CGB Hall of Fame: (7) Hardy Nickerson v. (10) Joe Igber

Cal Bears Online

Our first CGB Hall of Fame matchup of the weekend features a couple of favorite football players. Hardy Nickerson was a hard hitting linebacker for the Bears in the 80's and is now perhaps more well-known among the younger fans as Hardy Jr.'s father. Joe Igber was a running back with Cal in during the lean Holmoe years but still remains loved by many. This should be an interesting matchup out of the Brick Mueller Region but I suspect Hardy will prevail. We'll take a look at both candidates and then you can cast your vote to decide who moves on. You can take a look at the whole bracket here and voting will end Friday at noon.

(7) Hardy Nickerson

Cal Football: Hardy Nickerson - Where Are They Now? (via calathletics)

From the Cal Hall of Fame writeup:

For three straight seasons from 1983-85, Nickerson led the Golden Bears in tackles and was voted the team's Most Valuable Player. A first team All-Pac-10 selection as a senior, he reeled off tackle totals of 141 in 1984, 167 in 1985 and 132 in 1986. His 167 stops as a junior remains a Cal single season record, while his 501 career tackles rank second behind David Ortega's 525 in school history.

He went on to play in the NFL for 16 years (primarily for the Steelers and Bucs), where he was a five-time pro bowler, and was named to the 1990s all-decade second team. He is now a coach at Bishop O'Dowd, where his twins (boy/girl) go to school. I am hoping to see him on the Cal staff sometime soon.

Nickerson's son, Hardy Jr., is a highly touted linebacker whom Cal is recruiting. (Ed note: Since this was written Hardy Jr is indeed a Golden Bear and is expected to be a force in the linebacker corps for the next few years)

The elder Nickerson was a member of the 1986 Cal team, which defeated heavily favored Stanfurd 17-11 in one of the biggest upsets in Big Game history. The 1986 Big Game was Joe Kapp's last game as Cal coach.

And of course he now roots on Junior as HN Jr. seeks to fill some very large shoes at the same linebacker position.

(10) Joe Igber

Cal Beats Stanford, Big Game 2002 (via belmonto)

I'll let BearStage talk about Igber here:

Joe Igber. My all-time favorite Cal running back. Often overlooked, his name litters the pages of Cal's record books.

- His 3,124 career rushing yards are the third most in Cal history. Only Russell White and Marshawn Lynch can claim more.

-His 2002 rushing total of 1,130 yards was the 3rd highest single-season total in Cal history (at that time)

His greatest performance: a 226-yard, one-touchdown performance in the 2002 Big Game, which Cal won 30-7. Not only did he set the record for most rushing yards in the history of the Big Game (which still stands), he helped bring the Axe back to its rightful home after a painful 7-year drought.

These accomplishments alone should be enough to garner him consideration. And while these are all great reasons to appreciate Joe Igber, I'm most impressed with him because his career typified what we strive for Cal to be. You see, Igber somehow managed to balance the workload of a star Pac-10 running back with the workload of becoming a civil engineer.

Now, most people can barely handle one of those challenges. We all know how time consuming and stress inducing engineering majors are - between physics/math/engineering courses, labs, projects, research (if you're ambitious) - it's more than enough for most of us. UC Berkeley is one of the best (and toughest) places in the world to study engineering. People come from all over the world to study engineering at Cal, and that reputation is well-deserved, and it was the main reason that Joe Igber decided to come to Cal in the first place.

Also, we've all heard about how much time, sacrifice, dedication it takes to play Pac-10 football, let alone be a starter - the practice, the training, and weight rooms, the film, the travel. Add to the that the pressure of being the star running back, and you've got yourself a full plate that very few have the patience and focus to handle.

On top of even that - to perform at the level that Joe Igber did, to set records and do things on the field no Golden Bear has ever done, while handling that academic workload - it's just ridiculous.

Joe Igber is that rare combination, the very best of both of Cal's worlds - an amazing athlete and an impressive scholar. As such, I nominate him for the CGB Hall of Fame.

(Bonus: follow this link for incredible pictures of Joe Igber from Life magazine)

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