Searching for Redemption: Cal’s 2008 Motto
Finding a theme for this upcoming season has been elusive. There are too many departed stars and unfamiliar characters to construct a proper narrative. These new California Golden Bears remain quite a mystery to us. Our experience with them has been too ephemeral to provide any meaningful terms beyond potential and hope; we know the future is bright, but what does the present bring?
But I think I found the essence of what I was looking for watching the Redeem Team last night. These star basketball players came together unified by the need for atonement. After their past failure largely plagued by questions of leadership and chemistry, this new US team was a nation-state of stars that emphasized team over self, victory through strength of arms, strength of team. And they achieved the ultimate goal while being the crowd-pleaser of the Games.
Sounds plenty familiar doesn’t it? Cal 2008’s all about redemption.
It makes sense in context. What were we saying after 2007? The Tedford magic was gone. He’s not about to turn the Modesto hopscotch champion into Cal’s next 1,500 yard rusher. Give him superior talent to what USC has and he shrinks away from the opportunity we get. Blindly trusts his players instead of utilizing his own instincts.
Now that this is all in the past, here’s a little secret: Our coach is not perfect. Last season should have illustrated that perfectly, but it seems some fans thought his flaws were fatal defects, as if they couldn’t have comprehended that Tedford was capable of error. Unlike most leaders though, he seems to show a willingness to adapt and evolve past his mistakes. This whole 2008 offseason has been an illustration of that.
As Cal fans hope Tedford has grown from his failures, hopefully Cal fans have grown themselves. Our program cannot expect every season to go perfectly, that we can always go 10-2 and compete for a Rose Bowl; there will be times when we underachieve and not meet the failings. His evolution as a coach demands the highs and the lows, just as our fan experience demands we glimpse the possibilities before actually tasting them.
2008 is a chance for the California Golden Bears to redeem the past, one game at a time. We can only hope the outcome is just as joyous as it was for Kobe, LeBron and company.
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