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