If one word can sum up what I was feeling yesterday after those final 3 seconds ticked away, it would be disappointment.
There have been plenty of games where I have been downright angry after a game; the 2010 Big Game and the 2011 UCLA games come to mind. While there is plenty to be angry about after the Nevada game, there was no anger in me after the game ended, just disappointment and sadness. There was so much hype going into this game and so much optimism thanks to the new stadium, while unfortunately, I (and many around me) were left with a hollow feeling afterwards. This was supposed to be an historic and great day for our university, athletic department, and football program, but it turned out to be a day that many of us would just like to forget.
I became a Cal fan in 2007 after I took a visit to the university as a senior in high school. I immediately fell in love with the campus and started to follow many of Cal's great sports programs. I clearly remember the highs of that season and the unfathomable lows that came after that game against Oregon State As someone who did not understand the history and culture of Cal football at the time, I was in complete disbelief in how a team that came so close to being ranked #1 would fall so fast and in such an incredibly horrible fashion. That 2007 season was my first time following Cal football and any rational human being would have run far away after that collapse, but for whatever reason I became an even bigger fan and began to learn more about Cal football's history. I did not get to enjoy the first few years of the Tedford era, but I did learn to appreciate what he had done after picking up a program that was in complete ruin. Knowing what he had done in the past, I was still on the Tedford bandwagon after the 2010 season and it wasn't until that disturbing 2011 UCLA game that I began to doubt whether or not Tedord could get it done. This is where I get to what happened yesterday: it clearly was not as disgusting as the 2010 Big Game or disturbing as the 2011 UCLA game, but losing the first game in new Memorial Stadium was almost more painful than those other two losses. Looking at the performance of the Bears yesterday and looking ahead at the schedule, I am thinking that this could easily be another losing season at 4-8 to 5-7. I hope I am wrong, hopefully the Bears will still end the season with a respectable record, but at this point I just do not see that happening. If my (rather bleak) prediction comes true, I believe that the sun is truly setting on the Tedford era. I don't think that this university's athletic department can afford to have a lame duck coach for two seasons after this one. If it becomes painfully obvious that Tedford's contract will not be renewed, recruiting will certainly take a hit, which unfortunately would bring down Cal's performance even more. Do I want any of these things to happen? Of course not! I want this team to rally, win 8 or 9 games this season, and under Tedford's leadership finally end that streak that we ALL want to end in either 2013 or 2014. Unfortunately, I do not think that anything like this will happen under Jeff Tedford. I like Tedford as a person and his commitment to this university (just look at the basketball court at his house), but it looks like it may be time for a change. I think that it would behoove the athletic department and Sandy Barbour to at least put the feelers out as to who may be available. We simply cannot afford to have much more mediocrity in our fantastic new stadium.
Even though I now understand the history of this university and its football program, I absolutely REJECT the idea that we will never be a national power on a consistent basis. For goodness sake, we are the UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA! There is absolutely no reason why this university cannot compete year in and year out for a conference championship and even national championships every once and a while. This campus is in an absolutely gorgeous part of the country, in a state that has an absolutely HUGE recruiting base, is the dominant team (in terms of fan support and alumni base) in a monster of a media market, and could and should have a name that is as respected as the likes of Texas and Michigan (again, for goodness sake, we are the UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA).
On to the positive: the stadium is absolutely spectacular! Anyone who tries to tell you otherwise is either a Stanfurd homer or had their head so far up their ass that they thought they were actually at the sandbox down in Palo Alto. The student section was pumped up, the band sounded great, and the crowd helped make a great college football environment. Also, Missy Franklin was in the student section and there was much love directed toward her once people realized that she was there. She was also wearing Cal gear!
On to the irrationally superstitious: Stop wearing the white helmets, and for the love of all things blue and gold they should NEVER AGAIN pipe through Palms of Victory before a football game.
UPDATE: One more positive: I finally got my degree in the mail yesterday, so not all is lost!! :D