Do Yourself a Favor – Be 10 Again and Dream of Rose Bowls

Dreaming of Rose Bowls….

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The California Golden Bears are 4-0 in football! No, that doesn’t quite sound right… let me say that again…

The CAL BEARS ARE FOUR and OH!!!! We’re back in the polls at 24!!! And we can now add Seattle to Austin as being Bear Territory!

I wasn’t sure what photo to use to headline this post. Or what to write for that matter… A recap of another exhilarating road win… another demon crossed off our list… extending our perfect record to 4-0.  Back in the national rankings… So what photo to use… An action shot of a play? One of friends, or the band? The giant California flag we brought?

Nope. Others can recap the game better than I can. This weekend, and the moment captured up there in particular, reminds me of why we love sports. And why I love and am so passionate about Cal. That’s my buddy Emmett. A few weeks ago I talked his dad Dave Tjen – one of the most hard core Cal fans I know – into joining me in Seattle for Emmett’s first ever Cal road game.

Seattle, consider yourself annexed… #BEARTERRITORY

We stayed at the team hotel and throughout Friday evening as we just relaxed, had dinner and hung out in the lobby, player after player would come up and say hi to Emmett and high five or fist bump him… Daniel Lasco, Steven Moore, Mike Barton, Kenny Lawler, Stefan McClure and so many others… Coach Dykes came up and said hi, and a little later Kate Dykes – who is simply sensational – came and joined us for a while too. Later, well after midnight, Emmett was so excited he couldn’t get to sleep.

After the game we hung around with the families to see the players and staff and just soak in the good feelings of another win. I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating because it amazes me how many people don’t get this; winning is more fun than losing.  And winning is also really hard, so when you win, you need to enjoy it.

So after the game, even though they were tired and sore and beat up, all of the players once they saw Emmett’s beaming smile would break into smile and come talk with him and pose for a photo. Jared Goff, Jalen JeffersonChris Borrayo, Stephen Anderson

It is absolutely endearing how the guys treat our fans, and especially our young fans. And then something REALLY special happened… both Trevor Davis and Chris Borrrayo gave Emmett their game gloves… now to say Emmett was excited would be an understatement.

So after dinner and getting back to the hotel, when Emmet was finally able to get to sleep, he went to sleep the only way a 10 year old would know how; wearing those gloves he was given!  I can only wonder what he was dreaming about… Ah, to be ten again!

People get on me sometimes because when it comes to Cal I’m relentlessly, or unrelentingly, positive. I just don’t have time or the room in my life for being negative and bitching and moaning. Am I disappointed when we lose, oh yea I am. Do I find myself thinking that it’s crazy I allow something over which I have no control, played by a bunch of 18-22 year old guys, to impact my emotional state and mood?  Yep. And it is. But it’s what makes life so incredibly fun.

I even got a hug from Kate Dykes – actually a few… and you know what, hugs of joy are awesome!  We need more of those! After our next win, hug the Cal fan next to you!

ken and kate

I want to close this out with my other favorite moment of the weekend. Last week in Austin, Stephen Anderson dropped a pass – an easy pass – that would have clinched the victory in much less dramatic fashion than it took to get the win over Texas… But because this is a TEAM we still won the game… the team gets your back!

But, when he came over with the team to celebrate with the fans he wasn’t looking so happy… and then, oh and then you could hear it, his mother yelling “WIPE THAT SAD LOOK OFF YOUR FACE!!!” Nobody, but nobody, is messing around with Charlene Anderson!  I LOVED IT!!! He talked about it here and about how his mom is always there for a kiss… and sure enough, after the game on Saturday…

This team has something special going but they know it’s all about focusing on the next game… The next game is ALWAYS the most important game. But if they do that they should embrace Coach Martin’s rallying call “WHY NOT CAL!”  So there you go.  Cal is 4-0. We haven’t lost a game. We’ve won twice on the road already. Don’t worry about the flaws, you have no control over it. Just appreciate and enjoy the wins. And you know what, don’t be afraid to be a 10-year old again and DREAM of a Rose Bowl…

Now THIS is BEAR TERRITORY! Cal Football is back!!!

Courtesy Kelley Cox, USAToday

Means FIGHT for CALIFORNIA!

Perfection. That’s about what any Cal fan will tell you Saturday was. (Be sure to read all the way through for a raucous Bear Territory – how YOU should be doing it!)

As I’ve bored you already (and will again I am sure), it was such and awesome honor to have Coach Dykes have me speak to the team last Sunday after practice. They are a FOCUSED group. One of the things I conveyed to them is their focus is shared by the fans and they should feed off that because something special is happening. There is a sense of excitement in the Caliverse and you hear it talking with fans, alumni, past players… This doesn’t happen a lot but there are times in life where you don’t even need retrospect, you can actually sense in the moment that you are at an inflection point. 1990 was one such year for Cal football.  2003 was another. And I believe 2015 (can it REALLY  be 2015 all ready… how is that possible?) is definitely such a time.

And the proof? On the kind of spectacular Bay Area September Saturday that we all brag about and people visiting wonder “why aren’t we livingmemorial stadium view2 here,” more than 60,000 people filled into Memorial Stadium. For a game against an FCS opponent… Truth be told, also for a chance to watch the world famous Grambling State Marching Band who was kind enough to bring along their football team for the game. And while the Grambling band lived up to expectations and then some, and their football team played gamely though over-matched, it was the Cal offensive juggernaut and the rejuvenated defense that had the fans in such high spirits. It was such a sense of good feeling that the Grambling State Marching Band received a standing ovation for their scintillating halftime show… and late in the game down 73-0, when Grambling finally scored, what was left of the crowd gave the visiting team a nice round of applause.  I thought it was a terrifically gracious gesture, as if to say, way to hang in there and keep fighting (and we’ve been there before). It’s what college sports is supposed to be all about.

Speaking of what college sports is all about, a huge – HUGE – shout out to the students who filled the Student Section well before kickoff… THAT is what the team hopes for and NEEDS every week… We are ALL in this thing together… And while the “Bear Territory” got drowned out a little by the piped in music, you could see the players feeding off of you so make  it happen again next week!!  Also a massive “job well done” to everyone in Cal Marketing who worked their asses off to make that big crowd happen. These things don’t happen on accident and by themselves and as much as we’ve complained about some of the marketing in years passed, it’s great to see that group REALLY stepping  up too…

I had a chance to talk with men’s basketball coach Cuonzo Martin during the game. His #WhyNotCal brings tears to my eyes because it’s so right – WHY NOT CAL!!!!  A lot of us have been saying this for YEARS… We have the world’s greatest public University – arguably the greatest university, period – in the country’s fourth largest media market. We have tradition and pageantry that are second to none… and we have a fan base with the pent up anticipation of a 40 year old ve… well let’s just say we’re ready to EXPLODE! Yep, Cal fans have been thirsting for this mindset for years and finally we’ve got it in both Basketball (men’s AND women’s) and football!  That of course in addition to all the Olympic sports and the mightiest of Cal sports, Rugby.

Others will dissect the game. All i know is this makes me very happy.

Finally, one last word about that Grambling State Marching Band… SENSATIONAL! As I mentioned their halftime show was amazing, and man do they know show business and how to play to a crowd because the finished with California Love and as on cue, the Cal crowd showered them with California love with a standing ovation… That is the first time I have ever seen that for a visiting band – at ANY school.

After the game both bands performed a 5th quarter show for about 7,000 fans who stayed, and were all glad they did. While both bands performed well, there is little doubt it was Grambling State who stole the show.

After receiving a huge ovation the students in the band all waved back to the crowd.  I have to think as they get home, game results aside, they’re going to tell their friends and family and anyone who will listen, what a great time they had in Berkeley. In my book, that’s a pretty great thing to be a part of.

And of course the only fitting  way to end is with Daniel Lasco leading a resounding version of BEAR TERRITORY!  If you made it all this way, thanks much for reading!  GO BEARS!!!

Cal Football 2014 – WERE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED!!!

VICTORY!

YES!!!  Cal Football 2014 was WILDLY ENTERTAINING!  Let’s put a few things in perspective… Last year our Cal Bears were 1-11.  We were blown out by historic margins in all but 2 games.  But through it all, game after game, blowout after blowout, I stayed through to the end.

Staying til the end against Oregon State

This year that all changed.  Cal quintupled its win total over last year.  The games were competitive. The games were FUN.  So you’ll forgive me for not moping over the loss on Saturday and instead being excited about what happened this year!!

You know, I realize I can be the most annoying positive person on the planet. I just hate wallowing in misery and defeat (and I’ve experience plenty). It’s just how I get through life, seems to work for me but certainly not you have to do it.  So leaving Memorial Stadium on Saturday afternoon,  like everyone I was disappointed in the loss.  But I certainly wasn’t disappointed in the season.  And I wasn’t upset and I wasn’t disappointed for me.  I was disappointed for the players and the coaches. I’ve seen how much they have embraced the Cal community. So I just want to share my thoughts on why I loved this season so much and why I am so excited for next year.

I’ve seen how incredibly accessible these coaches are (and their families) to the fans. I would find it hard to believe there is another coaching staff in American who is as interactive with the fans and community as this staff is. Heck even their wives – if you go to the game and you’re sitting by her, be prepared for Kate Dykes to come over and high five after every great play!

For instance, Offensive Line Coach Zach Yenser and his awesome wife Beth were nice enough to invite me (a Thanksgiving orphan) over to dinner for Thanksgiving.  Beth and Zach and his folks, sister and brother-in-law provided one of the nicest Thanksgivings possible (and son Graham provided the entertainment!).  And here’s the thing.

They’re all southerners.  And you know what they all said – THEY LOVE CALIFORNIA.  They said that the Student Section for the Big Game was better than any student section in the SEC.

And they’re not alone. Heck several of the coaches live within walking distance of Memorial Stadium including famously Tony Franklin  who has a loft in downtown Berkeley.  They have welcomed back former players.  They have our current players singing the fight song after game – when do you remember that happening?  The classroom performance is on its way up.  We have players who you should be proud are at Cal.

Adcock

Going into the season, after what can only be described as a brutal 2013 campaign,  fans were almost uniformly of the same belief; we wanted to see 3 or 4 wins, a win over a traditional  rival would be nice, and we wanted to see the team be  competitive.  Well you know what, we got two of the three.  Cal was in just about EVERY game.  3 of our losses were one possession losses, including a Hail Mary.  We fought back  HARD against USC.  We held our own against Oregon (look at how other teams not named Arizona did).  We were two awful official calls at the end of the game away from beating UCLA.

We were taken out of the Big Game game by nationally embarrassing officiating.  And through all that we got something else, some wildly entertaining football.

In fact, that  stretch of Arizona, Colorado and Wazzu was quite possible the most amazing stretch of craziness one team has ever had.  Even the national media like the New York Post were taking note:

NY POST Cal crazy

That last point can’t be glossed over.  After last year (with the exception of the Northwestern game), and 2012, and even 2011 (even though we had more wins) and 2010 it had been a while since Cal games were fun.  Honestly,  think back to those years and just how not enjoyable the games were.  Sure we won some games, but even then they never felt fun.  Did ANYBODY have fun at the Holiday Bowl against Texas? Something was wrong. Well this year, almost every game was fun.

This year started off beating beating Northwestern in Chicago with about 5K Cal fans in attendance!

And as the game came to an end the players did something no one expected… they joined the crowd in singing Fight.  Every fan there got goose bumps on that!

Heck I was even in Tucson for the Hail Mary loss, but there’s no denying that was a FUN game and even managed to lead a few cheers without pulling anything or breaking a hip !(hey once a micman always a micman!)

I was up in Corvallis for the win!

I was at SC for the loss, but was so proud  of how we fought back and was great to see old friends and meet new ones!

So I guess I ask, WERE WE NOT ENTERTAINED!!!

Cal football is amazing.  It’s a chance for all of us to come together and reunite with old friends and meet new ones as we support this most amazing of institutions!

Once  again Cal fans  came out in force for the Big Game bonfire rally!  And here’s something cool – Spike Dykes, Coach Dyke’s dad told me “This is as a good as  anything we have in Texas!”

So with all  that’s happened this year, I wondered, why were people so unhappy after Saturday’s loss. And looking at this post it dawned on my, by going to Northwestern and Oregon State, I got to experience two more wins than a lot of people who weren’t able to travel with team.  And by going to Tucson and SC i got two more losses 😉  But they were fun. Sure, there’s the absolutely understandable revised expectations.  We started out 4-1 and  suddenly a bowl seemed not only reasonable, but possible. That of course didn’t take into account our season was incredibly front loaded in terms of winnable games.

But man, this is the time to show our mettle.  Second guessing is totally understandable, and I do it. Coaches don’t care and I’m sure they do it themselves.  And I wouldn’t for a second invalidate your feelings of disappointment.   This is when we get to show the great fans we are – and we are great fans.  So as we get some time to reflect on this season, instead of proverbially stomping our feet and issuing ultimatums , how about doing something else. Spending that time  THANKING THE  TEAM for making football fun again and reminding why we love Cal Football.  #GOBEARS!!!

Don’t forget we’ve got Goff coming back as a junior.  And all those receivers.  And Lasco. And most of the Oline.  And the defense will have another year under its belt.  And so will the coaches!  I am EXCITED about 2015!

As  always if you like this please feel free to share.  And if you don’t like it feel free to share how stupid it is!

GO BEARS!!!

And so it Starts!!

I’m going to get better at this blogging stuff, so stick with me.

Today is the start of football season for the California Golden Bears, Northern California’s college football team.  As some of you may know, Cal is sort of important to me in my life… Our good friends at California Golden Blogs were kind enough to interview me about it a couple of years ago.  You can find that interview here.

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Cal is playing Northwestern today.  I’ve held through the summer that Northwestern may be the most overrated team in the country.  The Wildcats are coming off their best season in years.  A 10-3 record which included their first bowl win since 1949 when they coincidentally beat Cal.  They are returning 14 starters. They are getting lots of media attention, which based on their record and the excitement from that bowl win over an SEC team no less has led to them being a favorite over Cal for tonight’s game in Memorial Stadium.

Beware of obvious bets.  Because what people do is look at the superficial, they rarely go a layer or two below.  True Northwestern was 10-3 last year.  But they played the 138th toughest schedule in the country.  Almost no one had an easier schedule than they did.  Their wins by and large came against bad to mediocre teams.  When they faced good teams, they lost.

And in their bowl game people say they beat an SEC team.  Except that SEC team – Mississippi State –  played the 80th toughest schedule in the country.  And ended up losing 5 of their last 6 games, when they finally played quality opponents. In fact take out Troy, Jackson State, South Alabama and Tennessee State (they can sure schedule OOC in the SEC) they weren’t even a .500 team.

So what does that tell you.  Well not a lot.  Which is sort of the point.  Don’t be fooled by experts.  Cal could certainly still lose today – I don’t think they will – but it won’t be because of what Northwestern did last year.  What do you think.  Take a second to vote in the poll below.