The Last Lecture: California

Posted by: Avinash on Friday, August 29th, 2008

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Okay, this was supposed to be posted on EDSBS, but Orson Swindle was too busy being mesmerized by a poster of Rick Neuheisel that declared his monopoly on the college blogosphere over. Keep in mind this was written about three weeks ago before the quarterback situation had been resolved, although I think it still carries some weight. For all readers desiring a more literary, anecdotal description of Cal football, you will find it here.

One: what color is your season? In other words, please explain the metaphborical state of your program through the metaphor of color:
Gray, many shades of gray. There is so much haziness this offseason about what to expect and what not to expect. We still don’t have a clue who our starting quarterback is–general fans want Kevin Riley while being ever warier of the injury-prone, supposedly non-clutch Nate Longshore. We really are unsure which Longshore we will get this year or whether Riley has the hops to succeed through an entire season. The uncertainty is a little unusual in the Tedford era, but it’s more refreshing than failing to live up to expectations.

Our offense is young and brimming with potential, but we have no idea whether it will come together this season or if this is just a transition year. Our defense crumbled at the end of last season due to injury, yet this could be the strongest Cal D in terms of talent and experience. Everything could come together, but it could also change as rapidly as Pete Carroll’s Facebook status.

And let’s not forget that wispy gray smoke that should ensue when the trees start burning. Or the gray fumes residing from the bongs of the hippies as they’re deported to Beijing.

Two: What historical nation and period do you resemble most right now?
The twilight of the Roman Republic, with Augustus Tedford in command. Cal fans are the now ineffectual Roman Senate, with the quarterback question being brought up day after day after day in the forum. The questions rotate but are always of the same stock: Which quarterback understands the nebulous concept of “the moment“? Is Kevin Riley really the modern day Football Mars, the God of War? Is Nate Longshore’s wife Cleopatra, sent by the pagan gods (in this case, Mormons with King James Bibles) to sabotage the mission of Cal football?

And now we’re reaching an important Senate vote, except it lasts three months and it’s not really important to anyone outside the forum, because Emperor Tedford still calls the shots. Thank God…err Hail Caesar!

Three: You have important players. Discuss a few of them hastily.
Alex Mack. Number one, he’s bigger than you. Number two, in a year he’s going to make more money than you. Number three, good chances are that he’s smarter than you. Mack is the cornerstone of an offensive line that allowed 11 sacks last year, and there shouldn’t be much dropoff coming into next season. Longshore might not move fast as Cal fans would like, but he’s not going to eat much turf thanks to the leadership of Mack on that front line.

Our linebacking corps will be the key to our defense, especially with the switch to the 3-4. You’ll be hearing a lot from Zack Follett, Worrell Williams, Mike Mohamed and Anthony Felder. This year everyone looks healthy and with the home schedule in our favor, we’ll do our best to strike fear into Pac-10 offenses like we did in 2004-06.

Video links (should find embed code there):

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And I guess we’re Cal, so we need an offensive weapon to showcase don’t we? Well, you’re from the SEC, you’ll enjoy the pure speed of Jahvid Best even more than DeSean:

Video link (should find embed code there):

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(Hattip for all videos to danzig at California Golden Blogs)

Four: Name two games we might actually want to watch featuring your team.
Once most of you in the heartland realize that Alabama and Clemson will be a horrifying 10-6 trench war, find ESPN2 and watch the heathen blue state Spartans and Bears collide. We promise to be exciting and spontaneous, since both teams are brimming with potential and non-expectations. No one expects much of us–isn’t this a typical Tedford situation where he thrives?

And I’d put the Cal-Oregon one up there, simply because (a) Bellotti and his old pupil always have fun and exciting duels, and (b) the result will be a measuring stick toward what our season will be like. If we win, then the Cal-USC game probably becomes the de facto Pac-10 title game; if we lose, we look for airline tickets to Phoenix or San Diego and start thinking about the future with Riley, Best, and the new offensive class.

Four-A: Save us all some time and mention the game we’re better off NOT watching.
Colorado State, aka the cupcake game. We’re much better than last year and they’re much worse. We respect all our opponents, even when we’re beating them by 40 at halftime, so there will be no blood spilled. Maybe a lot of tokes passed around in the Student Section though.

Five: Every hero forgets something in their toolbelt. What does your team lack?
A nice and cozy athletic center for our athletes that STILL hasn’t been built (although you finally have the answer to the question: “Which Division I athletic program provides access to urinals in the women’s bathroom?”), we are twenty months since the first delay/lawsuit and although the end is in sight, we might have to wait until 2010 to finally break ground on it. Because most of the “citizens” of Berkeley hate the institution of Cal and wish ill on any attempt for its students and to evolve its ideas beyond the 1960s ethos of “student activism”. If they had their wishes they’d tear Cal down and build a vegan-friendly factory staffed by feminists and peace and conflict studies majors, decrying the evil of the male phallus while downing ganja-brownies as Surrealistic Pillow bellowing over the loudspeakers.

Plus they love soccer more. They wonder why offensive linemen don’t flop more to draw flags.

Six: Describe your team with a Jimmy Buffett song. No, we’re serious–do it.

Good Guys Win. We’ve had our ups and downs with Tedford, but he created his program the right way, recruiting hard-working, high-character guys that will rarely embarrass our team off the field. You’ll never see Cal penetrate the Fulmer Cup standings during his reign. And eventually, you have the figure this will pay off with the highest rewards. Just have to grit through the tough times and realize how fortunate we are to have him.

Seven: We’re master wagerers. Give us a bet to place for up to ten dollars about your team.

I don’t believe in locks because everytime I’ve bet on a lock I’ve had to find a box in People’s Park to sleep in. Here are a load of prop bets though, take your pick of what you think will be a lock.

The line for number of games started this year
Longshore -2.5 vs Riley

Number of times “The Huge Mistake” is mentioned when Riley takes the field.

Over 80 +103
Under 80 -10

Will the treesitters STILL be there by the time the season ends?

Yes +400
No -500

Which program will Jeff Tedford be most highly rumored to desert Cal for this offseason before he dispels said rumors for the umpteenth year?
49ers -110
Raiders +150
East Coast college no one cares about +30000

Any additional answers or amplifications? Leave your responses in the comments.

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