Was reading an article by Brian Windhorst on ESPN regarding the Pacers. The below few lines gave me hope for the future of Cal football:
"[Nine years ago, the Pacers had] beaten their rival Pistons that night, smothered them with their trademark defensive grit, on the road to go to 7-2. That team's future was intensely bright. But it all was tainted at the Palace of Auburn Hills [because of the infamous brawl] and it quickly withered. They played .500 ball after the suspensions were lowered that season and then they finished the next six seasons a combined 56 games under .500.
It has taken them a decade, many humbling nights where they played in front of a largely empty house because their fan base had been so turned off, but the Pacers have taken themselves back to the same precipice.
This time, though, they have a different makeup. This time they have a different star.
"That's one of the things [team president] Larry Bird sought out to build when he had to change the image of our franchise but when we were having problems and off-court issues and obviously the brawl," Pacers coach Frank Vogel said. "We changed our image based on high-character people but that didn't just stop with guys who weren't going to get in trouble off the basketball court. He wanted to build it around guys who cared about being team-first guys."
The Pacers never sunk to the bottom, never got lucky in the lottery and therefore never drafted higher than 10th in those lean years. That pick was George, who they had fallen so hard for in scouting that they were prepared to pass up hometown favorite Gordon Haywardin the 2010 draft. They got a raw and underdeveloped Hibbert with a 17th pick after a draft night trade in '08. They made another draft night trade for George Hill, gambling by giving up the pick that became Kawhi Leonard. They signed David West as a free agent when others were concerned about his knee. They took a risk on the checkered past of Lance Stephenson because Bird believed in him. All of those moves were aimed at Bird's mission for team building and all of them have worked out.
On Monday before the Pacers left for this road trip, ESPN's Stephen A. Smith went to Indianapolis to interview George for a segment on "SportsCenter." George, though, declined to be interviewed unless the rest of the team's starters were included, like a high-school star quarterback who insists giving credit to his offensive linemen.
No matter what you think of George's request that passively makes himself look like a good teammate, it very much fits into his nature and the identity of this Pacers team."
Drawing some analogies, the Oregon St game in 2007 was our brawl moment. We haven't had decent luck since. The win count has been declining. We've had Toshgate. We've had our character and academic issues. Attendance, especially this year, is dismal. But I believe we are doing something about it. For one, Tosh is no longer here. I can't tell you how much I think that positively affects the program. We no longer need to pine after fantastic athletes regardless of whether they fit the "Cal profile". What we need is to build our program around team-first, character guys who play smart and disciplined football. As long as we stay that course, don't chase the win-at-all-costs formula, and establish our identity, I believe we can mimic the success that the Pacers are currently enjoying.
Go Bears! Beat Furd!