OK Cal fans… When we sing FIGHT FOR CALIFORNIA do we mean it? When we command everyone YOU TELL THE WHOLE DAMN WORLD THIS IS BEAR TERRITORY are we being serious? I have a lot to say (shocking) but I’m going to start with some straight talk. Now Cal has some AMAZING fans… We have people who have stuck with this team despite a 50-year Rose Bowl drought and, quite frankly, more bad seasons than good. The vast majority of the Cal family is awesome… But, I’m embarrassed by some of what I’ve seen the last few weeks (and I include myself in that).
We’re 5-4. We still have a quarter of the season to play. Here’s the time we show our mettle. We’re all in this together and it’s time to frickin step up and unite as Bear Nation!!! I’m going to be blunt here – stop your fucking complaining. Stop going to the blogs and saying “I need a place to vent.” Really, why? Why do you really need a place to vent? Stop bashing the coaches and questioning their future. Stop questioning the ability of the players. Yes, the Oregon and UCLA games sucked. You know that. I know that. They know that. Do you think you accomplish a thing by petulantly complaining online? You don’t. Well actually you do – you look like Tennessee basketball fans circa 2014. Is that what you want? [UPDATE: After talking with many people and chatting on the blogs, I don’t think I articulated this well enough, so I want to make sure I get this thought in] Now I totally get wanting to talk about the game and particular plays, and to commiserate with others. But here’s the problem… that sort of rational conversation gets conflated with the absurd, and it all just add to a cacophony of negativity. Man, if you feel like I do, it’s time for you to make your voice heard (you can do that best in Memorial Saturday night!). I’d love to hear your thoughts so feel free to leave a comment.
OK, now for some more typical Fiat Lux pep and perspective.
We’re 3/4th the way through the season. We are 5-4 after losing four straight games of what everyone knew going into the season would be a brutal four game stretch. We all thought we could pull at least one if not two of them out… And we ALMOST did! And while I’m an avowed sunshine pumper, I really did believe we could win them all. As you’ll recall I spoke to the team before the season (have I told you this story… a hundred times…) and said there’s no reason we can’t go 12-0. It’s a competitive frame-of-mind and outlook you simply have to have. But life throws things at you, and when it does how do you handle it? We reset expectations. Let me quickly run through things to this point and then we’ll get to rest.
We started the season with awesome, fun wins against Grambling and San Diego State at home.
Then we went down to Texas and in a thrilling game showed all our offensive fireworks and beat the Longhorns in Austin… And we started something new… Recognizing and embracing that Cal is THE flagship of the University of California, Coach Dykes embraced the state flag to symbolically make that statement. So in Texas, Chris Borrayo carried in the State flag and WE FANS LOVED IT (and couldn’t believe we never thought of that before…). It was awesome to see the California Golden Bears taking the field under the banner of the state flag.
Then we head up to Washington… Now outside of the California schools, Cal fans probably want to beat the the Huskies the most, but the Huskies had sort of owned us the last six years… So we go into Husky Stadium, another loud, hostile environment and come away with a win. And here’s a cool thing, we were so inspired by the team carrying out the California flag in Texas, we decided to bring a huge one to every away game. And so as the team took the field, there it was, and though it’s hard to see, one of the people holding the flag is Kate Dykes, Sonny’s wife. I don’t know, something about that is so cool to me. I wrote a blog about what happened to my buddy 10-year old Emmett after the game… I really would love for you to read it again, because you’ll see what we should be rooting so hard for this team… the kind of guys we have on the team and the sort of culture that Sonny is building.
Then we come home to play Wazzu. And pull out an exciting win – and by the way Wazzu is now 6-3 and a missed last second field goal (sound familiar) away from beating Stanford and in first in the Pac 12. We win, thanks in no small part to an AMAZING run by Vic Enwere to pick up a 1st down on 3rd and 36!!!! That leads to one of my all time favorite tweets, which perfectly captures the ethos of what student athlete means at Cal:
Then we go to Utah for THE nationally televised game of the week, with ESPN College Game Day in town. Oh, and my friend Robert Glickman OWNED GameDay:
And even thought we lost, people were actually encouraged. We went into a hostile environment, playing a top 5 team in the country, and even with lots of mistakes, we came this close to beating them. I know there are no moral victories, and the players and coaches will be the first to say it, but I was proud of the team. They didn’t wilt, they played hard, they just came up a little short.
And then… Then we go down to UCLA and just have a lousy game. As much as we don’t want these sorts of games to happen, they happen. And it’s so frustrating for a huge number of Cal fans because the California games are so special. We hate losing to UCLA. HATE IT. If you’ll allow me this… It was made worse for me because I was in Ohio for business meetings. I left Columbus a 1PM to bring the flag with me, landed at LAX at 5, friends met me and we went to the Rose Bowl and then a red eye back to Columbus for 8AM meetings on Friday that would go all day only to turn around for a Saturday 8AM flight back to San Francisco… Which was fine, except I had to deal with the morons in the UCLA athletic department, who wanted to kick me out of the Rose Bowl for having the gall to unfurl the state flag as the team came out. The self irony on display was incredible, but they lacked both the self awareness and intelligence to realize it.
Then home against USC and again, just so close. We just couldn’t pull it out. And suffer a 6 point loss. But it was a solid effort – and again no moral victories – that you couldn’t be too down on the team. Sure, it was super annoying losing for the, I can’t believe I’m typing this, 13th time in a row to USC, but the team played hard, was well prepared and just came up a bit short.
And that’s where we get to last weekend. Just a terrible game in Eugene. And people are not happy… now I get it… and truth to be told, I was pretty unhappy as I sat in the rain and watched the Duck fans have so much fun… And frankly I embarrass myself when I get like that. I tweeted out a few tweets on my unhappiness from the game, nothing terrible mind you, just normal fan stuff…
And I want to own it so I can be embarrassed by it because here’s why. The players know it was an awful game. The coaches know it was an awful game. I say this to people all the time, but just because you’re thinking something doesn’t mean you have to say it out loud, and that goes for me too. Especially on the Internet where it lives forever and who knows who sees it… It’s one thing to say comments while your’re at a bar or the game or home watching TV, because that disappears into the ether. But stuff on the internet… not so much… And I got annoyed at my friend Matt Foley, which he didn’t deserve, so I want to apologize here, and just all in all, it’s better for me to just shut up.
OK, so that was a lot… the reason I went into all that is to put things in perspective. Yeah, we started off hot, then we lost four in a row… but heck two of the losses were terrific games where we just came up short. We have FIVE wins already… nothing is guaranteed but I’m feeling good about our chances the rest of the season.
I’m not telling anyone how to be a fan. But I’m telling you, this is when we need to rally around the team. Stop with the hand wringing when the season isn’t even over. Buck up!!!! This is where we get to show what kind of fans we are. We are one win away from a Bowl game. 2 wins away from a pretty damn solid season… 3 wins away from a GOOOOD season… and 4 wins (hello Bowl game!) away from a great, full-on turn around… The players have it in them, I know they do, to make this happen. I know the coaches do. I BELIEVE that they do.
Saturday night against Oregon State is the time to actually SHOW UP ON TIME. Students, for the first time since Grambling, get there early, show the team your support. When you pass a player on campus nod and just say “GO BEARS!” Alumni, same goes for you. Yeah, it’s a 7:30 start… you know what, that makes it easy to get there on time. Night games at Memorial are FUN!!! I love this team. We have some of the best guys on this team I can ever remember having at Cal. They’ve done nothing but represent this great University, great. They are terrific people. They are committed to Cal. And they have been fighting all season long. I believe in them. I believe in you as Cal fans. We’d had a tough stretch these past 5 years and now is our chance to throw off the shackles and to enjoy the palms of victory and success!!! Not to get too philosophical, but be the change you want to see!!!
Are you with me…
YOU KNOW IT!!!!
YOU TELL THE STORY!!!
YOU TELL THE WHOLE DAMN WORLD THIS IS BEAR TERRITORY!!!