More Things Change, The More They Remain The Same

Thirty-one years ago next month, on October 10, U$C played Stanford in a much anticipated football game that drew national attention. It was sellout at Stanford Stadium – in its pre-tunnel configuration. Ninety-thousand witnessed the contest, give or take a few butts.

It was, in the poetry of former Band Announcer Hal Michelson, a clear and promising Saturday.  A sunny, warm "Indian" Summer afternoon.

The contest lived up to its billing. To paraphrase San Francisco Chronicle sports columnist Ron Fimrite, in his piece the following Monday, a better schoolboy game would be hard to find.

Stanford, Cardinalmaniacs™ will fondly recall, triumphed that day, 24-14, on its way to its first Rose Bowl win in 30 years.

But Fimrite's column also captured another dimension to the festivities on that Saturday. During the morning, someone phoned the University claiming that a bomb was planted somewhere inside the stadium and would explode right around kickoff.  It was not a threat to be dismissed: 1970 was not a vintage year for America and the symbols of the "establishment," – such as big-time college football – were presumable targets.  Remember the "Weathermen?"

University President Dick Lyman got on the public address system just before kickoff and actually asked the crowd to report any suspicious looking packages – or people.

Minutes later, when the field cannon fired during the playing of the National Anthem – using real gunpowder in those days – there were more than a few startled spectators.

"This is not so much the Age of Aquarius," Fimrite began his piece, "as the age of Bakunin." -- referring to Mikhail Bakunin, 19th century Russian anarchist, the so-called "father" of modern anarchy.

(As erudite as he was entertaining, Fimrite was the perfect chronicler of Stanford football. Even if he was a Berkeley grad.)

Fortunately, the only bomb that day was the one thrown by Jim Plunkett to Bob Moore. Fimrite's words, not mine.

And, thirty-one years after Stanford's perfect season in 1940, the heavy-underdog Indians smashed down Ohio State and its many All-Americans.

Fast forward another 31 years to a far different world. But is it so different? Suddenly, threats to public safety in large, symbolic settings – in landmark buildings or high-profile athletic events – are more ominous and more sinister and more immediate than ever.

What we're looking at 31 years after the bomb scare at the U$C game makes The Weathermen of the late ‘60s look quaint by comparison. Almost like Halloween pranksters.

There won't be a full-house Saturday night when the Cardinal begin conference play against Arizona State.  But I would expect full-house security.

And from now on, you won't hear me bitch about cooler bans.

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