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