Friday, December 16, 2011

BIG GAME BLUES, TEXAS STYLE


Job (the original, not Steven with an “s”) had it easy compared to us Cal fans.  All he had to put up with was the following:  

( All of Job's possessions) were destroyed; the 500 yoke of oxen and 500 donkeys carried off by Sabeans, the 7000 sheep were burned up by 'The fire of God which fell from the sky,' the 3000 camels were stolen by the Chaldeans and the house of the firstborn collapsed, due to a mighty wind, killing all of Job's offspring.  

That is nothing compared to having to lose to the Stanford State Indians on a rainy night in Palo Alto.  

I was thinking of this while I attended the Occupy Stanford State demonstration last week.  It was meticulously planned by Stanly Gatti, and featured Champagne fountains of exact replicas of “iced foreclosures”.  Thomas Keller from the French Laundry catered the affair, and the Police were called in to apply truffle spray, bathed in garlic butter to break up the protest.

You can look it up on U tube.

Yes.  The Bears played well and we can be proud of all of them.  (See moral victories under “Kissing your sister on the porch—through a screen door”).

However, (As  Coach Wild Bill Dutton used to shout regarding fumbling inside the five yard line)  “Better you had died in childbirth than to fumble (or lose to Stanford State) inside the five.”

                What a cross we bear.

My heart broke and my spirit was broken when I saw young Will Kapp carted off the field (broken ankle before the game had barely begun). He embodied all that is great about Cal--and the Big game.

                I’m a huge Andrew Luck fan, but he was outplayed in the first half by a gutsy Zach Maynard.  Now that the coaches have finally discovered that he is left handed and does better going to his left, he’s found his stride and has really comported himself well.

                (Look how he—and the entire team played the following week.  The Arizona State game was the most fun one of the season.  We showed flashes of brilliance in all facets, and never gave up until we came away with a win.  That was the Bear team we’ve all been looking for this year.  Trouble is, when you cut your teeth on cupcakes like the Presbyterian Blue Hose, it’s hard to be prepared to play big time College football).

                We old people who cut our teeth on coaches like Nibs Price, Pete Newell, Brutus Hamiltion, Pappy and Ray Willsey understand that.  Some in the administration just don’t get it.

                So now that we are headed down to San Diego to play Mac Brown and his frown of renown, why are old Blues, blue?

                It’s a wonderful match up and one we have an outstanding chance of winning.

                It’s because we are watching the demise of the tradition of Cal football—a tradition we loved so much.  The graffiti is on the wall.

                On August 21st, 2010 (yes, well over a year ago) a tall good looking guy wrote in an article about how the Pac 12 would make alumni “quaint”.

 “our opinions will not matter—not to the AD, the Chancellor and especially not to the conference. Decisions will be made on optimizing revenue—little else.

…….Suppose someone offers $10,000,000 to host and televise the Big Game. The only catch? We play it January 1st in Beijing. Luddites like us will want the traditional last game of the year in the Bay Area.

The suits will smile and pat us on the back and nod understandingly, pay a little lip service to the beauty of tradition, give us some balloons for the kids, and then go where the money is.”

Five days ago (December 11th), the New York times reported:

Larry Scott, the Pacific-12 Conference commissioner, flew to Beijing on Sunday to start an apparently unprecedented effort by a college sports league to establish itself in a foreign country.

As my wife never tires of saying, “I hate it when you’re right.” (Ok, that only happened once).

This is the future.  With the $220,000,000 TV contract, no donors will ever be able to give enough money to matter—let alone pip squeaks like moi.

They simply won’t have to worry about old Blues any more, because our contributions to the program are now dwarfed by the excessive of the TV revenues.

“Welcome to the 90’s, Mr. Bahnks.”

I know.  I should get used to it, but it still makes me blue—and a blue, Old Blue is an ugly sight.

Part and parcel with the new Pac 12 alignment is some sort of rotating schedule.  It appears that (I’m not making this up) due to TV and scheduling requirements, the Big Game will occasionally be played in OCTOBER.  That’s the Pac 12’s idea of going green—do whatever it takes to make a buck—even if it makes Blues, blue.

During the men’s luncheon on Friday before Big Game (if you weren’t there, you weren’t invited—no invitations—just good guys inviting good guys--and you need to get some new friends so you can go to the greatest lunch EVER), Dumpster Muffin (yes, she’s so ugly she looks like a man, which many of us think is rather kinky and cool), told me that Sandy Barbour had signed on for another 4 years (It may be five) at 500 grand per year.  

                Hey.  We came in 3rd in the Director’s Cup, so maybe this is a good thing.  We should reward excellence.  

However, being a Rugger, as well as a bench warmer for Willsey, and having been treated the way we were, it’s hard for some of us to get behind this, but our love of the Bears over-rules all.

Of course, with the new TV contract, neither the Chancellor nor anyone else needs to pay attention to the thoughts of any alumni.  We’ve been reduced to insignificance.

The Big Game in October.  League games in China.  A “Moral” victory in the Big Game.  Blue Hose on the Schedule.  Reduction of Alumni influence. Weird allocation of funds. 11th out of 12 academically in the Pac 12 (I’m sure that’s not correct, but have yet to see the Athletic Department’s response explaining it).  You can understand why some Old Blues are Blue.  

Yet, during the Men’s lunch before Big Game, the band roared in and the song leaders danced, and the yell leaders yelled, and the guys told lies, and all the petty stuff seemed to shrink to insignificance, as we relived what we once loved most.

We are Old Blues.  Maybe too old.  But Blue to the core and we will persevere and pass on the torch to the new wave.  It doesn’t mean it should go unmentioned, however.  

Remember:  All those that came before us built this school.  We benefited from what they gifted us. Tomorrow’s kids will benefit from what ESPN gives them.  Let’s be open minded.  It may be a greater gift than we ever thought of.  Or maybe the Old Blues who came before us had it right.  Time will tell.

Go bears,
Jeffrey Earl Warren ‘70

               



               
               
               
               
               



Tuesday, November 15, 2011

GIVE ‘EM THE AXE, THE AXE THE AXE… 2011



In the days before they gave out participation trophies for occupying Oakland, a great yell summed up a great tradition.

....."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 State 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.

That the BCS or some such thing has to be on the line is to miss the essence of college football.

Despite the bad press coming out of Happy Valley, the Ohio State and Miami scandals 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.

(Naturally, that tradition as died as well with the addition of the 12th game, but that too is another column.  Let’s just pretend this is our last game, because for all intents and purposes the Big Game is the Sine Qua Non of a kid’s Cal experience.

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.  (Though Andrew Luck could put on a show).

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 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 and red blazered Indians.

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". (Ok.  He never used the word “jerks”—what footballer would?).

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).

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. (Can you imagine the number of anonymous accusers that would surface were one of us to run for office?)

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 AXE!.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

BEARS CURE SINISTROPHOBIA VS. COUGARS

             


How good was the Bear D on Saturday?

                So good, that Mayor Michelle Quan (a Bear from my Day) publically apologized to the Washington State Cougars for the hard hits applied during Saturday’s 30 to 3 victory.  She assumed the poor Cougars were aged bar flies being maliciously mauled by over-sexed college kids.  As befitting her wit, she was half right.

                She is against all violence unless it is conducted by ski masked youths dressed in black, and directed against shop owners of color, who happen to have glass storefronts in Oakland—but I digress.

                Cal played its finest game of the season Saturday.  It matters not that the opponent wasn’t up to snuff.  One must measure improvement against oneself, not the opposition.  (i.e., compared to myself, I’m a great spouse).  Compared to my wife I have the grace and class of Ahrnoooooold, interviewing English speaking challenged au pairs.
                But the real beauty of Saturday’s win in the rain, was that the coaching staff adapted to Zach Maynard’s skill set, rolled left constantly and let him succeed, BY FINALLY PUTTING HIM IN A POSITION WHERE HE COULD BE SUCCESSFUL.

                That’s what teachers are for.

                (Regular readers of A Cal Fan's Notes--both of you--might recognize a theme that has been touched on before).
                                Maynard’s first pass (to his bro) was an easy swing pass to the left and then he rolled left throughout the entire game.   He continued to roll left and before throwing down the middle (one was a beaut to Miller) he looked left first.  By my count he only threw right twice (incomplete) and once complete.  (We even tried a roll out right just to keep the D honest).  In fact, Maynard finally threw his first incomplete pass in the past three games while going left.  One game does not a season make, but he’s got more talent than people are giving him credit for.  I think he’s a winner, by nature.

                It is true that thrice he had wide open receivers deep down field, and thrice he overthrew them.  But that was most likely due to premature jaculation (google it before you let your dirty mind think impure thoughts).  He was so unused to men being wide open (and having so much time) that (just like us at that age) he got excited and threw too early and too hard.     

Look for at least two long TD throws this week against the Beavers.   If the coaches stick with the game plan and let him go left (conquering their Sinistrophobia—fear of left-handedness),   OSU should be another resounding W.

                Apparently, Chip Kelly made some comment about the Bears being the best (or one of the best looking) teams in the Pac 12.  (It’s possible he was referring to the white helmets, but I doubt it).  

                He may yet be proved right if the coaches continue to let the kids play to their strength.  It’s easy to Monday morning QB, but (as the occupiers’ chant) “Give credit where credit is due,”  Fits this game to a Tee.

                This was far and away the best coached game of the year.

                What did he do to offend his lineman?  Tavecchio is such a good kid and everyone played such a complete game that it seems a shame to even bring up the fifth, (5th), numero cinque, blocked extra point of the year.  That does not count the three missed field goals.  This is fixable.  Buy your linemen a beer—or cappucino—whatever!

                MFB (My Favorite Bear): Will Kapp got the thrill of a life time when he took a hand off trying to pick up a yard for a first, and leveled a DB, en route to a 43 yard touchdown run.  He now leads the nation in touchdowns per carry (he scores once every 6 times he touches the pigskin).  Of course he only has six carries this year, but let’s not nit pick.

                Who’s Mike Manuel?  7 carries 29 yards.  Looked good—don’t remember his name ever being called.  Do Bears have too many good runners?  Sofele, Anderson, DeBoski and now Manuel—all fighting for playing time—and the one who may be the best of the bunch, true freshman #5 Bigelow didn’t touch the ball from scrimmage at all.  How can one be good enough to start and return kicks, but not carry the ball from scrimmage?

                The D:  Those kids can play—when put in a scheme that utilizes their talents.  Great effort all day long.

                Accademics.  Still waiting for the Athletic Department to publically explain why we came in 11th out of 12 Pac 12 schools in one academic rating regarding graduation rates.  I assumed it can’t really be that bad as Tedford has made a real commitment to get his kids on a path to graduation.

                Now I get all my knowledge through rumor, but here’s what one “Deep Throat” (we’ll call her Dumpster Muffin) sent me to clarify it a bit.  She gave me permission to print the following.  I’ve edited it a touch to protect the guilty:

                …..You call attention to that embarrassing stat in order to make a very important point:  we need to know more about this embarrassing statistic -- Cal is 11th out of 12 in Pac-12 academic ratings…

The data is based on the entering class of Fall 2004:    
                      
There were 13 freshman admitted in that cohort.   Apparently, the NCAA does not include JC transfers or other transfer students in that calculation.  (I'm not sure why, and I'll resist the temptation to over-interpret that point.)

 Of the 13 freshman in the 2004 cohort,  4 graduated; 5 went to the NFL (after 3, 4 or 5 years), and 4 did not graduate.  All told 4 of 13 graduated after 6 years, or  31%

 The 4 year football Graduation Success Rate (Entering classes 2000-2004) is 54% .  This includes 2 [out of 4] of Jeff Tedford's recruiting classes.

 The overall Student Athletic Graduation Success Rate is 79%.

I need to find out what the overall student graduation rate is.  I THINK (unverified) that it is quite comparable.

My take away is that the percentage will vary greatly from one year to the next in football, depending on the number who leave early for the NFL.  I'm not condoning or explaining away the 54%, but I am trying to contextualize it.  There's no question -- at least in my addled brain (what's left of it) -- that we must continue to press the leadership at Cal to be diligent about CREATING THE CONDITIONS FOR SUCCESS at Cal -- on the fields and in the classroom.  This is an important form of responsibility / accountability that I believe Tedford takes seriously.  (I believe this based on my many conversations with him about this subject over the past 10 years.)  I THINK the position coaches have clauses in their contracts re graduation rates……

            This subject bears watching.  

            The Stanford State Game:  This is personal with me—I don’t ask others to agree.  I want the Indians to win against the Ducks this weekend and to defeat LSU in the BCS championship game.  The only thing I want more than that is for the Bears to Clobber Stanford State next week and deny the Indians the trip to that game.  Schadenfreude is a bitch.

            The end of an Era:  One wants to say that what happened in Happy Valley (Pennsylvania, not Lafayette) is a tragedy—one that began in Memorial Stadium when Rip Engle was the Nitney Lions’ coach and St. Helena’ Jimmy Hunt was the Bears QB with one second left on the clock.  Hunt threw it to the endzone and the bird (Jerry Bradly)—he swears he never pushed off—caught the ball for the winning TD.  Engle was fired and a kid named Joe Paterno was hired.

            Always admired Paterno and the program he ran, but firing him was absolutely the right thing.  We all love our college teams, but some things have to be kept in proportion, and sadistic criminal acts against children should never, ever be covered up to protect anybody or anything.  Especially a football program. 
BTW when you google my name and Warren Jeffs pops up—that’s the other guy.  Honest! 

Go Bears,
Jeffrey Earl Warren ‘70

P.S.  Remember:  Men's lunch next Friday before we play the Indians.
           

               
               
               

                 

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Bruins Expose Bears’ Sinistrophobia



Google it!  We’ve got it.   Sinistrophobia:  a persistent, abnormal, and unwarranted fear of left-handedness.

This was pointed out to me by my tent mate, Dumpster Muffin, as we watched the game on our Sony Flat Screen from our tent while occupying Oakland.  (As Robert Duvall said in A Pair of Lips Now, “I love the smell of urine in the morning.”)  But I digress. 

How else do you account for the fact that young Zack Maynard, for three quarters, completed every one of his passes while rolling left, but with the exception of the first play of the 4th quarter (a completion to my favorite Bear, Will Kapp)—with the score 17-14—and the Bears driving--the coaches failed to call one (1) Uno (or is it una) ein ROLLOUT and throw LEFT.

And how did Kaperneck sneak away from the Niners and don Bruin Baby Blue?  Didn’t we see that movie last year?  Talk about Deja Vu all over again?  Who teaches a defensive end (no need to mention names as this is clearly a schematic--read coaching--problem), to crash down the line of scrimmage and nail the fullback from the side—while the QB pulls the ball out of the back’s belly, and scampers—untouched and unharassed—around the end?  

Sherlock Holmes had it right:  “Elementary, my Dear Watson.”  Someone has to have outside containment.  Lech Walesa famously answered years ago when asked why he was leading the Gadansk (formerly Lenin Shipyard) strike, “if not me who?”  (or was that John Edwards when asked who knocked up his chick?).
In the second half, Cattouse came up and made a couple of stops on those wide QB keepers, but are we to understand that a safety has containment?  Better change the name of his position.  Replaying the tape (Ok—Tivo) was embarrassing.  Almost every time the defensive end crashed down the line and clobbered the running back from the side.

Trouble is—he didn’t have the ball.  Reno redux.  

Prince romped for 183 yards and we rarely touched him.  Mostly, he just ran out of bounds.  When Cleopatra failed to engage her fleet at Actium, Antony was toast.  By disengaging the strongside defensive end and refusing to key him on the QB (and punish him every play—with or without the ball) we were toast and the poor kid looked bad.

It wasn’t the kid’s fault. 
 
Clearly, he (and his replacement) were doing what they were told to do—just as Maynard was, standing in the pocket and throwing across his body to his right.  Three of his Picks were from the pocket, two throwing right, and one down the middle.

EACH ONE OF HIS PASSES on his rolls to the left was complete.  Here’s what some of us simply can’t understand.  We were taught that when something works, you run it (or pass it) until they stop it.  If off right tackle works—run it till they shut it down.

You take advantage of the adjustments they make to run something else which capitalizes on their adjustments.  We simply never do this.  As Serena might opine, “This is not attractive.”

We were in this game 17-14 (should have been 17 all except—I know you’re going to be shocked to read this—next thing  we know we’ll hear that there’s gambling in Casablanca—but we (the entire team) blew a gimme field goal.  A team that is 23 for 27 on extra points (the easiest play in football) and has failed on three makeable field goals, is not focused—not disciplined—not paying attention to detail.  And that is not on the kids.  It’s not on the kicker.  

Games are not won on Saturday (Thanks, Coach Jim Lemon).

2 minute Offense:  A tall good looking guy wrote last week that we need work on our two minute drill.  Ok.  He said it was embarrassing.  Against the Bruins, we got the ball with 1:55 left in the first half.  We called time out with 1:15 left.  We’d gotten off two plays in 40 seconds.  We then threw incomplete and had to punt with 1:11. 

UCLA took over with 1:00 left.  They ran 10 plays—the last one a punt. 
Someone is wearing big boy pants and someone isn’t.
‘Nuff said.

QB:  Call me Crazy but I think Maynard can do the job.  But a coach’s job is to put a kid in a position where he can succeed.  Maynard should be rolling left on most pass plays.  And before you say something silly like “cutting the field in half”--two words:  Roger Staubach.  Or if you want four:  Fran Tarkington.

These two rarely threw from the pocket in college.  (In the early years, they couldn't throw left either).  They rolled—right most of the time—and (just to keep defenses honest) occasionally left.  Football was different back then, but it was generally understood that few college teams had the amount of linemen necessary to attempt pro-style drop back passing.  It was too hard for the kids to see the field from the QB position, and too hard for the linemen to protect him adequately.

That has changed overtime.  Stanford State’s Andrew Luck does not have to roll out.  He’s a prototype drop back, pocket passer.  Maynard isn’t—at this time.  

No biggie.  Very few are.  So why not go with his strength?  It must be due to Sinistrophobia.

COACHING:  The Chron’s Crumpcracker threw Tedford under the bus after the game.  Of course all the blogs are following suit.  We needn't go there--yet.

(Wish they’d throw the Athletic Department under the bus for those White Helmets.  Forget tradition.  Forget old fuddy-duddies like moi.  How about the expense at a time they’re  cutting sports and demoting Rugby?
This is the height of irresponsibility.  Home and away helmets are enough.  We don’t need a third   (white) set.  Remember:  these things cost $300 to $500 per—and there’s 100 kids on the team (though they all don’t travel).

GRADUATION RATES:  It’s been said here ad naseum:  Jeff Tedford has a lot of entries on the asset side of the ledger.  But if last week’s report is true, that Cal is 11th out of 12 in graduation rates, that makes it awfully hard to stay on the bus.  But we all want to.

Now there has been some noise that those numbers are misleading, but if so, the Athletic Department should come out with a loud, strong, no nonsense statement explaining it.  Absent that with the general dumbing down of the University on the Academic side, and the destruction of our once proud brand though the needless cutting of sports, something has to be done.  

At the time, Coach Tedford earned the right to become the highest paid employee in the State of California.  But with that Salary comes certain responsibilities—and they don’t all have to do with winning. 

Much of it has to do with putting a program together we can all be proud of.  We want kids graduating.  We want a clean program (which he has produced).  We want a disciplined, well coached team that puts out maximum effort—whatever their athletic skills are.

This is what is sorely lacking.  

We understand we will never be a Miami, LSU, Texas or even SC.  But we’d like to be able to play with them once in a while.

THE  BILL OF ATTAINDER:

These kids are better than their record.
 
Maynard is better than his stats.

The D is better than the way they played against UCLA and the second half up in Oregon.
Eleven 20 year olds can kick extra points without them being blocked almost 20% of the time.
Kids should be graduating—or at least progressing towards a sheepskin.

Teams like the Blue Hose should NEVER be on a field with a team with a proud tradition like the Bears.
Opposing teams fans should not be on the 50 at ATT&T.  Bear fans should have the plumb seats.

We now have more coaches, trainers and assistants, (I think it numbers 34) than Andy Smith had on any Wonder Team, or even Pete Eliot’s ’59 Rose Bowl team (OK, I’m exaggerating about Eliot’s squad, but not by much).

No more blaming assistant coaches (like Lopoi) for activities which were known to the entire program.
FROM HERE ON OUT:  We still have a chance for a Bowl.  And Stanford State is beatable.  But we’ve got to get rid of the sweats, the anxiety, the shortness of breath, and the paranoia which all victims of Sinistrophobia deal with.  We need some counseling from Zachery Running Wolf.  (He of the So-Sue-Me tribe)--but at least he understands about the left.

Horace Greely almost got it right “Go Left  young man.”

Roll Maynard left on 7 out of 10 pass plays and the Bears will present a formidable offense.

Sending Cal Students left?  How difficult can it be?

Go Bears,

Jeffrey Earl Warren ’70.


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

ROOOOOOOOOLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL LEFT YOU BEARS!





                Those of a certain age remember Jamie Sutton (and Earl Robinson before him—how many schools boast a starting Varsity bastketballer who doubled as a head yell leader) intoning, deeply , stentoriously,  and oh so slowly, “Rooooooooollllllllllllllll on you Bears!  Roooooooooooollllllllllll on you Bears!”

                Yes, a few years later that yell was replaced by “Ashes to ashes/Dust to Dust/We hate to shut it down/But we must, we must!”  Occupy Milpitas had nothing on us.  They’re 40 years behind the times, but I  digress.

                Kudos to Tedford and the coaching staff for adapting to the obvious (As Professor Belquist used to opine “Reiteration of the obvious is often more important than elucidation of the obscure.”—and to think, some students thought we took that course because he favored athletes.  Next thing you know, they’ll say that Professor Hearst’s Education 110 (or was it 1A), where you could grade yourself was some kind of Mick.  But again, I digress.

                Now some might say it didn’t take a Rocket Scientist like Zachery Running Wolf (with no trees left to sit in, he’s leading the Occupy Oakland be in), to realize that at Cal, students go left. 

It’s how we roll.

                But telling the other Zachery (he of the Maynard clan) that, that was his charge proved to be a minor stroke of genius.  

                He completed 5 of his first 6 passes he attempted while rolling out, and the one incompletion was a perfectly thrown ball that was dropped.

                Not counting runs, Zachery threw or rolled left on at least 11 occasions (probably more than the entire season combined—but I don’t have the time to prove it).

                He carried 10 times for 44 yards.  (In the previous 6 games he’d carried a combined 33 times for a net of 21 yards).  Hmmmmmmmm.

                Could it be?  Just a shot in the Dark?  Could it be we’ve hit upon something?
                But Zachery’s exemplary play was not the determining factor.  That went to the D.   They simply dominated.  The O line gets props too—but back to the D.

                You know when you are watching a game on TV in a bar (not that I have, but I’ve heard this is true), though you can’t hear the announcers, one can just tell who’s winning by who seems to be pushing around whom on the field.  

                That was the case at ATT&T.  Due to foot surgery, (something about sticking it in my mouth too often) I had to watch it on TV, and people kept coming over, so I couldn’t concentrate—yet one  could get the overall flow.  And the D (as it turned out in watching the tape) truly dominated all facets.  

Four turnovers were faboo, but the telling stat was that  Utah had just 13 yards rushing, and a minus-6 yards on the ground in the first half.    Josh White came into the game averaging 111.8 yards a game.   Our D held him to just 39 yards on 15 carries.  Better yet, White had just 2 yards rushing on 7 carries going into the 4th quarter.

                ‘Nough said.

                The Utes were without their starting QB and it is clear they just aren’t a very good team—or are we better than we’ve shown?

                Putting kids in a position where they can succeed pays dividends—and the Maynard transformation was proof positive of that axiom.

Are we as bad as SC made us look, or as we played in the 2nd half up at Oregon?  Or are we finding our stride?

The next three games will tell.  We are playing decidedly mediocre teams but still it would be nice to go into Stanford 7-3.
 
Hope springs eternal.

On the downside, the stands were not full, and of course, it is clear that opponents have been given tickets on the 50 yardline (over in the bleacher section) which negates the home team advantage—besides relegating loyal Cal fans to lesser seats up top and in the end zones.  

Apparently, giving Zachery Running Wolf that internship in the ticket office was not such a hot idea.
Letting Burlap and Oak design the travel unis has had its downside as well.  But at least we are inclusive.

Never a dull moment when one lives and dies by his Bears.

ANNOUNCEMENTS:

Before the game, an infamous group of tailgaters gave Commodore Carl Stoney a  membership in the Mariposa Hunter's Point Yacht Club, as a b’day present and thank you for the gazillion tailgates he has hosted over the years.
Capin’ Andy (Ned Anderson) is being inducted into the Cal Hall of Fame November 11th.  He came on a football scholarship but earned most of his fame on the Rugby pitch (and as an outstanding coach), so it is possible that some beer will be consumed that night.  Be there or be Square.

Another great rugger, Young Scott Anderson is running the best Tailgate going:  The Jim Beam at Pier 48—a nine iron from the stadium.  Check it out Nov. 5th vs. WSU.

Comcast has picked up the Cal/UCLA game (finally) to be played 4ish this Saturday.  How can the biggest NCAA brand west of San Francisco, have a difficult time finding someone to televise us?  Can we hire someone who understands media and marketing who can insure we are on TV everytime every game (especially next year’s Mills College slugfest).

On an ominous note--Here's a blog by Ted Miller on Graduation Rates.  I hope this isn't accurate:

Stanford and Washington lead the Pac-12 in football graduation rates, while California and Arizona bring up the rear.

Here are the numbers.

1. Stanford, 87
2. Washington, 76
3. Arizona State, 64
4. Oregon, 63
5. Washington State, 62
5. Utah, 62
7. USC, 61
8. Oregon State, 60
9. UCLA, 59
9. Colorado, 59
11. California, 54
12. Arizona, 48

Note: These figures are the the NCAA’s "Graduation Success Rates," which include transfer and athletes who leave in good academic standing, unlike the federal rate, which does not count transfers. The GSR and federal rate calculations measure graduation over six years from initial college enrollment, so these numbers are for 2004.

Here's the NCAA's news release on the latest figures. And you can compare schools and see federal rates here.

The bad news for the Pac-12: Only Stanford and Washington exceed the average GSR -- 69 percent -- for the entering class of 2004.

Notre Dame was the No. 1 among FBS programs at 97 percent.

For all sports, the single-year GSR average is 82 percent, a new high for the NCAA.

Football and men's basketball -- the revenue sports -- are the lowest among NCAA sports.

Here are the sources he sided:  We report--You Decide!

http://espn.go.com/blog/pac12/post/_...-12-grad-rates

http://fs.ncaa.org/Docs/newmedia/pub...tes/index.html

If you get up to the Valley, stop by for some Cab.  Red it is—but plentiful it is as well.
Go Bears,

Jeffrey Earl Warren ‘70


               

Monday, October 17, 2011

SC: COMEDY OR TRAGEDY?




Why Red in the best seats?
           

I realize that one need only read Macbeth to get the essence of what a Cal Fan’s Notes has become:  

“It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

So disregard everything from here on out.

That dark Dane, Hamlet was the original Cal fan:

“To be or not to be that is the question.”

Defying all logic, thee and me have decided to be and

“Therein lies the rub,” 

as that Dane so aptly put it.

What the bard didn’t say (but oft gets credit for) is what causes us such pain:

Expectation is the root of all heartache.”

Like jilted lovers, it seems every time Cal takes the field we are destined to have our hearts broken—due (mostly) to dashed expectations.  

Truly,

“Now is the winter of our discontent.”

When it came to Thursday’s game, Macbeth nails it again,

“So foul and fair a day I have not seen.”

            What a beautiful park.  What a beautiful night.  What wonderful people. What an ugly contest. 

But it was more than just the action on the field.

            Anytime we play SC one sees red (Ok Cardinal—whatever color that is).  Our family’s hatred of them stems back at least to Cannamela breaking Olszewski’s leg—and perhaps back to rugby matches in 1910.

            Last year was our (the Goobs and my) last trip down to Watts, to watch the Bears and Trojans battle.  You see, they sit us (visitors) down past the end zone, on the Western side, probably 60 yards from the field. 

            It grates on some of us that they treat us visitors with such disdain.

            Imagine my chagrin when I turned on the TV Thursday night (after foot surgery I’m bedridden and apparently still drugged out) for all I saw was red (see Pic) sitting at the 50 yard line.  White hats one Thursday.  Red on the 50 (at a “home” game) the next Thursday).

Who is running this asylum?  

            (I was also told that “Suites” which went unsold, could have been had for 6 grand.  I’m not contradicting myself when I think those should have been peddled down south to SC-ites—that we might make some dough).

            (On that note I’m informed that “Football is not making its numbers.”)  After the Fresno State neutral site and Blue Hose debacle, if that’s accurate just think of the ramifications.

            (I’m not sure it helped the brand to get blown out two Thursday nights in a row on ESPN either.)
            I know.  I’m petty.  But it rankles. 

We should be talking football not weirdness.

Speaking of weirdness, how ‘bout former Cal running back, Tracy Slocum being busted for pimping.  As a former sex slave myself, I can attest to how degrading an abusive that business is.  But I digress.

                More weirdness:  I’m told SC’s bland played during the entire warm up period.  Nary a sound from our guys and gals.   Someone complained and here’s what one band member wrote:

                “Hey I'm in the Cal band and you can't blame us we would LOVE to play more

...but Tedford doesn't let us. When the team is on the field we CAN"T play. It doesn't matter if they are warming up or winning by 30 points. Only after a big play does Tedford let us play some Big C, but other than that you are only going to hear us during TDs and commercial breaks with no on field advertisements.”

                Not during warm ups?  Wow.

 It’s tough to talk football when at the end of the first half we had a first down at the SC 46 with just over two minutes left:

Maynard completed a pass to Allen for18 to the SC 29.  Sofeli gained one on a run. Pass complete to Marvin at the SC 17—first down.  Pretty cool right?

Trouble is there were only 55 seconds on the clock.  We ran three plays in a minute and 10 seconds!
            This is not Big Boy football.    

Yet, all anyone talks about is the interception on the next play.  That was the least of it!

  During a two minute drill—this is practiced EVERY day--D1 teams (or whatever we’re called today) have to run more than three plays in 1:10 seconds.

            Since you think I’m just being negative, here’s the solution:

Unitas wrote the book:  three plays to make 10 yards in the last 2 minutes of a half.  That is the law.  The other play stops the clock—in his day a throw out of bounds—today, a spike.  (We’re not the only team college or pro that doesn’t understand this), but giving 6 seconds for each play--some 52 seconds—was wasted setting the line up and calling signals.  We will not win if this is all we are capable of.

                            I never wanted these notes to be a “Bitch fest.”  But when there are so few good things to talk about, what is a Cal Fan to do?            

                On the Positive side of the ledger, it appears that kids are graduating at a higher rate than before, and though there have been a couple of gun incidents, (which scare the hell out of me); the program has been relatively clean during the Tedford era.   We should never downplay that.

                As Polonius said to Laeretes, 

“Neither a Tressel nor a Carroll be.”

                In this day and age that is not to be taken lightly.

                Plus, Thanks to (God rest his sole)  Natty Bumpo’s  father-in-law and Anne’s dad,  Barcklay Simpson’s generous anchor gift, we will be moving into the Simpson Athletic complex soon.  State of the Art is an understatement. 

 And memorial stadium is getting what my wife says I need sooner than later—a total makeover.  Imagine.  Over $300 million worth of Botox.

Coach Tedford has filled the seats and made Cal football relevant.   No small accomplishment

 Let’s not invoke Lear:

 “Sharper than a serpent’s tooth is a thankless child,”   

We owe him.

However, we are paying him—well.    When he got his well earned raise to $2.5 mil, it was in the top five in the country.  

                Alas, that increased expectations. (See above).

No one expects Cal to win the BCS.  It’s probably fair to say that most Alumni were in sync with Chancellor Lin Tien’s committee which (I’m paraphrasing here) found that being in the top 20 and being the finest University in the land were not inconsistent.

A win over Stanford every other year (Tedford did it 7 years in a row) and a Rose Bowl once every 10 years didn’t seem overly ambitious. 

Didn’t Shylock sum us Alumni up?

“If you prick us do we not bleed? If you tickle us do we not laugh? If you poison us do we not die? And if you wrong us shall we not revenge?”

D played very well, especially freshman cornerback, McClur who did a job on Woods.

D line contained the run and harassed Barkley

A truly ugly stat: SC outscored Cal an aggregate 92-3 in the first half of the last
four years.



No wins in 8 years?

The 4th blocked kick of the year?  Someone is not paying attention to detail.  That has nothing to do with lack of athleticism.  Does anyone think SC has better lineman on special teams than Cal?

I think the kids are not prepared. Games are won during the week and not on Saturdays--ok, Thursdays.

It’s clear we are not paying attention to the details which make a winner (did you love the Niner’s quote who said Harbaugh made them tuck in their shirts during meetings?) 

Football is about repetition and attention to detail. Ask Lombardi. Ever hear the story of him spending 6 hours at a coach's conference on the Packer Sweep?

         Finally, to his credit, Marvin Jones pointed to himself and said, “My bad” after calling for a fair catch inside his own five.  (3rd time this has happened)  To his discredit, when Tedford came over to him on the sideline after the play, Jones walked right past his head coach and ignored him.

That may have been the most telling and upsetting play of the night. 

From the ticket prices, to the seating, to the band, to the marketing, to the attitude, to the  administration, if we don’t get it right, we will have writ a Tragedy of huge proportions.

When it comes to Cal football I know only two things:  First, Brutus plea to Cassius,

“There is a tide in the affairs of men, which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune. Omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries. On such a full sea are we now afloat. And we must take the current when it serves, or lose our ventures.”

We must act at some point.

And most important Balthazar’s words which so aptly sums up this particular screed:

Note this before my notes: There’s not a note of mine that’s worth the noting.”

Go Bears,
Jeffrey Earl Warren ‘70



























               
               

Thursday, October 13, 2011

A CAL FAN’S NOTES/PRE SC


(Check out announcements  at end of article)

            Woke up this morning with that  hard to articulate feeling one has when he’s at work and suddenly realizes he can’t wait to get home because there is a Grisham Whodunit waiting for him,  next to a soft single malt, neet---both to be shared in front of a hot fire.  Only rather than anticipating a good read, it was the feeling one has on early fall Saturday mornings, when he knows the Bears are playing in Strawberry Canyon—especially when the foe is SC or Stanford.

            That it’s a Thursday is odd—but not aweful.

            The keen sense of anticipation—there’s nothing quite like it.  The sporting green is read, oh so slowly and oh so lovingly—front to back—but saving the Cal stories for last.  Reading about Cal the morning before a game is like getting a message after a tennis match or workout—it doesn’t get much better.  After digesting the Green, The game day stories are a Cal fan’s Happy Ending.

            Alas, for the first time since ’83 when The Goobs and I moved back to the coast from Nueva Jork,  I will not be in the stands for an SC game.   Last week they took the world’s ugliest foot, broke it and fused it in an attempt to make straight that which the Lord Hath made crooked.   It’s what happens when one spends to much time putting his foot en la boca.  

            No idea whether it will work or not but it was worth it just for the Propofol they give you before you go under the knife.  No wonder MJ was hooked  on that stuff.  The hallucinations are faboo.  After I came to, I actually fantasized that the Bears wore white hats against the Ducks.  Take it from me.  The hallucinations are Ugly!

            Michael Jackson.  What a story.  Only in America can a poor black boy grow up to be a rich white woman.  As an athlete he’d a made a great jockey with his love of riding three year olds—but I digress.

            I knew I was drugged out for no one who loves the University of California and her grand  traditions could ever conceive of the world of “bling”—where the unis are the thing.

            As Ray Willsey used to say (Yeah, I’ve got a million of his quotes), “Do your talking with your hats.”  In today’s world, when it comes to hats, we’ve replaced hitting with hatting, but we be stylin’.

            Of course it’s an old school thang.  

            So, I’m bedridden and won’t be in the parking lot tonight.  To while away the time I’m reading the complete works of Plato.  I’m 100 pages in already with only 1500 to go.  Actually, it’s fun because there’s no quiz at the end.  

            I was surprised to find under Socrates definition of “The good life” there was no mention of tailgating before Cal Games with one’s old friends.  (Of course he wanted to defeat Spartans not Trojans—that was Agamemnon’s gig).

            Being together,  telling stories, talking strategies, positing  theories, 2nd guessing every play—and downing suds—for some of us it doesn’t get any better.  Clearly, we have no lives.  

            Why is SC only a 3 point favorite?  See effects of Propofol above. 

            If Hanson to Richardson can torch us for 283 yards, one shutters to think about Barkley to Woods—future Sunday studs.  (Of course, had this Woods met our Woods (Jerry), one trip across the middle would be his last—but again I digress).

            Forget the last two blow outs (ok, I can’t either), under Tedford we have generally played SC tough.   They have been exciting games and the Bears have risen up to at least scare the pin stripes off SC’s unis.  Colonel  Klink—er--Pete Carrol, He Haz seen nah-think, though most of his players were allowed only one hour of exercise a day, and the practice field was called the exercise yard.

            You know you’re playing SC when the Refs, marching off penalties, refer to the distance as five to ten—with yards off for good behavior.

            While you all are yucking it up together, I’ll be hobbling on crutches between the kitchen and the couch--with a handle of Stollee clinched between my teeth.  Desperate  times call for desperate measures.

            Not that you care what I think, but unfair criticism was leveled against Tedford for letting Maynard play with a thigh bruise.  I’ve talked to people who know him well, and  there was no way Zach was coming out of that game.  He’s a baller.

            He admitted to “happy feet”  in such a big game.  I was shocked that performing on a  webcam against the Presbyterian Blue  Hose, hadn’t prepared him for going against the #9 team in the country on National TV. 

            Speaking of National TV, hope someone tells him to keep his head up and not look dejected (no matter what he does) when he comes to the sideline.  These kids forget that the camera might be on them every second.

Attempting to catch passes one handed (at least twice last week) are killing us.  They need some schooling or discipline—and it’s hurting Maynard, big time.

            Trojan games bring out the best and the  worst in us.  Worst: Bernie Keels fumbling a punt with 1:32; Pat Cannamela breaking Johnny Olszweski's leg, McKeever breaking Bates jaw when he was  out of bounds.   Best:  Bobby Tuck in a gorilla suit and going into the huddle and Forbes  (from the top of the L.A. Collesium) nailing Tommy Torjan with an apple core as he galloped by.  We take our triumphs where we can  find them.

            One last note:  Si disputed my contention that Ralphie the Buffalo was one of the most dramatic mascots in College Sports.  He points out Santa Cruz’s Banana Slug also does a lap around the field  before games--but she begins at 4am.  (How they know she’s  a she is a question I don’t  want to know the answer to).

Stop by for some Cab if you get up this way.  There’s plenty waiting for you.  The only downside:  It’s red.

Go Bears,
Jeffrey Earl Warren ‘70

ANNOUNCEMENTS:

Steve Fineau’s trip here for  Big Game  He’s making great progress, but is still in a chair. Grealish suggests $100 tax-deductible donations to The Old Blues Rugby Club.    He’s hoping $5,000-$7000 will get it done.  Make checks (of any size) payable to "Old Blues RFC"
        Old Blues R.F.C.
         c/o Doug Cole
        1896 School St
         Moraga, Ca.  94556
For info contact: Steve Grealish,   415 254 9973  bonedaddyz@aol.com

Crossland needs an extra tic:  707-363-7003

Capin' Andy (Ned Anderson's) induction to the Cal Hall of fame is November 11th.

Tailgates:

CAA Tailgate:  Located at Pier 48, adjacent to Parking Lot A.
Bears For Beam invites you to Jim Beam Tailgate at Pier 48

Also:
Cal pre-game party with Decks at Mission Rocks, a 15-minute walk from the Golden Bears’ new “home” field at AT&T Park. All-you-can-eat barbecue, beer, cocktails, crostini and waffle bites make for a tailgate worthy of the city. And when building a wine cellar, you want it to be how you want. Enter Meadowood’s sommeliers, ready to curate a tour through Napa based on your wine preferences. Also on the agenda are bubbly, massages, a cozy cottage and breakfast in bed.

Ferry Service from Vallejo has been modified to busses down, Ferry back tonight.  Go to the website for details.