Tuesday, November 06, 2012

NO EXCUSE FOR EXCUSES



               
Churchill’s quote about Russia, “It is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma”  fits Cal to a Tee.

Who can figure us out?

On the plus side, (to site just a couple of examples) Solly Fulp and Justin Parnarese stepped up big time and helped out in ways only one’s lifetime next door neighbor would.  The Athletic Department is currently bending over backwards for Cal fans.  Though the Stadium is still working out kinks, (and parking is a nightmare for  some) the hosts and hostesses that greet you are unfailingly polite and add a terrific feel good feeling, to a disappointing season.

Then there are the minuses—and that creates the enigma.

Once again, Shakespeare nailed it:  

 And oftentimes excusing of a fault doth make the fault the worse by the excuse”.

How humiliating was it that Friday night a couple of two-bit TV announcers felt compelled to make excuses for the Bears on national TV:

 They’ve had an awful lot of injuries this year.”

Last year they had no home field to play on—had to play home games at AT&T Park” 

I HATE being patronized by empty suits.

At least now we know whose fault it is we’ve been losing.  It’s George Bush’s fault!

I’m from the Napa Valley.  I love winers.  But despise whiners—and excuse makers even more. 

Of course I think the Wall St. Journal over did it with their headline last week:

SANDY CUTS WIDE SWATH OF DAMAGE.

That was piling on.

    Injuries?  We’re Cal.  We are no stranger to injuries.  How about when we lost the greatest athlete to come to Cal since Craig Morton, Rick Bennett, to a car accident on a drive up to the Lair of the Bear?  Or  how about perhaps the greatest athlete ever to have attended the University (I’m not forgetting Jensen, Chapman, Munci et al)—Stan Dzura—who was also injured in a car wreck down under during a rugby tour?  The list is endless—from Johnny Ozscweski to Jahvid Best.

I don’t remember hearing whining about all those injuries.

                Injuries haven’t kept a deserving young man, Brenden Bigelow on the bench despite record shattering offensive stats.

                Lack of facilities doesn’t cause special team breakdowns (Lack  of attention to detail causes that).

                Injuries did not cause Cal to lead the nation in penalties.

                Injuries did not cause Cal to play small in The Big Game.

                Injuries did not cause us to shed our dignity and pummel an over matched Presbyterian College.

                Injuries did not cause Cal to be last in the Pac 12 in graduation rates, or be 112 out of 122 schools in another academic metric.  
           
Injuries did not cause Cal to opt for a field goal when tied with Ohio State in the fourth Quarter.  

Injuries did not cause Cal to opt for a field goal when on the one against Southern Utah.

(Quick Quiz:  Who said the following regarding short yardage and field goals?

"When you get inside the 1-yard line, it is too close to take a field goal.”

“I think for the offensive mindset, it’s better to go for the touchdown. I know that my offensive players would rather try to put it in."

You’re right.  That was a younger Jeff Tedford.  You kin look-it-up—I did). 

 BTW a tall good lookin’ guy wrote back then: 

I’m no expert, but Tedford appears to be an unbelievable leader.  The kids believe in themselves and let it all hang out.  That’s all one can ask.”

Excuses? 

 Alexander Pope put it well:  

“An excuse is worse than a lie, for an excuse is a lie, guarded.” 

                Cal wants us—Alumni who love our school--Loyal Californians, all—to live by excuses, to buy into excuses, to believe the excuses—and worse—to pass them along to others. 

 Most of us weren’t raised that way, and I dare say we certainly weren’t educated that way at Cal.

                This is not about a coach’s wins and losses.  This is not about criticizing 20 year olds. 

                This is about institutional failure--a failure of character.

                 When is someone going to stop apologizing for not producing a program we can all be proud of?  Do we have to get Eric Siegel to re-write Love Story so we can all puke in unison as Ali McGraw says, “Football means never having to say you’re sorry?”

                Name your excuse de jure:

                “Desean Jackson’s touchdown was called back against Arizona because it was the first year of instant replay.”

                “Mac Brown cried on TV—costing us a trip to the Rose Bowl.”

                “We have terrible facilities—we can’t recruit.” (Unlike that up to date L.A. Coliseum situated on a campus smack dab  in the heart of scenic Watts).

                “Tree sitters  named Dumpster Muffin, Oak and Burlap hurt recruiting (Could have solved that with one well placed chain saw).

                “Cal is academically too difficult” (Apparently not.  Now that we are last in the Pac 12 in graduation rates, our new motto appears to be, “Come to Cal:  Where you won’t have to hit on defense 0R hit the books.”)

                “He (insert outstanding athlete’s name here--there’ve been half a dozen) doesn’t grasp the offense.” (Maybe it could have been simplified for Longshore, Lynch, Best, and now Bigelow).

                “It’s the legislature.  They won’t fund us properly.” (Actually, it’s the citizens of the state telling their legislators NOT to fund us because they are sick of us courting out of state and foreign students, while teaching sub-par classes where kids make sock dolls for finals—and NOT putting the citizens of the state first and foremost).  Or maybe they’re just tired of the excuses put forth.

                The Excuse extraordinaire? 

                       La Affaire Lupoi:  “It was Tosh’s fault we lost five recruits.”  Really?

                                “We didn’t want to compromise the integrity of our salary structure” (rationale for why Lupoi was only offered a 10% raise out of the box, instead to the final figure rumored to have been  near $300,000).  

                After "shouldda been a bear-Huskie Freshman Shaq Thompson" intercepted that Maynard pass (he also starred in the Huskies upset of the Indians) one has to wonder about the efficacy of the “integrity of the salary structure” concept.   If current coaches lose their jobs due to a new regime, might they have thought differently of the benefits of retaining Tosh—at whatever price?       
           
                And the worst of all:  It was Tosh’s fault we faked injuries to try to stop Oregon’s powerful offense. 

                Throwing young men like Tosh under the bus doomed Cal’s program.  OK to serve up a sacrificial lamb to Pac 12 Commish Larry Scott and the Chancellor for appearances sake, but both the AD and Head Coach should have stepped up and accepted responsibility—it occurred under their watch--and not use the EXCUSE that it was some assistant which perpetrated the fraud.       
            
                (Remember Bear Bryant,  “When anything good happens they (the players) did it.  When anything bad happens, we (the coaches) did it.”

                Not at Cal.  It’s always the kids’ fault for “not executing properly.”

                And the excuses for why we are last in the Pac 12 in graduation rates—48% graduation success rate and a 47% Federal Graduation Success Rate. 

                Listen to Coach Tedford on graduation rates:  

This score is clearly unacceptable.  While there is little a college coach can do to prevent players from entering the draft for professional leagues, we have an obligation and responsibility to do everything in our power to ensure our student-athletes succeed academically.  We have many student-athletes who want to pursue NFL dreams, but it is essential that we emphasize the importance of them graduating in a timely fashion.”

                Did you read that and think the excuse is that we can’t do anything about kids going pro and it’s hurting our graduation rates?

                 Sandy also makes reference to kids going to the pros in her statement as well.

At the same time, the report shows that the GSR for Cal football fell to 48 percent, down from 54 percent the previous year due, in large part, to the fact that only seven of 19 incoming freshmen in 2005 graduated within six years. ….. Five student-athletes from that same class elected to enter the NFL draft before completing their degree requirements.”

Once again, are they saying kids going pro are hurting our rates?

IF THAT IS WHAT THEY (OR THEIR LAWYERS) ARE LEADING YOU TO BELIEVE, IT IS CATEGORICALLY UNTRUE!  

Now, nothing they said is false—it’s just lawyerly misleading:    If you believe that Bill Clinton “Did not have sexual relations with that woman,” both the Coach’s and the AD’s excuses are permissible.  

As you will read below, if the players who left for the pros were making academic progress, they would NOT have hurt our totals—in fact they would have helped.

The words  are from the NCAA Website, and you can call and talk to Maria DeJulio, NCAA Research Contractor, at 913-397-7668 yourself, since I’m sure you won’t take my word for it.

In addition, the GSR will subtract students from the entering cohort who are considered allowable exclusions (i.e., those who either die or become permanently disabled, those who leave the school to join the armed forces, foreign services or attend a church mission), as well as those who would have been academically eligible to compete had they returned to the institution.

Apparently, our kids who went to the pros weren't "ALLOWABLE EXCLUSIONS".

So not only are we getting excuses, we are getting half truths.  The kids who left were clearly not on a path to graduate, or they wouldn't have counted against us. If they were on the path to graduate, they would have helped our numbers.  The truth is being obfuscated and now distorted.   Not a neat thing to do at an institution of higher learning.

But the grade thing is no joke.  A tall good lookin’ guy has been writing about it for years and he’s been heavily criticized for making Cal look bad by speaking about sock doll classes and dozens of other Micks which are available to athletes and all students in general.

This all starts at the top—way above Coach Tedford.   That was the entire point of the campaign to help Rugby to Save Cal—not the other way around.  Cal (the entire University) is on a downward slide due to questionable decisions at the top.

Remember my Grandfather’s favorite poem, The Lure of the Tropics, by Jeremy Hay:

“You don't go down with a hard, short fall; you just sort of shuffle along,
And lighten your load of the moral code, till you can't tell the right from the wrong.” 
     
Where would we be today had we fessed up that there is something wrong with US.   The question becomes,  could we now be where WE WOULD HAVE BEEN IF we had spent more time analyzing our weaknesses, and less time building alibis to cover them?

It’s happening before our eyes and it’s no one’s fault but ours.  What’s the excuse?  We foster a climate of excuse making, because we buy into it.  It takes two to make an excuse—one to speak it, and one to accept it.

We permit it.  We condone it.  We don’t disavow it.  That’s the enigma.  We know better.

We need to demand more.  Since when did we decide to settle for mediocrity in any corner of the Greatest University in the World?

                Or As Steve Martin was fond of saying, “Excuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuse me!”