Tuesday, October 02, 2012


 Who can ever forget the decaying Brando muttering those lines at the end of A Pair of Lips Now.

But, I'm ahead of myself.  Let's get to one fan's experience on Saturday.

In the South they love their football.  At Cal we love our school.  

With us, it’s never just about football.

It became clear right before kick off when Pappy’s Boys and The Sons of California—that’s code for out of shape, greying old football players--had formed a gauntlet for today’s team to run through as it came out of the Tunnel.

(Lest anyone  think I’m exaggerating, my major injury was removing splinters from my backside)  I was no star.

Hall of famers , like Kapp and Ed White (check out his art on his website--they were all coast--I was all Costco--I never got off the shelf, mixed it up with Green Weenies like moi).  We were laughing, lying, teasing and having a grand old time on the field.  Suddenly the stadium was hushed and the announcer’s voice was clear and somber.  We were taking time to remember a true American hero, and a loyal Golden Bear—the late Ambassador Chris Stevens.  He was murdered by a terrorist strike in Benghazi on September 11th.  It put all this in perspective.

As Cal Alumni, we are no strangers to heroes.  Andy Smith was one type of heroic figure.   Rugger Mark Bingham (Flight 95) another.  Jimmy Doolittle was the first man to spend 60 seconds over Tokyo and  Rugger & Footballer Jean Witter was killed on the Bridge of the SS San Francisco during the battle of Guadalcanal on November 12, 1942.  Many of us had the honor of playing under WWII and Korean War hero Truck Cullom.   Cal boasts numerous brave men who have fought and died for our country.

Before the game, another type of hero,  The Honorable Thelton Henderson was honored  by Pappy’s Boys.  He was the recipient of the Glenn Seaborg Award (Nobel Winners are Heroes, too), at a gathering on Kleeburger (Ok, Maxwell  Field) before the game.

    He had been the first Black lawyer in the Justice Department back in the 60's  (those of us who still carry our civil rights cards in our wallets rarely say “African American. “ We remember Stokely’s words “Black is Beautiful” and how important it was back then to remove the term “Black” from its pejorative sense and shout it loud and proud—but I digress).

                Anyway, Judge Henderson befriended Dr. Martin Luther King and carried on the important work which began with another American Hero—a honkie, actually-- who wrote, “Separate but equal is inherently unequal” ending State sponsored school segregation and setting into motion the Civil Rights Movement which changed America.  That Cal alumnus (thanks to our current administration) now has his name on a double wide trailer just off campus—it having been unceremoniously removed by them from a distinguished Hall on Campus (once dedicated to him) to make room for someone who donated more money than his family could afford.  Can’t wait for 50 years from now when our grand children will see names like Hearst and Haas  removed from Campus in favor of the major donors (probably of Russian extraction)  in 2062.  How quaint to see kids pass under Raskolnikov Gate and hold rallies at Rasputin Plaza.  I’m sure the Sathers and Sprouls won’t mind—money is important, you know.

Today, money trumps character, and Cal is much more about money and much less about heroes—especially ethical and moral ones--but I digress, again. 

                So what happened on the field?

                As alluded to last week, Fifty Shades of Grey should have been entitled:  Fifty Shades of Blue and Gold.”  No one knows more about self inflicted pain than we do.  

                Cal should have had a Float in the Folsom Street Parade.    (Black leathers with white helmets—always a hint of color).  When I was youngger, I used to be in love with a sado-masochist, but I couldn’t break the chain—however, that’s another story.

                Bottom line:  following Cal is painful.  (So was that pun).

What we are watching with our program, specifically Jeff Tedford, is Shakespean--an oft told tragedy.  The man who brought his people (almost) to the top of the Mountain is now being crucified by the rabble.

‘Twas always thus.  

Were it not for Tedford, Cal might never have competed on the national stage. 

The stadium is the house that Jeff built.  (I’m not sure whose responsible for the  porta potties but that’s another story).

He is a fine man, a good father, and devoted family man.  He’s a good person and a good guy.  He’s kept our program scandal free—though that should hardly be the bar upon which we judge excellence.

When bad things happen to good men, it is a tragedy.  It was preventable—however—as most tragedies are.

Gladstone never tired of telling the story about how he overruled his  staff (they were leaning towards Marvin Lewis) by saying, "This guy doesn't want to win, he needs to win."

Alas, it wasn't too many years later when the word around the department was, "He's lost his audacity."

 4th and one at on the Ohio State 25 was punto cero that he hasn't gained it back.

You don’t have to be Joseph Campbell or Sir James Frazier to know:  When there is drought and famine—when the crops fail—when chaos rules--the chief must be cut down and replaced by a younger healthier more fecund leader.  That’s why Williard traveled up the River to take out Kurtz (in Apocalypse Now) and  Marlow went after the original Kurtz in Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. 

Drought and famine?   

Check out these numbers compiled from various articles by other people.

9 consecutive losses to SC.

Third down conversions defended:  96th nationally.

108th out of 120 teams in the FBS in third-down conversion, moving the chains just 30.43 percent (21-of-69) of the time.



·  Combine the last two stats, and Cal has averaged a putrid 4.9 passing yards per play.
·  If you count the six sacks, Cal averaged 2.4 passing yards per attempt against ASU
TWELVE PENALTIES for 119 yards.  And not just one thing:  pass interference, illegal substitution, holding, face mask, Penalties ranking:  108th nationally!

And the most important statistic of all:  Graduation rate?  112 out of 122 schools.  Current GSR?
11th out of 12 Pac  12 schools. I know you don't believe me, so check it out.

Last four years APR?  It has gone down each year.  If we don’t raise it this year, we may not be eligible for a bowl (should we inadvertently qualify).

Now  these numbers are tragic. It's why we cling to our guns and bibles.

Well, what about the kids?  The mistreatment of Brandan Bigelow is also a tragedy.  The kid earned the right to start.  What message is the staff sending to the other players—let alone future recruits—that if one gains 190 yards in 8 carries in two games against top ranked teams—and he can’t carry once against unranked ASU?  What do his parents think?

(Sofele and Anderson played terrifically, but that is not the point).

Teachers are supposed to put children in positions where they can succeed. 

 2nd Point in fact:  Maynard is not aa bad a quarterback as people are saying—he just has poor mechanics throwing right.  His statistics when he rolls left are all world.  He had to be helped off the field, he was roughed up so terribly.

Navy rolled Staubach right.   We could do the same thing to the other side with Maynard.

Also, when getting sacked as often as he was, the coaches should have had him rolling left if for nothing else, to avoid the rush.

Third point of fact:  Even without Bigalow, we ran the ball really, really well.  We just never stayed with it. 
Look at the Stats:  The passing was abysmal—only nine completions and 7 or nine sacks (no one seems to know).

But look at the running game:  We ran 15 times on first down and averaged 5.8 yrds/carry.

We ran 7 times on 2nd down and averaged 14.5 yards per carry (one was a 24 yd TD, by Sofele, and the other a 44yarder by Anderson.

We ran twice on 3rd and picked up 11 yards for a 5.5 yds per carry.

9 times on first down we picked up or lost fewer than three yards, but never lost more than three.  What happened each of those 9 times was that we then went right to the pass on 2nd down.  Not a good idea.  We had mostly incompletions or sacks—meaning we didn’t cut down the distance we had to go for a first down, on third down.

Look at 2nd down.  14 yards per carry.  The shortest gain was 5 yards.  Only once did we run it on first, and eschew the pass for two more plays and continue to run.  We produced a first down!

The law in football is simple:  You run what works until they take it away from you.  When the do that, you run (or pass) to the area where they weakened their chosen defense to stop you.

We succeed with the run, then immediately start the next series with a pass—which inevitably put us in a hole (sometimes it was complete for a first, but mostly it was a sack or incomplete).

Bottom line?  The stadium was empty.  Larry Scott and all the Pac 12 AD's are sure the product (Pac 12 football) will sell, no matter what.  It may elsewere.  But at Cal (with so many other bay Area options) if we don't win, those seats will only be filled by us--and their ain't enough of us to go around.

(One last aside, I was up in the University Club when Featherston grabbed me and said we had to go down on the field.  We found ourselves alone with Sandy Barbour on the Elevator.  She greeted me with a kiss and escorted us to the field.  In another life, the New York Restaurateur, Toots Shor, was Dan Toppings guest at the series every year.  One year they were feuding, but Topping sent Shor his tickets, anyway.  "Dat's class."  Toots told me.  I never fortgot.  And Sandy showed a ton of class on that elevator). 

BTW, I was there when Bruce Jenkins had his conversation with our pal.  He got it mostly right--but things can change in the blink of an eye.  Remember when LBJ was set to fire Hoover and Bradley got wind of it and printed it.  LBJ appointed Hoover for life and told Ben "Go F*&K yourself."

Macbeth had it right:
To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

Go Bears,
Jeffrey Earl Warren ‘70

P..S.  Stop by for some Cab if you get up this way



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