EDITOR'S NOTE: Quotes from Don't Quit: The Joe Roth Story, are used with the permission of JR12 Productions, LLC.
BERKELEY – It’s late August. Fall camp is winding down for the California Golden Bears. The media fervor surrounding junior quarterback Jared Goff – a constant, buzzing din of questions repeated ad nauseum – is quiet. All that exists, at this moment, is a blue 16, screen-printed on the gold mesh of a practice jersey.
Goff, standing in the south end zone of California Memorial Stadium, is throwing routes on air to his receivers. After he fires a pass down field, he sets his hands on his hips, looks to his left, then turns, looking at the only number ever retired by California – 12 – which stands watch from the sidelines. Goff pauses, just long enough for a couple breaths. He looks down, collects himself, picks up a ball and throws again. There are a lot of expectations heaped on those shoulders.
73 career touchdown passes. 9,746 passing yards. 9,632 yards of total offense. 818 completions. 1,318 passing attempts. Two 500-yard games. Five 400-yard games. 17 games of 300 or more passing yards. Goff ranks among the all-time Pac-12 leaders in career completions (ninth), passing yards (16th), touchdown passes (tied for 16th) and is 264 passing yards from becoming the 92nd player in NCAA history to reach 10,000 passing yards.
There’s the Heisman talk, which, he says, he doesn’t pay any attention to. “I let you guys take care of that stuff,” he says. “I try to win games.”
Then, there’s that number 12, always watching.
http://www.scout.com/college/california/story/1604363-joe-roth-story-ins... Goff, now, is just about 200 days younger than the bearer of that number – Joe Roth – was when, on Feb. 22, 1977, he passed away from metastatic melanoma.
“Kind of the same stature. Could throw it very accurately. Was gonna have a great career,” ESPN analyst and former Cal defensive back Herm Edwards said of Roth in a recent interview. “Probably gonna be a first round pick but ended up passing away on us. But (Goff) reminds me of him … (Goff’s) a really good player, man. Very accurate. Smart guy. You know, not the biggest guy, but he’s good. He can play. He’s a good player.”
This week’s game against USC – as is every game, every year, against the Bears’ southern California rivals at Memorial Stadium, be it the Trojans or UCLA – is the Joe Roth Game, in honor of the San Diego native.
“I don’t know that you meet too many people like that, in your life, that are that unselfish,” head coach Sonny Dykes says of Roth. “When you think of Joe Roth, that’s the first word that comes to mind, is ‘unselfish.’ You just don’t meet many people, that way. I think the story speaks for itself. I don’t know how you could ever have a better story than that, just the way he handled a pretty raw deal. To me, the most impressive thing is him going and taking a final exam [days before he died]. It just shows you what he was all about: Doing things the right way. He made a commitment to something. I think it’s something for us all to learn about, and learn from. It’s something we talk to our players about, quite a bit. I think it’s a legacy that makes Cal unique.”
Watching Don’t Quit: The Joe Roth Story, a documentary screened for the team last fall, and that aired on the Pac-12 Networks for the first time on Tuesday, he had the same realization as Edwards.
“The first time I saw it, I thought, ‘Wow, they actually kind of look the same,’” he says. “I think it’s a pretty cool thing.”
“He took one step at a time,” said Roth’s Grossmont Junior College head coach, Dave Jordan, in an interview for Don’t Quit: The Joe Roth Story, which will re-air on Saturday at 8 a.m. Pacific, and on Sunday at 7:30 p.m. “He didn’t have a goal: ‘I’m going to be a pro some day, I’m going to be the greatest.’ He didn’t talk that way. He talked about the next game. Amazing how he did that.”
Goff, in late September, was asked, for the fourth time that day, about his NFL Draft prospects. He does tire of it, he says, but he patiently answers each query.
“Well, this is my fourth interview today, within the last hour, and I’ve been asked that question probably twice in every interview, so, yeah, a little bit,” he laughs, “but I’ll answer it the same way every time. It’s genuine; I’m not just giving you a canned answer. I’m not concerned with it. I’m just trying to win the game this weekend.”
That smile, that tousled blonde hair, the height, the quick release, the will to win – it’s all there. Both were even high-level baseball players in high school.
Even if Cal were not playing on Halloween, a day on which, in pagan tradition, the veil between our world and the next is at its thinnest, for some, it’s like seeing a ghost.
“He’s so friendly,” says Bud “Dog” Turner, who’s been around the Cal football program for 47 years. “Joe was extremely friendly. He would go out of his way to say ‘Hello’ to people. Jared’s the same way.”
http://www.scout.com/college/california/story/1558604-perspective-where-... The current Football Operations Assistant, Turner is one of the only people who’ve had a relationship with both Roth and Goff, who, at a slender 6-foot-4, 215 pounds, with that mess of flaxen hair and an easy smile, strikes a similar silhouette to the Golden Boy of Cal’s past.
“I was helping with equipment, and I made ice bags for the trainers, because we didn’t have student trainers,” Turner remembers. “There are some similarities. Joe could get rid of a ball really fast, and so can Jared. Joe had more time to throw the ball, if you want to know the truth.”
Roth made it a point of saying hello to every person on the field, every time he came out for practice. Goff, Turner smirks, makes it a point to give him a hard time.
There are differences. Goff is taller, for one, (Roth was 6-foot-3), and thicker (Roth’s peak was 180 pounds), and he started his first game as a freshman, against Northwestern. Roth came in as a junior college transfer, and didn’t start until his fourth game, against San Jose State.
Goff announced himself with a 450-yard performance. Roth came on in relief Fred Besana, who’d won the job coming out of camp.
“I had a distinct advantage with the system,” Besana says. “With that system, if you’d been there, it was an advantage.”
The Bears started the 1975 season 0-2, and in week three, the coaches decided to rotate Besana and Roth at Washington State.
Besana started off completing 6-of-7 passes for 98 yards, head coach Mike White sent Roth out for the game’s third series.
“Joe went in, because that was the plan, and he drove us down the field, and we scored a touchdown against Washington State,” White says. “Paul Hackett and I, running off the field at halftime, I’ll never forget this – it brings chills to me now – we were running off the field, and I said, ‘Paul, what do you think?’ Paul was a Fred Besana guy, all the way, and he said, ‘I think we’ve got to make the change.’”
The Bears won, with Roth at the helm.
Enter: The Spartans.
Playing with a separated throwing shoulder, and down by four with two minutes left, Roth faced third-and-22 on Cal’s 11-yard line.
Roth found Chuck Muncie and Wesley Walker, marching the Bears down the field for the winning score.
“That’s sort of when it started,” Besana said. “The mystique started growing, and his confidence started to grow.”
Cal won. And then won two more games, against Oregon and Oregon State.
Roth didn’t become a national name, though, until, after a loss to UCLA, he threw for 244 yards on 19-of-31 attempts, with two passing touchdowns and one rushing touchdown against undefeated defending national champion USC in Strawberry Canyon, leading Cal to a 28-14 win as a nine-point underdog. The next week, on Nov. 8 against Washington, he threw for 380 yards and four touchdowns, completing 24-of-36 passes.
“That was the game that I remember, and that was one of the reasons why we selected him on our Playboy All-American team,“ says Gil Brandt, the Vice President of Player Personnel for the Dallas Cowboys from 1960 to 1989. Now, NFL scouts see in Goff what they once saw in Roth.
This week, just like 1975, Cal is coming off of a loss to UCLA, and will host the Trojans at Memorial Stadium. Spooky enough?
“I never met a young man so mature, at such a young age, who was so strong in his beliefs, his faith, and the way he was going to carry himself.”
That’s how Don’t Quit: The Joe Roth Story, begins, with a quote from Muncie.
http://www.scout.com/college/california/story/1462087-behind-the-tds-jar... “It doesn’t even seem like he’s a freshman; he plays like he’s very mature,” said current Cal receiver Bryce Treggs, on the eve of Goff’s first start.
“Joe took a little while, because Fred Besana was taking the leadership role, and Joe took over, and by Joe’s third game, he was a leader, once he started starting,” Turner says. “Jared just stepped in, from day one. Even when he was being recruited, he was a leader.”
Goff and tight end Ray Hudson Hudson have been nearly inseparable since they got to Cal. In the summer of 2012, Hudson intercepted Goff off during a Passing Down seven-on-seven event in Sacramento. Instead of holding a grudge, Goff came to a Cal prospect camp at Witter Rugby Field, knowing that, like himself, Hudson dreamed of playing for the Bears. There was nowhere else either of them wanted to be, and though the only connection the two had was an interception earlier that summer, Goff looked at Hudson and said: "Let's get you that scholarship."
Goff had nothing to prove. He was already committed. He was a four-star, Elite 11 quarterback. But Hudson was just a local kid, who, like Goff, loved the blue and gold. With Goff throwing to him, by the end of that day Hudson had his scholarship. A week later, he committed.
They became roommates for two years, hosting the Cal band in their living room when they came home following a win.
“He had opportunities from all sorts of schools,” White says of Roth in the documentary, after Roth led the Grossmont College Griffins to a state title. Roth was, in fact, on his way up to Washington for a visit, when coach Max McCartney told White of the planned trip.
“I said, Max, you’ve got to get him off that plane," White says. "Find a way to get him off that plane. Get him back, and let’s close the deal.”
Goff needed no such last-minute intervention. He had sat in Section DD since he was a child, watching Aaron Rodgers, DeSean Jackson and Marshawn Lynch – to whom he handed a ball off in his first ever spring game, thanks to a guest appearance by the Seattle Seahawks running back.
“Those were tickets we had shared with two families, so we were able to sit there for a few years, and that was the start of my Cal fandom,” says Goff.
When Goff committed, there was already a four-star quarterback who had been tabbed a savior of the program, by some, prior to Jeff Tedford’s final season: Zach Kline.
When Tedford was ousted following a 3-9 campaign in 2012, it was Goff and Hudson who helped keep the recruiting class together.
Cal was in Goff’s blood. His father, Jerry, played third base for the Bears on the baseball diamond, punted for the football team and enjoyed a lengthy career in professional baseball. His mother, Nancy, also went to Cal, as did his paternal grandfather.
"Everything about it made it an easy decision for me, as far as the football team and the facilities, being close to home, growing up a Cal fan, and the deal-breaker was the academics -- the No. 1 public school in the country,” says Goff. “It's far exceeded my expectations. It's been a great experience for me, and I wouldn't change it for anything."
“My favorite thing about him, honestly, is his humility,” says Dykes. “He’s just a regular college kid that happens to be a really good quarterback. He is concerned with us winning on Saturday. He doesn’t care how many yards he throws for. He doesn’t care how many records he breaks. He really honestly doesn’t care about that stuff. He just wants to help Cal build this program.”
“I don’t want to be a guy who came here, got a bunch of stats, and didn’t win anything,” Goff said during fall camp. “The seniors haven’t been to a bowl game. I want to go to a bowl game. Anything extra isn’t worth considering. I want to win games. I want to bring us back to where we were, years ago. It’s been on the downslope five years ago. I want winning to be a common thing around here.”
http://www.scout.com/college/california/story/1604165-cal-and-usc-in-agr... Treggs first met Goff after Cal’s 2012 upset of UCLA on Homecoming, when Goff, a senior in high school, was visiting as a recruit.
“I didn’t really get to talk to him that much, because he didn’t really come out with us that night," Treggs says. "He didn’t want to come out with us, but when he came in the spring, and we started hanging out, the first time he ever got on campus, he came over to my room, and we were playing Madden, and that’s when I knew he was a little jokester. As soon as he came, he acted like he’d known us forever, cracking jokes. We knew he was a goofy guy we could get along with.”
How goofy? Treggs, as he and several other Bears are planning former receiver Chris Harper's bachelor party, says that, in the world of the Hangover trilogy, Goff would be the guy at the party who loses a tooth and gets a face tattoo.
Right tackle Steven Moore has more confidence.
“He’d be the one who disappears and comes back with a girl,” Moore says.
On the field, though, the goofy goes away.
“When we did our little seven-on-seven sessions, because we couldn’t throw with the coaches when he first got here, we were like, ‘Dude, this guy might be our starter,’” Treggs remembers from Goff’s first days on campus.
That means a lot, coming from Treggs, who came in with Kline as co-headliners of the 2012 class.
Dykes – a former college baseball player -- who had just gotten the job in December, had already seen tape of Goff, and met him and his family.
“There was a lot of uncertainty with the whole thing,” says Dykes. “We were new guys coming in. There was a lot of just trying to get to know each other, and I remember his parents were really nice people. Jerry and I had a lot to talk about, in terms of baseball. He was a baseball player, so that kind of stuff. That’s what I remember. I remember Tony Franklin going to watch Jared play in the playoffs, and coming back from the game, and said, ‘When I went and watched him live, I think this guy’s got a chance to be a really good player.’”
“When I saw him on tape, I thought he was a good player," Franklin says. "I thought that he was a guy that would be a good player, but I wasn’t blown away, that this is the best quarterback in the country, or that he would be what he is today. But, when I went and watched him in the state championship game in person, I came back and told Sonny, I said, ‘I think this kid’s got a chance to be special.’ On film, you don’t see the competitive fire. You don’t see the leadership stuff. When I went to that game down in L.A., I walked away and said, ‘OK, this kid’s got a shot at being pretty damn good.’”
http://www.scout.com/college/california/story/1603159-what-did-we-learn-... "I think leadership is one of those funny words, that you go in the book store and there's 20 meters of books on leadership," says Cal rugby coach -- and Roth's teammate -- Jack Clark. "Everyone's got an idea. I've always thought it's the ability to make people around you better and more productive. It's not being magical. We can all do it, but when the very best player on the team does it, it becomes special."
Franklin saw in that state title game exactly what he’s seen in the first two-years-and-change of Goff’s Cal career: He could take not just one hit, but multiple hits, and after each one, he would pick himself up, dust himself off, and take the next snap."
Goff didn't quit.
“They got beat,” Franklin remembers. “He got physically beat up. He got knocked around. But, he competed until the last play. He fought as if his life depended on it, just like he did here, his first year, and his second year, and this year. The one thing that you notice, being out here, he’s a tough guy. Most guys flinch. You get hit the way he gets hit? You flinch. I’ve never seen it once.”
That ability to take a hit and keep going, keep grinding, keep leading, is what has endeared Goff to his teammates, on both sides of the ball.
“There is a respect level across the board,” says senior safety Stefan McClure. “Our team has a great respect for each other and just a family-type atmosphere, but it’s great to see him, he’s a great leader. He works hard in the offseason, during the season he holds himself to a high standard, and he respects us, and we respect him. When we look at some of those throws, man, he’s standing in there, in the pocket, taking shots, doing everything he can to help our offense get down the field, and he makes great throws.”
Goff is more than just an arm and a mop of blond hair with a crooked grin. He's not some piece of meat; he has a brain, too, you know.
“I’ve had guys that work hard, because the thing that I do is a little unique,” says Franklin. “I don’t make ‘em do hardly anything. You’ve got to go on your own, and that’s who usually wins the job: Who goes on their own, who works hard, who studies, who goes beyond the 45-minute film session, and comes in by themselves at night. From the day he got here, he was that guy. You walk in, I go to my office, somebody’s in there, the lights are on, and it’s him. It’s always been, from the day he showed up, he did that. He’s hungry to do that.
“I’ve had some great quarterbacks that did what he did, but they just didn’t have the talent that he has. They were players of the year in their leagues, but they don’t have the skill set that he’s got.”
When Roth came to Cal, he was behind Besana, who, in his own right, would go on to be an NFL Draft pick.
“You know the competition; the rest is up to you,” White said at the time.
Goff, too, knew the competition. Even as a recruit, when I asked him why commit to Cal, when Kline was already tabbed as the program’s savior, with a cannon arm and Rodgers’ old No. 8, Goff didn’t flinch. “I think I can compete for the starting job,” he said.
When right tackle Steven Moore first met Goff, he was already an old hand, and he was looking forward to seeing Kline’s howitzer get the headlines in 2013.
“He came in, in the spring, and I was like, ‘Who’s this kid?’” says Moore. “I was like, ‘Who’s this scrawny kid from Marin?’ Then I saw him throw. I was like, ‘OK.’ I came in with Kline, so at first, I wanted Kline, hopefully Kline gets the job. We all thought Kline was the man. That spring, towards the end of the spring, I realized it was going to be a serious competition, come fall. His maturity, he wasn’t letting himself be, ‘Aw, I’m a freshman; I’m not supposed to play.’ He went in there like, ‘I’m going to play.’”
Before Roth's senior season, coach Al Saunders recalls a similar experience with Roth.
"I do remember, the first spring practice, involved with Joe, and the ball never hit the ground," Saunders says. "It was such an unbelievable sight, someone who had the mastery in the passing game that Joe did, and to be able to throw the ball so accurately. That was something that was so impressive to me, was how he handled himself."
Roth had to wait, but not for long. As cutting-edge as the current Bear Raid is, in terms of passing offense, that’s how ahead-of-the-curve the Bears were in 1975.
“There was a little struggle in practice, of picking things up,” says then-Cal coach Paul Hackett. “After this, the acceleration of the understanding of the offense, the acceleration into the summer, really was noticeable to me.”
“When he stepped on the field, there was magic,” said the Bears’ center at the time, Duane Williams. “You could sense winner, right off the bat.”
“When he first came, he was taller than I thought he was,” Treggs says of Goff. “There was this one play, I had a streak route, and he just dropped back and threw it, and it looked so effortless. He’s not the biggest guy – his arms look like noodles, especially back then, because he was very small – but when you see him throw the ball, you think his arms are huge, because of how effortlessly he threw the deep ball.”
“When I saw Joe, he was a tall, lanky, skinny, good-looking kid, but his arm was phenomenal,” says Jordan.
He may as well be talking about Goff.
http://www.scout.com/college/california/story/1600921-bttv-jared-goff-on... “He’s got a unique blend of talent, arm talent, mental talent, can make all the throws, he’s got really quick feet, but I think the thing at sets him apart is his ability to move in the pocket and keep his eyes down the field while the rush is in his face,” says Dykes. “He does that as well as any quarterback I’ve ever seen, and when you sit down and you say, ‘What makes a quarterback a great quarterback?’ They have to be accurate with the ball, they have to have a sense of timing in space, and they have to obviously be able to make all the throws. He can do all those things. What makes him really different is his ability to focus down the field, not be affected by the rush, shuffle in the pocket, create throwing lanes, and that’s what the great ones do.”
“He had a lot of God-given talent,” says Roth’s All-American wide receiver, Steve Rivera. “He could throw the ball long, he could throw it short, and he had a really quick release, for a quarterback.
“The release is probably the most significant physical attribute that a quarterback has to have,” White says. “The most important quality is accuracy, but the most important attribute is release.”
Former USC defensive lineman Gary Jeter (1973-76) said he could never sack Dan Marino, because of his quick release.
“Joe was like Dan, where he had that ability to read defenses very quick, and get rid of the ball, and there is nothing that is more frustrating than that,” says Jeter. “Another guy, Joe Montana, had the same thing.”
It just so happens that Goff wears his No. 16 because his hero, growing up, was Joe Montana, though that was more accidental than anything; Goff says his father bought him a 49ers jersey when he was four, for his birthday, and it just so happened to be No. 16. He's worn it ever since.
“Quick and smooth,” said former NFL head coach Dick Vermeil, who was the skipper at UCLA during Roth's time in Berkeley. “Sometimes, guys can be quick, but it’s a jerk movement. He made it look easy. The balls that he threw looked like there was no effort.”
Phil Schaaf – one of two filmmakers behind Don't Quit – also made the comparison between Goff and Montana. Without knowing, so does Treggs.
“His release is quick,” Treggs says of Goff, “and people don’t understand that it’s not so much the arm, as it is his footwork, because his feet are always hot, so he doesn’t have to set his feet to throw the ball.”
During the course of making Don’t Quit, Schaaf spoke with Cal quarterbacks of years past: Troy Taylor, Jay Torchio, Dave Barr and Mike Pawlawski – all of whom, coincidentally, have served as color commentators on radio and television for Goff’s tenure in Berkeley.
“They all make the comparison about his humility, his competitiveness, his low-key demeanor,” Schaaf says. “That’s neat to hear, because it’s obvious that’s who he is. Quarterbacks are so naked out there, and he never has a breakdown. You can’t tell if he’s thrown a touchdown or if he’s thrown a pick. He’s got that demeanor, he’s got the poise, and those are the two things that set Joe Roth apart from everybody else.”
“I want to be able to see things before they happen, get to the line of scrimmage and be superbly confident in what I have and what the defense is running and what we’re running,” says Goff.
http://www.scout.com/college/california/story/1604495-key-match-up-cal-p... “He just seemed so humble for a superstar guy,” Dungy says of his fellow Senior All-Star, Roth.
“He didn’t seem like he had an agenda, particularly, which is different than a lot of guys at that age,” said Roth’s college sweetheart, Tracy Lagos.
“You’d be out and you’d realize that every good-looking girl was looking at Joe Roth, and I always used to wonder why he didn’t take advantage of it more,” said Joe Rose, Roth’s tight end. “Joe, man, you could have any of these ladies you want. It just wasn’t Joe. That wasn’t Joe’s style.”
With Roth, there was a reason beyond just his naturally soft-spoken nature.
"He explained to me," says Eric Anderson, a Cal quarterback from 1975-1979, "he wasn't dating or going out with girls -- because they were throwing keys at him, left and right -- he said, 'You know, I don't want to break some girl's heart, in case this cancer comes back.'"
Goff is, despite his ease in front of a camera or a microphone, just painfully shy. Put him in a San Francisco Giants sweatshirt, and hit him a foul ball, and he'll become a dancing fool in the stands.
Goff, could walk into any sorority house or fraternity party, spread his arms, and just say, “Hi, I’m Jared Goff, starting quarterback,” and women would flock to him. But he doesn't. He's just not that guy. While many in his position embrace -- and, truthfully, abuse -- the fruits of fame, Goff is more comfortable sitting and watching film, or having dinner with friends and family, as he did for his 21st birthday. While the TMZs of the world may devour anything Johnny Manziel does off the field, they'd have a hard time finding anything worth noting on Goff.
Goff is perhaps more at home playing special friend to seven-year old cystic fibrosis patient Owen Provencher, as he did in February, and as he's done at several practices and scrimmages since, hoisting Owen onto his shoulders, both wearing No. 16 Cal jerseys. Playing the part of big man on campus, with everyone wanting a piece of him? It doesn't come easy to Goff. Playing in front of 70,000 fans, and taking time to be a hero to someone who needs him? It's as easy as breathing. Goff's face is never lit up brighter than it is when he's either celebrating with his teammates, or squatting down, talking with Owen, or any of the coaches' children.
He's a gentleman, in every sense of the word.
“He should be able to take any girl he wants,” Treggs says, “but he’s more of a laid back guy. He’s not very social. They already know who he is, but some girls don’t have the courage to go over there, so I go, ‘Hey, Jared’s over there.’
“Every year, he’s come out of his shell a little bit more. His first season, he didn’t really want to come out, and last year, when he got really good and got a lot of hype around him, then he got comfortable. Now he’s extremely comfortable.”
“He’s social; he talks, he’s normal, just like everyone else,” says Moore. “He socializes. It’s funny.”
Goff has all the right to be the life of the party, and partake of everything being the Golden Boy has to offer. But he doesn’t. Most of the time.
“You guys already know he’s goofy,” Treggs laughs. “His biggest blindspot is that he gets on this little power trip. He knows in the locker room, everybody messes around with each other in the locker room, but Jared knows that when he messes with somebody, we can’t really do anything, because if we take it too far, and he were to get hurt, we probably wouldn’t play the rest of the season, because we’re the one that hurt Jared. He uses that to his advantage, so he’s always pulling pranks on people, because he knows we can’t do anything back to him.
“The best prank is, you get out of the shower, he’ll give you a little rat tail with his towel, and it hurts like hell, but you can’t do that to him, because he’s so fragile. He’s pretty accurate. He’s gotten me good in the leg a couple of times. We always tell him, ‘If you weren’t the starting quarterback, we’d beat you up right now.’ He’s Jared Goff, so we can’t touch him.”
It’s all said with a smile, and with genuine love. Goff is the rare leader that can command his troops with absolute, unquestioned authority, but can still find time to be everyone's little brother. If his biggest demerit is locker room buffoonery, he’ll be alright.
“He’s not very good at Madden; he can’t read defenses in Madden,” says Moore. “He can’t read defenses as good as he can in person. I think that’s because he thinks, when he’s playing quarterback, and he throws the ball, he knows he can lob it in to throw it straight, and the [virtual] quarterback doesn’t do it. He gets frustrated with that type of stuff. Because he’s as good as he is, it makes him worse at Madden.”
http://www.scout.com/college/california/story/1478733-the-odd-couple-ray... At times, teammates have wanted to tackle him in the locker room for his music selection, but he’s nothing if not adaptable.
“A couple times,” Treggs smiles. “Recently, he’s played the music that we like. He brings his speaker on road trips, and he’s playing Chief Keef, Drake, Future, all the music that his receivers like, because he understands that gets us fired up. There’s a couple times where he’s played some country or some Promiscuous or Taylor Swift, and we literally have to go there and rip his phone, and go, ‘Dude, we’re not listening to that.’ Sometimes it’s fun. That’s who he is: He’s a jokester.”
Goff rooms with Moore (“everyone in our house” can beat Goff at Madden, Moore says. “He gets wins every once in a while”), and, Treggs says, hangs out with the linemen more than the receivers. He even had the entire offense over to his parents’ house in Marin before the season, and, knowing his line, made sure there was enough food for the men protecting him.
“You spend so much time with people here at Berkeley. It’s kind of fun just to see where that person came from, see where they grew up, see their parents, see what they cook, all that stuff,” says senior guard Jordan Rigsbee. “I loved it. Jared’s parents cooked us a great meal. All the O-linemen were happy. They have a pool, and everyone was having a good time.”
“I definitely feel safe at night,” Goff laughs, when talking taking care of his linemen, one of whom is his roommate, Moore.
“I’ve had a lot of roommates, and he’s a solid roommate,” Moore says. “He’s not messy, not loud, doesn’t complain, keeps to himself. He’s the perfect roommate. We’re all older than him, and we’re over the messing around, and I think that’s why he likes living with us. It’s more relaxed.”
Goff gets that from his parents. When Dykes is asked what makes Goff such a unique personality, he reasons that it’s because of Jerry and Nancy. He was raised the right way. He never had anything given to him because of his name, or because he was the No. 1 son. He had to work. Even against his dad in ping pong. Even in the driveway playing HORSE. Even with the pile of preseason awards and the scrolls of watch lists he’s on, features on ESPN Game Day, he keeps himself level, and that's because of his parents. Jerry, now a firefighter, lives a life of service. Goff jokes that he got his father's height, and his mother's metabolism. He's more than willing to make fun of himself to make those around him feel at ease.
“I’ve got cousins in Pennsylvania now,” he laughs, when talking about his newfound fame and notoriety. “That comes with the territory. My dad talks to me about that. He went through it when he got drafted, went pro, played in the big leagues. You deal with it. I kind of expected it, but it’s fine.”
He’s comfortable and uncomfortable at the same time. He understands the spotlight, and he deals with it, but he doesn't crave it. To him, it’s just not that important.
On his way to an interview during fall camp, Goff stands at one of Memorial Stadium’s archways, on a warm, clear day, white puffs of clouds hanging in the distance over Alcatraz. He pauses, and takes a deep breath in front of Elevator 4.
“I’m trying to enjoy every day, look around, see where I’m at, tell myself, ‘I’m playing at Cal-Berkeley as the quarterback, take it all in and go play,’” he says.
It’s the team he played with on video games as a child, going 12-0 and winning the national title every year (on Freshman Mode, he admits).
“I always played with Cal on video games, I created myself on the video games. When I was being recruited, I wasn’t predisposed at all. Everything just kind of fell into place here,” he says.
He still remembers those seats in Section DD. He looks up at them often. He reminds himself that he’s a small, lucky piece, a brick in the foundation that was laid with a 1-11 freshman season.
“The big thing for him, is that he always accepted responsibility,” says Franklin. “I always tell him, the one thing you’ll be judged by is winning football games. That’s what every quarterback, in my opinion, who becomes a great quarterback, it’s because you win. He took it personally. Even though it’s not your fault, completely, I put it on him. I told him, ‘People ask me how great is he?’ Well, let’s wait and see. We’ve got to win. You have to pull your team, and that’s what he’s done.”
All Goff has ever wanted to do is win. Beyond that, though, he wants to make Cal great again.
“I want to bring us back to where we were, years ago,” he says. “It’s been on the downslope five years ago. I want winning to be a common thing around here.”
“The biggest thing that I’m proud of, is how he’s pulled this thing together,” says Franklin. “We’ve got great camaraderie, we’ve got unselfish receivers – which is unbelievable – that don’t fight, gripe, complain. We’ve been through a couple of years of having some like that. We don’t have them anymore. Running backs, same way. All that is a part of him. He’s the one that’s brought this thing together to work, and then, he, himself, getting all this publicity that he gets, I don’t think we’ve got a jealous kid. The defense loves him, because he’s tough. He’s a tough guy. The offensive line will die for him, because he’s a tough guy. He’s got all the things that you want, when you’re looking at building a franchise for us here at Cal. He was the guy, and when he goes to the next deal, he’ll be the guy to do that, as well.”
Goff will have the chance that Roth never did. While Roth’s journey was cut short, Goff’s journey is just beginning.
“He’s an extremely warm person,” Turner says of Goff. “He’s got a wonderful family. I know them all now. He’s the same way.”
If there's anyone who can live up to, and honor, Roth's legacy in Berkeley, of pursuing victory with honor and integrity, of being an ambassador of the University of California, it's Goff.
“The thing I remember about him, was that he was such a nice guy; he was your every-day All-American,” Rivera says of Roth. “He was your everyday All-American kid.”
Just like Goff.