No Stars, Better Team?

Posted by: Avinash on Wednesday, April 23rd, 2008


As spring moves along, we get the usual, upbeat note, after a season relegated to the Dark Ages.

Sure enough, senior linebacker Zack Follett said he first noticed an uptick in the team’s mood even before spring ball.

“Right when we hit the weight room,” he said.

But this good vibe seems to transcend what happened last year, time’s healing properties, the low-stress environment of off-season drills, and the natural euphoric cocktail of spring, the great outdoors and the best years of a young man’s life.

“No question,” Tedford said after his pass-throwing drill. “The chemistry of this team is something I’m very happy with. It starts with leadership at the top. The young class is probably the best young class we’ve had here in terms of character and accepting senior leadership.”

Certainly, if there’s anything positive to take from this year, it’s that Cal is starting a new slate. This team will have to shed its explosive offensive moniker to win games this year, and it’ll not be easy to win on a talent-level. But the chemistry is back, so the likelihood of a meltdown is minimal. There will be senior leaders (like Follett and Mack) tacking control in the huddle and in the locker room, so there will be less head shaking after losses.

And this year, there will not be any detracting focus, like, say, a Heisman candidacy.

If you follow Cal football closely it shouldn’t be difficult to crack that code. Suffice to say the school likely won’t be designating a Heisman Trophy candidate this season as it did last fall.

“(Tedford) is not putting up with any BS,” Follett said. “He’s making sure there are no star attitudes.”

Regardless how you feel about DeSean, I found the promotion of his Heisman campaign a complete nuisance from the season’s start. It was an ESPN production, something that took away from the team’s torrid 5-0 start. It made DeSean the focus of Cal’s success in the big Oregon and Tennessee games, ignoring the strong team effort by our defense and the creative playcalling that exuded the strengths of Longshore, Forsett, Hawkins, Jordan and Stevens. That’s not to take anything away from Jackson, who had a good 2007 season. But you can’t help but speculate how much of an effect the exaggerated hype on one player had on a locker room of young adults.

So it’ll be nice to get back to basics this year. No one individual stands above everyone else. Everyone will be on the same page when the season starts. It’s something Cal football so desperately needs. We can’t hope to out-star the rest of the league. We have to out-team everyone else.

Is it good to have stars? How many stars are too much?

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