Gut Reaction: Reunion Weekend

2011 Stanford is its own team, and easily a better team than just about any Stanford team in recent memory. Still, this year's Cardinal squad conjured up no shortage of ghosts of seasons past Saturday night. For better and for worse, Stanford's 37-10 victory over Arizona felt like a reunion...

So I find myself in a new city with an email from the alumni association's local chapter. I figure why not, I'll head on down to the bar to catch the Stanford game. I get there, maybe recognize a guy or two.

Game drags on, another old friend shows up. Then a casual acquaintance, then another friend, then a guy I actively disliked. Then a girl who I swear I recognize, but can't remember the first thing about for the life of me. Then a guy down the hall freshman year. (Then the girl who slept with that guy down the hall. Then the girl down the hall we all wished we slept with.) Point is, by the time the game ended, seems like I knew every other person there.

So it was at a Washington D.C. bar, so it was at a Tucson stadium, and so it was on ESPN signals streaming from the Sonoran to Palo Alto, from our nation's capital to our entire nation, and from the Worldwide Leader in Bristol to wherever else worldwide Stanford fans, friends, family and alums gather to watch their top-five football squad.

2011 Stanford is its own team, and easily a better team than just about any Stanford team in recent memory. Still, this year's Cardinal squad conjured up no shortage of ghosts of seasons past Saturday night. For better and for worse, Stanford's 37-10 victory over Arizona felt like a reunion.

For our baby boomer alums used to watching Plunkett, Elway and the rest, the early going must have been a bittersweet reunion. Nick Foles started 17-of-17, and Stanford looked like it was going to have to hang on for dear life in a shootout.

For us recent alums used to watching Buddy Teevens and a third-and-goal quarterback slide all the better to center the ball for a field goal, used to suffering through blown leads galore, embarrassing losses galore, and most of all, missed tackle after missed tackle, the early going was a most painful reunion. Shayne Skov's departure and Wayne Lyons' absence had something to do with it, the first non-exhibition game jitters had something to do with it, Arizona's dinky-dunk offense and future NFL quarterback had something to do with it, but still, we were pure Swiss cheese, repeatedly, as we attempted to wrap up early.

Most importantly, though, for our Greatest Generation alums, the meat of the contest, those final 35 minutes where Stanford yanked the game from Arizona's grasp and never gave it back, must have harkened back to those most sacred of years, the national championship seasons of 1926 and 1940.

I have yet to dig up whatever grainy footage exists, but I imagine we were less than perfect in those campaigns. I imagine we suffered through key injuries. I know for a fact we won all forms and fashions of contests in '26 and ‘40: squeakers, come-from-behind victories and blowouts alike. Heck, I even imagine anxious, long-suffering Cardinal fans complained to each other via telegram or Dvorak keyboards or smoke signals or whatever you guys had back in the day about how the team was never going to cut it and how Pop Warner was in over his head.

When the week-to-week drama faded and the smoke cleared, however, Stanford had lost nary a game in 1926 nor 1940. Saturday, your Cardinal came up victors, resoundingly at that, against Arizona. The Card, of course, have come up victors 11 straight times now, with the last six of those wins coming by 27-plus points.

Sometimes reunions start slow. Always, there are rough patches. At the end of the day, though, you're darn glad you went, and, if you're lucky, have the perspective to realize things are pretty good after all. Three down, 11 to go. That's our take. Here's everyone else's.


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