses, and deaths all take a holiday, and we can drift back to those halcyon days of yore when all was possible—and the biggest disappointment in life was getting a bullet (being shot down) by that Co-ed you didn’t really want to date, anyway.
Alas, the Gods don’t see it the way we do—or maybe they are not yet finished punishing us.
We’ve got to keep reminding ourselves that we asked for this. We wanted a Tedford in there who could put together an honest to goodness program—that means recruiting, scheduling, academics, facilities, staff, public relations and marketing. He’s done that better than anyone else in the past 50 years. We’re such amateurs (as fans) at this level that we just don’t know how precarious and difficult a big time program is. (Was it Solich who got fired for losing three games at Nebraska?)
We’re lucky Tedford has stayed this long, and ought not to chase him away.
That being said the e-mails have come in—“So now what are you (you of the Cal’s going to slaughter UCLA school) going to say?
Without getting into personalities, here are some reflections on the game of college football in general.
Most old schoolers understand that if the gods are ever to smile on us, certain verities must be affirmed.
1. When an opposing receiver stretches out and catches a ball over the middle, he is to be cut in half, Ronnie Lott style. Letting him land and then bumping him with one’s shoulder is not winning football. Despite what they tell you, this market is not different. Football is about blocking and tackling. It’s about young men hitting one another—hard!
Of course, it’s a bit disingenuous to ask kids to be courageous when the University hasn’t the cojones to kick a few dendrophiliacs, out of some trees.
On the question of courage, here’s hoping in the future that Cal also has the intestinal fortitude to announce a “sensitive” score during the game. Are we telling these kids we want them to be ranked number one, but that they haven’t the maturity or mental toughness to hear that LSU has lost? Does anyone think that Texas, Ohio State, USC or the Florida schools don’t announce scores because they are afraid how it will affect the “children” on the field?
2. To paraphrase Tom Hanks, “There is no ‘face guarding’ in football. (It used to be a penalty, for God’s sake). All DB’s should turn and go for the ball, no matter how badly they are beaten. This is fixable.
3. The “I formation” originated at VMI in the 50’s (by Coach Tom Nugent) as an alternative to the straight or split T. It was popularized by SC, because they had a running back with “fish eyes,” Mike Garret. He had the best peripheral vision in football, so giving him the ball 7 yards deep allowed him to cut back against the grain to find the running lane. It was never meant to be a short yardage formation. When going against (our equivalent of) the old “Gap eight” defense on the goal line—or short yardage--handing the ball off deep in the back field (whether in the I or Single Back formation, allows defensive linemen to penetrate. Unless one is doing play action or mis-direction, short yardage requires quick hitters which give the offensive linemen an equal chance against the hard charging defenders whose only responsibility is penetration.
4. If you’ve got a Jerry Rice, it make sense, regardless of the defense, go deep to two or three times at least, just to keep everybody loose. Put him in motion to isolate him, if necessary.
5. If there’s no safety in the middle, most tight ends can get deep to the post. We should take advantage of it.
6. If the man who makes the interception to beat you says in the paper, “I could tell by the formation what they were going to throw,” it’s time to mix it up a bit.
7. At the end of a half or game, it’s better to use up a down spiking the ball (Johnny U always threw it out of bounds because spiking wasn’t allowed), than to shout out audibles first to the left, then to the right thereby using up valuable clock time. The law is, never leave a time out on the clock if you’ve got the ball in the waning seconds.
8. Jahvid Best’s 57 yard kick return when we really needed it was a thing of beauty at a crucial time. Fumbles or no, he’s earned the right to touch the ball more. The more he touches it, the less he’ll fumble.
9. Ray Willsey once said that to win in college football, you’ve got to have 22 guys who can start at Notre Dame or SC (we had maybe three) and then you’ve got to have an OJ or Beban or Namath who is a cut above.
For probably the first time since the War, we’ve got 22 players who could play anywhere. Do we truly have that over-the-top playmaker? Maybe. Desean is an amazing talent, but plays a position where it appears tough to get him the ball enough times to make that crucial difference.
10. Another theory is that a quarterback is important for only 6 to 8 plays a game. The rest of the time, he just hands off or throws the ball. It’s the half dozen or so crucial first downs and scores that really count. Name the college quarterback who, after less than a season and a half could make those plays consistently?
Young Longshore (courageously playing on a crippled foot) had a great statistical game. The hope is that with experience (he’s really played very little—and been in very few “crucial” spots) he will become the type of Montana, Young, Stabler, or Unitas come from behind player. That only comes with experience, and folks shouldn’t be so critical. We need to understand the game better.
11. We have who we have. Walsh used to say that the key to winning in the NFL was a 4th quarter pass rush. No disrespect to these young men who are giving it their all, but alas, there is no Fred Dean on this particular team—yet.
12. Perspective: Winning at this level is harder than any of us ever anticipated. There are so many things which can go wrong—bad calls, tipped balls, penalties, fluke kicks, fumbles, interceptions—the list goes on. We need to be grateful for where we’ve come from and understand how difficult it is to get where we want to be.
I don’t know. Remembering where we’ve been, I’m just grateful for where we are today.
On the other hand, I think I’ll have another beer.
Jeffrey Earl Warren ‘70
Friday, October 19, 2007
As we’d been in the African bush and out of communication for almost three weeks, we weren’t a part of the Uber-High you all felt when we were ranked #2, nor were we in Strawberry Canyon for the Uber-low après le clock running out on our one chance to be ranked #1 since the Rolling Stones first sang "Satisfaction", shortly after the War of 1812.
For moi it’s just Cal/UCLA and a chance to revenge Maurice Drew of two years ago. (And Greib tackling Dummit at the 3 oh, so long ago).
In some respects I’m glad. I’m a Rose Bowl kindda guy. And though playing for a national championship has its appeal (not the least of it is Bourbon St), at my age, I’m not about to pout about a trip to the Rose Bowl, first.
But I'm ahead of myself. All things in good time—and a win tomorrow keeps us on track for Pasadena.
To those of us of a certain vintage, an L.A. Safari is a chance to go from Eldridge Cleaver to Elder Cleavage (I use that one every year) in one hour’s time.
Like our African Safari, we’ll be tracking the “Big Five.” But rather than hunting for Rhino, Lion, Leopard, Elephant and Buffalo, this week it’ll be Lindsay, Paris, Matt, Jack and Bob. Like their African namesakes, Hollywood’s big five only come out at night—or occasionally in the day time if they have to appear for an arraignment
Just as in Africa we have guides, John and Lindsay (he did "Hide and Seek" with Bob—see how easy it is to drop names L.A. style). They know the secret haunts. Plus they are young so they speak the language. “Word.”
When you come from a town so small that if you blink, you’ll miss it, it’s a hoot to go to a town where if you can blink, it means you’re under 50.
(Notice coaches in L.A. never say they’re “adding a new wrinkle” to the offense. Wrinkles are persona non gratis). Beau Tawks is a highly sought after recruit.
Last year for SC, they took us to the Sky Bar where apparently one had to be on the Dow Corning mailing list just to get in. Anyone who considers the Peninsula Silicon Valley has never been to this watering hole.
Of course the waitresses, er starlet’s, have no interest in us. At least they didn’t last time until I humbly mentioned that we were out-of-towners—only down to review a script to see if we’d invest in it. With that they crowded around us like children in an African village looking for a piece of candy.
To say they were falling all over us would be an understatement. Two years ago, one literally tripped and did a face plant on Squirm’s head, opening a two inch gash on his pate.
You can take the boys out of the fraternity, but you can’t take....
Anyway, last year the youngsters headed out for “Hide” the new hot spot where they cavorted with Paris while we oldsters foolishly turned in early (at midnight).
Fittingly, we’ll be dining at “Cut” as we prepare to stalk our game, and don our game faces for the Bruins.
This is a great year for the Bears. We control our own destiny. And it’s all about the Pac 10, not Mac Brown’s friends deciding where we will play.
ASU is a pretender and the Bruins can be bagged—big time. It’s wonderful to have a young qb trying to fill in for the seasoned vet—it’s the making of a Chip Hilton Sports story.
Just as Lions go in for a kill if opportunity presents itself, tomorrow could be a slaughter. We have a chance to score more often than an Alpha Male on the prowl. If we are the elite team which whupped the Vols, then we can surely do it, on the road, in La La Land.
If we aren’t, then there’s no sense wasting any energy thinking about last week. We would have been exposed quicker than a Jay Lo thigh, if not this week, then next. (How do you spell these names anyway?)
Look for Forsett to gain close to 200 yards and both Jahvid and Desean to break off big gainers.
This is the perfect game for Tedford to take the shackles off and spring some surprises.
It’s Pac 10 Football, on the Road—playing for all the marbles. To a Cal fan, life doesn’t get any better than this.
See you there (If I have a buxom babe on my arm, you’ll recognize her. Rosie O’Donnell is hard to miss).
Jeffrey Earl Warren ‘70
From Linda, and amazing recruiting site
Bear Injury updates:
Nate Longshore shared the first-team repetitions with backup Kevin Riley on Thursday. Just a day earlier, Longshore hobbled around the field and had trouble even trying to hand off the ball.Longshore "looked a lot better today," Tedford said Thursday. Longshore was still a little gimpy Thursday, but his passes were much crisper than a day before, when he struggled to push off his right ankle and hung a couple of passes up for grabs. Longshore will be the Bears' starting quarterback when he's healthy enough to return to the field. Cal coach Jeff Tedford said he will decide on a starting quarterback for Saturday's game at UCLA just before kickoff........Robert Jordan and Cameron Morrah, who each have a sprained shoulder, practiced for the first time this week Thursday, and Tedford expects both to play Saturday. Jordan took most of the first-team repetitions before removing his shoulder pads midway through practice, and Morrah participated in all contact drills without a hitch......Defensive back Brandon Hampton took reps at cornerback and safety as rover Marcus Ezeff is continuing to heal from a quadriceps strain. Defensive coordinator Bob Gregory said Ezeff will travel but probably won't play............ Defensive end Rulon Davis was in a helmet, doing agility drills on the sideline and running stairs, for the first time since injuring his foot in Week 3 against Louisiana Tech.
CAL web site: Cal-UCLA Game To Be Televised By ABC at 12:30 p.m. as Bears Now Have 11 Games Scheduled for Telecast The University of California is guaranteed of matching its record for televised games this year as the Pacific-10 Conference announced today that the Oct. 20 game at UCLA will be televised by ABC beginning at 12:30 p.m. from the Rose Bowl. This marks the 11th game scheduled for television matching the number of televised games from 2005 and 2006. The only remaining regular season game that has not yet been scheduled for tv is the Nov. 17 contest at Washington. ABC will make a selection on either that game or the Oregon State vs. Washington State game on either Nov. 5 or Nov. 11. This weekend, the Golden Bears host Oregon State for Homecoming at memorial Stadium. The game will kickoff at 4 p.m. on Versus. Versus is a national cable network that is available in 72 million homes. To find out if Versus is available in specific areas, visit www.versus.com and input the zip code for that area. On Comcast in the Bay Area, it is Channel 75, while on Direct TV, it is Channel 603. Tickets remain available for the Oregon State game by visiting www.CalBears.com or by calling 1-800-GO-BEARS. Cal has climbed to No. 2 in the country in the national rankings this week, its highest ranking since the 1951 season when the Golden Bears held the No. 1 ranking in the nation for one week midway through the year. Remaining games that are already scheduled to be televised are Oregon State (10/13, Versus, 4 p.m.), UCLA (10/20, ABC, 12:30 p.m.), Arizona State (10/27, FSN, 7 p.m.), Washington State (11/3, FSN, 7 p.m.), USC (Nov. 10, ABC/ESPN/ESPN2, 5 p.m.) and Stanford (12/1, Versus, 4 p.m.). Television networks make their selections for remaining games 12 or six days prior to the game. In the first five years of head coach Jeff Tedford's tenure, 47 Cal football games have been televised; in the five years prior to that, just 30 Cal games were televised. National television broadcasts have more than doubled in that time. The Colorado State game marked Cal's first game on CSTV while the Arizona game was Cal's debut on Versus.
Friday, September 21, 2007
Winning does funny things to a man (or men). Now that the Bears are experiencing success, guys who once sucked it up, puking and dropping 10lbs in a sweaty afternoon session of double days, have now become the bitchy, cranky housewives we never wanted to marry.
Nothing is good enough for us anymore. Why is that?
We find ourselves watching games (to wit: Louisiana State-Tech-A & M or whatever they were called) and little joy comes from a resounding win.
We can’t flap our jaws without moaning about the ineptitude of young 19 year olds, or the mistakes of perhaps the finest coaching staff in the country.
I’m the worst offender.
The bottle is always half full (Ok, not the one in our hands. That one is empty and we are frantically looking for a re-fill).
We question the Bears’ focus. Desean’s hands. The Coaches’ calls. Why Best doesn’t touch the ball more. Why Longshore is missing on long ones. Why we don’t go deep more to Desean. The D backs’ lack of open field tackling. The questionable pass rush. Why we didn’t go for it on 4th and short. Why we don’t run more. Why we don’t pass more.
Poor Tedford. He’s become Dagwood to 60,000 howling Blondie’s each Saturday.
His crime? Bringing success to a group of alumni who are used to chronic failure.
Being true Bear fans we are certain that the bubble is going to pop. Like an orphan who’s been adopted by the crown prince, we can’t believe that we are deserving of this fairy tale existence, so we focus only on the negative, that we might not be too hurt when the clock strikes 12 and that Golden coach reverts to its proverbial pumpkin status.
Our fears are not entirely baseless. When the Rose Bowl was finally ours (after almost 50 years) who knew that a clever Mac Brown could whine on TV, make a few phone calls and gip us out of our birthright? He was simply smarter than we were.
Or who knew that SC would lose to UCLA, meaning that if a receiver hadn’t stumled on the one yard line; or a ref hadn’t called a bogus P.I. penalty in the endzone; or replay hadn’t been invented (so Desean’s foot could be called on the line), that we would have been in the Rose Bowl last year as well?
We know the Gods like to toy with us.
They send us
No doubt the open sores are on their way.
To torture the women they send plastic, ordorific porta potties with urinals about face high. (On the internet, “executive”, clean ones can be ordered for $1,000 per). Wouldn’t 10 of those be nice—now that the stadium is close to capacity with paying customers).
Opps. See. We bitch about everything.
Anyway, getting home to the Rose Bowl, or the Game in New Orleans (looks like nothing short of a National Championship will suffice), is going to be like Odysseus’ Odyssey.
There will be lots of baptisms by fire, and many tempting sirens which will attempt to lure our ships of hope between Scylla and Charybdis—that those monsters may once again, dash our dreams to pieces.
My guess is that the football Gods are going to continue to test us until we prove ourselves worthy—and the first step in that direction is to drop the bitchy gambit.
Strategy is fair game—hey, we are fans after all, and no one is smarter than we are.
Constructive criticisms are fine as are basic differences of opinion.
But to make the grade, all this has to be tempered with loyalty, propriety, and a sense of gratefulness for what has been put on our plate.
We’ve been given a glimpse of what we’ve always wanted, and at some point we’re going to have to grow up and earn the right to be as classy as our program appears to be.
It ain’t gonna be all wins, all perfect, all the time.
See you tomorrow in the parking lot, and if my glass appears half full, please fill it up so I can ease my pain if things don’t go right.
Per the blog below, the injuries to the defensive lineman now do not appear to be as serious as originally feared...............The Bears are a 16-point favorite over the Wildcats this Saturday, in what the USA Today is claiming to be "redemption game no. 2".......... article below from the Daily Cal on the stadium hearing, which starts today and is scheduled to last two days.
"Sign of Relief" - CC Times CAL Blog by Jonathan Okanes on
It looks like the injuries to defensive lineman Matt Malele and Rulon Davis aren't as serious as originally feared. Malele has a strained muscle in his foot while
From the Cal Grid of Sacramento Eric Bachman sent this piece from The New York Times.
Sandy Barbour letter:
> Subject: letter from Sandy Barbour and Nathan Brostrom
> Dear Friends,
> For the first time in recent memory, a group of people...that would be
> you...came together to do the hard work it takes to support the
> University and stand up for what you believe. Usually, people are too
> busy, too overworked or overbooked, to step up when needed. You did so
> and you have our everlasting gratitude.
> In early August, this was a one sided battle, with
> controlling the airwaves, news pages and websites. By last week, we
> had at least brought the City of
> recognize the enormous outpouring of support
> community. We believe it was a wakeup call for the City. And we hope
> it will serve to improve the relationship between the City of
> and the University in the future.
> There will undoubtedly be more opportunities for all of you to come
> forward and support
> you again. The good news is we know we have your support and can
> count on it in the future..
> To all of you who wrote letters, sent emails, displayed signs, talked
> to friends and neighbors and city council members, came to meetings,
> helped at Fan Appreciation Day, the Tennessee game and the City
> Council meeting, thanks for all you've done in the last six weeks to
> support Cal and our student athletes. We couldn't ask for better
> Go Bears!
> Sandy Barbour and Nathan Brostrom
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Tuesday, September 11, 2007
How long is a football field?
It all depends upon where you take possession.
In the second half CSU punted three times. We took over on CSU’s 47 yard line, their 44, and then they buried a coffin corner kick which pinned us back on our own 46. When you only have to go 50 yards for a TD, it doesn’t quite seem fair.
They claimed they shut down Desean. Only 24 yards on two returns. Trouble is we began three drives in their territory, and one 54 yards away. Sometimes success sucks.
Gender neutral punting has its disadvantages.
George, Janet and JC had the right idea. They left Tuesday aboard the
JJ and I flew into
Few asked me for my autograph.
While our crew toured the Fat Tire Brewery, Country Kline took JJ and I to
Had to sweat out the nerves.
Didn’t sweat as much as we’d hoped due to a northerly which gave us pause.
Every time Aeolus rears his head one comes back to Bartkowski on the plains in
Only the gods knew.
Speaking of Gods, Rip Hunter had his tour and
Willie regaled us once again with the difference between Tubas and Sousas and, alas, we all left a little dumber.
Saturday was a kick off. The stadium was only three miles away, so JC and I hoofed it. (Ok. Four miles when you count where the
Joanie had to write a personal check to get 5 emergency deliveries.
They kicked with the wind and the kid put it 80 yards in the air out of the endzone. The Northerly was bound to be a factor.
Clearly CSU was strong. We couldn’t push them off the ball. Nate was sacked for the first time this year.
They scored first. The let down in the stands was palpable. Were these the Bears of old?
Then Tedford called for a reverse and on the first play after the kickoff,
Still, they seemed to be controlling the line of scrimmage—on both sides.
On their first play after the kick off Morton goes for 44 yards to our 27. They get to the two and we stuff them. Fortunately, defensive lineman Derek Hill leaps to intercept a pass from the two—very athletic move.
At the end of the 1st quarter, refs award
As fans, we all want him to go for it. Stupid us. Larson booms a 47 yarder with the wind—they’re forced to punt and we take over on CSU’s 47. All of us who wanted Tedford to go for it are now eating crow (but swallowing it down with beer—which is legally sold in Coors Country).
Field position is everything. If they kick to Desean, Tedford knows we’ve got a good chance for good field position. If they Gender Neutral it, well, three times we took over in their territory after a punt.
In the 2nd quarter, with the wind at his back, Longshore hits Hawkins for 21 and Moya for 22. Forsett carries it in from the one.
Back up Kicker Andrew Kay continues to be perfect and puts us up 17 to 14.
To start the second half, inexplicably we are kicking off with the wind at our backs. We saw this happen at
Guess that’s why I’m not making 2 million a year.
When Best (who looked like Marshaw Lynch, except with some speed) broke 3 tackles and blurred 64 yards into the endzone, the game was in hand, 34-14.
He and Montgomery had been sharing running duties all 4th quarter. Paper said Forsett had a back “stinger”.
Grid Club Question: Was it Forsett who was called for the 15 yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty? Or is that just gossip. He never appeared after that. Injury? Or discipline?
You know the rest. CSU scored twice in 53 seconds to give us old guys heart failure. Oddly, after the first score, with an on-side kick surely coming; all the “hands guys” were on the right side, though he was clearly kicking it to the left.
That changed on the second “on side” attempt, when they inexplicably “pooched” it rather than going for another on side.
CSU was a very physical team. One of our guys mentioned that the entire team arrived “tired.”
Who understands the finicky pituitary gland? When you can’t blame it on the Bassanova, always blame it on the Hypothalamus. Maybe the altitude or last week’s emotional win sapped our strength.
They seemed a bit lethargic, but hey—as Ackey Boy said on the plane ride home, “A win on the road is a win on the road.”
As a sidelight, the only time
I beat that horse to death, but I love our chances when we run. (Old school guys never learn). That O line is something else.
Whatever. This is a team to be reckoned with. We weren’t sloppy, but we weren’t crisp. On the other hand, when you begin most drives insides the other team’s 50, it covers a lot of sins.
Tuesday, September 04, 2007
What was Saturday’s finest moment? Desean’s Heisman hyping 77 yard punt return? Follet’s hit of Ainge and Worrell’s fumble recovery and sprint to an early TD? The Goal line stand? Jahvid’s 34 yard streak? Forsett’s 156 yards?
To those of us who were in
Those of us who sat in that sea of orange last year have not been able to erase the haunting sound of their chanting “S.E.C. S.E.C.,” for seemingly hours on end. We had nothing to counter their taunts.
Well, Jeff Tedford, the C.C. Meyers of College Football, shut ‘em all up for good. What a grand moment.
We may lose this week. (Does the name Appalachian St. ring a bell?). We may undergo a rash of injuries. We may choke or just have plain bad luck. Maybe even a scandal. Anything can happen in college football. But one truth is immutable.
For the first time since Andy Smith’s Wonder Teams and Pappy’s Boys, The California Golden Bears are one of the truly elite teams in the country. That’s a lot of bravado for a school which hasn’t been to a Rose Bowl in almost 50 years, but it’s a simple fact. We need no false modesty.
The Bears treated
The man I felt most sorry for was the Stanford State Scout who is assigned to check out the Bears. Lucky for him the Bridge was closed and CC Meyers was just beginning his miracle working.
From here on out, Alumni all over the globe will be using the word “we”. Last year at this time it was all about what “they” did wrong—and can “they” bounce” back. We alumni are such good winners.
Saturday morn was a hot one in the Valley. Our friends, Country and Connie had flown in for the Game (he was raised in Big Stone Gap, Virginia 100 miles from
Goobs had us stop and Target so she could buy some pink panties to hang on a cloths line (Anything for the joke) over her table where she handed out Pink Panty Pull downs (Vodka, Pink Lemonade, and “just a splash” of Sprit) to the Tennessee faithful.
Arriving 5 hours before kick off seemed just about right.
The dendrophiliacs (look it up) were out in force and properly caged. A Cop asked Country what he thought of them, and in that thick Southern accent he drawled, “Hayell. Nothin’ a couple ah good coon dogs an’ a chayan sahw could’n fix.”
(Is dendrophilia legal between consenting adults?)
The Tennessee folks who invited us on their boat (part of the Volunteer Navy) last year, showed up at Stoney’s and like Union and Rebel pickets during the Civil War, we swapped stories congenially, knowing in a few hours vicious fighting was about to take place.
Observations from an amateur:
Last week, a tall good looking guy predicted that Follet would cause a turn over and that Worrell would show why a pro scout wrote him up along with 16 other Bears. Ignorant Tiresias that he was, he failed miserably to predict it would happen in the same play.
In the first series, Follet drilled Ainge in the back, causing a fumble which was picked up by Worrell who sprinted into the end zone.
This was not your Father’s Bears.
Still, we never put the Vols away.
Broken finger or no, Ainge constantly threw to the right man. Interestingly, he was only three for 11 in the 4th quarter, but I’m sure that doesn’t mean that the pain killer was wearing off. They don’t shoot up college kids do they?
What was untypical for a Gregory coached defense (he’s been the real secret weapon during the Tedford Era), was the amount of confusion. When
Tennessee was going with the no huddle, so that accounts for some of it, but it was obvious which slot was going to run what and be open, and Ainge usually found him. No doubt that will be corrected as the season progresses. Point is, our defense is better than the scheme we were playing that day.
This seems impossible, but Jahvid Best is faster than
The one who didn’t do anything wrong, but might find himself fighting for playing time is
We just take Forsett for granted. What an athlete—always goes forward. Clearly stronger than last year. Several times appeared down and then did a “Lynch refusing to go down.
` We have more playmakers than ever before, but it’s all about the Big Boys. Check out the “Mack-pancakes” if you’ve got Tivo. Several of the Big Boys up front put the hurt on some Vols.
Game’s oddest moment: There were just under three minutes left. Forsett appeared to score—they didn’t allow it, so it was third on the one foot line. Rather than huddle, Longshore rushed the team up to the line, Forsett barely even got set—and a fumble ensued on the attempted QB sneak.
Very Un-Tedford. Logic would have dictated taking even more time off the clock while calling a play.
Guess here is that they’d seen something in the films where a quick snap would catch the Vols unawares. Could make for a good Grid Club question.
The Vols had the ball back, and instead of 52 total points (thought that would look good on ESPN), we were only leading by 14, with the very real fear that something bad could happen.
Only good stuff happened---as it had all day.
Speaking of good stuff, how much of a stud is Ta'ufo'ou (He of the many vowel movements). Sprained meniscus and he starts? Had some good carries, to boot.
Longshore never sacked—barely pressured. We had trouble getting to Ainge, as well.
Special teams, spectacular. Schneider pulled a quad during warm ups, but back up Jordan Kay was perfect. Punter Andrew Larsen is the Gary Fowler of his day.
No sense to mention Desean’s punt return. It looked choreographed, like a Buzby Berkeley spectacular in the old musicals. After that first punt, Fulmer (who boasted he was going to kick to Desean) elected to go for the “Gender neutral” approach to punting. Not a macho blast, nor a girlie out of bounds—just a tweener.
Desean Jackson and Barry Bonds—separated at birth.
(Thought: What happens if Jackson lines up about 30 yards from scrimmage and Best is stacked behind him, about 45 yards deep. Or vice versa?)
Bears ranked 10th today. In True Mack Brown Fashion, 12th ranked Bears beat 15th ranked
Oh well. To paraphrase George Herbert, “Winning well is the best Revenge.”
Off to CSU Thursday night. Looking for a Rocky Mt. High, but it will be tough to be last Saturday’s.
And yes. CC Meyers finished the bridge ahead of schedule. What’s a hotel cost in
For True Bear Junkies: Copy and paste this site for more than you ever needed to know about the game.
For some really good writing, check out Scot Ostler’s Monday Column
From Linda (early this morning)
I haven't seen the polls yet, but Sagarin has us at #4 behind LSU, USC and GaTech.
Please go to Pontiac.com to vote for DeSean's punt return as the Game Changing Performance of the week to help bring in some $$$ for
This ‘n that from the web page
Cal has won 28 league games over the last five years (Jeff Tedford's tenure), the second-most in the Pac-10 ... Cal has had at least one 100-yard rusher in 42 of 64 games under Tedford, meanwhile, its opponents have had just 15 games with 100-yard rushers ... Cal had 58 pass plays of 20 or more yards in 2006 ... the Golden Bears also had 49 other plays (rushing, punt returns, kickoff returns and interception returns) of over 20 yards since 2006 ... in 2006, Cal had 28 scores that took less than two minutes ... the Bears also had 19 scoring drives that lasted less than 2:00, as well as three interception return TDs, four punt returns for touchdowns, a safety and a fumble return score ... 2006 marked the fifth time in program history that Cal had an eight-game winning streak (single season) ... 2006 also marked the first time since 1949 that Cal started 6-0 in conference play.