There's been a lot of talk about the unfortunate passing of former band director Bob Briggs. He was a good man, a gentle man, a kind man. To many, he was just the band director or the band director before today's band director. But to me, he was more than that. This is my Old Bob story. It's a long story, but I hope you enjoy it:
When I first moved from Newark, New Jersey to Berkeley, I found it difficult to fit in. Especially after the death of my father. The last night of summer, some friends and I went to the beach. A beautiful young girl caught me eye. I remember her name clearly, it was Ali Mills. I started speaking with her. But then her ex-boyfriend, a USC band member named Johnny Lawrence, accosted me. He and his friends surrounded me and continued to outmarch me within an inch of my life. Sure, I knew some marching, learned mostly from book and the YMCA in New Jersey, but I was easily defeated.
Look, I was just trying to defend Ali Mills honor, but unwittingly, I had made enemies of some of the fiercest marchers around. Students of the USC "Take No Prisoners" marching style, Johnny and his cronies would mock me and torment me at every turn. I tried to retaliate with a prank at a Halloween dance party. And it was hilarious, the looks on those punks faces, when I beat them severly with my fists.
But my plan backfired. They followed me in their skeleton costumes and marched the SHIT out of me. And just then, as they were ready to put the final high step upon me, who should arrive, but kindly old former bandsleader Old Bob. In a surprisng display of marching ability, he outmarched ALL those USC bandsman. They were toast.
But, alas, it only staved off the inevitable. I couldn't have Old Bob around me at all times. I asked him to be my teacher. To teach me the way of the march. Initially, he refused. But, after an unsuccessful attempt to reason with the USC bandsleader (a former Vietnam vet with racist tendencies), Old Bob decided to take me on. The only way to avoid further harassment was to enter the All Valley Marching Tournament and I needed a teacher.
That man, that teacher, that leader was Old Bob!
Old Bob became my teacher and, slowly, a surrogate father figure. He began my training by having me perform laborious chores such as waxing many cars, sanding a wooden floor, painting a fence, and painting the house encircled by the fence. (The chores were my "payment" to Old Bob for the training.) Eventually, I became frustrated, believing that I had learned nothing of marching.
But then, Old Bob revealed, AMAZINGLY, that I had UNKNOWINGLY been learning marching steps, through muscle memory learned by doing the chores. We bonded during those times. That was when I learned Old Bob had earned a medal of bravery marching against the Germans in WWII. Take that, Germans!
Through the teaching, I learned not only marching, but also important life lessons, such as the importance of balance and training the spirit. Finally, the day of the big tournament approached. I marched my way through all the challengers, suffering a knee injury from an opponent's illegal grapevine. Even though it pained me to continue, Old Bob assured me that I had alrady proven myself.
But I knew that I couldn't give up then. Not for me. Not for Old Bob. I had to defeat Johnny at his own game. Look, this goes on for a while, I play fair, he plays mean, I win. Everybody is happy. And then there were two terrible sequels.
But for two hours of my life, Old Bob taught me more than just marching. He taught me honor and dignity.
"Old Bob and TwistNHook" via img524.imageshack.us
Seriously, though, Bob Briggs was a man who put his life into one of my favorite organizations. An organization I literally put NOTHING into. Bob was the exact opposite of my worthlessness and I wouldn't have been able to mooch so much off of the marching band, if it wasn't for his tireless sacrifice. Well, it wasn't all sacrifice. He did get that sweet Mustang!
I owe a LOT of the fun I had in college to Old Bob and hope that my comparison of him to one of my most beloved movie characters is a fitting tribute. Probably better than my original idea of Bob Briggs as Jake Ryan! Now, let's go and wax off with some links!
Cal Quick Notes v. Colorado State:
Cal Offense Quick Notes
Cal has the 17th-best total offense in the nation (477.6 ypg) and the 12th-best scoring offense (43.6 points per game) ... Jahvid Best ranks second in the Pac-10 and 15th in the nation in rushing yards per game (112.0) ... he also ranks fifth in the nation in all-purpose yards per game (234.7) ... Kevin Riley set a school record with 58 pass attempts against Maryland ... his 423 yards passing were the third-most in a game in school history and the most single game passing yards in the Tedford era ... the 81-yard run by Shane Vereen against Michigan State and the 80-yard TD run by Best on the opening play against Washington State marked the first time in program history that Cal had two 80-yard runs in the same season - Best extended that mark by adding an 86-yard run as well against WSU ... Best and Vereen rushed for 100 yards against Michigan State, the seventh time Jeff Tedford has had two 100-yard rushers in the same game ... Vereen set the school record for rushing yards in a debut with 101 and also set a Cal freshman record for longest run with his 81-yard TD ... the Bears' 391 rushing yards at Washington State are a Tedford-era record and the most by a Cal team since 1991 ... Cal's 66 points at WSU were the second-most scored in the Jeff Tedford era and the third-most for Cal since World War II ... the 63-point margin of victory at WSU was Cal's largest since 1922 ... Cal is looking for its seventh straight season with a 1,000-yard rusher after Justin Forsett ran for 1,546 yards last year ... Cal has not been shut out in a school-record 110 straight games dating back to Sept. 11, 1999 ... Cal has scored 2,659 points, the second most of any other team in the Pac-10 since 2002 (USC, 3,040) ... the Bears have scored 90 total touchdowns at Memorial Stadium since 2004.
Cal Defensive Quick Notes for 2008
Cal has the second-best rush defense in the Pac-10 (93.0 ypg) ... cornerback Syd'Quan Thompson is tied for second in the nation (and tops in the league) in interceptions with three, including two against Washington State ... his 108 interception-return yards against WSU were a school record ... he also is tied for the conference lead in pass breakups (4) ... Anthony Felder leads the Bears with 24 tackles this season ... Zack Follett has a team-highs with 4.5 tackles for losses and two sacks ... he had eight tackles against Michigan State, matching his fourth-best career performance ... Tyson Alualu matched his career-high with eight tackles (five solo) while also tallying his fist sack of the season (and the defensive line's first sack of the season) against Maryland ... Felder (101 tackles) and Worrell Williams (105 tackles) joined graduated safety Thomas DeCoud to give Cal three 100-plus tacklers for the second time in school history (1983) last season ... the 52 tackles by Alualu last year were the most by a defensive lineman at Cal since 2000 ... Williams is the fourth-leading returning tackler in the Pac-10 for 2008 ... the defense led the nation with three fumble-recovery touchdowns in 2007.
Women's volleyball has a big tourney this weekend:
The No. 9-ranked California volleyball team remains on the road this week as it heads to the real Orange County for the Crowne Plaza Volleyball Classic. Hosted by Cal State Fullerton, the Titans are only one of three opponents the Golden Bears will face in two days. Cal will look to build off the two wins it got at the Diet Coke Classic in Minneapolis, Minn. after having its previous streak of five-straight victories snapped by a No. 11-ranked Minnesota squad. The Bears will use this weekend as their final tune-up before the Pac-10 season arrives in full swing. Cal also faces San Francisco and Central Connecticut State before returning to Haas to open up league-play.
Women's soccer is going to Texas:
Cal Heads to Texas for Weekend Slate
The No. 20 California women's soccer team travels to Texas this weekend to play No. 10 Texas A&M on Friday at 5:30 p.m. PST and No. 7 Texas at 11 a.m. PST on Sunday. The Golden Bears bring a four-game winning streak into their first long-distance road trip of the season. Cal will face its first nationally ranked competition of the season in the weekend slate.
Bears Dominate Saint Mary's Tournament
Cal won both its games in last weekends Saint Mary's Fall Soccer Classic - defeating Northridge on Sept. 12, 1-0 in overtime, and Boise State, 2-0, on Sept. 14. Cal had four players named to the All-Tournament Team, which was the highest number of all four teams. Junior defender/forward Katherine Daiss, sophomore forward Lisa Kevorkian, junior midfielder Katie Oakes and freshman forward Camellia Senemar were all named to the team.
Field hockey is ranked:
BERKELEY - California earned a No. 19 ranking in the latest STX/National Field Hockey Coaches Association Division I National Coaches Poll after defeating the previous No. 19 team, Albany, 3-2 on Sept. 13 at Maxwell Family Field. Albany dropped to No. 20.
The Golden Bears trailed Albany, 2-0, before tying the game with seven seconds remaining in regulation. After two scoreless overtime periods, Cal won on penalty strokes, 3-2.
The Bears play three more teams that are currently ranked: No. 16 Michigan on Sept. 25 in Ann Arbor, Mich., No. 10 Michigan State on Sept. 27 in East Lansing, Mich., and No. 1 Wake Forest on Oct. 19 in Winston-Salem, N.C.
Cal (5-1, 3-0 NorPac) has this week off and returns to the field when it plays Michigan. On that same road trip, the Bears play Northwestern on Sept. 28 back in Ann Arbor.
Men's golf is traveling to Michigan:
THE TOURNAMENT: The California men's golf team returns to action this weekend, competing in the Wolverine Intercollegiate at the University of Michigan. The event takes place Saturday and Sunday at the U-M Golf Course. There will be 16 teams in the 2008 field, playing 54 holes in the two-day event. The tournament will begin with 36 holes on Saturday. California will be paired with host Michigan and Virginia Tech on the first day of play. The event will close with a final 18 holes on Sunday. Scoring for the Wolverine Intercollegiate will be five players; count the low four scores each round. The U-M Golf Course will be set up for a par 71 and 6,704 yards. There will NOT be live scoring for the event.
Here is an article on Kyle Reed:
Reed, Rutley and Davis are three of the 38 players from the Bay Area on San Jose State's roster (Stanford has eight), and it is the big-play capabilities of the East Bay backfield that could make an impact against Stanford.
The age differences among the three are substantial - Rutley is 19, Reed 21 and Davis 24 - but a bond seems to exist because of their common origin.
"We understand each other mentally," Reed said. "We represent a struggle, especially Yonus and me coming from Oakland, setting an example for the youth. We came through the public school system and there is a way out."
Finding a way out amid the many distractions of the inner-city is the goal, Davis said.
"A lot of our friends are dead or locked up," he said.
I look forward to a fitting halftime tribute to Bob Briggs at an upcoming football game. He was a great man and will truly be missed.
If you see any Cal-related links, dump those bad boys in there. GO BEARS!