This is the fifth in a twelve part series on the mythical origin of each Pac-12 school . . . up next: the Stanfurd
Indian . . . err, Cardinal . . . uhh, Tree. (Part 1: USC, Part 2: ASU/UA, Part 3: UCLA, Part 4: Wazzu)
Long, long ago, there was a time when the entire state of California was just inhabited by the sturdy Golden Bear. The Golden Bear was a powerful and all knowing leader that was beloved by all Californians, except for one: Leland Stanfurd.
Going even further back, before the Golden Bear even had arrived on the Pacific Coast, the gods had banished Stanfurd as a demonic miscreant from their heavenly location. As a lowly subordinate in the heavens, Stanfurd had tried to destroy some of the gods in order to gain complete power in the universe. He soon grew to loathe anything that brought goodness and light to the world and when he caught word that the gods were planning on giving the people of California the Golden Bear, he lied and cheated his way to become the premier of the land. The gods, of course, knew what he was up to and saw him removed from his office just two years after taking power. The gods then continued their plans of creating the University of California and gifting the Golden Bear to all Californians. On March 23, 1868, much to Stanfurd's dismay, the gods bellowed the words FIAT LUX, the Golden Bear had arrived and the University of California came into existence. While the gods had prevailed in thwarting the evil Stanfurd, he did not end his quest to destroy the California Golden Bear. In the year 1882, Stanfurd tried to infiltrate the Golden Bear's ranks by gaining status as a regent and not knowing of Stanfurd's treachery, the Golden Bear allowed Stanfurd to gain power in California. The gods soon became incredibly concerned that Stanfurd was getting so close to the Golden Bear, and they decided to take action: the god's sent down the great prophet Stoneman to gain the premiership of all Californian lands. Upon gaining power, Stoneman banished Stanfurd to a dark and desolate land now known as Palo Alto.
Leland Stanfurd and the Indian at their Palo Alto residence.
Enraged that he had been banished to the darkness known as Palo Alto, Stanfurd began to plot how he could destroy the Golden Bear from afar. He decided to establish his own rival institution to further his evil goals and cripple the powerful Golden Bear. Because he was not going to be around forever, Stanfurd corrupted a local Indian to lead his followers after he would be gone. The local Native Americans were furious that Stanfurd had corrupted one of their own and offered their support for the University of California and the powerful Golden Bear. Despite the fact that Native Americans were against the entire idea of Stanfurd being allied with the one corrupted Indian, Stanfurd did not care and continued with his evil plans. With the Indian in tow, Stanfurd established Leland Stanfurd Junior University in the black year of 1891.
As soon as the junior university was established, the Indian encountered a problem: no one liked him. There was not a single soul that wanted to learn how to be demonically evil from the likes of the Indian and Leland Stanfurd. The Indian, in his cunning, devised a system where only his fellow corrupted souls and their children would be allowed admittance to his dark institution . . . and in order to make himself look good he claimed that becoming a Stanfurdite was an exclusive opportunity, and claimed that his institution was just very selective. The Golden Bear and his loyal followers, however, saw it what it really was: a legacy system.
During this time, one of Leland Stanfurd's commanding generals was the wicked Herbert Hoover who was the first lost soul to follow the teachings of Stanfurd and the Indian. Hoover quickly gained favor with the Stanfurdite leaders and he suggested that the Indian challenge the powerful Golden Bear to battle in the great imperial city of San Francisco. The Golden Bear reluctantly agreed to to this battle believing that he could do away with the evil Indian and his cohorts once and for all. Hoover, however, had different plans: he instructed the Indian to poison some of the Golden Bear's warriors. Because of Hoover's plan, on the day of battle, the Indian shockingly defeated the Golden Bear after so many believed that the Californian would have crushed the satanic Stanfurdite. The Indian continued to do this for the next seven years with varied success, but the Golden Bear was never able to defeat the Stanfurdites soundly with some of his warriors ill from the Indian's poison. In the eighth year, however, the Golden Bear was able to stop the Stanfurd Indian, and the Californians finally defeated the the Stanfurdites and sent them scurrying back to Palo Alto in disbelief. That eighth year was also a good year for the Golden Bear on other fields of battle as well, and it seemed that there was nothing that the Indian and Hoover could do to stop the Californian's momentum. Then, one day, the Indian had a magical axe forged from the finest heavenly metals and believed that this amazing creation would give the Stanfurdite warriors good luck on the dirted battlefield in San Francisco. The Californians, however, rolled over the Indian's warriors. Because of the decisive Californian victory, the Stanurdites thought that the axe was bad luck and the Indian made plans to dispose of the magical instrument. The Golden Bear overheard the Indian's plans to dispose of the axe and did the only thing that any rational person would do: he was going to save and protect the magnificent creation from the Indian and make sure that something so heavenly and good (despite its despicable origins) would never be destroyed.
The great axe.
The Golden Bear and his followers then liberated the great axe and brought it back to the Californians' lair for safekeeping. The axe would only be brought out of hiding when the Golden Bear was about to battle the hated Indian, and was seen as a symbol of the triumph of good over evil. After 3 decades, however, the Indian began to long for the axe . . . he wanted to take back what he at one point wanted to destroy. Under the dark of night, the Indian gathered some of his most wicked, sinful followers and sent them off to steal the axe from the Golden Bear. Unfortunately for all who favor good over evil, the Stanfurdites prevailed and successfully brought the axe back to the Indian. These disturbed individuals who stole the axe would forever be known as the Immoral 21. Because of the actions of the immoral 21, there were many raids on the Indian's lands by loyal Californians and in response, Stanfurdites went and ransacked many Californian buildings. In a brief moment of mutual understanding, the Golden Bear and Indian met, deciding that the glorious axe would go to the victor in the annual battle between the Stanfurdites and the Californians. Even though there are times in which the Indian holds onto the axe, it does not change the fact that the rightful home to the instrument is with the Golden Bear on the lands of the University of California.
After his time assisting the Indian, Hoover went on to try and spread darkness beyond the confines of Palo Alto. Hoover was able to gain an extreme amount of power and plunged the entire realm into chaos and sat back cackling at all of those who had the misfortune to have him as their supreme ruler. Not long after that, however, the forces of good destroyed the evil Stanfurdite and sent him squealing back to Palo Alto under the rule of the Indian. While the Golden Bear was not the leader in the effort to destroy Hoover, he did promise to keep the disturbed man banished to the desolation of Palo Alto and out of power for good.
Portrait of Hoover as supreme ruler
Throughout the years, conflicts between the Golden Bear and Indian have been hard fought, resulting in an almost identical amount of victories between the two foes. One problem for the Indian, was that he still could not find anyone to follow him. In a single day, the Golden Bear was able to bring in over 70 thousand people to follow the path of righteousness at the University of California, while only a few hundred wished to follow the sinister Stanfurdite. Because of this problem, the Indian decided to cover himself in a red sheet to mask his true identity. After doing this, he told all of his followers to refer to him as "the Cardinal" and hoped that people would begin to follow the teachings of Leland Stanfurd in a way they just were not willing to do under the Indian. The Golden Bear saw right through this and after defeating the cowardly Indian on the battle field in the great year of 1972, he picked up the Indian and launched him into the distant forests near Palo Alto. The Indian traveled a great distance and when he finally landed, he was so disoriented that he tripped over a fallen branch and tumbled down a steep hill. While falling, his ridiculous disguise picked up a great deal of debris and when he came to the bottom of the hill, the Indian was a complete mess. The sheet he had been wearing was no longer red, it was brown and had picked up many leaves on the way down. He tried to pull the sheet off, but the gods—finding the Indian's misfortune hilarious—made it so the sheet could never be removed. Because the Indian picked up so many leaves and fallen branches while rolling down the hill, from that point on, he would simply be known as the tree.
How the Stanfurd Indian masquerading as the Stanfurd Cardinal turned into the Stanfurd Tree
Despite his ridiculous new appearance, the tree was able to defeat the Golden Bear regularly and even recruited a great warrior by the name of Horseface to defeat the Californians. In 1982, almost every spectator believed that Horseface would lead the tree to victory against the sturdy Golden Bear and with very little time left in the battle, it seemed as if a victory for the tree had been assured. The Californians, however, did not quit and rolled over not only the tree's warriors in the waning moments of the battle, but the tree's so-called band and ended up defeating the arrogant tree and Horseface. To this day, when asked about the events of 1982, Horseface gets extremely bitter and often comes to tears.
Not long after this, things started to become very bad for the Golden Bear on the field of battle: the incompetent twit Bockrath had sent Snyder into the arms of the Sun Devil and the Holmoecaust began at the University of California. The tree took advantage of the Golden Bear's troubles and defeated the Californian on a regular basis during this time. It was not until 2002—twenty years after the great victory over Horseface—that the Golden Bear began to regain some of his power. At this same time, the tree had become too arrogant to see the Golden Bear gaining power and was then defeated quite soundly for most of the next decade by the resurgent Californian. Just a few years ago, the tree was desperate to defeat the Golden Bear and brought in a new commander by the name of Harbaugh who recruited yet another Horseface to help defeat the Golden Bear. Unfortunately, for Californians, this move by the tree was successful and the Stanfurdites have since defeated California on the battlefield the last two years. Now, however, the commander Harbaugh and Horseface the younger have both left the tree, and the Stanfurdite is now once again vulnerable to the Golden Bear's great power. Today, loyal Californians are now clamoring for the Golden Bear's warriors to GIVE 'EM THE AXE . . . RIGHT IN THE NECK.