14

Destination: Fort Worth

On the one hand, I am surprised Cal has wound up in the Armed Forces Bowl. It seemed like everyone I talked to was pretty convinced Arizona State was going to go to the Fiesta Bowl if it beat Arizona on Saturday. The Sun Devils were BCS-eligible and why wouldn’t the Fiesta Bowl want the local team?

On the other hand, the Fiesta Bowl made the right choice. Arizona State simply isn’t worthy of a BCS game. Yes, the Sun Devils are 10-2 and shared the Pac-10 title with USC. But they played eight of their 12 games at home and lost to both USC and Oregon.

Had ASU been picked by the Fiesta Bowl, Cal would have wound up in the Emerald Bowl in San Francisco. Since the Sun Devils weren’t, they were slotted No. 6 among the Pac-10′s six bowl-eligible teams and therefore in line for the Armed Forces Bowl bid.

Sometimes, bowls make deals with each other within the conference so it wasn’t set in stone Cal was going to Fort Worth. In fact, Armed Forces Bowl executive director Tom Starr said Sunday night that he was talking to the Las Vegas Bowl about swapping with UCLA. But both bowls stayed put.

Cal will be playing Air Force in the Armed Forces Bowl. The Bears beat the Falcons in 2004 but lost to them in 2002. In fact, the loss in ’02 was Jeff Tedford’s first as Cal’s coach (after starting his first season 3-0). Air Force is 9-3 and finished second in the Mountain West Conference.

It should be a nice trip for running back Justin Forsett, who is from nearby Arlington, Texas. I talked to Justin’s father last week for a story and he was really hoping the Bears would wind up there. Freshman quarterback Brock Mansion is the only other player on Cal’s roster from Texas (Dallas).

The Armed Forces Bowl is on New Year’s Eve at 9:30 a.m. Pacific Time, and on ESPN.

You have to wonder what the next month is going to be like for the Bears. How motivated will they be to play in this lower-tier bowl game after their sights were set so high two months ago? They certainly haven’t given a very inspired effort the past couple of games. If the Bears felt like they had something to prove, why didn’t we see it against Stanford? If the Big Game can’t get them to play closer to a higher level, will the Armed Forces Bowl? It may be a big game for the underclassmen, to set things up for the spring and next season.

Reflecting on the Big Game, obviously Cal was disappointed with its offensive performance. The Bears went to a lot of two-receiver sets because of the absence of DeSean Jackson. I’m not sure how much that affected the Bears. When Robert Jordan sat out the UCLA game, Cal stuck with more three-receiever sets.  For the record, Tedford said it didn’t affect the game plan that dramatically.

The defense is what it is. Giving more reps to Greg Van Hoesen and Justin Moye at linebacker didn’t make much of an impact, good or bad.

Some leftover comments Saturday’s postgame interviews:

Linebacker Worrell Williams: “They’re not a better team than us. No way, no how. You guys know that. Everybody knows that. But you couldn’t tell from today’s game. Take nothing away from them. Coach Harbaugh has those guys playing hard. They’re a good team. But we killed ourselves today. That’s what we’ve been doing.”

Moye: “That was the best Stanford team I’ve ever played against. They came out hitting hard. We just couldn’t answer it, I guess.”

Linebacker Zack Follett: “We were riding so high on what we had going. Once we faced a little adversity, everything kind of tumbled down from there. Once again, I don’t think we had the leadership to bring it up. Me being a senior next year, I’m going to have to fill those shoes. That’s going to be my biggest thing in the offseason to work on so it doesn’t happen again.” 

Jonathan Okanes

Jonathan Okanes is in his fourth year covering Cal's football team. Previously, he covered Cal's men's basketball team for four years. He can also be followed on Twitter at twitter.com/OkanesonCal.

  • Big D

    I guess CAL just gave up on the season once they lost to OSU. At least our basketball team is 5-0!

  • igor zalenski

    >>I don’t think we had the leadership … I’m going to have to fill those shoes.<<

    Leadership starts from the top so, unless ZF plans on pushing Tedford under a moving bus*, there isn’t a lot that can be done. *Figuratively speaking, of course.

  • DJ

    The Fiesta Bowl did not have the option to take ASU because WVa & Hawaii both had automatic bids.

  • Robert

    It seems that after looking at the past two games the players have quit on Tedford. Postgame quotes from the players about the opponent playing harder seem to back that up. This next month will be really interesting. How are things going to change? It doesn’t seem like a problem to be fixed quickly.

  • TC

    It doesn’t matter what the reason is for the losses…we can magnify them however possible. Offense, defense, football acumen, Longshore’s inability to rally/loss of confidence, coaching staff’s planning/mental preparation, leadership – we just absolutely suck big time in all aspects – this is probably by far one of THE worst fall out in college football history – we just stunk in every possible category. I highly highly doubt the AP will rank us in the top 50 next year preseason. Forget this season. Thank god the pain is over. On to basketball season. Armed Forces Bowl – what is that?

  • txgordo

    Is it time for Jeff Tedford to move on? Cal, as a university, does not seem to be committed to football, as the ‘tree issue’ indicates. Coach T needs a school that will back him, and give him the facilities needed to build a great program. There is no doubt that Cal had talent. Pete Carroll gets his guys back after losing to Stanford. We respond to our OSU loss with a loss to UCLA. Where ARE the leaders? Where is the heart?

  • Go Bears82

    It figures. Granted they were an epic disappointment this year, but I would have gone to see them at the Emerald Bowl. I guess I’m a glutton for punishment.

  • curtis birch

    cal bears fans traditionally have been gluttons for punishment over the last 20 plus years. ever since a field goal stole a the rose bowl from the chuck muncie/joe roth team and texas stole it from the 2004 team, and a few strange plays/calls in last year’s AZ game was the difference from the bears taking the pac-10 title outright, the list goes on, when will the pain ever cease? there will always be punishment until the bears finally reach the rose bowl or beyond. bring it on and go bears!

  • Big D

    Did anyone notice in the CAL awards banquet, that Desean Jackson didn’t get one single award including no MVP (Forsett & DeCoud)that tells me a lot.

  • Will

    Big D – what does it tell you? That he was injured?

  • dball

    Desean not getting an award tells me two things, one of them is conspiracy-related: 1) Tedford stopped calling long plays in Desean’s direction because Tedford wants Hawkins to get drafted and he wants Desean to stay one more year, and 2) as a result of #1, Desean got pissed and gave up just like everyone else on the team.

  • Big D

    Will,
    I don’t know what Deasean not getting an award means. Forsett has been hurt all year and is still grinding away. Follett was hurt and he is still grinding away. Desean wasn’t hurt until Washington. The team votes on the awards and to me that means the team doesn’t veiw him as an MVP, inspirational, hard worker, etc. That is just my guess. Maybe, and I don’t know and am purely speculating, but he might have been a Barry Bonds type attitude. If that were the case, that would explain a lot about what happened this year.
    My opinion is that Desean is gone and won’t play in the bowl game so that he can save himself for the draft. Why would he stay? Another 6-7 year and another year with INT prone Longshore?

  • Paul ’04

    Dball- That is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard. I am not going to voice my Desean complaints…i.e. Sack up, show some pride, and play! The people that say Tedford should move on obviously never graduated from Berkeley. I have been going to games since 1980, the year I was born, with my father, a Cal grad of 1968. Beat it, you posers. You don’t know jack %^&* about Cal football. Go Bears! Tedford still gets props.

  • OakTrib

    Oakland Tribune has a new Sports Spat question:

    WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE LONGSHORE BE THE STARTING QB NEXT SEASON?

    We’re looking for input from REAL Bear fans – send this to your buddies. We’re gonna print letters in the paper Friday Dec. 14.

    Tell us why or why not – give us reasons and support.

    Send to Turn2@angnewspapers.com — IMPORTANT: Include your first/last name and your city.

    Thanks.

    Andy
    Asst. Sports Editor