Tuesday, September 02, 2008

A CAL FAN'S NOTES/APRES MICHIGAN STATE

"Shane! Shane! Come Back."

That was the plaintive cry at the end of one of the great Westerns of all time. We could hear those voices again, on Saturday, as 11 Michigan State Spartans shouted it in vain as Mr. Vereen scooted 81 yards for a touchdown to thwart their comeback.

His run solidified that we'd have two 100 yard backs on the afternoon-but didn't guarantee that we'd get a W. Hey it's the Bears. We were nervous until the final gun.

Opening day is always electric. Though the 5pm start time can never feel right. We want to get up early, have a big breakfast, load up the car, drive down the valley through the vines, and get to the tailgate by 11 for a 1pm kick off. That's Cal football-Pappy Waldorf Style. Alas, it's not the 50's.

The times they are a changin' and we have to change,too-tv revenue, you know.
Stoney's and so many other tailgates were moved to Boalt Hall parking lot. Where did they move the folks who were used to parking there?

Kleeburger parking lot was now the North Entrance to the stadium-there are no Western Gates as the fences around the 4, (that's right) four tree sitters cut out all use of the Western gates.

We went through a season with lots of tree sitters and no inconvenience to us, the fans. They were just there-and odd curiosity.

Then someone in the Chancellor's office decided to eliminate some---but not all of the trespassers: The result a disaster for any civilized peoples.

It was Socrates who first said that the only thing worse than the crime committed by a criminal is the State which won't punish that crime. Lucky for him he drank the hemlock before he lived to see how wimpy the University has become in the face of a crime against property and people.

We can't do anything about Judge Miller's incompetence and her inability to apply the 8th Amendment (Speedy trials) to the University. But we could easily clear out the tree sitters and open up the gates so that 62,000 lives are not put in jeopardy in case there were a disaster like a fire or quake. Forcing everyone to enter and exit only the North and South Gates (that 4 snot nosed kids can sit in trees), is an embarrassment-worse-it is incredibly unsafe in case of a disaster. This has not been the Chancellor's finest moment.

Still, nothing could dampen out enthusiasm as we kibitzed over beer and chips as to the status of our team and the outlook for this year.

Once inside (security was backed up like trying to get into the Olympics in Beijing), the beauty of the lights in the fading sunlight, the cool weather, and the emerald green of the artificial turf made it all worthwhile.

Riley started. Where was Best? Shane Vereen was the deep back. Tedford, (ever the riverboat gambler) had Riley throw a backwards lateral pass to Vereen. What was this? Oh my God! A double pass, not unlike the one Tedford called in his very first game against Baylor. The Audacity was back.

Vereen was a little slow getting his throw off (nice arm though) and the deep back caught up to the receiver, who almost made the grab. It didn't work, but showed that at least someone at the University has some guts.

We didn't move on that first drive and Anger came in to punt. Now we sit in the very top row of section D-by choice. I swear the punt was higher than we were. The crowd let out an audible ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. When the ball came down 56 yards later all we could think was that the redshirt punter will be playing on Sundays next year. What a leg.

Speaking of punting, our first score came on a perfectly blocked punt by Nnabuife. Pure poetry.

We seemed in control and led 17 zip when with 6 minutes to go in the half, Longshore came in. His first pass was a 55 yard beauty. He threw complete again. We were down in scoring territory. He looked masterful.

Then he threw in the dreaded middle, and at the goal line a Sparten picked it off and would have gone 100 yards for a touch had not Best dragged him down around mid-field.

The D held and Longshore came back in. He threw over the middle again and was picked and the kid ran it in for a score. 17 to 7. Suddenly………

Would Tedford stick with Longshore? Riley returned and all our hearts went out to Longshore. Did he make bad judgments, or were the pass plays across the middle poor choices? It won't matter. Fate has chosen to caste a palor over a fine young athlete, who may yet play on Sundays-somewhere.

(From the Cal Web page) After struggling on offense for three quarters, Michigan State converted three third downs and got a roughing-the-punter penalty during a 97-yard drive that ended with Ringer's 10-yard TD run with 10:45 to play, pulling within 24-21.

Cal replied with its own lengthy drive ending in Ta'ufo'ou's (he of the incredible vowel movement) scoring catch with 5:45 left. Michigan State trimmed the lead to seven points, but Vereen then broke his impressive scoring run on an innocuous first-down play.

Then real tragedy almost struck. A freshman cornerback apparently made an interception which would have sealed the win for Cal. Jubilantly he ran down the field holding the ball high above his head before tossing it victoriously away.
However, a replay showed the child "trapped" the ball and never did catch it. That act of hot dogging and obfuscating the truth almost robbed all of his teammates of a well deserved victory. Imagine thinking one had won fair and square, only to go into the film room and see that fooling the officials, not honest play had won the game.

The whole team and coaching staff would have been let down. Hagen is young, and one can perhaps forgive his exuberance-once. But just because certain University officials are showing al lack of character in dealing with the law and the Tree sitters, doesn't mean our students need follow their bad example.

We wouldn't tolerate and English Major faking it on a test and I'm sure Tedford isn't about to tolerate a student athlete pretending to do something he didn't. Remember Andy Smith's words on back of that 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

Is That not the Cal Football that we love?!


The weather turned chilly as the sky turned black. The Bears played well and stuffed a major running game. We should break into the top 25 and have much to be proud of. The talent level is unknowable at this point. Receivers didn't seem to get open-though balls were dropped. Riley is clearly a gamer-the 25 yard pass in the 4th when he was being tackled was just a "play"-the way great ones make plays which aren't always so pretty.
Next week, it's the Palouse, which this cowboy will have to watch on TV as he's headed back to Maryland on the train the following Tuesday, and has to make some pretense of earning a living.

Go Bears,
Jeffrey Earl Warren '70

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