One of my favorite (and possibly idiotic) things to do after a game is visit team message boards to gauge the emotions of a fanbase. You can often tell pretty quickly what the mood is. With USC fans its rosy optimism, with Florida fans it's unbridled arrogance, with Oklahoma fans its Boomer Sooner retardation.
With Cal fans, the mood of the diehards is generally dour, win or lose.
Sure, there will always be Kool-aid "In Tedford we Trust" posts, but it's often covered by a ring of moody pessimism and Trojan envy (literally and figuratively). Like Red Sox fans, the attitude will only ebb away with their grand prize, a Rose Bowl berth. Until then you'll always see reasonable football fans contending with the so-called "Old Blues" for the theme of Cal fandom.
Sometimes you'll get a reasoned argument, sometimes you'll get a call for half the coaching staff to be fired. Doesn't matter who they replace them with, just get 'em outta here! You lose, get out! With that in mind, let's cautiously examine the mood a common message board fan exudes after a game.
Here is an example of a fairly good critical post. It might have some flaws, but it contains observations with only minimal biases into player strengths and weaknesses. Solid post with fair observations. Here's another post that analyzes the psychology of Kevin Riley; not perfect, but fairly reasonable.
Funny that the first poster would then start another thread suggesting Tedford is a choker because he's gone 2-4 in OOC road games. That's probably a little better than Mike Riley, who's gone East and been outscored 2-400 or something awesome like that. I guess you can't have objectivity everywhere.
And indeed, not everyone can be like that. Here is Von Clausewitz, back from the dead, lecturing on leadership.
As for the others, I still don't see it. We have tremendous talent... The difference is that they need to get each other fired up. I think its easier to do when you're at home. We have considerably greater pride at home than at away games. But, at this away game, when Maryland would move the ball or score, we just took the "poke in the eye" and it appears to me that no one took it personally. The only person who I thought took it personally and broadcast it to everyone around him was Kevin (which, thank God, if you had to pick one, at least its the right guy). We need that on the O-Line, in the D-Line and the secondary.
To contrast, I watched the USC/Ohio State game last night, and saw leadership on both teams. People firing each other up on the sidelines in the huddle, etc. The big teams have a brotherhood... a sense that "WE" aren't going to let our school down. They motivate each other and are all the stronger for it. When the game isn't going their way, they immediately get in each other's grills and correct the situation... or die trying. That's pride. That's greatness.
Funny. I thought greatness in college football was measured by having top five recruiting classes every year, having NFL caliber talent on both sides of the ball, and being supported by supremely confident fans with a tradition of seven national championships and 37 Pac-10 titles, even casually winning them on an off-year like last year.
But sure, let's give Petie the benefit of the doubt. He doesn't do things like lose to his rival with the national championship game on the line or lose to Stanford at home. That's what leadership's all about, right?"
Until Tedford comes to the realization that championships are won by teams with strong defenses we will remain at the current level. Every year Tedford attempts the same thing: use a high octane offense to compensate for a sorry excuse of a defense. It usually works, as shown by Cal going to a post-season bowl the last 5 years. But what happens when the offense struggles? Simple we usually loose.
Interesting. So when a team struggles offensively, they usually lose? What a novel concept; that never happens with other teams. UCLA or Oregon State produce pretty good defenses every year and they've been at about the same level as us the past decade (But they play real men defense damnit!). And apparently he thinks that the the 2004 team (solid around the board, top 5 rushing defense in the country) and 2005 teams (top 30 in most major categories) were aberrations.
And what would a message board quote factory be without the obligatory "FIRE HIS ASS!" post? The guy in this thread was especially impassioned.
just finished watching usc on slingbox here in italy. the coaches should be foreced to watch the usc game. granted the talent is there (obviously) but the aggresiveness is what is sorely lacking on cal's part. gregory is such an idiot............since he's been here how many mediocre q.b.'s has he turned into gamebreakers with his stupid zone defense...no pressure on the passer.....how many third and longs have been converted.........how long will tedford put up with this......i am really pissed !!!!!
Interesting. Which mediocre quarterbacks have we turned into "gamebreakers" before yesterday? Alex Brink? Tavita Pritchard? Sean Canfield? Yeah, they broke out for craaazy numbers on us. Clearly we can't credit Chris Turner for a great game, shake his hand, and move along. And as for our "non-pass rush", I guess those four sacks by our defense didn't count, or the several other times we knocked Turner to the ground and he still made an insane throw and completion. Revisionism is fun.
And let's not overlook how Cal fans envy USC's smash-mouth D even while they run the EXACT SAME DEFENSE AS GREGORY.
Anyway, my point here isn't to bash message board participants (even I end up there sometimes, a habit that is taking years off of my life), whose volcanic passions are humorous and exhaustive. It's to discuss how much fans should really second guess coaching decisions or strategies. Hydrotech elucidated this concern earlier, and it feels like a pertinent topic after Saturday.
Shoot, honestly, I think there are very few of us, if even not even any of us, that can actually critique the coaches. I mean honestly. Do any of us really think we know enough about football to throw out pointers to Tedford and any of his positional coaches? I can’t speak for others but I don’t think I can. Because of that, I’m not one to usually throw out the "we got out-coached" argument since I myself defer to the coaches about 95% of the time. Certainly, the coaches aren’t always right but certainly they know more than me, and are more likely to be right than I would be.
When does criticism of a coaching staff border on unreasonable? Where do we straddle the line between addressing general concerns and armchair coaching? Or should we be reasoned and dispassionate in our judgment and expectations of our football team? Or do we need to let it all ride out?