If ever there was a season for Cal fans to sit back and enjoy watching their student-athletes play, this is the season. I say this coming off of Saturday’s 52-34 loss to Ohio State in front of a packed Memorial Stadium… packed because Ohio State fans constituted about 35% of the crowd (and more on that later).
I know 2013 is going to be painful. Winning is better than losing, we all get that. I also love that Coach Dykes and the team aren’t talking about moral victories. I wouldn’t expect any different. But as fans we would look like idiots to think that the toughest schedule in the country being played by the 2nd youngest team in the country isn’t going to be tough. Throw in a slew of key injuries on defense to an already young squad and well, you get my point.
There are seasons in sports, and they don’t happen often, where one gets the feeling that “this is the year” that sets up the next year… I remember this same feeling in 1987 when the Oakland A’s finished 2nd to the Twins that year. You knew as that season evolved you were part of the foundation of a bright future. When the A’s went on their great run it made it that much greater to have been there before it happened. That’s the feeling I get in Berkeley now.
Something special is happening at Cal. Against Northwestern almost 60,000 were in attendance to see Coach Dykes in his premier. That is coming off three bad years in a row, 2 of them without bowl games and the previous year at 3-9. It was a great, spirited and loud crowd. There is a new engagement between the Coaching staff and the community. I get the sense these coaches really like being in BERKELEY and at Cal and I believe the fans appreciate that in return. Cal is reaching out more to the community. The weekly Wednesday night radio shows from the Field Club at Memorial Stadium are a great idea and a lot of fun – you should go! If you haven’t had a chance to interact with our players, you should. These are a bunch of charming, articulate and good people. They make you terribly proud to be a part of the Cal family.
I want to give a special shout out to the Ohio State fans and Marching Band. I loved the guy above so much I had to take his picture! I believe it was the most visiting fans I have ever seen in Memorial, by most accounts they made up about 40% of the crowd. There’s been a lot of angst and gnashing of teeth on some of the Cal fan blogs… Just chill. I talked to many people who lived out here in California who were excited to see their Buckeyes in person, and a lot of folks who made the trip out from Ohio. Football and Ohio State are different than Football and California. I suspect they like that. And I suspect we like that. Sometimes you just have to tip your hat to the other side. The OSU people (with just a few of the typical exceptions) gracious and quick with the praise about what a spectacular setting Memorial Stadium, Strawberry Canyon and Berkeley are. It was nice to hear. Before the game, what I absolutely love about college sports and intersection match-ups happened – each school’s marching band played the other school’s fight song. You can watch The Ohio State Marching band play “Fight” here (at the 1:06 mark).
I’ll leave the analyzing of X & Os to others that know better (or at least profess to…). I just focus on how I feel as a Cal fan. Right now I feel good. I like our head coach. I like our players. I also like the position that football holds on our campus. Just about the perfect blend if you ask me. We want our team to do well. Oh do we want a Rose Bowl! We’re passionate. But we’re not willing to sacrifice ideals and perspective at the foot of the college football god.
So Cal fans. Hang with this team. You get to watch young players grow before your very eyes. Great things are ahead of us. And it’s always great to be a Cal Bear!!!