So here you are Cal fans, it’s November and coach Jeff Tedford has the Golden Bears playing a game that will decide the Rose Bowl. Athletic director Sandy Barbour must have wanted just this very thing when she tied Tedford to Cal with a new contract and the now famous “Golden Handcuffs” which give him an additional $2 million if he finishes his current contract.
And with the backdrop of the City of Berkeley suing to stop construction of Tedford’s new facilities, facilities that would keep the ball rolling forward in terms of football at the university, and the UC system pausing for a moment to decide the proper course of action, the Bears are trying to enter territory not seen since Dwight Eisenhower was president.
Of course, since I’ve been around, a relatively short time considering Cal began playing football in 1882, it seems that it’s always something … something negative … getting in the way of a successful burst of sports energy at Cal.
There was Bruce Snyder taking the football team to unfamiliar heights only to see Bob Bock(releasemy)rath screw it up by letting Snyder slip away to Arizona State. The basketball team landed Jason Kidd, but the players didn’t like the coach. The new coach, Todd Bozeman, was liked by the players, but why not? He was slipping them cash. The football team landed Steve Mariucci, but his agenda caused him to skip over Cal like a rock over an eight-foot creek.
When Cal eventually hired Jeff Tedford, their second choice, athletic director Steve Gladstone said he thought Tedford could build a winning program with the current crummy facilities. Everyone laughed.
Tedford, meanwhile, made Gladstone a prophet, getting recruits more interested in Xs and Os than locker room video games and lounge chairs. However, he said the entire time that such success would only last so long in the university didn’t step up to the plate.
Miraculously, Cal did step up to the plate and started raising funds for a stadium renovation. Now that they have the money, the city isn’t happy. Seems the site isn’t safe because it’s on a fault line. I guess the best plan at this point is to move the entire city to Kansas.
Meanwhile, Cal keeps plugging along, trying to get a little attention on the East Coast, which thinks Cal universities begin at USC and end at UCLA. Oh, and there also is that Stanford place, which is well known because of John McEnroe.
With all that weighing down upon the collective Cal mind, the Golden Bears go into Saturday’s game with the chance to set the world right. There is no city council to consider, no administrative red tape. No polls, no sportswriters, no computers. The formula is simple, win and go to the Rose Bowl. Period.
So if DeSean and Marshawn and Desmond and Brandon and Daymeion, et. al, get their act together for one glorious evening, play out of their minds, then Old Blues can die happy, Cal fans can weep and Strawberry Canyon will again be a place of peace and beauty and not just the cover of some boiling pot.
Will the players carry Tedford off on their shoulders? We will find out in just over 24 hours.