Wednesday, November 25, 2009

BEARS 34 INDIANS 28

How sweet it is/was. We didn’t want the night to end. We just stood there watching the children storm the field. The Axe, like a lifeboat lost at sea, rising and falling amidst the crush of bodies. It doesn’t get any better than this. Well maybe it did in Pasadena on January 1, 1938 when Alabama went down—but that’s a little beyond our memory bank.

I quickly donned my “I told you so cap” and smiled from ear to ear. Anyone who knows me, knows I couldn’t predict an “A” in Professor Hearst’s Ed 110 class (where you graded yourself)— Still I was feeling pretty smug. I’d gone on record: Cal, 27 to 17.

The night after the SC debacle—and 8 days after the Oregon fiasco, when our record was 3 and 2, we’d scored 6 points to our opponents 72—my favorite writer—between swallowing vials of sleeping pills-- wrote (back on October 1st):
“Someone has to say it. The Bears go 10 and 2 and we’re still angry.”
That tall good looking guy continued:

“For the rest of the year (barring a total collapse) the point spread will be within a touchdown of everyone we play. And we’ll win way more than we lose….Big Game will really be big. Hopefully, Stanford wins a bunch and then we crush them and wreck their entire season.” Hmmmmmmmmm.

But wait. There’s more!

“We’re looking at 5 and two easily and a possible 7 love run the rest of the way. What could be bad about that?”

The least nasty e-mail riposte I got after those words was, “Get Real!”

All right. So I didn’t say 6 and one. There are word count requirements.

The second best joke of the week was about the Stanford Coach (pick your favorite) who kept telling his team about the importance of “Trust.” You’ve got to trust your teammates, trust your linemen, trust your defense trust your quarterback…. Until one player piped up and said, “Coach. You don’t have to tell us about the importance of Trust. We all have one.”

The best joke was Sarlatte’s at the Men’s luncheon (Which I missed for the first time in decades--due to a funeral)—in which he referred to Oakland Raiders receivers touching fewer balls than Ellen DeGeneres. Shigga-boom!!

Third best was my Stanford friend’s line, “When SC’s band played ‘March on to Vicotry’ I always thought they were holding up two fingers in the V for victory sign. Now I realize they were yelling “Go for Two.”

Saturday was nice, but how great was Sunday, with a fire blazing and the TIVO playing back a glorious Bear Victory? (For atmosphere, I like to clog up the toilet and flood the floor to get that real "College Stadium" experience). The Goobs doesn't appreciate it.

We left St. Helena on Saturday around 10am, trading in the orange, red, yellow, and purple vines for the brown and green of Stanford Eucalypti. We met the boys in lot 7 around noon, knowing that Andy’s M.O.A.T (Mother of all tailgates) was at the South end of the stadium. Still, there was plenty of time to sample wares and walk around the carnival like grounds.

Stanford at Big Game. So much booze. So few restrooms. (Of course, Memorial stadium is worse. Why we don’t rent some “executive porta potties—you know like you see at Golf tourneys and wine auctions—for our women is beyond me. It ain’t too bad for guys).

Everyone was lamenting that Best wouldn’t be playing. (One should never joke about head injuries, but if he can’t run for daylight the NFL, at least he can run for Congress).

The talk amongst us was about “tumbling.” Remember how we all had it in the 7th grade. We were taught how to fall—how to do summersaults—both forward and backward. Now no one can have an appropriate answer for landing on hard turf from 8 feet up, but when he dislocated his elbow, it did appeare that that didn’t have to take place. That he “fell” stiffly. The “Dog” suggested that maybe, as a track man and city lad, maybe Best hadn’t been playing tackle football with no pads all during grammar school the way we had. The question was, do many of these kids today know how to “fall” the way we were taught?

I mentioned it to Muncie and he agreed, adding this interesting sidelight. He said Jerry West had asked him if he had problem with his knees. Muncie said no. He’s from Pennsylvania and West is from Cheylan, West Virginia. “We walked and road bikes,” said Muncie. “We never rode in cars, like California kids. Our knees and legs got fully developed because we used them all the time.”

Hey. Makes sense to me. Some orthopedic surgeon ought to do a study.

Anyway, maybe it’s simply that guys are bigger and faster and stronger. But I like outside of the box theories. No doubt there are more out there.

For laughs, I’d like to see them go back to the single bar face mask. Today’s facemask is used as a weapon. Without that protection, tacklers would be forced to tackle the old fashioned way—with shoulders—around the thighs, instead of spearing into the chest.

Should hurdling be outlawed? Ned mentioned that in rugby you can’t leave your feet to tackle. It’s a penalty.

The one which is probably stupid, but worthy of thought is going back to some form of leather helmets.

Lastly, wouldn’t a rule change, which forced players to go both ways make the most sense. Do that, and all those 300 pounders would disappear in a nano second—reducing the number of injuries which are due to sheer mass falling via gravity on bones, tendons and ligaments.

But I digress.

The one bright spot which we thought might occur with Best out of there, would have been that Tedford would let Vareen carry the ball 20 to 25 times. (He carried 42 times for 193 yards). For whatever reason, (maybe because they are worried about his fragility) Cal has not let Best carry the ball 20 times a game. It has always been a mystery.

We’ve heard all the talk about a problematic O line (how could that be with 3 returnees from last year’s outstanding line), and 8 in the box etc.

The 8 in the box bit was inadvertently refuted by Dave Bush’s great article about Wiedeman still holding the Cal record with 16 interceptions. “Weed” played safety in a three deep—the way we played back then.

Ray Willsey ran a 6-2 defense. Six linemen, two linebackers and three deep. You could get away with that in college as teams didn’t throw like they do today. Of course, that meant EIGHT MEN IN THE BOX. Yet, teams still ran. How did they do that?

Anyway, back to the game. Stanford went up 14 zip before we knew what was happening. Our only hope was that Gearhart’s long run was a fluke and that often when teams go up in a hurry, the better team has a long time to come back.

We still didn’t light it up. 5 dropped passes in the first half didn’t help.
But despite Gearhart’s 61 yard TD dash, the D was playing well. With the score 14 to 3 and the Indians marching for their third score, Osuwu (fast down the field, slow through airport security lines) dropped a crucial third down pass for a first. That play turned the entire game, from a potential route, to keeping the Bears in it.
The stats tell the storey—well most of it. We held the ball for over 39 minutes. Why? Because Riley threw clutch passes and no interceptions (the lone pick was a tip off Vareen’s hand—stopping a drive at the Indians 9 yard line). And because WE RAN THE BALL—despite 8 MEN IN THE BOX!

BTW. Just to rub it in, back in the day one was never allowed to reach up with one hand to catch a pass. The law was, leave your feet and go for it with two hands. Why? Because you ain’t gonna catch it with one hand, and the best you can do is tip it—keeping it in the air so who can catch it? The D!!

Of course, receivers like Moss and Owens are so much bigger than in our day, and the ball is smaller, so one handed catches are being made—and are very in vogue, thanks to ESPN—but the down side was pointed out in the Big Game with that pick when we were down in scoring position. Tip the ball up in the air, and 10 times out of 9 (I’m a member of DAM—Mothers against Dyslexia) the wrong guy is going to catch it.

At the end of the game, both Tedford and Harbaugh made controversial calls—Harbaugh’s two calls were the more egregious.

First, Harbaugh went for it with 4th and 8, (despite having all three timeouts) and gave us the ball with 3:28 to go at the Indians 23.

After a first down, Tedford eschewed going for the touch from the Indians 11, and opted to have Riley take a knee in the middle of the field, giving D’Amato a chip shot field goal which went through with 2:42 remaining. Yes, he made Stanford have to score a touch (it was now 34-28) but had we tried to score, and turned the ball over on a fumble or interception, the Indians still would have had to have marched to our 35 (a minim 55 yards), in 2:42—in order to tie it with a field goal.

As it turned out, after the kick off return (following the field goal), Stanford took over on their own 42, meaning they had to go 58 yards to score a touchdown in 2:39. So, with hindsight, it was a toss-up. Stanford had to go the same distance in the same amount of time in order to change the outcome.

When one measures the risk reward of having gone for a score rather than a field goal—in retrospect—wouldn’t the better call would have been going for the score?
Cal’s D line pressured Luck on two successive plays, but he escaped and ran for 11 then 4 yards. They forced him out of the pocket on the third play, but he dumped it off to Gearhart (who was all alone) for his only reception of the day. Gearhart put on a one man show and carried tacklers (his private version of no child left behind) down to our 13.

With plenty of time to run Gearhart, Harbaugh kept the ball in Luck’s hand instead—called a pass which was picked off by Mohamed and Cal took a knee three times to end the game on their own 5 yard line.

Harbaugh is a great coach. He may not like the winters in South Bend, but if he goes he will do better than Weis.

But he made the classic “great coach” mistake at the end of the game. One, he put the game in the hand of a redshirt freshman, instead of relying on his horse. And two: (on the same lines) he opted for a “great play”—opted for out-thinking or out scheming his opponent—instead of putting the game on the shoulders of his best player. Gearhart should have been touching that ball in the closing drive.

We see a lot of that—coaches getting too smart. I think of all the classic “Non-genius” coaches, Woody Hayes, Bear Bryant, Webb Ewebank. They just gave the ball to their best athletes and let them win it. How they did it—they didn’t really care.

The geniuses “out-scheme” the opposition. Walsh made it work—but he also made sure his schemes revolved around Jerry Rice and Joe Montana.

Well it was as great day--turned night. As we froze in the Eucalyptus grove after the game and long into the night, not one of us noticed the temperature. Wins warm like no blazing fire ever can.

Wishing for a speedy recovery for Jahvid.
Happy Thanksgiving and
Go Bears,
Jeffrey Earl Warren, ‘70

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

"GIVE 'EM THE AXE THE AXE, THE AXE...

....."Give 'em the axe where? Right in the neck, the neck, the neck. Right in the neck. Right in the neck, Who?"

We all know who. The Stanford Indians--that's who! This famous college football yell is not politically correct, today. No doubt it's a bit too violent for today's tender-eared youth.

We know the name Indians is frowned upon by the PC crowd--which makes us want to use it even more—-but that’s another column.

Saturday is the Big Game. And each year a column with this title appears. Like the Game, itself, it's tradition.

Outsiders think we are so arrogant. No one in the country understands how two accademic institutions can refer to their contest as “The Big Game.”

Folks assume that for a game to be “Big” something has to be on the line-- the Conference Championship; the Rose Bowl; or the holiest of holies--The BCS (whatever that means) Championship. (Tecnically the Rose Bowl is on the line, an entire string theory of wins and losses in other games have to take place, so folks are probably kidding themselves).

That the BCS or somesuch thing has to be on the line is to miss the essence of college football. Despite the bad press, scandals and under the table activities we read about, first and foremost, college football is about student-athletes competing against one another.

Sure, there are some thugs. And, yes some kids are just passing through on the way to the pros. But for the vast majority of seniors, this is the last football game they will ever play.

So the combination of adrenaline, coupled with the "Ya ain't got nothing to lose" mentality inherent in one's final game, make for some extraordinary moments in sport.

We're not talking about a rivalry where each year Heisman Trophy Candidates rise up to accomplish Herculean feats.

No, from Hart and Patton stopping Skip Face short of the goal line on the last play, and sending the Bears to the Rose Bowl fifty years ago, 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.

It's what makes it great. Is there any finer expression of athleticism than what was once referred to as "The Old College Try?” The Big Game is nothing, if not a show case for "The Old College Try."

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.” It does not rely upon superior genes or talent. It is a state of mind--dependent solely upon the depth of one's character and the size of one's 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--Old Blues.

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 will not re-surface until Sunday. My days and nights will be filled with other rummies like myself.

There are dozens of reunions throughout the City. Wherever one gathers, it is the best one of the week. For us, The Mother of them all is the Friday Men's lunch. It was started over 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 parents wanted their kids to come to Cal back then. We were considered a bunch of Commie, Pinko, Weirdoes. It’s a wonder football survived.

Franze defined the lunch with this classic line: "No invitations. That means no jerks. Just good guys inviting good guys".

We gather to re-tell the same old, stories--laugh way too loud--and return to the halcyon days of yore 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). At least we gave it "The Old College Try."

Ours is a friendship held together over the years--not through our triumphs, but through 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 were.

Had we been suave. Had we been cool. Had we succeeded each time--in class--on the field--with the co-eds-- we'd have little to talk about. And nothing to laugh about.

When the sentence begins with "How 'bout the time......." you can be assured it has nothing to do with a 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. The world would never approve of our past shenanigans. It certainly wouldn't approve of the way we laugh about them now. We’d never pass Obama’s background checks.

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 moments 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. GO BEARS. GIVE' EM THE AXE1

Friday, October 23, 2009

ON A CLEAR DAY, U C L A

We were hot. 35 points and 377 yards—and that was just in the first half! But hot was the Rose Bowl. Over 100 degrees—oddly no smog to protect us from the sun. Goobs had to buy a Bruin Hat (Gold with a Blue “B”) just to avoid heat stroke. Talking about heat stroke, hot was in the bar at the Newport Fairmont where we checked in. There were two distinguished distaffs with long blond hair, a plentitude of pulchritude, short midriff’s, tiny waists and tall, tall heels (but who was looking).

“They must be hookers,” my wife said. Then she pointed to three beautiful Asian women seated at a table with a couple of Pelican Island frat boys, totally “too-ed”, with motorcycle helmets at the ready. We assumed a porn flick was in the making.

We’re from a small town so we don’t get to see big city sin too often. We were agog. We haven’t experienced many women who refer to Pamela Anderson as “Twiggy.”

Of course, when we met Linda and the gang to watch the sun set over Catalina Island, at the Beach Comber, our favorite hidden restaurant-–Linda set us straight, “Jeff. They weren't hookers. This is O.C. (Orange County). Those are O.C. girls. That’s the look.”

Talk about being a country bumpkin.

Barbarella Babes. What could be better? We need to get out more often. I felt like it was the 1920’s and we assumed that if a woman wore lipstick or smoked she must be a woman of questionable morals—but I digress. Duh!

Our group boarded the bus at 8:30 for the trip to the Rose Bowl. How we wished the date were different.

Driver kept conning his way past cops and parking attendants until we got to the North West side of the Golf course, where Delapp had a tailgate in “lot” 6.
The heat was already doing us in. Would it affect the Bears?

We started on the 20 after the kick went out of the end zone. No comment. Still, my favorite author said boldly, “It will be 52-14.” Fans in the stands were unimpressed.

Best carried for three. Riley threw incomplete—then complete for a first. Vareen picked up 13. Riley completed a six yarder and Vereen ripped off a 42 yarder for the first score of the game.

It was to be like that most of the day (I was reminded of my favorite writer’s comment after the SC game):

“Someone has to say it. The Bears go 10 and 2 and we’re still angry.”

Both teams then traded series until UCLA was drving at the end of the first quarter. With a first at our 33, it looked like they might tie the game when Kevin Prince fumble while being sacked by Guytun. D.J. Holt picked it up and rambled 16 yards to the UCLA 43.

On first down Riley showed his stuff by tossing a 43 yard TD to Martin. Now that's how top 10 teams attack.

It seemed we were in control.

Alas, they still have that rule that after a score you have to kick off. Not good news for the Bears. UCLA returned it 50 yards for a first and 10 on our 39. In 4 plays UCLA brought it to 14-7.

Unwilling to play fair, after their TD, UCLA again kicked it out of the endzone, so we had to start on our own 20—once again.

We start a mini drive, but Anger finally gets off a 51 yarder and the quarter ends 14 to 7.

UCLA can’t do much better and punts. Vareen calls for a fair catch at the 6 (Is Thompson hurt?) Used to be the law that anything inside the 10 one let go, hoping for the touchback, and avoiding a fumble—-but Vareen hasn’t been returning so who’s to criticize.

He is the ultimate—complete football player. He can throw, run, field punts, block—he can do it all and did this game. He actually out statted Best 158 yards to 102 (they claim he lost 32 yards in the second half--we didn't see it).

The Bears put together an impressive march. Best lost three, then gained 22. He picked up 1 more—Vareen got six, then Riley picked up a first with a 17 yard scamper.
Then (from under center, as UCLA tried to stack up against the run), best went in motion and easily turned up field against a linebacker. Riley hit him perfectly in stride for a 51 yard TD.
Bears 21 to 7.

This time, we shut down the kick off return, only to give up a 74 yard touchdown on the first play afterwards, to keep them in it 21 to 14.

We are stalled, but Anger saved our backside us with a 72 yard punt (he averaged 50 for the day).

They pin us in with a punt at the 9. Best loses two. Then it happens. ESPN gets its highlight as Best makes one of the finest 92 yard runs you’ll ever see. The capper was that Riley raced down field (as Best was breaking tackles while moving laterally)and laid out the last defender who could have tackled Jahvid. Gotta love a QB like that.

They kicked a field goal and then we put together an 80 yard 7 play drive which was highlighted by a leaping acrobatic 24 yard catch by Marvin Jones in the End Zone. The half ended 35 to 17.

Best didn’t start the 2nd half and we were moaning and bitching, until we saw him emerge from the locker room. Apparently that run had emptied his tank and he was dehydrated.

Vareen was heroic in relief (as mentioned getting a career high) 158 yards on 18 carries.

It seemed UCLA always had the ball in the 2nd half and was always driving. Our D seemed porous, until it counted. 4 times they marched and 4 times they ended up kicking field goals. . Travecchio added one for us.

It was a classical “Bend don’t Break” D. As Ray Willsey used to say, “Football is played INSIDE the 20’s. The rest of the field is for the statisticians.” We gave ground, but held the line when it counted. Now that’s the mark of a good D.

Their QB, Kevin Prince, was outstanding. Sid’Quan was not playing (Bruised back or possible hip pointer?) and #15,Bryant Nnabuife played well enough to get all of our attention. “Who’s that?” Went the cry in the stands.

Still it was 38-26, when #26 Logan Paulson split the seems and was wide open for a touch. We stood up and screamed “Pick him up.” Prince tossed the sure TD. Did it stick in his fingers? The ball was short and Kendrick reached up and picked it up and returned it 68 yards for the back breaker. We were to learn later that Cal had only 10 men on the field for two plays in a row—hence the wide open tight end. But who’s counting?

On the two day bus ride back to the hotel (how do they live in that traffic down there?) the Goobs had the line of the weekend. Linda, referring to an odd hands to the face penalty called on Tyson Alualu, said, “What’s that funny penealty where they are called for using their hands like this?”

My wife, whom we all assumed was sound asleep in the front, uttered from closed eyes, “That would be fluffing the kicker.”

Suddenly we were back to the gals in the Bar.

Back to a Cal Fan’s Notes where my favorite author wrote after SC:

“So if you like Cal football, the rest of the season could be really thrilling. We’re looking at 5 and two easily and a possible 7 love run the rest of the way. What could be bad about that?”

He’s been wrong so many times before, but the first hurdle has been surmounted. With luck WSU Cougars (if we can’t beat team named after old gals who prey on young men in bars—is there a theme here--we’re in trouble), go down and then it’s five more games where we will never be more 7 point underdogs—-and could be favored in each--unless we pull the classic el foldo.

Don’t bet on it.

Go Bears,
Jeffrey Earl Warren ‘70
www.jeffwarren.com

Thursday, October 08, 2009

A CAL FAN’S NOTES USC

Bear Fans,

My wrists had just scabbed over when I got home late Saturday night and attempted the old Sylvia Plath two-step with the oven. Alas, being in Real Estate, we are broke and haven’t paid the gas bill in months so putting my head in the oven was as brilliant as trying to put it where my wife keeps telling me it is.

Ergo: like some of you I’ve had to live with the pain of our most recent Saturday Night Massacre.

Friends have been emailing me for an opinion and comments. They want answers. They have thoughts. So do I, but since this is a family medium I can’t print them.

Someone has to say it. The Bears go 10 and 2 and we’re still angry.

No. We’re not going to date the Centerfold. But the other girls in the back pages are hardly chopped liver.

Now that you know that Marajuana is clearly legal up here, let’s look at the bright side:

We do have a lot of athletes, and judging by what the rest of the teams on our schedule have done against the competition they’ve played, we have an outstanding chance to win each and every game—assuming we don’t go in the tank like the Desean-Marshawn group did a couple of years back.

Football can once again be fun for us fans. We no longer have to look at polls and watch useless games like Boise State vs. Sarah Lawrence in the hopes that Sarah upsets them and knocks them out of contention—that we might move up a notch or two.
We don’t have to hope that Tebow misses a game so Jahvid can move up in the Heisman rankings (I hate rooting against anybody!)

We don’t have to fret about Mac Brown and the pollsters jobbing us at the end of the year and robbing us of the Holy Grail.

For the rest of the year (barring a total collapse) the point spread will be within a touchdown of everyone we play. And we’ll win way more than we lose.
Now that the pressure’s off, finally we may win in Pasadena—just not in the game we want to be in.

We won’t be blasé about scoring over 50 points against Washington State.
We’ll point out that we beat the Huskies—and they beat SC.
We’re liable to sweep the Arizona schools.

Big Game will really be big. Hopefully, Stanford wins a bunch and then we crush them and wreck their entire season.

Why might this take place? Let’s look at some facts.

Jahvid Best isn’t any worse today than he was when the season started. (Though his toe may be giving him more problems than they are letting on). As marketing is king, he won’t get the Heisman but he’s clearly Heisman caliber. He does have to get the ball—however.

One of the most depressing stats was that in three years against SC, he’s carried 30 times for 90 yards. If it read 60 times for 180 yards—the three yard average would be the same but it wouldn’t hurt so. For it would have meant that he carried the ball 20 times a game.

I don’t think anyone beats SC with their best athlete carrying the ball 10 times each time they play.

The D played well against SC.

The O line did not protect as well as it should—or can. I think they will still be a great unit—especially if we run more.

But we can still be a very good team. And coming in tied for 2nd in the Pac 10 might be a lot of fun.

Today, we just aren’t a top 10 team—though some of us dreamers thought we would be.
Why aren’t we a top 10 team?

It’s foolish to point fingers at coaches or kids. There are just some things which top 10 teams do that other teams don’t. It’s that simple.

Top 10 teams do not miss field goals—and it takes a whole team to miss one.

Top ten teams take care of special teams—and don’t allow punt returns for scores.

Top ten teams kick off into the end zone.

Top ten teams don’t leave 7 seconds on the clock at the end of the half when they are trailing and in the red zone.

To 10 teams don’t go two weeks without a touch.

Top 10 teams play to their strength. They either run or pass--depending upon whether they have a Colt McCoy or Toby Gherhart (Interestingly, this year’s top 10ers pass more than run).

Top 10 teams hit.

Top 10 teams don’t give up sacks.

Top 10 teams don’t miss opportunities (we tried a playground trick play—which was very cool. Vareen pretended to run off the field, and just like we did as kids, stood on the sideline without leaving the field. He ran down—no one was anywhere near him—and the pass was over thrown. To be a top 10 team, we just have to make gimme plays like that. They don’t come around that often.

Top 10 teams go right at you on 4th and short or third and short and dare you to stop them.

Top 10 teams don’t beat a team like Miami in a bowl game, bring back more starters than they do, and then fall off the face of the earth while Miami plays tough teams and moves up to number 11.

Top 10 teams belong in the top 10 and act like it. They have a swagger. They know they are going to put a hit on the opposition, and they keep the pressure on them all game long until they break. Somehow we tend to let teams up off the mat and don’t pound them the way we might. No one is afraid of us.

Top 10 teams take risks and play with audacity. Pete Caroll went for it on 4th down four times!! He treats us with disdain.

Like you, I hate SC. We are so close to playing with them—(our D actually did)—yet we just don’t quite yet have it—in all phases of the game. Or we didn’t that day.
So if you like Cal football, the rest of the season could be really thrilling. We’re looking at 5 and two easily and a possible 7 love run the rest of the way. What could be bad about that?

I know. We were hoping for 12 and 0. That’s because we’re Bear fans and have no sense of reality.

10 and 2! Even worst case--8 and 4. For years we were praying for seasons like these. What have we become?

We're now our worst enemy. We actually think that foldout likes us and will dump Sean Connery and walk out on our arm.

Or not!!

Go Bears,
Jeffrey Earl Warren ‘70

Thursday, October 01, 2009

A CAL FAN'S NOTES/OREGON 2009

Bear Fans,

Several of you have written to ask what happened to a A Cal Fan’s Notes this week. I apologize for being late but my wrists have just heeled. Also I have casts on both feet for having attempted suicide by jumping out of my basement window.

If you think sharing a bed with Hillary Clinton is tough, how would you like to be a Cal fan? Or worse yet—-share a bed with Bill Clinton. But I digress.

We Cal fans are an interesting subspecies. Or maybe we are just stupid. Could it be the residual effects of the drug infested 60’s? I can’t remember. Could it be masochism? “Beat me!” said the masochist. “No I won’t,” replied the Sadist.

We just can’t seem to win for losing or lose for winning—-I can’t remember that either.

We go from 6th to 24th? Every other top 10 team which loses drops 10 to 12 spots. Bears can’t even get a break from the pollsters (that’s hardly news—see Mac Brown). But of course, I’m just whining and deflecting attention from the real issue. I may have a future as Speaker of the House.

Everyone is in shock. Everyone wants an explanation. Everyone wants to point fingers. Before you blame it on the coaches, have you ever been the parent of a teenager--or a 20 year old. But more on that later


What happened? Sure, Cal’s offense looked deader than the Public Option. But rather than talk specifics for a moment, let’s look at some ancillary incidents which probably had nothing to do with the game—or may have had everything to do with it.

One of the finest young men ever to don a Cal Uni, Jahvid Best mysteriously admitted to a reporter that he didn’t like playing in Autzen Stadium. He said something about being able to “hear the fans.” Rabbit ears we call it. Rabbit ears not only affects one’s ability to concentrate on the task at hand (hard to remember your assignment when you’re listening to someone compare your Mother to Dumpster Muffin), admitting it in public only encourages more of it—at higher decibels. Not a deciding factor—but not neat, either.

Our spies also tell us that young Kevin Riley (who had performed heroically in the first three games) also has grave misgivings about playing up there. Apparently, he doesn’t like it because he’s from the area and his friends think he’s a “traitor.”

Still, not definitive, but that attitude could cause one to press more than normal.
Speaking of those “in the know” (when you get to be our age “inside info” is thecoin of the realm—though no one we know knows nada—still, we always talk in whispers and in that conspiratorial tone like we’ve got the inside dope). It usually comes from one of the trainer’s son’s wife’s hair dresser.

The word was out even before the season that Oregon had nothing. We had heard, even before the loss to Boise State that they were "terrible"—that we would kill them.
If anyone had thought that and it permeated down to the kids on the team—that couldn’t be good.

Also, call it adrenalin, neuro-transmitters, dopamine or serotonin—when one has an adrenalin rush and it’s over—for whatever reason—the legs just won’t work. We saw it in Tennessee. On the opening kick off Tight end Craig Stevenson, the biggest, baddest, toughest kid on the team, got his bell rung on the opening kick off and staggered off the field like me leaving Stoney’s tailgate late at night.

With his loss, the entire team deflated like a whoopee cushion on Charles Barkley’s couch.

Unlike other sports, because football is so physical, you can just “see” it when a team has lost its fight and doesn’t “hit.”—especially the D. There was a lot of pushing and shoving and zero leather smacking sticking (am I dating myself?).

Conversely, what makes the Big Game so exciting is that even with average athletes, the adrenalin rush is so great (it being the last game of many kid’s careers) that bodies seem to fly through the air and smash into one another with reckless abandon.
Of course the Ducks were the perfect “trap game.” Who wouldn’t look past an inferior foe towards the big battle in Strawberry Canyon against SC?

They were in disarray (suspending Blount after his Ali imitation), with a new coach, and a qb who couldn’t find the handle. But they were never without talent.

I think it’s wrong to blame Tedford. He’s our guy. We’ve go to back him and not chase him away just because some things don’t go our way. We need to mature as fans and realize that every team has days like Saturday. (Can anyone spell SC?)

But being fans—-I guess we are entitled to kibitz a bit and ask questions. It’s what makes it fun—and gets us through until the next week.

The game started out great. D’amato kicked down to the nine and Sofeli and Moncrease collided and forced a fumble—Sofeli got his bell rung.

We started on the 22. A pass was called, protection broke down as Riley was hit from behind. We lost 8. Two more incompletes and a field goal puts us up 3 zip.
After the kick off they go three and out—punt and we take over on our 41. Great field position. (And here, for this amature, is where the game turned. Best carries three times. He gains 6. Then 5 for a first. Then 4 for a 2nd an 6 and then….

And that was it. Two incompletes and we punt (a touchback) from the 44.
Best was to touch the ball only 13 times after that.

I know. I bang that drum to death.

“They had 8 men in the box. They shut him down,” they tell me.

No. When we next get the ball we throw on first, then throw again. Make a first. Throw on first and eventually punt. We never gave them the chance to shut Best down.

(And it does no good to tell some of us about too many men in the box. That’s how we grew up. On rainy, wet, muddy fields where throwing was an impossibility. You had to run—they knew it and stuck everybody up there and somehow someway one side won—ususally by just wearing down the other side. And yes. Both teams had too many men “in the box.”

However, it is fair to question the depth of the pass paterns--or at least the way the receivers ran them. Rarely did Riley throw (complete or not) to a spot where there was a one on one match up. On TV, it appeared that there were almost always more Ducks than Bears near the ball--as opposed to the two great throws and catches we saw last week where receivers were wide open.

Also, when it comes to imagination--how 'bout that first drive last week against Minnesota? That was poetry.

The next time Best carries he picks up 5 (but there’s a penalty). Then he carries for 11. Then he loses 4 but Vareen picks up 5. A penalty gives us a first so we-------pass. And a P.I. penalty in the end zone gives us a first at the 14—no. It is offset by a lose-your-cool taunting penalty by Tucker, so it’s still first at the 29.

Vareen loses two. Best gets one. An incomplete pass and then a missed field goal.
Is there a pattern emerging here?

Best starts out 5 carries for 31 yards. He then loses 4, Vareen gains 5, --then Vareen loses two and Bests gets 1. So the two of them go 4 for -2.
So we are 9 for 27 and best is 7 for 28. What am I missing here? This is not a shut down of the run.

Best then loses two and fumbles the exchange with Riley.

Next time he touches the ball he gains 10.

Next time he touches the ball he gains two. Then loses one. Then gains 9. (These were not consecutive).

The point? It is conceivable that we could have run against these guys. Trouble is once we throw on first down—if it is incomplete or a sack, we never run on 2nd down—ever. Walsh often did—knowing that the D was looking for the pass. He’d then have a 3rd and 3 or 4 as opposed to a 3rd and 10 or 15.

You saw the Oregon quotes. “We knew what they were doing on every play.”
On the other side of the Ball, Oregon did what we’ve (those of us at the top of CC & D) have always wondered about. They threw (maybe 10 times) to one of three recievers split to the side. Our DB lines up on the outside guy. The inside slot is left open. A linebacker is near the tight end or other inside wide receiver. And the safety is 15 to 18 yards from the first inside guy. We have always asked ourselves, “Why don’t they just run a five yard out?” Well they did better than that. They had the QB run like an option, then pass it to the outside guy. Then they hit the inside guy at the line. Then they ran a perfect feint and hit the tight end in the corner for a TD.

They milked that formation like no one ever has (I might add that the Bears are not the only team that often leaves the slot back uncovered for 15 yards). We’ve always wondered how teams get away with it--and never—never in all the games we’ve seen have we seen a team exploit it the way the Ducks did.

Last comment. Every day in practice we run the two minute drill. We practice it. We were down, 25 to 3 on our own 20 with 56 seconds. First play we were sacked. Fair enough. Is that reason to run away from the two minute offense? I know. We couldn’t afford an interception and a 32 to 3 halftime score, but I’m sorry. Best ran for 9 and then we took a time out with 12 seconds. Not great clock management. Worse: It looked like we’d given up.

Best did have a fumbled exchange with Riley. He lost yardage on three carries. But the rest of the time it was not only positive—he also cranked out gains of 6, 5, 4,5,9, 11, 10 and 9 yards. It’s not just about average yards per carry. That means that on at least 8 occasions he gave us a first down or put us in a short yardage situation—thereby giving us plenty of options and a decided advantage over the defense.

Ok. Nuff said.

Regardless of decisions on the field, 19 and 20 year olds are mercurial. Their hormones and insides are raging. You just never know where they are or what they are thinking. That’s what makes coaching so challenging. Each coach knows the x’s and o’s. But which coaches can get their teams up to play in every game week in and week out? That’s why I hate the Mountain West Teams like Boise and Utah, get any credit. Yes, they can win a big game here and there, but can they do it each and every week?

Tedford does a better job of this than most. We have to back him. He’s our guy and he’s brought us a long way. But from afar, I just wish that he would wear Best out one of these days. Run him till he can’t run anymore. He might be pleasantly surprised.

We can still win out. We can still beat SC. We can still go to the Rose Bowl. The 49ers may still call and ask me to play for them. My wife can still give up credit cards. Ok. Maybe I’m asking for a miracle. Still, it is unlikely that we will settle for 8 and 4, though it is possible. Hey, with kids—anything is.

Anyway, loving the Bears drives one to drink. I for one am swearing off alcohol. I just read that LSD is back in vogue and I think that’s the direction I’m headed in. Another afternoon like Saturday and I’ll be one of the grateful dead, anyway. Cue up the theme from M*A*S*H: "Suicide is Painless"

Go Bears,
Jeffrey Earl Warren ‘70
www.Jeffwarren.com/

Monday, September 21, 2009

A CAL FAN’S NOTES/MINNESOTA

It was a perfect day. The Am Trac Express had only been two hours late leaving the Emeryville station. We were just past Promontory point on the way to the Bears Gophers game. The sun was setting. The rhythmic sway of the metal wheels on iron tracks had put my wife in a honeymoon mood. She was showering in our Cabin. The Champagne was chilling in the plastic ice bucket.

Suddenly my iphone rang. It was Coach Tedford. He and the team were already in Minneapolis. “You were right about last year,” he said. “Leaving late for Maryland was a mistake. It was worth it to get here two days early. The kids’ legs are rested and everyone is more relaxed—more focused. We aren’t so rushed.”

“And you’re right about marketing Best more. He’ll get the carries inside the 10 in the first half. To be a Heisman candidate, he deserves some of those easy TD’s. “

“Thanks. That was no big deal. You have so much more to worry about.”

“But I depend upon guys like you—guys schooled in the 60’s to help me coach today’s game. You just know so much more about football than we do."

The water from the shower went silent. Cindy was toweling off.

“It’s not that,” I stuttered. “It’s….

“No. From the top row of CC you can just see more of the field than I can down on the sidelines—encumbered by that head set and all. I’m gonna tell Syd Quan to hit harder—stop diving at those ankles. I’ve learned from Tennessee and won’t try to have our guys audible on every play with all that noise. We’ll just call it in the huddle, go out and run it—come what may. We’re gonna run more than two plays in a row—regardless of yardage. You were right.”

At that moment, Cindy came out of the shower wearing nothing but…….BEEEP. BEEEEEEEEEP. BEEEEEEEEEEEEEP.

That rude alarm squeaked it’s high pitched wail and woke me up. It was 7am, Saturday before the 9am kick off. I wasn’t on the train after all. I was home, in bed in St. Helena.

Somehow, I’m not sure parts of that dream will ever become reality. Damn!
Well. It is game day. No sense to pout. Time to get up and go out to the Explorer in the back yard, open up the tailgate and start downing the brewski’s from the cooler I’d iced down the night before.

Petee, Linda, and the crew would be doing it back there on the Gopher Campus, and in a fit of solidarity, it was my job to show support by tailgating before kickoff—even it if it was in my own backyard basketball court and the neighbor’s rooster was still crowing. (On the subject of real time, game lik, simulation my wife drew the line at me stuffing towels in the toilet that it might overflow leaving an inch of water on the floor to simulate the men's head at the North end of Memorial Stadium).

Gophers won the toss and deferred. The first drive was Tedford and Ludwig serving up their best Michelanglo/Da Vinci Combo platter.

We started on our 20 after the touchback (whatever that is—apparently, that’s what happens after a kicker reaches the endzone with a kick off. (Who knew?).

(I’m not going to bore you with play-by-play, but this sequence is worth noting).


Vareen, starting for Best, went in motion, received a backward pass from Riley. He stood up to throw the double pass, but was thwarted. No prob. He took off up field and knocked off 15 for a first.

Next play was an end around to Isi Sofeli (genuine freshman with feet faster than a Psi U retreating down the fire escape of a sorority house when chased by a broom wielding house mother). Don’t ask where THAT visual came from.

Best then carried three times in a row (honest injun’) for a first—also a first this season. Riley threw to Ross for 7. Riley then ran a qb draw from the spread before giving to Ross on an end around. It was all magical-- mixed up and beautiful. There wasn’t a predictable call in the bunch.


Then that kid Best touched the ball and ran 33 yards where he was about to be pushed out at the one. Alas, he lept in the air and Fosburry flopped into the endzone for an ESPN top 10 play of the week TD.

Five different ball carriers on an opening drive. Now that’s imagination—the stuff Bowl Committees look for (besides coaches with southern accents).

Unfortunately, not only was our kick off a bit short, Minnesota ran a reverse and Cal’s two outside cover guys on the right side, pulled a three stooges collision and Hayo returned to the Cal 47. In fact, at the end of the first half, the Gophers had 6 possessions. Average starting point? Their own 47. Cal’s D played the entire first half on a 50 yard field! More credit to them.


Their first play was a Hook and Ladder—another razzle-dazzle after the reverse on the kick off. Let’s see. 11 plays, one attempted double pass; a QB draw; two end arounds: (or is it ends around?) a reverse; and a hook and ladder. This is why College football has stolen my heart from the pros. Great fun, no matter how you slice it.


The D forces a three and out. Best reals off 25. Riley goes up top to Tucker for 59 and he’s stopped at the two. Best takes it in. Yes. This is the
way God meant it to be. And people mock me for putting on the right colored boxers.
Kick off goes to the 16, and is returned to the 38 (better than their average spot of the first half). D. holds again. Three plays—minus ten yards. They punt.

We go three and out.

They start again at their 46. They drive. Alualu gets a sack. Quarter ends 14 love.

They score to make it 14 to 7 but we are dominating.

After the kick off we go 11 plays (Riley gets sacked twice) and a field goal is missed, keeping it 14 to 7.

Next drive Riley and Best trade off (with one Vareen carry for 3 yards) until best scampers in from 27 yards. A picture perfect drive of 5 runs and 5 passes.

Alas, the kickoff goes out of bounds and Minnessota starts at the 40, only 60 yards away from pay dirt.


They punt and we take over on our 7. We punt short, and after a personal foul penalty, they’ve got a first on our 29.

Cattouse (Ka Toose) (I always thought his name was spelled Cat House)lays out their great receiver, Decker, with one of the hardest hits you’ll ever see. Like a dead man who’s gun has to be pried from his fingers—miraculously--Decker hangs on to the ball—his lips are bleeding and he’s semi-conscious. He came back to hurt us in the 2nd half.

So though we controlled the game we go into the half leading only 21 to 14.

Kick off goes into the endzone for a touch back for the first time this year. Things are looking up as they go three and out.
Then the real weirdness starts.

Best carries for one yard. Then five. Riley comes up a yard short, and we have to punt. That is the last time Best will get a hand off until the 4th quarter. My wife tells me to shut up that I am scaring the dog. But I’m sure the coaches can hear me from the couch.

We punt. They go three and out. An no Best. We go three and out.

They march 77 yards to tie the game 21 all.

Riley throws four time (a holding penalty) and Anger makes the play of the day—a 53 yard punt down to their 2. It’s tied, but they’re deep in a hole. Advantage Cal.

They punt and Best gets his first hand off since the 2nd play of the half with 10:59 left in the game. He loses two.

Then with 3rd and 16 Riley makes his most important play of the season—a 35 yard pass to Ross for the first. He completes one to Curran for a first at the 32.

Then as I am yelling “will you run the damn ball!” at the top of my lungs, Riley hits Ross in the right corner for a first at the two. Best takes it in for the lead—28 to 21.

Riley was outstanding when we really needed it.

When we get the ball back, Best carries three times for nine yards (my wife was wrong—they could hear me), and Riley snuck for two to get a vital first. Miller then makes a spectacular one handed grab for a pick up of 25 to the 8. Best runs for three, takes a short pass for two and runs around right end for the score. Three touches—and another TD. Go figure!

Minnessota gets it back twice, but Hill intercepts one and Mohammad another to snuff out drives.

D line was awesome, especially Alualu. Heavy pressure on them.

Their Decker is a throwback. What an awesome receiver—even threw a TD pass. Speaking of which, in the red zone, twice Hagen (who usually makes some good plays) took his eyes off his man and allowed him to get behind him twice for scores. Very poor technique—whatever the coverage was--which one would assume was man down that close.

Bottom line? They almost took it to us in the third quarter. What separated the third quarter from the other three? Best took only two handoffs. Think about it. Name your back—Jimmy Brown, O.J., Smith, Payton, Sanders, Dickenson, it’s always the same—two yards, 1 yard, three yards, four yards—lose two, lose one—BOOM! 77 YARD TOUCH DOWN!

They need to touch it a lot to get a certain rhythm, and then they break it.
(As John McCay used to say, "of course he can carry it 22 times. It ain't heavy.)


Can’t say enough about Riley’s key plays on the road or the D lines
relentlessness. LB’s same thing. D backs got careless a couple of times.

Sid 'Quan had 7 tackles.

And kicking? Anger’s punt to the two saved our Bacon. Our kickoffs (both depth and coverage) hurt us. It’s why they still call it FOOTball. We need to concentrate on it. As Ray Willsey used to say, over and over and over again: “Stress the kicking game. For their the Breaks are made.”

Great win in a tough environment. Can’t wait for Coach Tedford’s call this week. Or am I dreaming?

Go Bears,
Jeffrey Earl Warren ‘70

Monday, September 14, 2009

A CAL FAN'S NOTES/EASTERN WASHINGTON

Bear Fans,

Presumably we scheduled Eastern Washington because Florida had tied up Troy and Vassar had a field hockey game already scheduled. What's with these flag football contests? I know--everybody does it. But why do we have to be like "Everybody else?" (Did you ever tell your kid that if he is honest, works hard and studies, some day he could grow up to be Mack Brown?)

Back in the Day, the non-conference games were Michigan, Pittsburg, Penn State, Army. Notre Dame, Air Force, Syracuse, Colorado, Texas, Indiana, Rice. Our lone "cupcake" was SJS, and they actually beat us in 1966, my Freshman year.

Eastern Washington is a so-called Division I subdivision school. Nothing wrong with that--per se--but it makes for an unequal playing field. I had enough trouble with Long Division--subdivision is out of my league--and should be out of ours as well.

As was expected, The Bears treated the Eagles like Congressman Duvall treated that lobbyist. They handed out a well deserved stern spanking.

It was a grand day. Woke up to pouring rain (we usually get weather up here in St. Helena about 10 hours before it hits the Bay, traveling south).

It was my kid's 22nd b'day so it was off to the Durant for brunch with a bevy of her beautiful buddies--Mimosas and tales a father doesn't want to hear. Unfortunately, she hangs with kids like we were-ruggers and other athletes--not a good combination. Why can't she fall for some computer nerds and leave the bad boys like we were alone?

(A couple of Ruggers came by and gave me their best Eddie Haskel as we shook hands and they pretended not to leer at the gals). Shouldn't have left my 12 gage in the truck.

What we thought was music to our ears as out of control 20 year old jocks-is somewhat less sonorous to a father's ears. Not only that. Guess who picked up the check? Somewhere God is laughing.

A slight drizzle permeated the tailgate, off and on-but was plenty bearable (pun intended).


Talk was of Oregon and Dennis Erickson at Arizona State being thrilled with the morning headlines that the State of California was going to release 17,000 felons early. What a recruiting bonanza!

The injured tight end, Spencer Ladner (6'7", 253lbs) , is thought by insiders to be a legitimate Sunday player. Unlikely we'll have him for SC.

We won the toss and deferred. Tavechio kicked off to the 5. Three and out and we took over on their 35. Best for 11, Riley to Holley for 21. First at their three. Best gets 2 to the one, then Riley sneaks it over.

What's to complain about? Hey. Look up curmudgeon in the dictionary.

Just because one day I hope to be reincarnated as someone's ex-wife, I wonder why Best didn't get the opportunity to score. He's the horse. For marketing purposes he needs some scores for the Heisman run. Or is that stupid? High marks to Tedford for not having best in the 2nd halves, when we are way up-no sense risking injury or falsely padding stats, but is it wrong to let him get the initial scores-especially when we are down inside the 10? Riley doesn't need a qb sneak for a score to boost his confidence.

(For Comparison, note that Tebow had 4tds against Troy). Is it wrong to let Best get these early scores? Vereen (a real player as well) had three TD's to Best's two. For the season, Vereen has 4 to best's five. Would it be so bad were those numbers 6 to three or 7 to two in Best's favor?

Or is it smart coaching to keep Best humble and spread it around to all the players?
Given what Tedford has done for us over the past 7 years, I one has to defer to the boss, but as a marketeer by trade, I vote for building up the stats in the first half.

Taveccio kicks off to the 9, and exceptional coverage gives them a first on the 17. Alas, they go on an 83 yard, 11 play drive to tie it up. Visions of Appalachian State/Michegan dance in our head.

On first down best rips off 27 yards, but then we go three an out.
The eagles run eight plays before punting. Best goes 75 yards to pay dirt, but (barely) stepped out at the 30. Damn!

We control the ball as the quarter ends 7 to7.

After a 9 yard pick up by Best, Vareen comes in and carries 3 out of 4 plays (one 11 yd. Pass from Riley to Holly and we go up 14 to 7 and the spanking begins to get intense.

After a short drive by the Eagles, at 3rd and one on our 36, EW QB is sacked-fumbles and Kendrick picks it up at mid field and is running for a touchdown, but looks up at the screen (the world's only "Snow White" vision-it's dwarf size) and gets caught from behind at the five.

To o prove I've got my head up my assumptions, Best gets three carries in a row from the 5, and on the third he looks up while receiving a pitchout to the left (can't handle the public option?) and fumbles the ball. We recover, and Freshman D'Amato kicks the field goal to bring it to 17 to 7.

After the kick off, EW (I so want to write EWE) has a 4th and one on their own 38. They go for it and Mike Muhommad defenses the pass and the route is on.
Riley takes off for 13. Best picks up al couple, then goes deep down the left sideline. Unfair. Riley hits him in stride and we are up 24 to 7 with 5:57 left in the first half.

We kick off, and trade punts a couple of times as the half ends. Riley gets sacked for the first time this season (I think).

Vareen returns the 2nd half kick off 37 yards. Best knocks of 20. Vareen picks up 4, then Isi Sofeli zips for 14. (He later runs 22 yards for a TD). Best is Fast. Isi Sofeli is really fast. Of course, "fast" is relative. I wouldn't want to stand behind him in an airport security line.

We walk away with it in the 2nd half, thanks to their second failure at 4th and one among other things, and Vareen, Covan Deboski-Johnson (Can't these parents make up their minds?), and Sofili all shine. Best may be Best, but our depth is the finest ever at running back since Marlin McKeever (or was it Mike?) broke Steve Bates jaw when he was out of bounds (that's a joke for those of you from the Beta House-who are having someone read this to you).

At any rate, Lb Michael Kendricks (besides costing himself a TD by looking up at the TV screen had another monster game, giving him 26 tackles for two games. Our linebackers (last year's are all in the NFL) have not dropped off a bit. The O line still moves people around and opens big holes for all those backs. We won't know until SC, but this may be Tedford's best O line of them all. Fun to watch #22, Kapp's kid Will, come in and stick his head into a defensive end's gut. Live is good.

Anger still punting well. Would be great to get kick offs into the endzone--and that may come back to haunt. Riley looks verrrrrrrrrrrrrry comfortable, and DB 's are scheduled to be the best in the country-but we haven't played anyone-and won't for a while, so who knows.

Still and all, it is a delight to see us win the ones we should. Two road games coming up, Minnesota, and then the trap game-Oregon up there-before SC. But today we are numero Siete in USA and Ocho in AP (Fox News' O'Riely has us as #2 just behind the Pennsylvania Pinheads).

Life is good. The program is on the rise. The stadium is full (58,000), Al Davis DOESN'T own the team, and young men are excelling at what they love most. What can be bad?

Go Bears,
Jeffrey Earl Warren '70

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

A CAL FAN'S NOTES/ THESE ARE NOT YOUR FATHER'S BEARS

These are not your father’s Bears. If you don’t believe it by the number of athletes on the sideline—you should have seen the half time show. A group of students recited a military oath to defend the Constitution. These students were volunteering to enlist in all four services. We’re all so proud of them. They got a standing ovation from 62,000 fans. Definitely not your Father’s Cal Bears.
Can’t stand these 7pm starts—though playing under the lights is awfully sexy. It brings a certain high school excitement to it. (Did I just write that?)

Went to the gym to try to pass the time. Saw replay of Blount’s sucker punch more times than I could count. Ducks let down Pac 10—bad! Then to a yoga class—not my idea—not my area of expertise. Left 30 minutes into it to go watch the Giants. My idea of “Stretch” is Willy McCovey at first.

Tried to watch college games on TV—Ohio State and Navy, Minnessota and Syracuse (at least the Gophers pulled it out meaning the bears will play at least one team with a win this year). Nervous as Elizabeth Taylor in a Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, at 1:30 I jumped behind the wheel and hit the road.

The Goobs had to go to a wedding of a friend. It’s in our Pre-Nup. On Saturdays in the fall, she does the Brides—I do the Bears.

Tailgates lived up to their billing. Great to get back in touch with so many Beers—er, Bears).

Daughter Cody (she graduated in June but is still in school—go figure) came by to mooch some tickets. She was one of the youngest fans I saw. Actually, it was interesting that there were none of the older—grandfathely fans—one is so used to seeing. All I saw were young people like us—and younger ones still. ‘Tiz a puzzlement.

Didn’t see Kapp before the game which was probably just as well. Can you imagine him (off tequila) waiting for his kid, Will’s, first game in Memorial Stadium? I’m sure the ADHD ward was alerted at Cowell. Where is Cowell Hospital these days, anyway? It used to be near where we were tailgating.

An hour before kickoff, head for the cyclone fences that are protecting the hole in the ground which will one day be the Athletic Performance Center, and enter the Stadium.

Burn some incense for Dumpster Muffin, Burlap, and Oak, and then head up to my seats at the top of D. (See Pics)
Tavecchio kicked off to around the five. He was criticized after the game, but it was a pretty stiff wind—which changed directions as the game went on.

Terps went three and out with a couple of penalties.

Best picked up five, then ran an up route and Riley hit him on the money, maybe a step short and it was broken up, but the ball looked nice. In fact, I’m not sure Riley missed any obviously open receivers. It wasn’t one of those games where you shouted “He’s open deep” or “he threw to the wrong man.”

(Four words you always wanted to see in the same paragraph but were afraid wouldn’t—and hope you will see often? “Riley. Four Touchdown passes.”) Riley threw for 298 yards and th0ugh he was 1 for 5 in the first quarter, for the most part he looked calm and composed as he slowly dissected the Terps’ D.

Another change from last year: Receivers made at least 4 outstanding catches—making Riley look even better, as they are supposed to do. Marvin Jones looks like he can really play.

The Terps went three and out and then punted again.

We started at 10.06 left in the first quarter and at 9:54 Best had crossed the goal line from 73 yards away. Anyone who thinks Best takes 12 seconds to go 73 yards better check his Timex.

It was an amazing run, but for the first time in my life I think the free safety actually gained ground on Best and almost stopped him. Pre-game jitters forced me to forget to TIVO the game, so I couldn’t check that out.

Best ran the ball only 10 times for 137 yards. (Of course, his last moment on the field was with 10:03 to go in the third quarter. So he had 178 total yards (23 receiving, 18 on one kickoff) in less than 40 minutes of play.

We greedy fans wanted him back in (HEISMAN, HEISMAN), but protecting him from injury was the right move—and Shane Vereen is a big time player. He got 10 carries for 48 yards.

O line on a roll—244 yards. Dominated after the first drive. Good pass protection.

D? No ints, but some nice “defenses” as they call breaking it up these days.

Five kickers: (two punters one field goaler, and two kicker offers—performed well—though kickoffs didn’t reach end zone.

Best (pun intended) indication that Cal may have what it takes? #30 Linebacker Mychal Hendricks. Not only did he have 12 tackles (7 solos) he bent a couple of Terps backward with some vicious hits. Ultimately, football is a physical game and if we can be known for knocking the snot out of some of these running backs and receivers—folks on the national scene will start taking the bears seriously.

Next week is a flag football contest against Eastern Washington. No sense putting on pads and getting anyone hurt.

We are not the only ones guilty of this, but How ‘bout the BCS says anyone plays a Division III team (don’t give me this Division I Football Championship Subdivision stuff)—if I want Orwellian obfuscation of language, I can turn on Senate Hearings on CSPAN—they automatically forfeit their right to a BCS Bowl Bid? Think that would affect Florida’s or Boise State’s choice of non conference opponents?

Anyway, we are lucky. Who knows how the season will unfold.? But right now we have a LOT of good young players—playing very poised ball (only three unimportant penalties—not bad for a first game).

It’s waaaaaaaaaay to early to say whether Joe Kapp will get to hit that Tequila in the first week of ‘010, but this one could be a fun ride.

(Come to think of it, my father’s Bears went to Three consecutive Rose Bowls—maybe I should re-think this).

Go Bears,
Jeffrey Earl Warren ‘70





Jeffrey Earl Warren
James Warren & Son
1414 Main St.
St. Helena, Ca.
94574
707-963-2748


________________________________________

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

A CAL FAN'S NOTES/GETTING READY FOR MARYLAND

Cal Fans,
I can't stand it. I was hopping not to get sucked in by the hype, but I'm a cheap date. A few free promises of end of year rankings, 10 win seasons, even BCS (whatever that is) Bowls--to say nothing of the Rose Bowl, and I roll over and open my wallet (it could be worse). I can be had--and have been.

The excitement is rising and it's only Monday—now Wednesday. (This working for a living interrupts everything).

You know you're hooked when you can't wait until Thursday night to watch the Oregon/Boise State game. When was the last time you couldn't wait to watch a team called Ducks play on a blue rug?

Why do we care about Oregon? Because we've drunk the Kal Kool Aid. We know that to be nationally ranked we have to beat good teams and we also know that if it's a toss up between Cal and a Mountain West Conference team like Boise State at the end of the season, the jerky writers and coaches will chose the Cowboys (shades of Mack Brown) over Cal any day.

Though their win over Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl was maybe the most "fun" college game ever (hook and Ladder (no it's not hook and lateral-though that's what happens), Statue of Liberty and other assorted craziness no MCW teams belong in the BCS. Their conference, and hence their schedules are just not as demanding as Pac 10, SEC or Big 10 Ball.

And as we face Oregon in the 4th game, we want them undefeated and highly ranked so it looks better when we beat them on our way to going into SC undefeated. That is assuming we don’t pull a Desean Jackson and lay down against Eastern Washington. Remember the pre-Tedford days when we didn’t have to worry about all this craziness?

I can’t help myself. Like you, when the paper comes (ok, the Comical) I read the Green Sheet from cover to cover (both pages) saving the Cal coverage for last. I read it slowly and fawn over every word. You think I would have learned by now.

But how can you not love ‘em? Will Kapp (that’s a name, not a question) is the number two fullback, as an undersized walk on. It’s all the things we love. Kapp’s kid and we’ll be looking for #22 for the first time since the “Dawg Man” (Rick Bennet) wore it back in the 60’s when our school yell went from “Roll on You Bears” to “Ashes to ashes/Dust to dust/We hate to shut it down/But we must we must!”

Dumpster Muffin and Zachery Running Wolf (he of the “So-Sue-Me” tribe) would have loved to have jumped out of their trees to have joined us back in the Day when Cal was the Epicenter of protest. Back then, we knew how to do it right.

Riley is insane—wonderfully so. Jahvid Best is as good as there is in College football, though we fear (paranoid fans that we are) injury will cut his year short. The inexperience (and cast on the hand of Syd’Quan) upon which Tennessee capitalized back there for two td’s, will finally reach fruition, three years later, or we will be an above average team which plays in a minor bowl?

It’s still too hot up here in St. Helena to be fall, but the light is reminiscent of football.

Talked to Stoney about his Tailgate this Saturday. He wanted to start at 6. I said that was only an hour before the 7pm kickoff. “6am, you fool!” He yelled. Not a bad time to start downing brewskies, but we compromised at 3pm. Linda and her group is having an early lunch in order to make Stoney’s tailgate on time.

It will be 10pm Maryland time for their kids when Tavecchio kicks off (or Best receives). When we played last year (after my 4 day train ride) it was 9am our time—and we arrived only a few hours before. So this game may be about legs—and “terroir” as we say in the wine country (or dirt as you say in yours) is in our favor. Bears will score over 40.

Now being a Bear fan (like you) I’m certifiably insane. But this year (unlike the year Ken Jowett appeared at the first tailgate in a blue blazer and tie, proclaiming “This is the year we go to the Rose Bowl”—it was the year before Tedford when we barely won one game—against Rutgers,for God's sake) may possibly, conceivably, perhaps, maybe, be different. Why? N Not Best. Not Riley. Not the returning D line, or perhaps the best O line ever.

If it is different it will be because Tedford has more numbers than ever before. Credit goes to him and the program he built. Perhaps we have more—better—players than we have EVER had on this campus.

Not only are the players better, the practices are better. Think Baseball. Suppose you had only one pitcher who could throw in the 90’s and all the rest threw in the 80’s. Some times the team gets to get batting practice against the 90mph guy. Most time, they’re swinging aginst guys who throw in the 80’s. Alas, all starting pitchers throw in the 90’s. So what happens if all your arms throw in the 90’s during practice? You get the point.

Every practice makes every player better because the talent level is so much bigger and faster and more skilled than ever before.

How far can we go? Who cares. (Us—Duh!) All I know is that if things go according to plan, we will all be watching a bunch of games we care nothing about (Texas Tech vs. Texas) to see what it does to us in the polls.

For Bear fans, it’s a new way to watch the game. In some ways I liked it better when we were just hoping for a close win, a moral victory, or maybe even an actual win.

Time have changed. Can we change with it? I don’t know, but it could be fun trying.

Go Bears,
Jeffrey Earl Warren ‘70

Monday, May 11, 2009

CBS: A TRIBUTE TO LOREN AND COLIN

Click the Underlined Title above. It's as good as it gets when it comes to Fathers and Sons.

Go Bears,
Jeffrey Earl Warren '70

Monday, February 23, 2009

Coaches Dinner

HEY, GUYS! GET THE WORD OUT. IT'S TIME FOR THE ....

4TH ANNUAL COACH'S APPRECIATION DINNER

AT THE COLUMBO CLUB

5321 CLAREMONT, OAKLAND (Near The World Famous ‘Kingfish‘)

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 4TH, COCKTAILS 5:30 DINNER 7:00

SPONSORED BY THE CAL EXTRA POINT CLUB

(previously known as The Football Restricted Fund)

$50 includes Dinner and Open Bar!

Honor the Cal Football Staff and graduating seniors in a relaxed social atmosphere. Hook up with old friends and celebrate another winning season and bowl game victory. Find out how you can join the EXTRA POINT CLUB, and be eligible for exclusive Cal Football events. Help aid Coach Tedford's program-building projects, such as career mentoring for graduating seniors. Plan you trip to the Minnesota game. Rehash old fraternity lies.

$50 per head benefits THE CAL EXTRA POINT CLUB

Please RSVP to Debbie Schram at 510-642-3857 or dschram@berkeley.edu