So I'm a little late to the Emerald Bowl picture party due to technology difficulty with the digital camera, but better late than never!
I have never been to a Cal bowl game before – I generally have too much family to visit around X-mas and too little money to afford trips of any kind – so for me the entire Emerald Bowl experience was incredibly charming and different from the usual Memorial Stadium experience. We (myself and my fiancé) made a day trip to the city out of the game and the weather kindly provided a beautiful day by December SF standards.
Surely Bob Saget is a Cal fan, right?
Brunch near Alamo Park and post X-mas gift card shopping amongst hordes of scary bargain seekers helped begin our day. Few things will make you feel less manly than standing to the side while your lady goes through the discount racks at Anthropologie. Oh the sacrifices we modern men must make!
After a quick stop at a perfectly located Safeway for sausages we managed to locate the CGB tailgate! Because of travel distances and non-parking, I never tailgate anymore, so I greatly enjoyed meeting like-minded Cal folk while enjoying food and drink. And See’s candy! I hope it is not awkward now that I know the face of bloggers and commenters and non Norcalnick Nicks! Seriously though, everyone was really cool and there were no incredibly heated arguments regarding Longshores vs. Rileys or Bests vs. Jaquizzes.
We left a little early because we’re two of those weirdos who like entering the stadium early to take pictures and watch the players warming up – and luckily they were right in front of our seats in the Cal end zone.
Nate prepares to silence his totally reasonable critics! Or something!
Teddy prepares his troops for battle.
Required Gratuitous Alex Mack butt shot
Amber was pretty sure this was Mike Tepper, who appeared to be working on some sort of documentary. If so, it would be great if that got released a la Tyler Frederickson's work.
Ever cheery Walnut prepares to lead the troops into battle!
Our 4 Senior Captains will be greatly missed.
Jim Harbaugh has infiltrated AT&T Park's ladies rooms! Luckily the negative karma didn't impact the final result of the game.
Then the game started. The combination of a night bowl game with ample time to drink many beers led to excellent crowd noise and not so excellent crowd behavior. One gentleman got himself (and his two poorly parented teenage children) ejected for directly flipping off a camera man trying to get fans to mug for ESPN, before later cursing and yelling because GODDAMMIT FOLLETT WAS BLOCKED IN THE BACK ARE YOU %*$ING BLIND ZEBRA?!?! Another young man really must have hated the fenced railing in front of his seat, because he was constantly kicking it, but only after incompletions for some reason. And of course, everybody and their angry girlfriend seemed to not like a certain #6. The middle of the 2nd half was a low point for me as the entire crowd seemed to turn on our quarterback, although I can’t really blame them because everybody knows that when you boo passes become more accurate. QED bitches!
I won’t go anymore into the booing because it’s been discussed constantly both recently and in the past. I will say that the depressing reaction of Cal fans to Nate’s struggles helped set up the redemption of the college football experience for me, and all because an Italian kicker who shares my high school alma mater missed a short field goal.
Rarely have I personally heard a Cal crowd louder than during Miami’s last two drives. Part of this was the importance of the moment and part was the very close proximity to the field because of the bizzarro baseball configuration. And for me at least, I felt like I could sense something about to happen. When Follett forced the ball loose and Jordan bent to grab it, I had visions of an uncoordinated d-lineman attempting and missing the scoop and Miami recovering. Then he held the ball with one hand while getting spun around. But darned if he didn’t hold on, and darned if Nate didn’t throw a TD two plays later. And darned if I didn’t witness one of the more emotional and exciting Cal games in a while – right up there with Tennessee in ’06.
As the offense takes the field, everybody gives the crazy white guy a big hug.
Despite rumors to the contrary, you can tell that Nate is thinking about throwing to #80 in this picture.
Nobody in my section knew who #80 (Anthony Miller) was. Minus 5 Cal fan points for me.
After the least nerve wracking two minute drive in college football history, victory!
Practice squad super-stud DE Keith Browner jumps onto the left field wall for some well deserved kudos.
Teddy's never met a trophy he can't lift
Hardware for our softspoken RB
The only person more excited than Follett, Best and Tedford was the Emerald Bowl Chairman, who was experiencing a non-stop "we made a ton of money from Bay Area Cal fans" orgasm.
As we celebrated in the stands and watched the obvious men win obvious trophies as offensive and defensive MVPs, another moment helped me appreciate the positive side of college football. As much as the sport gets (rightly) criticized for slimy, carpet bagging coaches, corrupt boosters, debauched recruiting tactics, limited emphasis on academics, insane fans and general emphasis on money above all other values, sometimes there’s more. And for me, everything that is good and true and wonderful about college football I saw in Alex Mack on Saturday night, and over the last few years.
Alex is a surefire first day draft pick and likely future millionaire who could have left last year and definitely has no need to do anything with his life other than sign a contract and play football. But after the last game of his career at Cal, when he should be partying with his teammates, he was furiously running back and forth across the field in a desperate attempt to thank every single Cal fan in attendance, and to soak in the final moments of a truly special college stint. First he ran to the Cal end zone and attempted to jump the wall and greet fans in the end zone. Then he ran to the far side of the field and celebrated with fans along the 3rd base line. Then he ran all the way back and waved and hollered with the student section. I’m pretty sure that he was thinking about climbing up into the rickety bleachers to continue the party. In his caught-in-the-moment exuberance I saw a player insanely grateful for all that he had been able to experience, and seemingly unaware of all he had given back to the fans and the Cal community as a whole.
After visiting the Endzone fans, Alex heads for the far side of the field.
Now to wave to the student section!
So after the ups and downs of another Cal season, what will I and won’t I remember? I’ll do my best to forget about fans complaining about Nate Longshore. I will remember Jahvid Best taking the step from talented back-up to dark horse Heisman contender. I won’t remember some Cal fans calling for Tedford’s job because he had the audacity to lose 4 games in a rebuilding year. I will remember a hard-hitting, turnover creating defense that played with pride and confidence in every game. And most of all I will remember one of the greatest Cal student athletes ever, who paved the way for another dominating Cal running game.
Thanks to all of the Seniors for providing me with 13 games of great entertainment that I too often obsess over.