Wednesday, September 18, 2013


Ok.  You can tell me.  I won’t tell anybody.  Promise.

Who put Mr. Peabody’s “Way Back Machine” in Memorial Stadium?

We’ve seen this season before.  New Coach from the South.  All world Quarterback.  A team that tempts and teases more than Tempest Storm (google her, kids) ever dreamt of.  A team that can score on offense but has trouble stopping others on D.   A team with receivers who make great catch after great catch.  A team that scares the hell out of more talented opponents, but eventually gets worn down and has to settle for “moral victories.”

                Hey.  It’s fun football.  For three games now it’s been a treat to go to Memorial Stadium and play a spunky David to heavily favored Midwestern Goliaths (with a flag football Interlude against Portland State in betwixt).

                One can see why they’ve chosen to take us back to 1964.  That season was one for the books.  We beat Missouri, then lost to 3rd ranked Illinois (if Jerry Bradly had worn a size 7 shoe instead of 7 and a half we would have won—barely stepped on the chalk line with the game winning TD grab ), Minnesota, SC (once ranked #2), UCLA and Washington all by a touchdown or less. We beat Miami and Roger Staubach’s Navy.  I forget what happened against the Indians and Utah beat up an over-achieving worn out team, but what a fun season!  Alas 3 and 7, but what a 3 and 7!

                (I’m no historian.  If you want the details ask Stoney or Dave Bush.  They remember every play of every game).

                But throwing mostly to Jerry Bradley, Jerry Mosher, and Jack Schraub (receivers names had to start with a “J” back in the day),  NCAA Hall of Famer Craig Morton kept us all entertained.  Dzura was wracking havoc on defense along with Jerry Walters, Lauren Hawley and St. Helena’s Jim Hunt, and we were in every game.

In true Cal fashion, we kept believing that one Saturday, we’d get to kiss that prom queen—though week in and week out that screen door slammed in our faces.

                But what a ride!

                This year is deja vu all over again, without a doubt.  The kids are playing inspired ball.  The offense is something we’ve never seen before: (This is what it must have been like for my grandfather when Frankie Albert was running that odd “Tee” formation under Pop Warner, which replaced the single wing down on the farm.  As fans we can carp, “They should have run instead of passed”  or vice versa, but we have to keep our mouths shut as to what they should have run.  We haven’t a clue.  Best we can say is “should have gone inside instead of outside.”  No way we can say “Should have faked the dive and run a cross buck over tackle.”

                We are  nothing but a bunch of two handed set shot shooters to Hank Luscetti’s one handed jumper.  We haven’t a clue.

                Call it what you will, the pistol, the read option, the spread formation, the hurry up, run and shoot—who cares?  We’re lucky they haven’t raised ticket prices 50% because we are getting to see 50% more football (90 offensive plays vs. maybe 60 back then).

                But like art or Napa Valley wine, when it comes to football, we know what we like—and what’s not to like here?

                OK. Seeing a Cal Stadium filled with more red and white than blue and gold is definitely a downer.  Piped in music instead of the band playing is a bummer.  Having a “Minime-tron Scoreboard no one can read is a problem.  So we have some things to carp about.  It appears that playing havoc with the schedule--think ESPN and Pac 12 Network—discouraging families and down playing tradition, is adversely affecting the once solid fan base, but Cal—er Berkely--may get its act together at some point.  Putting a halt to Big Game in the Niners stadium was small cause for hope.

BTW a bit of inside baseball.  My buddy in the Athletic Department said all the insiders were SHOCKED at the fan reaction to moving Big Game to the Niners’ Stadium.  They thought it would be great.  Alas, they jettisoned all the Cal guys, Morton, Ortega, and insulted Lupois on the first go-around with a 10% raise over his $164,000—so no wonder they were SHOCKED.  Wait until they find out there is gambling in Casablanca!

With almost no Cal people in the Athletic Department, no wonder they are tone deaf.  This is an easy fix.

            But on the positive side, it looks like they’re getting the academic chaos under control.

                (BTW this Friday in the Heyn's Room of The Faculty Club from Noon to 1:30 p.m., football coach Sonny Dykes will be speaking about academic excellence.  The title of the event is "Sonny Dykes Wants to Talk About Academic Excellence".  You can call 510-643-8395 to RSVP).
If you want to see how to do it right—and it kills me to say this—go and see what Stanford State is doing in this area.

We were on this road—it was announced policy in 1969--but then Willsey got fired and we lost focus.  But this is the only way to go at Cal.

So bring on Mr. Peabody, Sherman and their “Way Back Machine”.  Though we’ve been there before, it is a hoot and one helluva ride.

I miss the single and double bar facemasks (which resulted in far fewer concussions BTW—but that’s another column)—but scaring the bejseus out of more talented opponents, is certainly worth the price of admission.  And who knows where we go from here?

If an offensive mind can turn the world of football upside down, maybe a defensive one can do it as well.
Dates to Remember:  Former Cal #1 Doug King and Cal Tennis Coach Peter Wright are hosting the Audi Napa Valley Tennis classic this weekend.  Alabama, Cal Florida State, Stanford State, Texas A&AM and USTA youngsters will all compete.

It’s a great excuse to come up and share some Cab and thoughts  about Cal. The tennis is unreal and up close and personal.

Kevin Crossland and the Napa Valley Country Club will host  the Napa Valley Tennis Challenge, with qualifying rounds this weekend and the finals on Sunday September 29th.   They’ve invited Cal’s #1 men’s tennis player, Ben McLachlan to participate in the $50,000 USTA Pro Circuit Event and they have declared Tuesday, September 24th “Cal Day” to honor the University of California’s tennis program and coach Peter Wright.

According to the Press Release:

The $50,000 USTA Pro Circuit Napa Valley Challenger is the only professional sporting event to be held in the beautiful Napa Valley. Food and beverages are available for purchase and some of Napa Valley’s finest wines will be featured. General admission tickets are $15 and are available on a daily basis on site at 3385 Hagen Road, Napa 94558 or on the tournament web site

Be there or be square.

Pete Scalia is stopping by for some Cab on Monday.  Follow his lead and join us if you get up this way.

Go Bears—er Berkely—Beat the Bye (this weekend),

Jeffrey Earl Warren ‘70