When the shocking news that Tony Bennett was leaving Washington St. broke, I followed the link to Coug Center to see their reactions. The response was uniformly strong and pointed. A sampling:
All that stuff about Tony loving Pullman and wanting to build something special? About asking the administration for seven years? Apparently, it was all a bunch of shit.
Instead, he's become every other scumbag coach from every other small money school.
Today, I think I finally fully understand what it means to be a Coug.
It means that things can never get too good. It means that you better live in the moment, because something terrible is right around the corner.
When I was 4 years old, I was in the Northgate Mall parking lot with my dad as we listen to the final moments of that year's Apple Cup. I asked my dad if we were winning and he replied as he turned of the radio, "We are never winning."
The last two quotes remind me of the attitude of many Cal fans regarding our long run of futility (at least in regards to Rose Bowls). But for a change of pace, maybe it's time for us Cal fans to be optimistic about things.
First, let's take a look at our coaches. Joanne Boyle has now spent four years at Berkeley. I can't be sure about her long term plans, but I think we're all pretty happy with a dynamite recruiter who revived our program and turned down a coaching offer to her alma mater and national power, Duke. It sure seems like she's in it for the long run.
Mike Montgomery has a long history of success as a college coach, particularly in the Pac-10, and the way he transformed a seemingly bottom-dwelling Bears team in a year got everybody excited about basketball for the first time since Leon Powe was healthy. I don't think Mike will be leaving for the NBA and he clearly seems content spending the rest of his career in the Bay Area.
Jeff Tedford, like Coach Boyle, revived a sad-sack program and has led the Bears to 7 seasons of above .500 or better records. He has reportedly rebuffed numerous overtures from historically strong college football programs and NFL franchises alike. He has had admirable patience throughout a protracted training facility building process/surreal farce. Even if Tedford left Cal tomorrow, I think most Cal fans would understand and thank him for putting Cal football back on the map. But like Coaches Boyle and Montgomery, Tedford seems as committed to Cal as any coach can seem these days.
And what have these coaches accomplished? Well, let's look at the conference standings for these three sports:
|Football||Men's B-Ball||Women's B-Ball||Total points|
Total points = conference finish for each sport added up. Lower is better!
In the 2008-09 sports year the three major Cal sports were collectively the most successful in the conference. Unfortunately none of the three were serious competitors for the National Championship (with the possible exception of Women's Basketball, depending on your opinion of the team), but all three spent time in the national rankings and participated in the post-season. Additionally, each program has an excellent foundation for more success. An argument can be made that the Cal Men are amongst the favorites in the Pac-10 next year. The women are bringing in perhaps the #1 recruiting class in the nation. In football, Cal once again is seen as the main threat to knock off the dreaded USC juggernaut and will start the season in the top 25.
So I guess what I'm trying to say is enjoy the good times, Cal fans. In 10 years, who knows? Maybe we will again be cursed with a basketball team under NCAA violation hell, a football team with a Tom Holmoe at the helm, or a women's team that hasn't made the tourney in a decade. Old Blues aren't pessimistic for no reason - they've seen the bad times. Next year could be a historic year - and it's a good time to be following the blue and gold.