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