Wednesday, September 12, 2012

PICK ON SOMEONE YOUR OWN SIZE





                If the white Jack-in-the-Box helmets  against the Nevada Mustang Ranch 11 weren’t enough to send one into  a 12 step program, the events of last Saturday against Southern Utah sent me on such a bender that my wife found me Monday morning face down in the Steno pool.

                It must be an age thing.  We were raised on comic books with ads for Charles Atlas’  fitness regimen.   Nee Angelo Siciliano, Charles Atlas promised a  buff body via isometric training.  The headline of the multi-panel cartoon would read:

                The Insult that Made a Man Out of Mac!”

                Some muscle bound jerk would kick sand in scrawny Mac’s face, then steal his girl.  The Charles Atlas program would transform a sad sack Mac into a take no flak attack Mac.

                By the last panel, Mac returns—a veritable  Schwarzenegger--to give a black eye to the bully and rescue his girl.

                Raised not to be bullies—it’s hard to stomach a schedule which includes teams like Portland State, Eastern Washington, Utah State or the Presbyterian Blue Hose—fine institutions of higher education no doubt—but football powerhouses  they don't pretend to be.

                Personally, I blame my prejudice on Ray Willsey.  My redshirt year, as a card carrying member of the Scout Team  (we called ourselves “Green Weenies” ) I finally got to suit up against San Jose State and run out of the tunnel.

                It was so exciting.  We went to a hotel the night before the game.  Yellow, button down shirt from George Good’s.  Cal Tie.  Team Blue Blazer, with “Cal” on the breast.  During the pre-game meal Saturday morning with the adrenalin coursing through our veins, Cosmic Ray (forgive me all SJS alumni, but we were such snobs back then), said a “School like that” didn’t belong on our schedule.  (They’d beat him the year before 24-zip and he NEVER got over it).

To his credit, however, he only wanted to play the Notre Dames, Colorados (we beat them when they  were ranked 6th), Michigan States etc.  (Except for Texas, we couldn’t schedule Southern teams back then as they wouldn’t bring their kids to play against teams with black athletes).   
        
                Of course, I have a visceral dislike of anything from Utah.  Not  because I have anything against  the State (having traveled by train through it to the Maryland game, I LOVE it), but because every time I google my name (expecting to see it next to George Clooney, Matt Damon, Jerry Rice and Mathew  Mcconaughey), the name that pops above mine is:  Warren Jeffs.

                Not good.

Who wants his doppelganger to be a man who’s bride, at her wedding reception was drinking scotch and wah-wah?

                It’s why it is useless for me to ever go on a job interview.  Once they’ve checked me out on line, I’m toast.  

                Anyway, I have no truck against the young men from SUU (although I do question why a school from a dry state would name its team after a cheap wine—Thunder Bird.  But I digress).
                Being old school, we like athletic stories like Jesse Owens’s fiercest competitor, Germany’s Luz Long, actually giving Jesse  the tip which gets him into the broad jump finals during the ’36 olympics.  (See my favorite author) http://sthelenablog.jeffwarren.com/2012/08/we-know-leo-durochers-dictum-nice-guys.html
Jesse ends up getting the gold (Luz Long, the Silver).  But as he wrote years later,
“The competition is a gift which enables you to bring out the best that is within you.  The more you recognize this, the more you value your opponent.  That also means you’ll compete harder against him—but fairly, humanly.  Anything less is cheating yourself.”
                                Given the size of our athletic budget, our recruiting budget,  and now our facilities, playing teams like Presbyterian  College and USU cheats young athletes.  It doesn’t sit well with some of us.
                                That other schools do it carries no weight.  We are Cal.  We are (or once were) supposed to be different—that’s why we  stomach not going to the Rose Bowl since Ike last shot 10 over par.  At least we were student athletes.  At least we took on the Miamis, Alabamas, Ohio States and Notre Dames—no matter that we were the ones getting sand kicked in our face.
                We took a great (if perverse) pride in that.
                It’s almost pointless to talk about the SUU game (we refused to attend a game we could have attended, for the first time since 1954) because we just couldn’t legitimize kicking sand in a lesser competitor’s face.  It’s so un-Cal—at least the one we knew.
That Cal fumbled on the first play is immaterial.  That SUU disrespected us by going for it on 4th and 7 from our 37 yard line, was instructive, but not crucial.
Sure, it was upsetting when Keenan Allen slammed the ball down (which hit the ref resulting in an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty), but apparently that type of behavior is now winked at.  It comes under the questionable heading of “passionate.”
What didn’t play was what occurred early in the 2nd quarter.  With Cal down love 3 (can you believe we were behind after one quarter?) and a 4th and goal from the one, the entire office line and Zack Maynard begged the coaching staff to go for it.  

(Just two weeks ago a tall good lookin' guy had written about Tedford's great strength when he first arrived of trusting his kids and thereby instilling confidence in them).
Now, insulting his kids—showing a lack of confidence in them, Coach Tedford, elected to go for a field goal.  Perhaps the right call against the Trojans, but the T-birds? 
Worse, when Maynard came off the field—right there on the TV cameras—he and Tedford got into a shouting match.   Tedford grabbed him from behind (not a Woody Hayes move, but not cool either), and Maynard walked away in disgust.
Last year we witnessed the same thing with Marvin Jones (after a bonehead play) walked away and ignored and angry Tedford.  Whose in charge? 
(Oddly, I'm told, Coach Tedford had another shouting match with Coach Gould and other coaches had to separate them).  What is going on? 
Can you imagine anyone doing that to Pappy Waldorf,  Ray Willsey, or Joe Kapp? 
As a student, could I have done that to Mark Schorer after his Lord Jim Lecture?  If a kid can’t do that on a college campus in an English class, why can he do it on a football field to a coach?
This is a University not a street gang where behavior is determined by who is the most macho fellow.
This administration’s  priorities are out of whack.  No kid should be allowed to diss or sass his coach—any more than he should be allowed to diss or sass his physics professor.  And don’t talk about “heat of battle” or “passion.”  Respect trumps all, and without it we’re just about football—not building character in young men.
We did lots of good things, and I’m happy for the young men who performed.  It’s just such a shame that unlike UCLA (vs. Nebraska), Washington (vs. LSU), Oregon State (vs. Wisconsin), and SC (vs. Syracuse) we did it against an FCS (whatever that means) opponent.  Boasting about our many accomplishments in this game is like Clinton boasting about making it with Monica.  Bedding Marlyn carried some Status.  Boffing a  bimbo has its upsides, but boasting about it is not one of them.
I don’t mean to diss the young T-birds, but when you put our program's resources against theirs.....?  Does anyone think there was one player on the field who had the choice between Cal and SUU and chose USU?  (Even if they were willing to throw in a couple of extra wives along with their financial aid?).
One last oddity.  Coach Tedford has been very vocal about having the “Best tight end in the Country”, Richard Rodgers (Son of that Richard Rodgers).   He’s a John Mackey nominee, and we can’t scheme the ball to him? 
One  could write much more about the game but thanks to the incident on the sideline, words come down like Thomas Aquinas pliant, “Everything I have written is straw.”
But if you want to read some good writing—and read about what it was like to be proud to be a Loyal Golden Bear,  Order the late Ron Fimrite’s GOLDEN BEARS.
                It’s been updated by his son Peter with some great additional writing by Sports Columnist Dave Bush. 

 If you’re a real Bear, it’ll be the best 19 bucks you ever spent. 
If you’re into white helmets, and picking on others weaker than you, save your money.
But if you love the words of Andy Smith on the back of the players bench,

 

"It's Better to Lose than to Win at the Sacrifice of an Ideal”

 

 

This book is right down your ally.  Sometimes it's better to be the kickee than the kicker.

Go Bears,

Jeffrey Earl Warren ‘70



RUGGERS NOTE:  Remember, we’re on for  September 28th to Honor Boomer, tell lies and have laughs.
Colombo Club
5321 Claremont Avenue, Oakland
6:30 - Cocktails (no host)
7:30 - Dinner - $40.00


               

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