Mine eyes have seen the glory of CougCenter, but until last saturday mine eyes had never seen the glory of Pullman, WA. After 5 hours, 1 speeding ticket (that may or may not have only been given because we're Cal fans and the trooper was a jealous curmudgen) and about a million miles of farmland, me and 3 friends reached Martin Stadium and started the adventure that would be known as the worst loss in Coug history.
Who even has 55 mph speed limits anymore?
Honestly, the drive from Seattle to Pullman may be the most boring drive I've ever had, the highlight of the trip was stopping at Subway for lunch and getting to meet Kevin Riley's neighbors and hear about him growing up:
Kevin Riley's Neighbors Like Me!
Once we got to the stadium we walked around a bit to try and find any semblance of Cal tailgates, Cougars, or at the very least something that wasn't blasting terrible country music.
Cougar in training
IMG_5140.JPG (via bipolarbear) (Photo by Jonathan Cheng)
Unfortunately nothing like that was to be found and after everyone we asked pointed us to a different location we just wandered aimlessly yelling Go Bears at anyone who would listen. As it turned out, two of those people were Zach Follett's parents. I have to say it's slightly strange to have a conversation with someone who's son once threw a donut hole at you while hanging out with Chris Purtz. However, I knew that Follett was good people when his mom showed me a text message she'd sent to him that morning. Evidently the last time that Cal played in Pullman, Follett had a particularly nasty sack of Brink and when they stood up Follett started to walk away without realizing that Brink's shoe was stuck in the front of his helmet. Anyway, Zach's mom had ask Zach for a favor earlier that day:
"Zacharooni this time instead of the quarterback's shoe stuck in your helmet, make it his ass".(I may be wrong on the exact wording but this was the general sentiment)
After meeting Follett's awesome parents, we decided that a tailgate was not readily accessible, but that Cal football players warming up were, and so we headed into Martin Stadium. The first thing I noticed was that it was actually pretty small, it only holds about 35k people. The second thing I noticed was Kevin Riley's brothers introducing themselves to me!!! Evidently we came into the stadium at about the same time that his entire family did, and they didn't know that his jersey was for sale yet. After explaining to them, where they could go to buy said jersey, I got a picture with them and then a picture with them Riley's sister as well. Kevin Riley's family is awesome, they were joking and laughing and didn't seem to mind that I have idealized their brother beyond human standards.
Before I scared them off and they took out a restraining order against me, my friends and I decided to head to our seats, but on the way, Riley's neighbors found us again and brought over the woman who made this all possible, Kevin Riley's mom!!! I got a picture of her and got to express my gratitude that she birthed a quality quarterback, and I think she was the first person who realized that there might be something wrong with me. TwistNHook has known all along how strange I am, but normal people just think I'm a regular fan. About this time, we realized that the teams were coming out to warmup.
It's been too long since I've seen this sight.
We got a bunch of pictures of the team warming up, my friend Jonathon Cheng was using a real camera that ended up with some pretty quality pictures, those are available at his flickr sight here. Our seats were right behind the Cal bench, on the front row of the 30 yard line, so we got a great view of Cal warming up and got to hear some of the players talking as they got ready. For some reason half the time that I saw him, Riley wouldn't put his helmet on right.
We got to see the team warm up, and there are some of those pictures in the flickr that I linked before if you want to see any of them. After some warm ups, both teams headed into the locker room and the Wazzou band started playing. I really really miss the Cal Band, naturally I miss the Cal fight songs and the uniforms, but the performance of Wazzou's band was just not up to the caliber. Maybe it that their steps weren't as high, maybe it was because I didn't get to hear them practicing on Kleeberger Field all week and butcher the songs that they would nail on Saturday, maybe it's because I can't admit anything that isn't from UC Berkeley is high quality, maybe we'll never know the reason.
Cal Band Great! Wazzou Band, not as Great.
As the game was getting ready to kick off, we got to hear the players get pumped up for the game and watching each of their preparations was awesome, the lineme practiced their first couple of steps against each other, and Riley started pumping up the team. He walked up and down the sideline and showed how much he's wanted to lead this team, getting his teammates Riled up (pun very much intended). Right before the kick return team went out to start the game, the offense and return team was gathered right in front of our seats, and Riley started yelling to pump everyone up, "First play, first play, right now!". He repeated that about 4 times and each time the team got a little more energy. If you're reading this you already know, that first play of the game was an 80 yard break from Jahvid Best for a touchdown. Before the game, most of the Wazzou fans were amicable and had some good natured ribbing for us as Cal fans, but I have to say that the crowd really died quickly after the first two scores. People in our section would barely talk to us, with a couple of exceptions. There was one guy who decided that we were pure evil and anything the went wrong was blamed on us, for example a little girl walked in front of us and tripped a few feet past us, so he started yelling that we tripped her and it wasn't enough that we were winning we wanted to hurt small children too. Strange, but I guess those are the ideas you get when you live in Pullman.
There was also this kid sitting next to us, that realized he couldn't taunt us because we were better than him (we meaning both Cal as a football team and us as people), so he started talking about how American Football isn't as good as Canadian Football. Evidently 10 yards longer, 10 yards wider and only 3 downs makes for a better game. I asked him to name a good Canadian Football player and he stopped talking to me.
Canadian Football for life!!
My friends and I were joking before the game that if we blew out Wazzou, they'd have to find some way to entertain the fans to make sure they stayed. We threw out some ideas like the shell game that they play on jumbotrons, and sure enough they obliged. You may want to take a note at what time they decided to employ the shell game.
It's totally in the middle one.
Probably the funniest part of the game for me was how quickly the stadium, especially the student section emptied during the game. It started pretty full, but by about the third quarter the student section was almost completely empty. I understand that a blowout is not something you want to see your team go through, but by the end of the third quarter there were barely even students in the stadium.
Cal Fans kept representing though. This picture was taken around halftime.
IMG_4768.JPG (via bipolarbear) (Photo taken by Jonathan Cheng)
As I mentioned, our seats were awesome so we got some great shots of the game:
The teacher and the pupil.
IMG_4926.JPG (via bipolarbear) (Photo taken by Jonathan Cheng)
Riley's scramble on the broken play.
IMG_5112.JPG (via bipolarbear) (Photo taken by Jonathan Cheng)
Run run run, as fast as you can. You can't catch me because The Maharg met my family. (It's science, you can't argue with science)
IMG_5135.JPG (via bipolarbear) (Photo taken by Jonathan Cheng)
If you look closely, Oski just low fived Follett.
How do I love SydBoner, let me count the ways.
IMG_5163.JPG (via bipolarbear) (Photo by Jonathan Cheng)
Hey, this is the future.
IMG_4957.JPG (via bipolarbear)
I found it interesting that throughout the whole game while Riley was on the sidelines he threw the ball with Mansion. I didn't see Nate take a lot of throws to warm up his arm.
It was an awesome game from top to bottom, even if I'm still slightly worried about our offense. Definitely worth the 10 hours we spent driving there any back.
And when the game was over we all bought a keg of booze.
And by 'keg of booze' I mean made a long drive back to Seattle.
I just realized in writing this, that both players whose families I met got a touchdown in the game. Cal Football Players take note, introduce me to your family and you too can score a touchdown!!!