Two years ago when Buddy Teevens and Jeff Tedford first met in a Big Game setting, the key word for the week was "civil". Both coaches had just come from schools where the big rivalry games can only be described as nasty, and both coaches appreciated the "civil" way in which both cal and Stanford went about the handling of their rivalry game.
There's certainly something to that. When it comes to this week's "Civil" War, Ducks and Beavers just do not mix. Huskies and Cougars? Please. The only way you'll see a Gator fan hanging out with a Seminole fan is if one's holding the other for the police.
But it's not that uncommon to see cal and Stanford folk tailgating side-by-side on gameday. It's not that uncommon to have both sides mingling with each other during the week. Sure, there are pranks. Yes, the students get after each other a little bit. And cal fans have developed a nasty habit of storming the field, win or lose. But at a typical Big Game, both sides are supported equally by their fan groups.
But this isn't a typical Big Game. And the circumstances surrounding this atypical Big Game leave me wondering: is anyone rooting for Stanford this weekend?
Obviously the cal fans will be at their Golden Bear bandwagon best. Bear fans in Berkeley are boorish even in lean times. But with cal fielding its best football team in at least a generation, this weekend will probably be like nothing we've ever seen before from Bearfan.
While the Bears will have plenty of fans in the stadium and nationwide, I'm also pretty sure that the rest of the Pac-10 will be behind the Bears this weekend. The reason is simple: if cal earns itself a BCS bowl bid, Big C will mean big dollars for everyone else in the conference. If cal represents the Pac-10 in Pasadena and U$C spends the holidays in Miami, then all of the other schools in the conference will receive a nice chunk of the BCS pie.
While shooting the breeze with some folks in the press box before last Saturday's game, a Stanford rooter mentioned that she couldn't put a price on knocking the Bears out of the Rose Bowl hunt. To which someone replied, "Yes, you can… $2 million!"
When put in those terms, it's hard to disagree that even if Stanford doesn't beat cal, consolation prizes don't get much better than $2 million!
So the Bears have their fans' support, and they have the Pac-10's (unofficial) support, and, amazingly enough, they have also gained the endorsement of another group: Stanford fans. Or, more specifically, Stanford fans who would love nothing better than to see Buddy Teevens on a Stanford sideline for the final time this weekend.
Remember when I mentioned how nice all the Notre Dame fans were to us when we traveled to South Bend last month, only because they wanted to see a Stanford win put That Guy closer to the unemployment line? The exact same thing is at work here. Some Stanford folks want to see the end of the Buddy Teevens Era at any cost, even if it means a crushing loss to cal.
Before this year, I don't think I had ever heard a Stanford fan openly root for the Bears to come away with a Big Game win. Never did I hear a Stanford fan say that it would be nice for the Bears to get Tom Holmoe a win because he's such a nice guy. Not once.
But this year has been far, far different. I've heard many Stanford fans and followers hop on cal's side of the fence for this weekend. I don't know whether it's the majority or not, but there certainly seems to be a large block of Cardinalmaniacs™ who probably want cal to win by a huge, embarrassing, Notre Dame 2003-style score.
Certainly that block of fans has been the most vocal, and they've been getting more and more vocal by the week. I'm curious to see how vocal they'll be at Memorial Stadium on Saturday. Will they still cheer the Card as they take the field? Will they still jump during "All Right Now"? Or will they be cheering right along with Old Blues as the Bears cross the goal line?
Maybe an even more pertinent question: will they show up at all? I would imagine that most of those folks have already unloaded their Big Game tickets anyway. But whether they're in attendance or not, to those folks, three hours of brutally humiliating pain and another year without The Axe will gladly be sacrificed for what they hope will be the head coach's job.
So it seems that the Stanford football squad will have few followers when they venture to Raspberry Ravine this weekend. It's always nice when people believe in you, and it's also easier to succeed when people believe in you. But it's often sweeter to succeed when no one believes in you. That might be the theme for the Card for this year's Big Game. Old Blues, big BCS money, and anti-Teevens people be damned; I know for a fact they all want The Axe back.
RANDOM PAC-10 THOUGHTS
I'm not a head coach, but I sometimes play one on the radio and the internet: I would have gone for it on the first of Stanford's controversial fourth-down calls. At that point in the game, there were no guarantees that Stanford would be back in the red zone anytime soon, so I would also have tried to capitalize and go for the touchdown. But I wouldn't have gone for it on the next fourth-down call. And I would have gone for it rather than attempting the 50-yard field goal…
I noticed there were no "T.C. Ostrander should start" e-mails in my inbox this week. I'm just saying…
Looks like the defense went to tackling school after the Arizona State game! Good to see that again…
Last week was the first time I'd gotten a chance to see the Derek Anderson-Mike Hass connection in person. Wow. That was almost breathtaking to watch at times. Although I have to admit, I enjoyed the Derek Anderson-Oshiomogho Atogwe connection even more…
Stat of the Week: against the Beavers last week, the Stanford offense ran 14 plays in goal-to-go situations. Those 14 plays netted a total of minus-13 yards and, most importantly, no touchdowns…
Have I mentioned that Marshawn Lynch scares the hell out of me? Well, he does…
Quote of the Week, courtesy of Husky legend Sonny Sixkiller, who offers this reason to watch this year's Apple Cup: "I'm anxious to see how this one plays out… it could be one of the ugliest games around."
Not a Pac-10 thought, but… the only thing more predictable than Terrell Owens getting in a weekly controversy is the NFL and the media getting on their high horses over T.O.'s role in the controversial open for this week's "Monday Night Football." Please. I see more offensive stuff during the 11:00 News. And don't be fooled by ABC's "apology". They got exactly what they wanted. The whole point of the open was to continue their mission to promote "Desperate Housewives" to death. They achieved that beyond their wildest dreams…
Speaking of TV notes, it's another double scoop of the Farm Report this week… Friday at 7:00 PM and Saturday at 8:00 AM on FOX Sports Net Bay Area!
Oregon @ Oregon State. With these two defense, I predict a low-scoring game. Then again, I thought the Ducks and the Bruins would have a low-scoring affair last week so what do I know? But I think the Beavers' defense and their home-field advantage might overcome the mistakes Derek Anderson makes. I like Oregon State by 4.
Last week: 3-1 (straight up), 1-3 (ATS).
This year: 22-6 (straight up), 14-14 (ATS).
-- 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 on Fox Sports Net Bay Area. Clardy hosts "Stanford Sports Weekly", which airs Wednesday evenings at 8:00 pm on KNTS (1220 AM) in San Francisco. He also hosts Cardinal men's basketball pregame shows on Stanford radio network flagship station KNEW in San Francisco, and "College Football Today" on KNBR 1050 in San Francisco.
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