Saturday, September 05, 2015

WE SMELL ROSES!




            “Come back to reality!  I will—but only as a tourist.”  That great line from A Thousand Clowns, should be placed on the tombstone of every Cal fan. 
            We are loyal Golden Bears, after all.
            Today is the greatest day of our collective lives—as it is every opening day of each and every year.  Today we are undefeated.  Today our beer mug runneth over with hope.   Today all things are possible.
            It is like the first day of work at a new job—the first day of school—the first day of marriage before she asks, “Are you really going to wear that shirt?”
            Today we are a gallant Sisyphus not aware that the rock we push up that hill, is going to roll back down no matter what we do.
            Today one wakes up early with that feeling of anticipation about something he can’t really put his finger on.  Hope is in the air and won’t come down until that first touchdown is called back on an illegal motion penalty.
            Today the Green Sheet is read oh so slowly, saving the Cal article for last.
            It’s fall—well almost.  It’s Saturday morning.  In just a few hours the Band will take the field, soon followed by the Bears.  One of them will perform majestically.  They will be the epitome of perfection.  The other—we can only hope.
            Wherever I go (he says immodestly) people ask if they’ve “fallen off the list” or what ever happened to “A Cal Fan’s Notes.”
            “I just couldn’t do it anymore,” I tell them.  Who wants to write negative stuff about something he loves.  If you have a lover who cheats on you, do you want to spend your life talking about her faults to your friends? 
            In some respects the Bears are symptomatic about all that has gone wrong with higher education in these United States.  From Political Correct Speech in the classroom, to “Trigger warnings “ on books, to bloated administrations, to silly courses on gender identity, to dumbing down tests, to inflated grades, to excessive drug use, to anti-Semitism, to flooding the Campii with out of state students (and then giving them scholarships so they can afford to pay more to come here); to denying admission to qualified California citizens; to the stupidest approach to sex in the history of mankind—but I digress.
            Let’s not criticize the Bears.  Let’s start out on the bandwagon and all pull in the same direction (except for tolerance for low GPA’s).
            It’s a new year.  In an attempt to cleanse their souls, the folks at Burning Man will torch the monument upon which they all laid their sins of the past year—burn him to the ground, in the knowledge that they may begin this new year cleansed of all the sins of their past.
            Let us do the same with the Bears.
            Let’s make a pact.  We will not bring up past Cal football transgressions in exchange for one thing.  No, not a winning season.  It isn’t just about W’s.
            It’s about being proud of the young men representing the greatest institution in the world.  It’s about Andy Smith saying, “

                                    We don’t want men who will lie down bravely to die
                                    But men who will fight valiantly to live.
                                    Winning is not everything,
                                    And it is far better to Play the game squarely and lose
                                    Than to win at the sacrifice of an ideal

            That, and a little blocking and tackling—mostly the latter. 

            A Rose Bowl visit before we go that Campanile in the sky might be nice, too.
            One might say that given today’s world a school like Cal will never be able to recruit the kind of players that could take us to the Rose Bowl.  But they are wrong.  Stanford State has proved it. 
            Much as we dislike the Stanford State Indians, we should simply follow their model—recruit only the best and the brightest and watch what happens. 
            This is Sonny Dykes third year.  He has brought great excitement to Memorial Stadium, but also produced a conundrum.  How can a college team do so well on offense and so poorly on defense?
            Jared Goff may be the best QB in college football today. Or maybe he’s in a system which maximizes his incredible talent.
            For two years running Cal has had not just a bad defense—but the worst in the country.  How does that happen?
            Scoring quickly has it’s pluses—but it has many minus’s as well.  And at some point this staff is going to have to figure out the calculus between putting points on the board and taking time off the clock.  Both are vital to a winning season.
            So what will our record be?  Well Grambling State has never beaten a Division I (or whatever we are called) school.  So we should win at least one game.  We could win 8, we could win five, we could win just one or two.
            Last year we lost some games we might have won and won some games we should have lost.
            Personally (not that you care) I won’t judge the season on wins and losses.  (If Goff gets hurt, what happens then?).
            No, I will judge it on defense, tackling and hitting.  If we hit.  If we tackle (two items which have been missing the past two years), then regardless of our record I will jump on the band wagon and say we are on the right road.
            If we don’t do either of those things, I’m inclined to say that we’ve been riding the arm of an out-of-state QB, and the program is not going in the right direction (i.e. without Tedford recruit, Goff where would we be?).  And that is no way to build a program.
            But it’s opening day, and we’ve yet to lose a game. So until proven differently, for today, at least, I smell Roses.