As I sat in the North End Zone watching our beloved Cal Bears running some inane version of the wildcat and throwing passes 28 yards over the heads of our receivers, I thought about the mid-1990's.
Posted on behalf of a friend who lurks on CGB, hasn't opened an SBN account, and loves to brag that he was born 10 days after The Play. My first FanPost, even if it's written by someone else -- I'll call him Nonymous Bear.
When I told him to open his own account, he said, "This is the only rant I will be giving because after I give it, all other Cal fans will agree with me and we will present a united front and help lead Cal to glory." All righty then.
Let me explain.
Michael Silver said it best. We control the crowd, and the crowd controls the game. We can't do anything about Tedford's love of field goal attempts, or Riley's innacuracy. All we can do is help Cal by being loud. And for the first U$C possession, we were loud. Afterwards....not so much. Why? Why should one drive quiet a sold-out crowd that booed the $C band with such enthusiasm just minutes before? My sense is that Cal fans were demoralized. That's sad, and needs to stop.
When I was a kid, I went to most of the Cal home games I could. It wasn't because I thought Cal could win a national title. There were no national title contending teams in the mid to late 1990's. We mostly sucked. One year, Deltha O'Neal scored all of our touchdowns, and he didnt' even play on offense. I went because I loved Cal football. And it was fun! Sometimes we even won. But no matter how bad we were, the fans who were there were loud when they needed to be.
Then came Tedford.
Our expectations went sky-high. And to me, that's a good thing.
But on Saturday night, when things started to go bad, you could see the bubble bursting all over the stadium. Our season is over. We're out of the BCS hunt. We're probably out of the Rose Bowl picture. And so we sat quietly and watched U$C run over us (the quietly part does not apply to the Student Section and its surroundings, which were awesome as usual). What Cal needed was a fired up crowd that didnt' relent. We needed Matt Barkley to be rattled. We needed our players' fragile phyches to be reinforced by thunderous support. It didn't happen.
Which makes Cal fans look, honestly, like they have a sense of entitlement. This is our turn to win, and it should be handed to us. We deserve it (of course we do). And when we dont' get it, we cry quietly.
In my mind, we don't need to lower our expectations, but we need to change our mindset. Forget the polls. Forget the Heisman. Let's go support the Bears because we love the Bears. Remember that time when we played Arizona back in like 96 and it went to 5 overtimes and the student section kept running back and forth across the otherwise empty bleachers to be closer to whatever endzone the overtime was happening in? THAT is Cal football. We have character. We have fun. We're not $C and we dont' want to be. And when that day comes that we finally break through and play our way into a Rose Bowl, it will be truly glorious. In the meantime, it should take more than 1 $C touchdown drive to quiet us.
So let's send the Golden Bears a simple message: We love you. Maybe everyone who reads CGB could respond to this post with a note of support for the team, to remind them that no matter how much they sucked the last two weeks, we support them, and we have faith that they will come back and destroy UCLA. And then maybe a collection of those notes can be sent to the Athletic Department. We cant control the crowd in Pasadena, but maybe we can help our players before they even arrive. Just a thought.
My message of support:
Don't worry about the last two weeks. You guys are fine. You had bad games against good teams....it happens. But there's a lot of season left. Go whip UCLA. It'll make you feel better....