View from the Student Section

As the Bears offense trotted onto the Memorial Stadium turf for the first time Saturday, the students did a good imitation of the angel poised on the struggling young man's shoulder. "A-yoob! A-yoob! A-yoob! A-yoob!" chanted the energized student section.

Then, Joey let fly his first pass of the afternoon and within seconds of the interception, the student-angels dissolved into separate entities, a portion remaining where they were, the other half switching shoulders while popping out their pitchforks.

"Holy f*** dude! His first f****** pass of the day! His first f****** pass!" screamed a student two rows above me.

"Sit him down! We've had enough! Put Levy in!" screamed a girl down the aisle to my left.

"Shut the f*** up you idiot!" came the reply three rows below. "It's only one f****** pass!"

As the profanities increased in number, I too lamely attempted to quiet the drunken, upset students around me by yelling back, "Not helping guys! Really ... booing him is not gonna make him play better next time they're on the field!"

Realizing my shouting was utterly pointless - and very un-reporter like of me - I gave up and turned my attention to the target of the students name-calling. Head down, shoulders sagging, Ayoob's body language said it all as he jogged back to the bench. Whatever small confidence the young buck had managed to build since throwing away the game-tying touchdown gimme the week before had - in a single play - evaporated in the midday sun.

But the hometown boys kept fighting, keeping the Trojans within reach, and as the first half pressed on the students continued their spot-on performance as the voices inside Joe Ayoob's head.

Following a failed USC drive at the beginning the second quarter, the good angels were flying in force, trying their best to say anything to give the disheartened QB a little confidence on his way back to the - seemingly dreadful - line of scrimmage.

"Joe-y Ayoob, clap clap, clap clap clap!" came the chants from above.

"Come on Joey baby ... just like you did at JC ... you can do it!" voiced a friend to my right.

"The game starts now Joe. Just forget about that last one!" echoed still another vote of confidence for the shaky shooter from San Rafael.

But the tentativeness still lingered, the anything-but-a-spiral passes continued to sail, and as interception number three of the afternoon fell into the hands of the Trojan secondary, a student making his to the concession stands for a halftime snack played Joey's devil once more.

"Good thing he plays a sport where helmets are required. 'Cause if I was him, I wouldn't want to show my face on the way to that locker room."

Ouch. That was just mean, man.

Sadly, I was almost positive - watching Ayoob's body language as he exited North Tunnel - that Joe would have agreed with him.

The second half entailed much of the same. Back and forth, run run pass, yikes, oh no, thank you, Joe - one after another, the remarks reached my row.

And with each new ear-filling arrival I couldn't help but conclude that every word I was hearing had to be going through the worn-down noggin of #18 as well. A young man soon to be known - and most likely already calling himself - the JuCo transfer that could have been.

Brutal? Yes. The truth? Unless the heavens intervene.

The numerous students I yapped with through the painful fourth quarter agreed this has to be impossibly hard for a young athlete - competing on such a grand stage - to handle. Especially after the uber-successful career Ayoob's had up to this point.

A student I spoke with after the last of the "devil"-ish chants of the day - the overwhelmingly loud "LEE-VY! LEE-VY!" efforts that rained down in Joe's direction after Tedford finally pulled the plug - provided an interesting perspective on the saga of the 2005 season.

"It's all in his head really, it has to be. I saw him play before he came to Cal, and while he was no Aaron Rodgers, he was a pretty good quarterback. I think the build-up during the off-season, the pressure once he got thrown in so early in the first game, and the negativity surrounding every wrong thing he's done since, have just gotten to him. I mean, he's not a superhero, he's just a quarterback. And his confidence is shot. So until he gets it back, if he ever can, all we're gonna have is a shell of the player he used to be."

Staring down at Joe as he sat at the end of the bench, helmet off, eyes down while Levy completed his second pass of the day, I couldn't help but feel for the guy.

Sure it's easy to blame him for the mediocre year the Bears have had. I've even found myself jumping on the "ditch Ayoob" bandwagon more than a few times. But the fact of the matter is, we as fans don't need to do that. Unless he's made of steel, Joe Ayoob has already done that.

So with Big Game the lone match-up left looming on the pre-post season horizon, the lines have been drawn.

"The way I see it, he's the only captain we've got. We can either sail with him or abandon ship," said one angelic student towards the end on Saturday.

The question remains, however, which shoulder - come this Saturday - the rest of the students going to be on?


©Copyright 2005, BearInsider.com and Scout.com. All rights reserved.

If you haven't done so already, subscribe to The Bear Insider so you can participate in this active online Cal community and get access to the members-only content from the nation-wide Scout.com network.

Bear Insider staff writers visit the Insider discussion board regularly, and are available to discuss questions you may have about this article and Cal Athletics.


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Then, Joey let fly his first pass of the afternoon and within seconds of the interception, the student-angels dissolved into separate entities, a portion remaining where they were, the other half switching shoulders while popping out their pitchforks.

\"Holy f*** dude! His first f****** pass of the day! His first f****** pass!\" screamed a student two rows above me.

\"Sit him down! We've had enough! Put Levy in!\" screamed a girl down the aisle to my left.

\"Shut the f*** up you idiot!\" came the reply three rows below. \"It's only one f****** pass!\"

As the profanities increased in number, I too lamely attempted to quiet the drunken, upset students around me by yelling back, \"Not helping guys! Really ... booing him is not gonna make him play better next time they're on the field!\"

Realizing my shouting was utterly pointless - and very un-reporter like of me - I gave up and turned my attention to the target of the students name-calling. Head down, shoulders sagging, Ayoob's body language said it all as he jogged back to the bench. Whatever small confidence the young buck had managed to build since throwing away the game-tying touchdown gimme the week before had - in a single play - evaporated in the midday sun.

But the hometown boys kept fighting, keeping the Trojans within reach, and as the first half pressed on the students continued their spot-on performance as the voices inside Joe Ayoob's head.

Following a failed USC drive at the beginning the second quarter, the good angels were flying in force, trying their best to say anything to give the disheartened QB a little confidence on his way back to the - seemingly dreadful - line of scrimmage.

\"Joe-y Ayoob, clap clap, clap clap clap!\" came the chants from above.

\"Come on Joey baby ... just like you did at JC ... you can do it!\" voiced a friend to my right.

\"The game starts now Joe. Just forget about that last one!\" echoed still another vote of confidence for the shaky shooter from San Rafael.

But the tentativeness still lingered, the anything-but-a-spiral passes continued to sail, and as interception number three of the afternoon fell into the hands of the Trojan secondary, a student making his to the concession stands for a halftime snack played Joey's devil once more.

\"Good thing he plays a sport where helmets are required. 'Cause if I was him, I wouldn't want to show my face on the way to that locker room.\"

Ouch. That was just mean, man.

Sadly, I was almost positive - watching Ayoob's body language as he exited North Tunnel - that Joe would have agreed with him.

The second half entailed much of the same. Back and forth, run run pass, yikes, oh no, thank you, Joe - one after another, the remarks reached my row.

And with each new ear-filling arrival I couldn't help but conclude that every word I was hearing had to be going through the worn-down noggin of #18 as well. A young man soon to be known - and most likely already calling himself - the JuCo transfer that could have been.

Brutal? Yes. The truth? Unless the heavens intervene.

The numerous students I yapped with through the painful fourth quarter agreed this has to be impossibly hard for a young athlete - competing on such a grand stage - to handle. Especially after the uber-successful career Ayoob's had up to this point.

A student I spoke with after the last of the "devil"-ish chants of the day - the overwhelmingly loud \"LEE-VY! LEE-VY!\" efforts that rained down in Joe's direction after Tedford finally pulled the plug - provided an interesting perspective on the saga of the 2005 season.

\"It's all in his head really, it has to be. I saw him play before he came to Cal, and while he was no Aaron Rodgers, he was a pretty good quarterback. I think the build-up during the off-season, the pressure once he got thrown in so early in the first game, and the negativity surrounding every wrong thing he's done since, have just gotten to him. I mean, he's not a superhero, he's just a quarterback. And his confidence is shot. So until he gets it back, if he ever can, all we're gonna have is a shell of the player he used to be.\"

Staring down at Joe as he sat at the end of the bench, helmet off, eyes down while Levy completed his second pass of the day, I couldn't help but feel for the guy.

Sure it's easy to blame him for the mediocre year the Bears have had. I've even found myself jumping on the \"ditch Ayoob\" bandwagon more than a few times. But the fact of the matter is, we as fans don't need to do that. Unless he's made of steel, Joe Ayoob has already done that.

So with Big Game the lone match-up left looming on the pre-post season horizon, the lines have been drawn.

\"The way I see it, he's the only captain we've got. We can either sail with him or abandon ship,\" said one angelic student towards the end on Saturday.

The question remains, however, which shoulder - come this Saturday - the rest of the students going to be on?


©Copyright 2005, BearInsider.com and Scout.com. All rights reserved.

If you haven't done so already, subscribe to The Bear Insider so you can participate in this active online Cal community and get access to the members-only content from the nation-wide Scout.com network.

Bear Insider staff writers visit the Insider discussion board regularly, and are available to discuss questions you may have about this article and Cal Athletics.

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