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Archive for December, 2007

Armed Forces Bowl (Cal 42, Air Force 36)

9:25 AM: Welcome to the Armed Forces Bowl! Who’s excited? Come on, I remember when Cal got excited about the Garden State Bowl. If you can’t get excited about a bowl game, it’s time to take some excitement pills.

9:26 AM: Ken: “Aw man, Fouts!?! Don’t we ever get a break from this guy.” You can’t escape Foutsy. He’s like our broadcast stalker. Get away, Foutsy!

9:28 AM: Foutsy is saying that Jordan, Jackson, and DeCoud are suspended. I thought they were just “not starting” today. Huh?

9:30 AM: Oh, ABC, I see — you screwed up and said they were suspended, but in fact they’re just not starting. Like we all knew hours ago. Way to not apologize for completely screwing that up!

9:31 AM: Ken: “Nice to see that at least one of the announcers knows what’s going on… Tedford love… hilarious.”

9:33 AM: Great first run by Forsett. I get the feeling the hometown kid is going to put up a whole lot of yardage today. Ken: “Great openning running plays by Cal. Nice to see the offensive line making their blocks and opening some holes.”

9:35 AM: Let me just say: When it’s fourth and inches, you don’t hand it off to a guy who’s five yards back in the formation. Lame. Good punt by Larson. Ken: “So much for that. Not making such great blocks on their 2nd set of downs. Can’t convert on 3rd and inches… remind me where I’ve seen this before. It also didn’t help that Forsett didn’t make the cut back to the hole that would have gotten him a 1st down.”

9:39 AM: Now that’s how you don’t defend the option. Just letting the QB run and not pitch the ball… eh. Not so good.

9:39 AM: Cal’s not wearing names on its uniforms. I know, there are all sorts of fabulous poetic reasons why you do that. Emphasis on team. Honoring our fighting men and women in uniform, yada yada. But in reality, it’s just a ridiculous uniform decision that should never, ever take place.

9:41 AM: Ken: “We have got to defend the regular option better than that. The corners and safeties need to do better than that at getting off their block.” My wife: “Did nobody tell them that Air Force plays the option?”

9:44 AM: Touchdown Air Force. That was uninspiring. Air Force 7, Cal 0.

9:44 AM: Ken: “Air Force is using a lot of chop blocks and Cal seems really uncomfortable getting out of them. If they can figure that out, they’ll probably do better…. but they’d better do it soon because Cal’s not going to be able to make a huge comeback and we’re already down 7.”

9:47 AM: Cal takes the kickoff and will start again. Didn’t we just do this 20 minutes ago?

9:48 AM: Ken: “Gotta love the double commercial: TD, commercial, kickoff, commercial… phst!”

9:49 AM: I’m not a big Dan Fouts fan, but I agree with him: why not go for it on 4th and inches at midfield? Ken: “I’ll tell you why, Jason, because Cal’s shown no ability to convert on 3rd/4th and inches.”

9:50 AM: Nice catch, Justin Forsett. He played that like a wide receiver. Let’s just give it to Forsett on every play.

9:55 AM: Going for it on 4th down, I don’t mind that at all. Good try. You gotta hold on to that ball, though. Ken: “Ugh… just when Cal gets some rhythm everything breaks down. And that 4th down drop was key… was that possibly a catch and fumble?” Phil: “Cal Football 2007: It’s… present.”

9:59 AM: Hey, look, Air Force is going for it on 4th and inches at midfield. What an idea.

10:03 AM: Course, I wouldn’t have called the outside option on 4th and inches, but they got it.

10:04 AM: Unless Cal figures out how to stop the option, this game is gonna be over fast.

10:05 AM: Ken: “There’s the real danger of the triple option: if the safeties bite too much, there might be a receiver or two who gets behind the defense.”

10:06 AM: Phil: “It appears ESPN is seizing upon the physical mismatch angle. And by seizing, I mean over-emphasizing.”

10:06 AM: Ken: “Wow, great defense on the RB pass attempt.” Unfortunately, it was followed up by more bad defense and a first down. Sigh.

10:06 AM: End of first quarter. Let’s hope for better quarters to come.

10:08 AM: Ken: “OK, that’s enough of the ‘Tedford love,’ let’s get DeCoud back in there.”

10:10 AM: “Suspended.” Foutsy… that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

10:10 AM: Foutsy: “Cal’s defense has no answers.” Unless the answer is, “run as long as you like.”

10:12 AM: And the option plays off, with a play fake and a touchdown for Air Force. Air Force 14, Cal 0. Hey, this is the 1-6 Cal team, not the 5-0 one. What a surprise.

10:13 AM: Ken: “Man, that 4th and inches conversion was huge. It looked like the Cal defense was figuring things out but after that conversion, Air Force got back to their 1st drive ways. I don’t know if the Bears have it in them to come back from 14 down, particularly against a run heavy offense that may own the 4th quarter against a tired defense.”

10:16 AM: Kicked high into the wind, basically an onside kick, and Air Force is about to put this game away. Ken: “No, no, no, no, no…. that’s EXACTLY what Cal doesn’t need. The 2nd line on the kickoff coverage wasn’t looking up to see that one of them needed to catch the ball.”

10:18 AM: This is going to become a Deadblog pretty soon if this keeps up.

10:18 AM: Phil: “Tedford’s already quit to take some other job, hasn’t he? And that’s why he seems so disinterested? I’m grasping here. I expect the camera to cut over to him on the sidelines, and catch him eating a sandwich.” To which I respond: if Tedford quit, it would have been after the Oregon game, along with the rest of the team.

10:20 AM: The option completely flummoxes Cal again, and it’s Air Force 21, Cal 0. Seriously, at some point the rules specify that if the score exceeds a certain amount I get to stop liveblogging.

10:20 AM: Ken: “Where are the stinking corners and safeties on these option plays!?! They’re a key ingredient to slowing it down and neither Syd nor Hampton is getting off their blocks.”

10:21 AM: Then again, liveblogging is not the problem. The game is the problem. Maybe I need to blog something else. My kids are playing on the floor in here. I could liveblog that.

10:21 AM: Phil: “The Year the Armed Forces Ruined New Year’s Eve.” The other way to think of it, let’s get this last terrible game out in 2007 so we can move to 2008 fresh. Right? Anyone? Hello??

10:23 AM: They had a month to learn how to play the option. And yet… this. So tell me, is that a failure of the defensive players to learn, or is it a failure of the coaches to coach?

10:25 AM: 18-yard gain for Forsett! Strike up the band! Whooo! Cut that lead to 14! Oh, I don’t have it in me.

10:25 AM: Ken: “Does Riley going in mean Tedford just gave up and is focusing on 2008 already or that he’s desperate to try something, ANYTHING, to shake this team up?”

10:26 AM: Riley to Jackson for a gigantic 40-yard touchdown. Wow, that was a great throw and a great pass. And then Jackson celebrates by writhing in pain. Ken: “WOW! Man, if this continues the Longshore haters are going to come unglued in the next few weeks. Nice evasion move to buy time to throw that ball.” Air Force 21, Cal 7.

10:27 AM: I suddenly feel a compulsion to join the Army. Phil: “If your kids want to join the army, please don’t ask them what is wrong with them. A message from the Army.”

10:29 AM: Oh, ad for the Rose Bowl, you mock me and all Cal fans.

10:31 AM: Reader Kat writes: “It’s 1996 all over again. *sob*.” No, no, Kat. It’s not 1996. In 1996, the bowl game ruined Christmas. In 2007, the bowl game will ruin New Year’s Eve. New Year’s Eve is much less important a holiday than Christmas. And honestly, this game will be over before noon Pacific, so it’s not really even New Year’s Eve yet. So, see, it’s not at all like 1996. Except in every other way.

10:32 AM: Ken: “That’s about the smartest thing (and it’s not tough competition) Fouts and Co. have said: ‘Playing defense is 90% about wanting to.'”

10:33 AM: Phil: “Why is the Air Force player lining up to kick away the ball? That’s very odd. I’ve never seen that before. Must be some wacky option thing.”

10:34 AM: Run, Riley! Run! That’s what a mobile QB can do.

10:37 AM: Forsett fails to find a yard (from six yards back, of course) on 2nd and 1, but Riley pushes over on 3rd and 1 with the sneak. Good call.

10:38 AM: Dan Fouts, please don’t sing!!!! Never. EVER. Phil: “No singing in the booth, Foutsy.”

10:39 AM: Riley to Jordan to the 15. Phil: “Beautiful pass and catch.” This Riley kid, he’s kind of good. Maybe he should have been playing instead of the immobile guy with the bone chips in his ankle. Ya think? Ken: “This is where I hate watching games on TV. Were these receivers this wide open when Longshore was in there?”

10:41 AM: Riley to Hawkins, touchdown! Air Force 21, Cal 14. Excellent fade into the end zone. Cal’s back in this.

10:43 AM: Hawkins, fronting for the 209! Hey, I’m from the 209! I need to write 209 somewhere on my person when I’m liveblogging. Maybe on my sleeve.

10:44 AM: Ken: “While I don’t think there was enough data to justify their passion, the Riley lovers are looking pretty wise right now. Let’s see, 3 punts under Longshore in 3 tries and 2 TD’s in 2 tries for Riley… hmmm… that data is getting a lot more clear.”

10:45 AM: Huge tackle by DeCoud, reaching out with one hand while completely covered by another player to stop the ballcarrier. Wow.

10:49 AM: Ken: “Anyone get the feeling that the team wants to play for Riley and they don’t have any intensity when Longshore is in there? Maybe it’s just a coincidence and the Bears are finally getting in this one or maybe it’s just that the offense is scoring that is helping the defense get back in this one, but something has changed.”

10:52 AM: Ken: “These rugby punters seem to be a pretty awesome way to go. They get 40-50 yards a punt and there’s no hope for a return.”

10:53 AM: Why not use a time-out there? Cal would have 30 seconds at the 45 yard line. Instead, there are five seconds left. Does Tedford not care? Not paying attention? Ken: “The coaching staff blew it again with clock management. We wasted 20 precious seconds by not taking a timeout. Now instead of having 3 plays from the Air Force 45, it’s just a Hail Mary moment.” Phil: “Is the ref ordering from an appetizer menu? It will take 12 minutes to run this last six seconds.”

10:58 AM: Ken: “Hawkins!?! You HAVE to come up with that one. That was a free TD! It hit you practically on the numbers!” Phil: “That was some kind of toss. Fouts had like every receiver trying to catch that. Including guys who had graduated.”

10:58 AM: Ken: “The good news here is that Cal is back in this one. Riley has sparked this team and only down 7. They can win this one.”


11:23 AM: And we’re back.

11:25 AM: Ken: “Well, hard to tell how much Tedford was bluffing on Longshore playing again, but Riley starting the 2nd half is a sign he knows he’s the right guy for the moment.”

11:25 AM: Cal needs to readjust to the Air Force offense. Giving up big chunks of yardage here.

11:26 AM: Option was played right, strung out, and then… there’s nobody out there to stop the RB. Air Force fumbles, but it sure looks like his knee was down. Time for a review. Ken: “And it, in my opinion, was likely not a fumble but not indisputable so the call on the field should stand.” Unfortunately the refs don’t agree, and it’s first and goal for Air Force. Huge call.

11:29 AM: “But ignoring the reversed turnover for a moment, Cal has lost their ability to put an assignment on the pitchout man.”

11:30 AM: Good defense on that goal-to-go series by Cal. Ken: “Now THAT’S how you play the option!” They covered the option perfectly right there. Air Force lines up for the short FG… good! Air Force 24, Cal 14.

11:32 AM: Ken: “Now let’s see if Cal can keep their offensive mojo going. That FG won’t be the difference in this game if the offense keeps clicking.”

11:38 AM: Roll on you Rileys.

11:40 AM: Ken: “What a leap by Hawkins! That’s the type of demoralizing play that’ll keep Air Force on their heels.”

11:40 AM: Riley to Jordan, touchdown! Riley’s got this offense rolling. Air Force 24, Cal 21. Ken: “YES! Now Jordan. THIS is the Cal Bear team that went 5-0. Where have you been my Bears!”

11:41 AM: That was a really nice drive. Lots of good plays that advanced the ball. First down gain, second down gain, third down conversion. Nice roll-outs by Riley, using his mobiity.

11:44 AM: And a big thanks from your friends in Berkeley to everyone in the Military-Industrial Complex for sponsoring the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl.

11:50 AM: Fourth down and Cal is induced into taking a time-out by Air Force looking like they’re going for it on 4th down. I wonder why that doesn’t happen more often — if you don’t want to go for it, just take the delay and then kick. But if you can get your opponent to waste a time out, why not do it? And if you do actually want to go for it, it sets that up nicely.

11:52 AM: They go for it and get it, because once again Cal didn’t have someone to cover the second option guy.

11:54 AM: Air Force putting together some good plays here, energized by that fourth down play. They’re on the goal line again.

11:56 AM: Ken: “That 3rd down conversion pass is right where Cal has blown it all season. There’s a soft spot in their normal zone that allows easy slant patterns to the slot receiver.” This is why they pay Ken to write things about football, folks.

11:56 AM: Nice stop by Cal. QB on the option, opted to take it himself. Wrong choice. Stopped, smacked, and seriously hurt his knee to boot. Fumbled, too, but Air Force recovered.

11:58 AM: Phil: “They need to get away from the idea that the analyst has to chime in on every play. Because sometimes there is nothing to analyze. So the analyst has to fill the air with empty stupid words. Don’t talk unless you have to.”

11:58 AM: Ken: “OUCH, OUCH, OUCH. That slow-mo shot of Carney’s knee should have come with a disclaimer or an ‘R’ rating or something. Sorry Carney, I’d hate for that to be the way you have to finish your college football career.” Yeah, that was a bad one. But Ken, didn’t you listen to Foutsie? He told us not to look at it.

11:59 AM: Field goal good. Air Force 27, Cal 21.

12:01 PM: Riley to Jordan for a zillion yards. Wow. That Riley kid can throw.

12:02 PM: Run, Riley! Phil: “Now fling the ball away!”

12:03 PM: Attababy Justin. Forsett walks in. Touchdown Bears!! Cal 28, Air Force 27.

12:04 PM: Ken: “Here’s the EMFMV trivia question for the commenters: when was the last time Cal had a lead in a game?”

12:08 PM: Jason’s hint: I was not in the country at the time.

12:08 PM: End of Third Quarter. Cal leads by 1! Can you believe it? It’s as if Cal exorcised the bad team of the second half of the season sometime early in the 2nd quarter.

12:10 PM: Answer: The last time Cal led, it was November 10 (more than 12 quarters ago!) against USC, when Jordan Kay kicked a 23-yard Field Goal to give Cal a 10-7 lead. If you were at the game, you were very, very damp. Me, I think I was eating dinner in the cruise-ship dining room at that point.

12:14 PM: Big third-down throw across the middle to Jordan. Wow. Phil: “OK, I’m sold on Riley.” Ken: “OK, here’s your Longshore/Riley caveat. Riley got both quarters with the wind at his back. This is the first time he’ll be going into the wind. Notice his first pass sailed on him. Although that 2nd pass was awesome.”

12:15 PM: Ken: “Hey Fouts! Suspended means ‘doesn’t play at all,’ you numbskull!” Phil: “The Buddhist Koan for Fouts — if they were suspended for the game, how can they tally big stats in the game. What is the sound of one mouth flapping?”

12:17 PM: Those receivers are wide open.

12:17 PM: Forsett doing it for the home crowd! 21-yard TD for Justin! Awesome. Attababy, Texas! Fronting it for the 817! (Yeah, I had to look up Arlington, Texas’s Area Code.) Touchdown Bears! Cal 35, Air Force 27.

12:19 PM: Phil: “And the 30 Cal fans in attendance rejoice!” Ken: “That’s the benefit of balance. Once the defense has to take your passing game seriously, all of a sudden those rushing lanes are a LOT wider for Forsett. Nice to see Forsett streaking down the field. It feels like it has been a long time.”

12:22 PM: I feel bad for Air Force, because they really seem deflated now with Carney on the sideline with a ripped-up knee. (And they’ve brought out the stretcher for him. He’s got to be cold, and in shock…) Yikes.

12:24 PM: Air Force general: “I would kill to have Dan Fouts as my QB…” Phil: “‘And I have. I once strafed the Chargers’ practice facility to make sure Babe Laufenberg wouldn’t play.'”

12:25 PM: Dumb personal foul on top of a fourth-down conversion, letting Air Force get back in this game. Please don’t let the old Cal come back. Please don’t let the old Cal come back. Please don’t let the old Cal come back…. Ken: “That was a bad call. He pushed him with his hands and shoved him. Evens out the bad call on Air Force for a similarly over-protective of the QB. It was a first down anyway.”

12:29 PM: Field goal, Air Force. Cal 35, Air Force 30.

12:29 PM: Once again feeling the urge to enlist in the Army. And fly a Bell Helicopter. For the Air Force. Against the Marine Corps.

12:32 PM: Big run by Forsett while Fisher DeBarry was talking. Now another big play and a penalty and here’s Cal in the Red Zone. Phil: “That’s a terrible penalty. Good lord.” Ken: “Wow has this running game come alive. Thsoe were two HUGE runs.” And Forsett runs away to the one. First and goal.

12:35 PM: Riley walks in… on the option. Touchdown Bears! Cal 42, Air Force 30. Makes you wonder what this season would have been like if they had kept Riley in after the Oregon State debacle, instead of going with the injured, immobile Longshore. Ken: “YEAH! Give’em a little of their own medicine by running the option! The haven’t scored 40 poings since September.”

12:37 PM: Phil: “Helicopters… we see them flying. But do we ever appreciate them? At Bell Helicopter, we do. Hi, I’m Frank Bell for Bell Helicopter. Our helicopters almost never plummet out of the sky. Not since the court settlement anyhow. If you’re in the market for a helicopter, please think Bell Helicopter. Or I’ll hunt you down with a helicopter.” (This was the last we heard from Phil before his screams were drowned out by the sound of the rotors. The horrible, horrible rotors.)

12:42 PM: Ken: “For those who care, Oregon and S. Florida are tied at… ELEVEN!?!
(both converted a 2-point conversion)”

12:45 PM: Fourth-down conversion failed, and Cal takes over. That may wrap it up. Unbelievable how quickly this game turned. You remember it was 21-0, Air Force, right? Wow.

12:46 PM: Phil: “Begin the milking of the clock! The greatest 7-6 Cal team in history.”

12:46 PM: Phil has cursed us all. Forsett fumbles. Phil: “Now I hope the Bell Helicopter people murder me.”

12:47 PM: Ken: “Air Force has had a lot of late penalties, a definite sign they’re out-manned, especially at a service academy where they play such disciplined football.”

12:47 PM: Ken: “OK, I think Cal still has this under control, but do we always have to go for so many nail-biter style points? Stinking fumble…”

12:49 PM: Air Force converts on fourth down. Ken: “There’s that soft spot in the zone again.”

12:50 PM: Touchdown Air Force. Shades of 1996…. brr. Cal 42, Air Force 36. Phil: “Worst 6-7 Cal team in history.”

12:52 PM: Air Force decides to go for two? Which… makes no sense. And then calls timeout because they’re confused. Buh?

12:53 PM: And the two-point try fails. Now if Cal kicks a field goal the game is out of reach. Strategery!

12:54 PM: It’s time for the Navy player of the game: Thomas DeCoud! Phil: “Who will now be forcibly conscripted in the Navy.” Navy — you remember us, we ruined Christmas in 1996.

12:55 PM: Phil: “The Old Navy player of the game is Kevin Riley. He gets cargo pants.”

12:56 PM: Phil: “Hooray, recovered onside kick.”

12:58 PM: Confusion reigns at the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl. But while we wait, Kevin Riley has been named the player of the game for Cal. No kidding. He looked great. And tip o’ the cap to Carney, Air Force’s injured QB, who is the Air Force player of the game.

12:59 PM: Problem with the game clock? Don’t worry! Keep time to the rhythmic beating of the helicopter rotors!

1:00 PM: ABC’s showing us the big star trophy. Phil: “Shouldn’t the trophy be in the shape of a Helicopter? Or an armed force?”

1:01 PM: Third and six, Forsett blows outside for another big gain. 140 yards, two TDs for Forsett today. Pretty much the great showing I expected from him — what a way to go out at home.

1:02 PM: Riley, victory formation! Cal wins! Cal wins!

1:02 PM: Phil: “Winning team exits the field in a helicopter. While the losing team is left behind in Fort Worth while the government falls.”

1:03 PM: Game over. Cal wins! Final score: Cal 42, Air Force 36.

1:04 PM: Dan Fouts: “Perhaps a quarterback controversy next year?” Uh, no, Foutsie. No controversy. I think the performance today makes it crystal clear.

1:04 PM: Ken: “Final thoughts: What a difference a backup QB can make? I’ve long been a believer in Longshore and I just don’t get what it was that got/kept him in his funk as long and as consistently as it has been. But at some point, you just have to accept that he’s not coming out of the funk. Way to go Riley! Spring and fall practice will be VERY interesting. Don’t count Longshore out!”

1:05 PM: I’m counting him out, Ken. But one never knows. It’ll be an interesting offseason.

Thus ends our live blog. More to come, no doubt. And a long offseason. Thanks for being with Excuse Me for My Voice in our inaugural season.

Big news!

Two big pieces of news came in through the beat-writers for Cal yesterday:

  1. “First and foremost, coach Jeff Tedford announced that wide receivers DeSean Jackson and Robert Jordan, as well as free safety Thomas DeCoud, will not start today’s Armed Forces Bowl against Air Force because they violated team rules.”
  2. “backup quarterback Kevin Riley will see some limited playing time today. Tedford said Riley will probably play a series or two, because he wants to get him some experience in a bowl game.”

The first item I doubt will have a substantial impact on the game outside of a series or two. I suspect Tedford will put them back in pretty quickly as the infraction was “minor” according to Tedford. The more important aspect of this news is that it reinforces the idea that the 2007 Bears had crushing team chemistry and leadership problems down the stretch. I’m sorry, on teams that have good team leaders, you don’t get players breaking team rules enough so that the coach pulls them as a starter in their bowl game. That’s a sign of a coach and players not being on the same page.

The second news falls into the “Too little too late category”. While I haven’t been one to say that Longshore should be benched, I have been one to say that in the last few games of the season, Tedford should have been getting Riley playing time so that he’d be in a far better position to compete for the starting job in 2008. It sounds like Tedford is figuring that out now.

Bowl game preview

While I haven’t been blogging due to the birth of my third son, it doesn’t mean that I haven’t been thinking about the Bears, their collapse and the upcoming bowl game. The more I thought about it, the more I realized a singular truth: The Bear’s success and failure have nothing to do with their opposition and everything to do with themselves and their own effort.

I could spend a ton of paragraphs talking about the triple option, but Ragnarok did a great job of it here. I could go over the Bears struggles against it in 2002 and their success against it in 2004. I could talk about the new aspects of Air Force’s attack including a more balanced attack. I could talk about Air Force’s mediocre to good defense and their weak schedule. But all of that, while usually important in previewing a game, is pretty much meaningless for the bowl game.


Because everything important is about the Bears getting their mojo back. The Bears have the potential to be great on both sides of the ball. If you’re worried that the Bears can’t play assignment defense, I’ve got some game film from the Oregon game to show you. If you’re worried the Bears can’t play the physical ball needed to beat a disciplined defense, I’ve got more game film from the Tennessee game to show you. But the problem is the team that beat both Tennessee and Oregon is the same team that more recently stunk it up against Washington who’s usually pathetic defense looked world class against the Bears and Stanford in a game that was as depressingly mediocre as the bowl the Bears have sunk to.

So, do the Bears get their mojo back? I think the honest answer is that I have no idea. That said, here’s my list of reasons why they may:

  • The report from beat writers like Jonathan Okanes is that the Bears practices have gotten back to the fun yet intense mode they were in fall practice.
  • The month break can heal a lot of emotional wounds
  • The month break can heal a lot of physical wounds
  • The time off gave Tedford and staff to focus on the lack of team chemistry that is hard to spend time on when practices are focused on game-planning.
  • Seniors want to go out on a good note
  • It’s the Bears last chance to prove themselves
  • The Bears seem to play better when they’re the underdog, something they’ve rarely been despite the tumble

On the other hand, there’s a few reasons that it may not happen:

  • Team chemistry is a difficult thing to repair no matter how much time is allowed
  • Almost nothing has changed since the Big Game (like injured players who are now available)
  • Lack of confidence can be masked for a while, but often re-appears at the first sign of adversity

So which Bears will show up tomorrow?

I’d like to believe that whatever has been wrong with the Bears will have been patched during the break but after listening to myself and my Big Game podcast it may just be that the passing of time helps one to forget just how bad the collapse has been. Add in that having a baby makes everything in the world look more rosy and I don’t trust my desire to be confident. Maybe it’s best summed up by the phrase…

The Bear will not quit, the Bear will not die… but the Bear does worry.

A Very Partial Court Ruling

While I was off helping the world be a better place by adding another Cal fan to the world, there was a partial ruling on the SAHPC case. More correctly stated, it’s a tiny tidbit of a sliver of information that is really just a request for information at it’s root. You can find the ruling here and a very good article by BearInsider here. Most of you have probably already read most of the critical info on it, but I figured I’d add my thoughts.

The long and short of it is that this is meaningless, except for the delays added if you’re just looking at the facts and is good for Cal if you’re trying to read the tea-leaves.

During the hearings, the University brought up the idea that perhaps the University wasn’t subject to the Alquist-Priolo act. When it came up it was clearly an aside as the rest of the time the University spent it’s time defending how it was in complete compliance with the AP. My thinking at the time was something along the lines of “well, I doubt it’ll matter or even work but if it does, it makes this aspect of the case a slam dunk.”

So the Judge ruled this week that the University is indeed subject to the AP, which is what everyone expected. Judge Miller also ruled that both sides needed to provide expert testimony to make their case as to why or why not the SAHPC is part of Memorial Stadium. Since everyone expected that the University was subject to the AP, her ruling is meaningless. It just puts us right back where we were before except that Judge Miller is asking for even MORE testimony, this time from experts in building codes and the such. Some of that was already given in the hearings, but she’s asking for a more complete set of testimony.

That’s where reading the tea leaves comes in. The fact that she’s asking for expert testimony appears to be a blow to the opposition. The opposition spent it’s time during the trial trying to avoid the text in the building code about what defines a structure and referring to Websters dictionary and the such demanding that “common usage” of the word ‘addition’ should be used, not the technical definitions in the building codes. For tea leaf readers, Judge Miller’s request is a clear indication that she doesn’t buy the “common usage” garbage. In fact, the fact that she’s focusing on this portion of the 16 complaints filed also suggests that she doesn’t find much of their case compelling as, assuming she isn’t buying the common usage” crud, the area is pretty clear cut and if it’s on the top of her list of issues to be resolved, she must have dismissed the others in her mind already.

But that’s all speculation. The reality is that Judge Miller didn’t rule on much of anything other than asking for more testimony.

It’s back to the waiting game. That testimony was supposed to be filed yesterday and Judge Miller promised a ruling by Mid-February.

Big Game Podcast

OK, I know no one cares at this point, but… well… tough, you’re going to listen to it anyway! In all seriousness, I did record it on the way home from the game like I have all the others so the information in it is fresh despite it’s stale posting. You can tell from the stupid comments like my confidence that ASU would get a BCS bowl game.

Give it a listen, or don’t, but don’t come crying to me if you missed all of the critically important information in it.

You can find it over on the podcast page.

I’m back with a new baby

As some have noted, the posting on this site ground to a halt for the most part right around the time of the Big Game. While in part posting slowed due to their not being any more games and because there hasn’t been much positive to say, for me there has been an additional HUGE factor: My wife had our third child, another boy who we named Peter. Everyone here should cheer for joy!

While I can appreciate those who don’t see the upside to a Cal blogger going off-line for a month, there are/were some significant upsides:

  • My wife managed to hold out past the Big Game so that I could attend with my two boys
  • My wife didn’t kill me (thereby ending my blogging) for going to the Big Game less than a week before her due-date and over a 3 hour drive from home.
  • Now there will be yet another die-hard fan in the stands every home game.
  • I now have 3 potential Cal recruits who will be heavily biased towards the school. So far it appears Peter has the look of a Tight End with the big hands to gobble up anything the QB throws his way. That rounds out nicely the Wide Reciever that our eldest, Gregory, seems destined to be and the Fullback or perhaps Line Backer that our middle son, Andrew, seems built to be.

The additional good news is that Peter is settling into a good sleep pattern now and I am planning on making up for lost blogging time. Here’s a list of things to come:

  • Big Game Podcast. (I recorded it on the way home but never posted)
  • Thoughts on the SAHPC partial ruling
  • Thoughts on Pac-10 bowl games already completed
  • Preview of Armed Forces bowl
  • Predictions/thoughts for other remaining Pac-10 bowl games

It’s good to be back.

Hall of Famer

Hall of FameSo I was talking to my pal Phil the other day about all things Cal, and I made this observation: I don’t think Cal has a single player in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. (Which I went to in 2002, by the way. Yes, it’s in Canton, Ohio. But make the trip — it’s pretty cool. Not Cooperstown cool, but cool.)

Anyway, the answer is no, Cal doesn’t have a pro football hall of famer. But we will, oh yes we will. I’ve seen a lot of great football players come through Berkeley, and Tony Gonzalez was one of them. He’s in the top tier of Cal players I’ve seen, sure, but not a standout among those guys. Other than that he played basketball, too. That was cool — and at a time when I actually cared about basketball, no less!

And yet, you know what? He’s the guy. He’s the guy who will break the drought. It’s gonna happen.

Just a warm, rosy thought to get you through what omnipresent Cal fan Adam Duritz might call “a long December.”

Road Trip to Fort Worth! Who’s With Me?

Cal will be playing in the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl in the ancestral homeland of Justin Forsett on New Year’s Eve. And who doesn’t love a helicopter?

The guy who sits behind me at Cal games is from Dallas, works for American Airlines, and flies in to all the home games. I suspect he’ll be cheering the Bears on, along with Forsett’s entire family.

Any guesses about how many other Cal fans will actually take the trip? I’d do it if you paid me… paid me large sums of money. But otherwise, um, I don’t think so.

Big Game Recriminations

Not a lot to say. Being far and away for the past few weeks, this was really my first time to see the 1-6 late-season Cal Bears close up.

Wow. They’re awful.

I don’t know who’s really to blame. Coaches? Players? It felt to me like the whole team just quit after facing adversity and losing a few games. I didn’t see a whole lot of heart out there today. I saw personal fouls and dropped passes. If this season reminds me of 1996 (5-0 start, 6-6 finish), it also reminds me in a way of the pre-Citrus Bowl Big Game implosion that ended the Bruce Snyder era.

So Tedford loses his first Big Game and, while it’s not logical, I almost wonder if it might be his last game at Cal. Logically he should come back after a year like this, and it would be ironic if he finally was wooed away after his worst year at Cal. I want him to come back — he’s just too good a coach, and if he leaves I fear we’ll be seeing a Gilbertsonian-type slide back into oblivion. Crossing fingers.

As for this team, I don’t really need to see more. Unfortunately, the vagaries of bowl scheduling mean that Cal will be playing one more game. Maybe they can view it as a stepping stone to next season. Or maybe they can keep playing the way they have the past two months and finish 6-7, cementing the status of the 2007 Cal Bears for what they truly are: losers.

Jim Harbaugh, please enjoy this axe, suitable for hanging on a wall or parading around a tony private university campus, with our compliments.