Posted on: August 23, 2010 8:55 am

The train's heading down the tracks now

Double days are over, the 2010 season is bearing down on us like a freight train.  The question for the Golden Bear faithful is, are we seeing a light at the end of the tunnel, or is that the runaway train of disappointment ready to mow us down?

After the roller coaster rides of the past few seasons, it seems like expectations from the fan base are somewhat in line with the national pundits.  Having seen Cal projected  to finish anywhere from 3rd to 8th in the final standings, what do we do?  In the past, it has seemed like the program has been better when initial external expectations were lower.  Anyone remember Cal vs, U$C in 2003?  Smile

I would like to believe that most dyed-in-the-wool Cal fans like myself are cautiously optomistic.  I truly believe that there's a great base of talent on the roster, which has been the case every year since Jeff Tedford took the reins in 2002.  It remains to be seen if the senior leaders can really guide the younger, more raw players into being a cohesive force.  I'm looking forward to see just how well that works, and how the coaching staff and philosophy changes pan out in a couple of weeks.
Posted on: June 29, 2010 12:25 pm

Football's comin!

I know, I know... it's not even the Fourth of July yet.  But even with all the national frenzy surrounding the World Cup (tongue firmly planted in cheek), we all realize that American football is the US national pastime, and waiting for football to return might be #2, with the NFL Draft and NCAA LOI Day right behind.  (Don't take this as a slight, baseball aficionados, because I love the Boys of Summer too, but facts is facts...)

It's kinda dead around the NCAA, aside from the summer camps that almost every major program runs to showcase their stuff, and influence 15-17 year olds that ol' alma mater is the best choice.  And guys that young give their "Hell, yeah!" to a verbal offer from the Head Coach, and six months later after they've gotten bathed in attention from about two dozen others, they often switch their sworn allegiance.  I have a 15-year old running around my house who's 6'3" and 200 pounds, and he LOVES St. Joseph's University.  That's where he wants to go when college time comes.  Of course, as he's growing into a strapping football player, that plan may well change (much to his mom's chagrin).  He changes his favorites on Facebook, his iPod, girls etc. about every two weeks.  We ALL were like that at that age to a degree.  So expecting star football talent to KNOW what they want right now is probably a bit ludicrous.

That said, with ESPNU running a scroll along the bottom of their programming 24/7 that includes verbal committments every five minutes, what do you expect?  That fact makes it "cool" to make the annoucement now, because what 17 year old wouldn't want to see his name on that crawl on national TV?  Is it time to change the rules?  Was Reggie Bush too flashy rocking an Escalade at $C as a frosh?  But it's all about the money, and I don't see that changing anything real soon.

Posted on: September 8, 2009 9:19 am
Edited on: September 8, 2009 9:23 am

Smoking a Blount

All the handwringing and consternation aside, let's look at the LeGarrette Blount situation for what it is.  Oregon's former coach recruits a terrific athlete but a questionable student and iffy character.  He moves up to run the entire athletic program, and leaves his hand-picked successor to deal with the roster of similar thugs / miscreants.  This powder keg goes off on national television when this guy, who was a complete non-factor, though hyped as a top-three running back pro prospect, gets prickly when his pregame bulletin board statement is barked at him by the opponents he dissed.  Most of us would have walked away with our tails between our legs because we were shown up in public.  Not ol' LeGarrette!  "No one is gonna get in MY face!" and without a hesitation he does what he was raised to do.  He acts like a thug and cold cocks the guy.

OK, that's a bad thing,  And eve some of us in the heat of the moment might react the same.  But here's where lil' Blounty shows his true colors.  As his teammate tries to pull him away from a bad situation, he punches HIM TOO!  And then, while being escorted to the tunnel, as anyone would expect hearing the vociferous reaction from the fans, does he stay calm?  Of course not!  He's not gonna be played like that - he pulls a Ron Artest and tries to get to the fans!  While the rest of the DuckU "brain trust" is nowhere to be found, one assistant, former Nebraska star Scott Frost, manages to rip Blount from the crowd and steer him into the locker room.

I love all the people making excuses for this.  The only thing that was done right was his suspension for the year, and essentially the end of his "college" career.  And ironic that it was the guy who came from outside the Oregon family, the chosen one to succeed Mr. Bellotti, who said no more.  Ironic indeed since the guy claiming to support the decision, Kelly's AD Bellotti, is the one responsible for the mess in the first place.  It's not a stretch to surmise that LeGarrette Blount wasn't going to win the Nobel prize for cancer research in 10 years.  It wasn't the academics that interested Bellotti, who for years has managed, with the help of the big wallet of Nike boss Phil Knight, a Duck alum, to matriculate more than a few "student" athletes that had no business on a college campus.  But DuckNation has gleefully looked the other way while the poorly-dressed program (anyone really say they LIKE those bizarre uniforms?) managed to become nationally relevant.

Selling your soul to gain a competitive advantage at the college level is surely nothing new.  One program, SMU, was made an example of after the Craig James years revealed widespread shenanigans.  Decades later, the Mustangs are a perennial afterthought, while the aforementioned James yammers on national broadcasts about nothing, showing that his time in Texas was little more than a pit stop on the way to his imagined pro glory.  I guess the Washington Federals of the defunct USFL don't quite cut that Hall of Fame mustard for ol' Craig.

The Pac-10 has known the rule-bending ways of its members too.  USC has for decades had questions, even before accepting a JC transfer named Orenthal James Simpson who could not read or write, or being "unaware" that more recent players were enjoying free houses for family, cash from club owners to play hoops, or even having your off-campus digs covered by daddy for you and your top target.  UCLA?  Two words - "Sam Gilbert" - whose riches paid for the talent that the great John Wooden enjoyed, year after year.  And yes, even my beloved Bears were stung by the greed of a renegade, sullen assistant who bought and paid for a point guard who eventually was little more than an afterthought, while his dad counted the cash.  What to do?  Maybe Chip Kelly, coming from New England to take over the Oregon zoo, has stumbled upon the answer.  It will be interesting to see if the rest of college athletics is listening, or even asking the right question.

Posted on: February 17, 2009 6:33 am

Golden Comeback

Cool  It could not have been cooler to watch Cal bitch-slap bitter rival Stanford in the second half of their meeting on Valentine's Day.  It was made especially sweet by the fact that the engineer of that effort used to be one we hated as he elevated a once-irrelevent Cardinal program past the Golden Bears in 18 seasons on The Farm.

Johnny Dawkins looked lost as the gritty Bears scratched and clawed to an 82-75 win, erasing a 22 point deficit over the final 24 minutes.  Now, a team that was chosen to finish 9th in the post-Ben Braun incarnation, less two NBA draft picks on the front line, is a shade away from the top spot with three weeks left.  Not that there isn't some serious work left, such as road games in Arizona and home games against the LA schools, but at 8-4 they have a chance to finish strong and set up a once-unthinkable berth in March Madness.  Once Mike Montgomery solidifies his processes and gets the players he needs, could he surpass his titanic efforts in Palo Alto?  The sky's the limit, and 2009-10 will be interesting with every key piece scheduled to return.

Posted on: October 21, 2008 5:15 pm

What the ....?

Sure, losing to Arizona in the desert isn't the worst indictment of a team.  It was the WAY they lost.  Neither QB looked as though they were ready to play, and the defense couldn't hold up against the onslaught of a RB the size of a pea.

Pity the 'ruins.  I have to believe that the elders on this team will have the Golden Bears ready to make up for it this Saturday.  And it couldn't happen to a "nicer" guy than Rick Nudeweasel.

Posted on: October 1, 2008 2:01 pm

Who's at... QB?

After suffering in the heat watching Kevin Riley have the worst 400 yard passing game I've ever seen, I'm surprised it took Coach Tedford another week to re-open the quarterback competition in Berkeley.  With the Pac-10 schedule and a pre-season top-25 in ASU hitting the Bay Area Saturday, there can be no slow starts or "rookie" mistakes.  At this point in the season, Nate Longshore gives Cal the best chance to win.  Kevin Riley has not performed to the level of even one of UCLA's bevy of scrub-ini signal callers.

With Jahvid Best out, this game will be won or lost with mental toughness and singular focus.  Nate will being that to the huddle with his tours of duty.  The only GOOD thing about the uncertainty is that the Sun Devils don't know who to prep for behind center.  It's a must win for the Golden Bears, and a revenge game from the beating they took in Tempe last season.  This may well be a watershed moment for Tedford and this edition... going a long way to determining just how much of a BCS bowl threat they can be.  And with the Trojans bursting under Beaver pressure, it's anyone's conference to win or lose as we enter the crucial October slate of games.


Posted on: July 13, 2008 7:42 am

Bears and Eagles - Oh My!

With NFL training camps less than two weeks from opening, the excitement of the pigskin is starting to build in my gut.  And, once again, my local team, the Philadelphia Eagles, are wondering if the window to win the Super Bowl has closed.  With an aging and possibly fragile Donovan McNabb at the helm in the final year of his contract, it would seem that this season is do or die.   But do they have enough pieces to make the move first to the top of the NFC East?  A spot the NY Giants parlayed intoi a stunning playoff run, capped by a historic whupping of the heavily favored & unbeaten Patriots on the biggest of pro sports stages for the crown of pro football kinds for a season.

The University of California may have contributed a key cog to the Birds' machine in DeSean Jackson.  The second round draft pick may feel as though he was slighted when he slipped from the big bucks of the first round to the waiting arms of Andy Reid and his "West Coast" offense.  One complaint of the fans, and criticism by observers, was that Big Red's attack didn't have a vertical threat to open up the short passing routes and running lanes for Brian Westbrook.  There's no question that the fleet feel of DJ can fill that role, IF he can get off the line against bigger cornerbacks.  Being about 170 pounds soaking wet won't help Eagle fans rest assured he is strong enough to do just that, but all reports are that DeSean has been working his rear off to learn.  He's missed mini-camp time with a balky hamstring - an injury that can really hamper a speed guy.  But if he can shake that, he may be the rare rookie that Reid will give some key offensive duties.  But even if he has spot appearances with the first team, his other specialty could be even more important.  The Pac-10 record-holder with six punt return TD's could energize special teams that were lifeless in 2007 and cost them the opener in Green Bay, as well as held the team back in other games.  College teams after watching him baffle Tennessee in the opener last season stopped punting within a full Zip code of Jackson - pro teams won't do that until he proves he can make them pay ala Devin Hester of Chicago.  And his 4.2 speed is in Hester's realm, along with some major nifty feet, so it's possible.

So it could be, as DJ goes, so go the Eagles.  And with Golden Bear teammate Mike Gibson also selected by Philly, adding depth to a thin and aging offensive line, who knows what can happen?  Therefore fellow Cal fans, rooting for an Eagle Super Bowl run and an end to the endless disappointments the equally passionate Bird fans have felt in the last quarter century could coincide with our own angst about our long wait to return to the Rose Bowl... we'll be waiting on pins and needles to see if January 2008 will give us that chance!

Posted on: June 29, 2008 7:25 am

Woo hoo! The NBA Draft is over!

Talk about an event that I'd watch only with bamboo spikes shoved up my fingernails!  The only good thing about this fact is that we are a few days closer to the MLB All-Star Game, and ever approaching is the NFL Training Camp commencement!  Finally... FOOTBALL IS BACK!!!!

Category: General
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