Applesauce to some, apple brandy for Stanford.
The Cardinal's rapid ascent under Jim Harbaugh now takes the form of a bowl berth, a Sun Bowl sojourn that so-called "top-tier" programs – including many of Stanford's most recently vanquished opponents – wouldn't exactly hoop and holler about. You think Ronnie Lott wooed Troy Polamalu to USC with dreams of a Las Vegas Bowl?
Yet think of the bigger picture. This year's long-awaited bowl game appearance joins a handful of other recent occurrences as signs of Stanford Football's rebirth. Bad uniforms, uninspired coaches and a succession of losing seasons are now distant reflections in the rearview mirror.
A "second-tier" bowl never sounded more "first-class" to long-suffering Cardinalmaniacs.
The incomparable Toby Gerhart barely missed out on a Heisman Trophy. 28 lousy votes! Devastating balance provided by the country's top young quarterback. We here at The Bootleg have so many emotions, we thought it time to publish the Bowl Prince's journal entries regarding the nine bowl games since the Pac-8 decided in 1975 to allow "non-Rose Bowl" post-season participation.
Date: December 27, 2001
Please help me. The AP has No. 11 Stanford ranked ahead of seven teams that will play on New Year's Day bowl games. The Cardinal just went 9-2, the program's best record since Bob Mathias was running back kick-offs. Two years ago, it was the hallowed grass of the Rose Bowl. Now it's Ichiro's centerfield turf. I didn't even know there was a Seattle Bowl. Wait, the teams are situated on the same sideline? What country are we in?
I think I got it. 11-1 Oregon went 7-1 in the Pac-10 and only lost to Stanford. The Cardinal shares a 6-2 conference record with the two teams that beat them. Commissioner Hansen apparently took the year off when it came to negotiating the Pac-10's portion of the 25 bowl games. He handed his conference's fourth-place team this post-season stinker.
Hopefully, Stanford coaches are taking this game way more seriously than I am.
Date: December 31, 1999
Thank you, Todd Husak. Props go to Troy Walters and the Trench Dogs. May special thanks be sent to Bill Diedrick and Trinidad and Tobago (for providing us Kerry Carter, by way of Canada ). There's also no forgetting Dana Bible, Tom Holmoe, Paul Hackett, Bob Toledo and everyone else that allowed the greatest offense in school history to take shape in the worst Pac-10 in history. I will actually live to see this team in the Rose Bowl again.
What a team. They're only 8-3, and they have a good chance to pull this one out. Big Ten teams win at the line of scrimmage, not in open spaces. Stanford won the Pac-10 at the line of scrimmage. Husak's jersey stayed cleaner than Tiger Woods' rap sheet. The defensive line knew how to put pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
Win or lose, I have one wish: All those liquored-up cheeseheads stay quiet long enough to hear the LSJUMB play the national anthem's opening notes.
Date: December 30, 1996
What a scene. This place knows how to host a bowl game. I'm back up in my hotel room at El Paso Marriott, which just hosted a Stanford pep rally. I just got done chanting "GO" and "STANFORD" with the LSJUMB. Who of us among the maybe 30,000 two months ago – when the team was on their way to 2-5 and getting smoked by Arizona State at home – could have imagined this run?
Christmas was fun, and that was before the family and I sat down to watch the Aloha Bowl – and Cal gets blown out by Navy. Suckers! Thank you, Santa!
Back-to-back bowl games is sweet. It could be awhile before that happens again, thought I hear the NCAA wants to add three more bowl games next year. Eighteen already sounds like a few too many.
Date: November 27, 1995
Phew. College students cramming for finals have nothing on our own athletic director. Pressed for time to find a bowl that would accept a three-loss team with a small fanbase, Ted found a taker in the St, Jude's Liberty Bowl. There just aren't that many "at-large" bids anymore.
The drama unfolded even after Stanford (7-3-1) won the Big Game. UCLA (7-4) beat USC, and the Aloha Bowl tabbed the Bruins because the favorable Los Angeles television market. Things looked more promising a week later when Arizona sunk Arizona State's bowl chances, but the suspense was killing us.
In a much better scenario than what amounted to a
road game against LSU in the Independence Bowl, the Liberty Bowl came calling.
Now if I only knew for sure in which state "East Carolina" is
They say Beale Street barbecue is worth the trip to Memphis. Hopefully the Pirates won't have us walking the plank!
January 1, 1993
Dear Diary: Happy New Year!
Time to send the Nittany Lions whimpering back the Big Ten. What a day ahead. Behold the convergence of the esteemed past, newsworthy present and what some are calling the future of college football.
True, it's not Pasadena . It's not even Tempe , but the Cardinal can finish the 1992 season in the Top 10. The team that went three years without winning a road game just may end up with 10 wins for only the second time in school history! Bill Walsh, in the first year of his second stint as Cardinal head coach, will face the legendary Joe Paterno. Tonight, a former Bear Bryant assistant coach will play for the national championship in the Sugar Bowl.
A new era is upon us. The Sugar Bowl title game is the product of the "Bowl Coalition", an agreement designed to allow the two best unbeaten teams from the biggest conferences to meet in a designated title game. (Where that leaves a rogue unbeaten team is anyone's guess). Right now, only one game matters to us– the one with the video rental chain as its title sponsor.
Date: December 25, 1991
Dear Diary: Merry Christmas!
It's a loose analogy, in no way meant to offend any veterans, but Stanford's trip to Hawaii around the 50th anniversary of Pearl Harbor has me yearning for inner peace. May this haiku best explain my thoughts an 18-17 Aloha Bowl loss decided by the allowance of a last-second two-point conversion. Queue the koto:
Even Brian Treggs
Knows proper punt coverage.
Where will Denny go?
Date: December 27, 1986
The Gator Bowl last year paid out $776,000, highest among any of the non-New Year's Day bowls. Consider the Cardinal thrilled about earning this plumb invite.
The Pac-10 was just a meat-grinder this year. Six teams will probably go to the postseason. Stanford (8-3) smoked Texas in Austin and managed to get past two others ( San Diego State, San Jose State) that were eventually conference champs. ACC king Clemson last played in this game eight years ago, an infamous night eight years ago.
Seriously, Stanford quarterback John Paye should be far away from Woody Hayes' famous fist – or anything else remotely dangerous. The same shoulder that's been bothering him all month is going to require surgery. That means back-up Greg Ennis under center. Godspeed, Greg. The Grape Bowl in Lodi this is not.
Dave Wyman came all the way back from a blown knee for this so we had better win it! Without Paye, will Muster be enough to let us "relish" a Cardinal victory?
Date: December 31, 1978
So little year left, so much on tap. I'm about to adjust the rabbit ears to the Mizlou network, where the best 7-4 team in the country will take on the Georgia Bulldogs in the Bluebonnet Bowl.
Walked over to the Galleria and took in a showing of a new movie musical called "The Wiz", starring Diana Ross, Nipsey Russell, Mabel King, and Michael Jackson. Not half-bad!
This game itself promises to be entertaining.
Georgia (9-1-1) hasn't lost since September and had their SEC record blemished
only by a tie against Auburn. The "Cardinals" (I still don't know what to call
them exactly) fell to Oklahoma by six in the September opener and then lost
three others by a combined 10 points. Lindsay Scott is a jackrabbit at wide
receiver for the Dawgs. Vince Dooley going up against innovative second-year
coach Bill Walsh is a heck of coaching match-up.
22-0 Georgia after the opening drive of the second half. This could get ugly. Stanford answers with 25 unanswered and skips town with a huge win and a chunk of the SEC's pride. Dils-to-Margerum twice and one perfect toss to Darrin Nelson, who scorches annoying Bulldog All-American defensive back Scott Woerner. Stanford's senior linebacker Gordy Ceresino makes the clutch, fumble-causing sticks.
Maybe tonight I can ring in the New Year with a Grateful Dead show at Winterland. The Dead are going to "tear this old building down."
Date: December 31, 1977
First "non-Rose Bowl" bowl game in school history! Took me a week to get here, but man, are the locals here in El Paso hospitable. Somebody mentioned something about "donkeys".
Game time. The crowd is "sort of" into it - all 31,318 of them, most of whom came mainly to see the elaborate Sun Bowl Fiesta half-time show.
First-year head coach Bill Walsh has brought his 9-3 Stanford team, ranked #15 at the end of the regular season, to play the four-point favorite Louisiana State Tigers, coached by good-old-boy Charlie "Cholly Mac" McClendon. The slow-starting Stanford defense surrenders 307 yards on the ground during the game, including 150+ to LSU's All-American tailback Charles Alexander in the first half alone!
But......the Cardinal defense stiffens and shuts out Alexander and the Tigers in the second half! Junior middle linebacker Ceresino is an awesome tackling machine with 22 on the day (18 of them unassisted), earning the prestigious Chuck Hughs Memorial Trophy as the "Most Outstanding Lineman" on defense! Benjamin is the game's top offensive player, hardly a surprise for the consensuis first-team All-American.
Those sweet wallets we picked up in Juarez has got to be genuine leather, right?
The Cardinal had Walsh, Benjamin (23-36-269 & 3 TDs), Nelson (6 catches for 77 & a TD), Lofton (2 TD catches)...the "Bayou Bengals" did not.
No turnovers by Stanford. Four by LSU. Nice. Maybe we will start going to bowl games every year! With Walsh at the helm, we should be in Pasadena soon, right?
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