Well, it is that time of the year. The time for the 2010 CGB Hall Of Fame enshrinement ceremony. Last year, we had two. First, we had a post dedicated solely to the enshrinement of true American hero, Mark Bingham. Then, we have a post for the other 10 members. They are, in no particular order: Chuck Muncie, Jason Kidd, Joe Roth, Natalie Coughlin, Marshawn Lynch, Zack Follett, Leon Powe, Jeff Tedford, Jack Clark, and Tony Gonzalez.
Well, today, we get to enshrine four new members into our increasingly football-centric CGB Hall Of Fame (also in no particular order):
1. The Play Players
2. Alex Mack
3. Aaron Rodgers
And, of course, the most amazing, sensational, dramatic, heart-rending... exciting, thrilling scientist in the history of UC Berkeley college sports!
4. GLENN SEABORG!
Yup, the Seaborg did the impossible. Seaborg took out the following people (in order): Justin Forsett, Matt Biondi, Steve Bartkowski, and DeSean Jackson. DO YOU BELIEVE IN MIRACLES? Still no Stanfurdium!
You can see the entire bracket here. After the jump, take a look at our 4 new entrants.
I did not expect to see Seaborg's name on this list, but I'm not complaining. Katster gives us her take on why he should be in the Hall of Fame.
Okay, I’m cheating a bit, both because I wasn’t around in his heyday and because he’s technically not an athlete. But, on point one, I got to run his slide projector for a presentation he was making in my History of Cal De-Cal and then shake his hand, so it sorta counts.
Anyway, while Seaborg did his undergraduate work at that inferior UC in Los Angeles, he came to Berkeley for graduate work and never left — coming to be one of our biggest fans all the way around. And most importantly, he was chancellor (chancellor!) of the University during both our last Rose Bowl and our NCAA basketball success of the late 50s. He believed that athletics rounded out the academics — he was Chancellor Tien before Chancellor Tien. He never failed to support the Golden Bears through all the lean times after.
And this doesn’t even cover what he did for Cal academically. He’s the discoverer of plutonium, integral to our war efforts in World War II — so integral, they didn’t let him go to Los Alamos, because his work in Berkeley was that important. He was Ernest Laurence’s right hand man on work with the cycletron. And because of all this, he was awarded the Nobel Prize, and then an even greater prize — element 106, Seaborgium.
A university would be lucky to have such a man associated with them.
Plus, as he was known to point out, his surname was an anagram for "Go Bears!" He was the quintessential Cal Bear, and a model for all to follow.
I humbly submit his name for your consideration.
I have so many memories of Mack that it's hard for me write something coherent (ok, I rarely write anything coherent, so harder than usual). I guess it starts back in 2005 around the Vegas bowl. Some may not remember but we had a really good center before Mack, Marvin Philip. Philip started every game in 2004 & 2005, finishing 2004 as an AP second team All-American and 2005 as an AP first team All-American, in addition to being named Cal's offensive MVP (for comparison's sake, Mack was only a third team AP All-American this year). Despite the prospect of losing our All-American center to graduation, I remember telling anyone who would listen (and not too many people will listen to you talk about back-up centers, especially in Vegas) about a redshirt freshman named Alex Mack who was apparently mauling people in practice. It's not too often that you can feel comfortable losing a first team All-American, but that's what Mack did.
I remember playing Tennessee at Memorial on NCAA Football 2007 and having Alex Mack pull and take out two guys to spring Forsett for a touchdown...and a few days later watching Mack take out THREE guys on almost an identical play (0:51 on the video) during the actual game. I remember Mack eliminating two WSU players to spring Forsett for a 40 yard TD against the Cougs (2:02 on the same video), our only win in 7 games and perhaps my favorite single play from the 07 season. I remember asking Mack after the USC game that year if he would be coming back in '08, and hoping that "I don't know, man" would become a yes. I remember watching Mack run around the sidelines after the Emerald Bowl, slapping hands and thanking everyone that could get close enough to him as he tried to extend his Cal career for another 15 minutes.
Ironically, Mack departs in a fasion similar to Philip - with a much talked about younger player ready to take his place. Chris Guarnero was a standout in practices as a redshirt freshman and played extremely well at left guard last year before going down for the year with a toe injury. He may not equal Mack in his Cal career (who will?) but judging by what we've seen so far (that's him sprining Best on the first play), Cal's in good shape yet again at center.
The Play Players
Norcalnick talks about The Play.
Moen to Rodgers to Garner to Rodgers to Ford to Moen. Like pi to math majors, every Cal fan should know the sequence. But how exactly did a last second victory in a game with no real national significance become so legendary, so mythical?
When I was 9 I went to my first Big Game and watched Cal win. Having been hooked on Cal football, I then saw Cal lose 7 straight times. My Mom, the consummate pessimistic yet loyal Cal fan, would hold up The Play as our desperate Cal fan trump card. Lose 7 in a row to the ‘furd? So what, we have The Play. Go a decade without a bowl? Whatevs, we have The Play. No Rose Bowl berths in either of our lifetimes? No worries, we have The Play.
For 20 years between The Play and Tedford, it was our one shining moment in a sea of football pain and misery. Whenever the Big Game was in Palo Alto my mom would play a tape that analyzed The Play, including an introduction, the CALX call of the game (which is significantly more confusing even than Starkey’s call) and player interviews. We played it to piss off the Stanford fans, because THEY LOST ON THE PLAY!
Every once in a while ESPN or Sports Illustrated will have some silly internet voting for the greatest play in college (or sports) history. Despite a biased voting public, The Play almost always wins. Nothing can match 6 laterals against your biggest rival with the most insane band in America on the field.
It is here that we must mention the unfortunate part of our story: Mariet Ford, he of the psychic blind lateral, is currently behind bars for the murder of his wife and 35 month old son. The Chronicle has a long profile on Ford, detailing the glory of The Play and his fall from grace.
Now, in 2009, with 6 straight bowl games and perennial conference title contention, maybe The Play isn’t as important as it used to be. We don’t need to hang our hat on one moment. Or, maybe The Play will remain as a moment that defines Cal athletes and fans alike with the attitude that the Bear will not quit, the Bear will not die.
And if you ever wondered if The Play was ‘the most amazing, sensational, dramatic, heart-rending... exciting, thrilling finish in the history of college football,’ I’ll leave you with this:
For many years, John Elway was bitter, on both a personal level and on behalf of his team, about the touchdown being allowed: "This was an insult to college football... They [the officials] ruined my last game as a college football player."
norcalnick provides one more fantastic profile about one of Cal's greatest quarterbacks.
Because I am also a San Francisco 49er fan, I tuned into the 2005 NFL draft very much hoping that Aaron Rodgers would complete his destiny as a childhood Joe Montana fan and don the Red and Gold as our franchise quarterback. Four years later and I’m still not sure if I wished that had happened.
Rodgers only had about a season and a half to make an impression as a starter for the Golden Bears, and he wasted very little time. Taking over as starting QB midway through the ’03 season, Rodgers led a late season charge for a bowl berth in a year that was expected to be a rebuilding year. He then had perhaps the best performance ever by a Cal QB in a bowl game, sending expectations for 2004 sky-high in a thrilling, crazy 52-49 victory over Virginia Tech in the Insight Bowl. He threw for 394 yards and 2 TDs.
His 2005 season can almost be described as disappointing, although none of the fault would fall to Rodgers. How can a 10-2 season be disappointing? How about when hard-luck injuries gradually hamper the passing game as the team slowly puts the offensive burden on the legs of JJ Arrington? Or when those receiver injuries haunt Cal by essentially preventing any chance at a comeback in a painful loss to Texas Tech in the Holiday Bowl? And most of all, how about when your QB puts together one of the most impressive single game efforts in a losing effort to the eventual national champs? Never have I been surer of something football related in my life than when Cal had first and goal at the USC 9 with less than two minutes to go. Cal was going to score. Aaron Rodgers was 29-31. There is no way we don’t take the lead. I just sat numb in my chair when Jonathan Makonnen slipped on 4th down, not comprehending that I was wrong.
Go to Hell, BCS! You go to Hell and you DIE!
Sadly, the peak of Rodger’s passing attack at Cal was probably reached in Corvallis in the game just before Cal’s loss to USC. In that game Rodgers, Chase Lyman, and Geoff MacArthur absolutely blitzed Oregon State in a 49-7 victory. Next week Lyman would go down with a knee injury that would essentially end is football career. Makonnen would miss most of the games that year with a variety of nagging ailments and MacArthur played through various problems that limited his abilities before going down with a freak injury in practice before the Holiday Bowl. It’s a testament to Rodger’s talent and Tedford’s coaching that Cal’s passing attack didn’t completely disappear.
Despite a rocky start, Rodgers came to embrace Green Bay fans, culture and moustaches.
Rodgers intelligently declared for the draft in a down year for quarterbacks. In one of the most unbelievable displays of NFL draft skullduggery he somehow slid to the end of the first round to the Green Bay Packers. Rodgers suffered through Brett Favre’s chronic indecisiveness and is now the unquestioned starter for a perennial playoff contender. Meanwhile, Alex Smith is for some reason still considered a viable starting quarterback contender for the 49ers. I said above that I don’t know if I’m still upset that the 49ers drafted Smith over Rodgers. That’s because I wouldn’t wish the 49er’s dysfunction on a Cal quarterback as clearly talented as Rodgers is, even if that means he has to play for a team that knocked out my 49ers every damned year in the late 90s. When everything is done many expect Rodgers to finish his NFL career as the most decorated quarterback ever to come out of Cal. I’ll remember him as the player that vaulted Cal from feel-good mid-conference team to perennial Pac-10 title contender.