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This might be the wrong week to do this, but I have a confession to make. I don't think I've ever really hated cal.
I've never seen cal as a hated rival that tickles my gag reflex at its mere mention. If anything, I've always kinda seen cal as a place to be both pitied and laughed at.
When I think about it, I've never really had a chance to develop a good old-fashioned hatred for all things cal. I didn't come up during the golden age of Axe thefts and Big Game pranks. My class was the first class in generations to go through four years at Stanford without experiencing the old-school bonfire at Lake Lag. Instead, my freshman year we had some laser show at Hoover Tower. That's right, a (pardon me while I slip into my Dr. Evil impression) "laser" show. I guess the planetarium was already booked.
Sure, it was cool to see Bill Walsh remember everyone's name, but I'd imagine it didn't even come close to what The Bonfire was all about. By the time the bonfire was resurrected, albeit on a far smaller scale, it was too late. Looking back on it now, I feel kinda gypped. It's hard to hate the rival school when opportunities to do so are limited at best.
I wasn't around for the Screw of '82. I wasn't alive when Vince Ferragamo and Steve Sweeney did their thing. There were a couple of setbacks my first two years on campus, but after that, Stanford started serving up hot buttered Golden Bear beatdowns every time they met cal. And it wasn't just in football, either. Hoops, baseball, hopscotch… it didn't matter. Stanford won with professional efficiency. It's hard to manufacture a dislike for a team that you beat almost every time.
To tell you the truth, I actually respect cal's band. And Telegraph Avenue is a far superior collegiate thoroughfare than our own University Avenue. Blondie's Pizza? Amoeba Music? And Rasputin's down the street? No contest.
Nope, I've never really hated cal. But that doesn't mean I won't work up some hatred for them this year.
After all, there are plenty of reasons to hate cal. Crossing into Berkeley city limits is like crossing into 1968. Finding a parking spot in that town is difficult; making a left turn is darn near impossible. No matter where you walk on campus, you always seem to be going uphill. No matter where you walk anywhere in that town, you always seem to be stepping in something or stumbling over someone.
BearFan is generally unpleasant at best, insufferable at worst. When the Bears lose ugly on the field, their fans react accordingly. And in the rare instances when cal is actually on a roll, they turn into a boorish and boastful lot that almost rivals what you see from the folks who root for "That Think Tank on Figueroa."
As The Bootleg so eloquently and accurately put it a few years ago, cal is home to the most insipid cheers in all of college sports. Tell the whole damn world this is Bear territory? Classy. Take off that red shirt? Real classy. Na na na hey hey hey, you suck? I chuckle every time I hear it, but it's still pretty tasteless.
Yesterday the phone rang at my desk, and when I picked it up I was greeted by, "Rolllllll onnnnn you Bearrrrrs!" It was Sports Illustrated weenie—I mean, writer—Mike Silver. I had that damn chant in my head the rest of the afternoon. Ruined my day.
And, of course, the biggest reason I can think of to hate cal right now is the fact that they currently have our beloved Axe stashed away in some bank vault somewhere. Our Axe. The Stanford Axe. And that little fact is something that every cal fan you know has been throwing in your face for the past 361 days. That's reason enough to hate the Bears.
So, for the first time in a long time, I say with a little hatred in my voice…..BEAT CAL!!!
RANDOM PAC-10 THOUGHTS
If a team loses by 40 points but the game isn't on TV and you weren't there to witness it in person, does that game really exist? My answer is no. So we'll just act like last week never happened. Never happened…
Last weekend may have been the signature weekend of Pac-10 football in 2003. The closest game was a 15-point decision. The other games were decided by 18, 40, 45, and 47 points. Of the 34 Pac-10 games played so far, seven have been decided by a touchdown or less, while 17 have been decided by three touchdowns or more. That's right, exactly half of all Pac-10 games this year have been absolute routs…
Can I use that as an excuse for my numbers ATS this year? No? Well, I tried…
Who does cal think they are, the Sooners?
Stat of the week: just 21 minutes into their game against the Huskies, cal had 386 yards of total offense, almost matching their season average per game (388) to that point…
Someone please explain to me how in the world anyone not in Columbus, Austin, or Gainesville can find a way to put the U$C Trojans underneath Ohio State, Texas, or Florida in their rankings. Strength of schedule my big toe. Texas has played the likes of Rice, Iowa State, and Baylor. Florida has lost three games. Ohio State should have lost to San Diego State. There's no way you can convince me that U$C is not the second best team in the country right now…
This is probably one of the dumbest things I've ever written given the things that have gone on with this program this year, but the Arizona Wildcats are not very well coached. Arizona's offense consistently didn't break the huddle and get to the line of scrimmage until inside ten seconds remained on the play clock. On a couple of occasions, they didn't even get to the line until four seconds remained. Those plays were all doomed before they even started, kind of like Arizona's season…
Quote of the week, courtesy of Stanford coach Tom Quinn, who noticed Chief Bootie Mike Eubanks' most unfortunate choice of wardrobe at Tuesday's practice: "Hey, Bootleg guy… what the hell are you doing wearing a blue jacket this week?"
Not a Pac-10 thought, but… caught a little bit of the NFL Network the other day. Primo stuff. The 1994 New England Patriots never looked so good…
Not a Pac-10 thought, but… first the ill-fated quarterback sneak against Ohio State, then the questionable shotgun pass on fourth-and-one against Florida State. Is there a worse overtime coach in America than Chuck Amato?
Not a Pac-10 thought, but… also caught the Texas-Texas Tech thriller as well. The Red Raiders do something a bit unorthodox, as they split their right tackle away a couple yards from the rest of the line. I'm not a football coach, but I'll play one here: it seems to me that might give the tackle an advantage in handling an outside pass rush. Just found that interesting…
I've said this before and I'll say this again…if you try to predict any game played during Rivalry Week, you're a fool. That said…
cal @ Stanford. One team gained 729 yards of total offense. The other gained only 133 yards (while allowing 663 yards). But you can throw out the stats whenever these two teams get together. I dunno… maybe it's the fact that the Cardinal are playing at home, where they've looked good, but this game could be closer than you might think. But still, sadly, I like cal by 3. Prove me wrong, fellas!
Washington State @ Washington. It's interesting to note that in the past two Apple Cup games, the Cougars have come in as a Top 10 team and have left as losers. Wazzu is a top-10 team again…. does history repeat itself again? Ummm, I don't think so. I like Washington State by 11.
UCLA @ U$C. Should be interesting to watch the Bruins defense try to handle the Trojan offense. For about two quarters, anyway. Too much here for the Bruins to deal with. I like U$C by 15.
Last week (straight up): 4-1, (ATS): 0-3-1. Of course, the one
game I nailed last week had no line on it! Sigh. But look at my straight-up
This year (straight up): 22-12, (ATS): 10-20-2.
Got a thought on this column or on Stanford sports? E-mail me at email@example.com! The ones I like best will end up in next week's E-Mailbag…
Troy Clardy is a reporter for the Stanford Cardinal Farm Report, which airs Saturday mornings at 8:30 on Fox Sports Bay Area.
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