Worthless Cal Predictions

Posted by: Avinash on Monday, August 18th, 2008

Lots of varying predictions about what Cal’s season is going to look like only confirms one thing: Someone on this list is going to look damned stupid.

Phil Steele already set the bar by ranking Cal #2 in the conference, certainly above most normal expectations. However he also had Cal #5 last season, which was as close as any mainstream pundit got to the final outcome. So as they say about fortune and boldness…

Meanwhile, everyone else’s predictions. SI’s great powers of prediction allowed them to do the smartest possible thing: They simply put a list of the 119 Division 1 teams and ranked them 1 to 119 for 2008. No objective criteria, no reasoning, just numbers and teams placed next to them. Cal is ranked right behind Michigan State and even further behind Maryland (MARYLAND?), which makes me wonder if they’re just recapping 2007 performances or really looking at 2008.

Wish I had the time to just compile a list of best college football journalists and do the same thing. I’m sure Stu Mandel’s place on the list will inspire about as much feigned interest as this one.

Of all the projections about Cal’s season from mainstream outlets, the Los Angeles Times comes the closest to nailing the reasons we will succeed this year:

Full disclosure: Cal was not in the top 25 mix until former two-sport Bears star Tony Gonzalez saved a man’s life at a Huntington Beach restaurant last month.

Sometimes it takes heroics to move a school up in the ratings.

Or, sometimes it just takes the setup line Gonzalez provided for a school that otherwise was going to check in at No. 30-something…

“Where was Gonzalez last year when Cal football needed the Heimlich maneuver?”

No doubt that Tony Gonzalez will be flown straight to every Golden Bears game to resuscitate a game that’s slipping away from us. Only his graceful chest pumps kept his team from falling into obscurity, and they’ll be needed again, only this time he’ll be free to smash helmets open and be proclaimed The One.

The New York Times is at its usual self when describing a college football team–exhaustingly thorough. This is good enough to be the 2008 California Golden Bears wiki page:

So how good can Cal be? Not the best in the Pac-10, at least in my eyes, but certainly good enough to win nine or ten games. The good news, at least with the schedule, is that the Bears get Oregon and Arizona State at home; however, the bad news is that the Bears need to go to U.S.C. and Oregon State. While I like Cal, and expect a marked improvement over 2007, I think they are a notch below Arizona State and a full step below U.S.C.

When in doubt, go with the consensus. Nothing remotely controversial or interesting about this one. BOOOO.

Ted Miller opts the safe way too, although he does mention that Jake Locker is the West Coast’s version of Tim Tebow. Yeugh, I hope not. That says more about the West Coast than it does about Jake Locker.

From Betfirms.com:

#5) California Golden Bears
Some people have this team a little higher than what we have them, but we just aren’t sure that a team returning 13 starters can make that big a difference on a team that finished tied for 7th last year at 3-6.

The returning starters bit seems insightful…until you realize that only ONE team is returning 15 or more starters in the Pac-10 (The Farm). This same site ranks them ninth in the Pac-10. So experience doesn’t seem to be as big of a deal as you’d probably think.

Then again, this is a gambling site, so it’s probably in their best interest to be wrong.

Finally, from CBS’s Sportsline Editor, who writes perhaps the most asinine article on the topic:

7. California: The Bears need to recover from the epic 1-6 meltdown to close ’07. Try to remember Cal was once the No. 2 team in the country. Then Kevin “Throw The Damn Ball” Riley lost the Oregon State game. Riley is in a battle for the starting job with veteran Nate Longshore. Coach Jeff Tedford gave up play-calling duties, handing them over to new offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti. Which way you going, Bears?

Wow, what penetrating analysis of the state of our football team. Since we were once the #2 team in the country, the veterans will manifest their nostalgia into inner self-loathing. Also some a freshman who made an isolated mistake and atoned for it in the bowl game is actually contending for the quarterback position, so clearly we are in no man’s land. Now some mysterious offensive coordinator will definitely end up sinking this team because really, when you don’t know what to expect, rank them as low as possible.

As usual, the Pac-10 bloggers seem to have their heads on their shoulders the best. Addicted to Quack has an interesting outsider’s opinion that comes closer to my own than anyone else:

3b. California. They have a stellar O-line, which will carry them for much of the season. But they lost huge players at the skill positions. While Cal fans are really excited about Jahvid Best, and the guy is highlight reel waiting to happen, will he be able to carry the load for a whole season? I’m doubtful. Also, all of their running backs weigh less than 200 pounds. Make of that what you will. For the rest of the offense I don’t have a whole lot of confidence in Longshore or Riley. They have a great linebacking corp, though the rest of the defense is above mediocre. They also have an easy schedule. Overall, they have their issues, as does ASU. I feel they will end up in about the same place, with their weaknesses becoming very clear in a couple key games during the season.

This guy seems a little closer to the truth about Cal than anyone else, although he probably underrates the quarterback position (then again, he’s got Nate Costa and Justin Roper, and I’d be pretty jumpy if I had either of those two on my team). And he works for no mainstream outlet at all. Perhaps this says something about the future of mainstream media analysis. Perhaps…

We’ll have plenty more of these worthless predictions as the season goes on. ESPN will probably get an entire column. And my blogpoll numbers are coming soon.

Related Articles
    None Found

Comments are closed.