Volunteer For the Cause (Cal-Tennessee Soliloquy)
I remember tuning into this game, watching for about ten minutes, slowly lowering my head into my legs, assuming the fetal position, and eventually proclaiming “It’s over” by halftime. Wasn’t sure if I meant the game, the offense or the season, but you have to credit Cal for hanging in there after this game–they were shellshocked for half the Minnesota game before they got back into gear. This was like watching Lee order Pickett’s Charge, only if no one got killed and slaves weren’t emancipated as a result.
Still, it reignited all the Pac-10 vs. real college football team jokes, that Cal again lacked the mental toughness to succeed against a powerhouse from the Right Coast. Although we briefly scrambled back into contention for the BCS before the double knockout in November, the respect never seemed to be there.
Now once again our season’s direction could be decided on the opening game. Last time we had the convenient excuse of 105,000 screaming rednecks and the road factor, the first actual Tedford experience into real football territory. For the Deep South, college football might be the second holiest thing next to enlisting in the military–expect plenty of Volunteers in Memorial Stadium, and don’t be surprised when they drown out the typical, laid-back Cal fans.
But this isn’t Rocky Top, and the inexperience factor has long disappeared. There can’t be any excuses this time around. The stakes for Cal are clear: Win, and they make their first step into the world of college football giants. Lose, and it’s a long nine weeks until USC comes a calling, with a brutal road schedule forthcoming.
The reality isn’t easy. But fulfilling expectations never is.
In case you want a reminder of the horrific events of 9/2/06…
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