Imagine that it's late 2001, and that you are a superstar Bay Area high school quarterback. Your family has strong ties to Berkeley, and wouldn't mind seeing you play for them. The problem is, it's late 2001, and the Golden Bears are in the midst of an all-time bad season. Their coach is a lame duck, their program is in shambles, and the future, much like their stadium, lies on an active fault line.
Meanwhile, Stanford is clearly king of the hill in Bay Area college football. The Cardinal are Pac-10 contenders; in fact, they've become a respected program nationwide. Just two years before, they had played in a real live Rose Bowl. Plus, Stanford had churned out a decade's worth of successful quarterbacks, guys who put up big numbers, won big games, and won Big Games. It was all right now, for the Cardinal, and their future looked as bright as a typical sunsplashed Saturday afternoon on The Farm.
Imagine that you have to decide between those two programs, basing your decision on those factors. If I was that superstar Bay Area high school quarterback, it would have been a no-brainer. I would have chosen Stanford.
Trent Edwards actually was that superstar Bay Area high school quarterback, and he chose Stanford.
To say that Trent's Stanford football career did not go quite as planned would be a gross understatement. There were no bowl games, no winning seasons, no victories over cal. There was plenty of disappointment, plenty of punishment, and plenty of pain.
Maybe history will be kinder to Trent at Stanford than his actual playing career was. After all, his characteristics compare favorably with the other successful quarterbacks in Stanford's recent history. Todd Husak's intelligence. Randy Fasani's competitive drive. A lot of Chad Hutchinson's athleticism. Mark Butterfield's ability to make the big play throw. Steve Stenstrom's toughness and leadership. Punch all of those things into your calculator, and you end up with Trent Edwards.
My signature Trent Edwards moment came against Oregon in a game at Stanford Stadium in 2004. Trent dropped back, stood tall in the pocket, and fired a pass into the teeth of the Oregon blitz. It was a line-drive spiral, a picture perfect 15-yard out that tight end Alex Smith caught with ease. Under heavy pressure, Trent had completed football's premiere power throw to the left sideline.
Unfortunately, I don't think Trent even saw that pass get completed. Duck defensive lineman Robby Valenzuela blasted him immediately after the pass was thrown, and Trent was through for the day.
That seemed to be Trent's Stanford career in a nutshell: make an amazing play, but pay the physical price for it. But through it all, he never complained, never pointed fingers, never publicly called out his linemen, never publicly let his frustrations get the best of him. Above all, he never let the pain dull his desire to compete and to win. He always did whatever it took to move the chains, even if it meant running for his life, scrambling downfield, and taking a big hit to get the first down.
That style of play meant a lot to Cardinalmaniacs™ worldwide. It meant even more to his teammates. While being interviewed by TBS during the loss to U$C last year, Evan Moore was asked by Craig Sager for his thoughts on Trent Edwards, who was enduring such a severe beating by the Trojans, it left grass stains on his helmet. Moore told Sager, "I get choked up just watching him play."
Sadly, no one got the chance to watch Trent Edwards play last Saturday. Trent did not spend his final game at Stanford Stadium completing passes and leading his team to victory. Instead, he spent the afternoon on the sidelines, done for the season with another injury. Trent's last "Walk" to the stadium wasn't a walk at all; it was a limp.
Even so, as a Cardinalmaniac™, I am thankful that Trent Edwards has been a part of this program for the past five seasons. On and off the field, he has been an outstanding ambassador for a great university. And I know that he has a lot of fans among NFL scouts as well. I'm just sorry that all of his efforts didn't result in the bright future that seemed certain for Stanford when he made that fateful decision five years ago.
RANDOM PAC-10 THOUGHTS
Yes, the pass protection crumbled in the second half. And yes, they were shut out in the game's final 56 minutes. But I actually liked some things from the offense last week against the Beavers. I appreciate the fact that they tried to throw downfield. And there were moments when things seemed to be clicking. Even so, this offense still has a long, long, long way to go before it becomes a legitimately competitive one…
Nice moment for punter Jay Ottovegio, who converted a fake punt by running for the first down himself…
The U$C defense finally made the statement they had been looking to make all season, and they did it against a fine cal offense. That was as physical a Pac-10 game as I've seen in a while…
Need further proof that college football today is all about instant gratification? I did some lurking on the cal fan's message board immediately after the U$C game was done, and among the names of the threads I saw: "Disappointing," "Jeff Tedford has hit his ceiling" and "The Season is a Failure!" Wow…
I've said it before, and I'll say it again: When Oregon looks good, they look unstoppable. But when they don't look good, they look awful. Well, they looked less than awful against Arizona. What an eye-opener that was…
Not a Pac-10 thought, but… I have an idea. You know how most college basketball coaches pick a day to wear tennis shoes and honor the Coaches vs. Cancer charity? I think all NFL coaches should wear suits on the sidelines for one day to honor a charity of their choice…
Not a Pac-10 thought, but… Our Quote of the Week is actually a classic quote from the late Bo Schembechler, who said this during a speech to his players in 1983: "You can go into professional football; you can go anywhere you want to play after you leave here. You will never play for a 'team' again! You'll play for a contract; you'll play for this; you'll play for that. You'll play for everything except the team! Think what a great thing it is to be a part of something that is 'the team.'"
Not a Pac-10 thought, but… Have a safe and Happy Thanksgiving! And please, don't drink and drive. If you do, you're a moron…
CLARDY'S CORNER INBOX
Ken from parts unknown checks in: "I've loved reading your weekly column, "Clardy's Corner", for a couple of years now. Charles Chiccoa's UCLA column [on BruinReportOnline.com] is equally anticipated and appreciated… You're both very clever, lucid and entertaining sports commentators. Especially the entertaining aspect."
(There's more here, and we'll get to it in a second. But I gotta admit that as I was reading this, it was at this point in the e-mail that I started bracing myself…)
"…What I find most enjoyable is your utter and incessant hatred of anything USC. [It] leaves me dumbfounded and perplexed and, yet, oddly enough, happy! Your hatred provides me with a kind of sustaining lifeblood. And a kind of inner comfort, too, knowing that I bear not the same animosity and hostility that you harbor. You know, it just makes my day to read your weekly rantings and jealousies. The same goes for Chiccoa's [column]… I get this strange feeling that both of you would rather rejoice in a Trojan loss than celebrate a $$$tanford or UCLA victory… Anyway, a sincere thank you for your deep honest feelings and undeniable writing skills. Keep the obsessive hatred coming and please don't sugarcoat it. I've gotta have my weekly lifeblood fix. Fight On!"
Thanks… I think…
Oregon @ Oregon State. Given how each of these teams have been playing lately, can you think of a reason to pick the Ducks here? No? Neither can I! That's why I like Oregon State by 12.
Arizona State @ Arizona. Yikes… the Sun Devils may be running into a buzzsaw here. The Wildcats defense is just too tough right now. I like Arizona by 6.
Last week: 1-3 (straight-up), 1-3 (ATS).
This year: 20-13 (straight-up), 17-16 (ATS).
Got a thought on this column, on Stanford sports, or anything else in general? Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and the best e-mails will be answered in next week's Clardy's Corner Inbox!
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