Our next matchup of the weekend comes out of the Joe Kapp Region and features a non-sports legend taking on an amazing running back. Prof Alex Filippenko got here by taking out Kirk Everist in a pretty close vote while JJ Arrington upset DeSean Jackson to secure his second round spot. 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. GO BEARS!
Alex Filippenko is the Richard & Rhoda Goldman Distinguished Professor in the Physical Sciences. His accomplishments, documented in about 700 research papers, have been recognized by several major prizes, and he is one of the world's most highly cited astronomers. In 2009 he was elected to the National Academy of Sciences, and he shared part of the Gruber Cosmology Prize in 2007. He has won the top teaching awards at UC Berkeley and has been voted the "Best Professor" on campus a record 9 times. In 2006 he was selected as the Carnegie/CASE National Professor of the Year among doctoral institutions, and in 2010 he won the ASP's Emmons Award for undergraduate teaching. He has produced five astronomy video courses with "The Great Courses," coauthored an award-winning textbook, and appears in numerous TV documentaries including about 40 episodes of "The Universe" series. An avid tennis player, hiker, and skier, he enjoys world travel and is addicted to observing total solar eclipses (11 so far).
Former students weigh in:
iVinishe: Alex Filippenko holds a special place in my Cal experience. Professor Filippenko was the first faculty member I interacted with on a meaningful level at Cal. Though I was merely a high school senior who possibly could go to another institution, Professor Filippenko still took the time to get to know me and offer a bit of advice into my difficult decision. 3 years later, he still remembered my name, despite our having no contact during that time period.
In 2006, Filippenko was named the CASE Professor of the Year award, beating out other professors from universities across the country for the honor. A frequent guest on astronomy documentaries, Filippenko can often be seen on the History Channel's "The Universe". He and his research group have performed some of the most groundbreaking research in astronomy; one project Filippenko collaborated and did extensive work on on went on to garner the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics for Saul Perlmutter, another Cal professor. Filippenko himself is on some 660 published papers. In 2000, he was awarded the Guggenheim Fellowship, and in 2009 he was elected to the National Academy of Sciences - just one of a laundry list of awards and accolades he has collected in his career.
In spite of his research accomplishments, Filippenko still takes the time to run Astro C10: Introduction to General Astronomy, a course Filippenko passionately teaches every fall. A professor with a stated philosphy "to bring the magnificence of the cosmos to the students and to show them that through careful observations, experiments and interpretations, we humans have the potential to understand how our universe works," Filippenko has consistently been voted the Best Professor at Cal, and Astro C10 is one of the most popular courses on campus. Filippenko is also active in student life, often serving as a guest speaker for student receptions and faculty dinners. In his time at Cal, Filippenko has touched and improved the lives of more students than almost any other professor in the world.
He even helped us get a Cal star
Following in the footsteps of the colors blue and gold, the Golden Bear and Oski, the campus mascot, comes UC Berkeley's own star system. Located in the Cygnus constellation, the double star Albireo - consisting of one blue and one gold star that circle endlessly- has been adopted by UC Berkeley's Student Senate.
Minesweeper: Filippenko was by far my favorite professor while at Berkeley (my major was EECS). He has the ability to describe complex concepts in simple, accessible terms with an infectious enthusiasm. Just watch his talk at TEDxSF from a couple years ago to get an idea of what I'm talking about. He's been voted the "Best Professor" on campus many times, and was a member of both teams that discovered (in 1998) that the Universe's expansion is accelerating.
Cal fans were understandably anxious to see what Arrington would do carrying the full workload in 2004. What he did was have the greatest season by any player in the history of Cal football. That's right. The greatest season ever.
In each of his 12 games, Arrington hit for at least 100 yards - the only back in America to make that claim. Against Air Force in the opener, he scored three times including an 89-yard run that set a Cal record. 3 more scores against NMSU, and then a couple of off games - 108 yards and a TD v Oregon State and 112 in the heartbreak loss to SC. Then J.J. got serious. UCLA was torched for 205 yards and two scores in the next outing, and then ASU, Oregon, Washington and Stanford all surrendered a touchdown and at least 120 yards to #30.
But J.J. Arrington, to us, defined himself in the rain and mud of Hattiesburg, Mississippi. You recall the scene - the Bears needed a blowout win to impress the human pollsters and vault past Texas into the Rose Bowl. It was not to be, but Arrington moved heaven and earth to make it so, rushing 31 times for 261 yards, the most by a Cal back since 1954.
Arrington had an all time legendary season playing for one of our most prolific teams of the last half century. And he did it sort of out of the blue. I mean, we all knew that Arrington was good and had the potential to step in and do the job, but I don't know that very many Cal fans expected that he would surpass the production of Echemandu's 2003 season, much less run for 2,000 yards. I kind of expected the 2004 Bears to be all about Rodgers and G-Mac. It wasn't.
Kodiak: We had the pleasure of meeting JJ during the spring game of his senior year. He was humble, well-spoken, and polite; he was such a nice young man that it made you want support him even more. He had the best burst of any back that we've seen. Although he didn't have Best's game-breaking speed, Marshawn's strength, Forsett's vision, or Igber's wiggle, he had a unique way of decisively hitting the hole that I've never seen before or since. We've seen shake n' bake. We've seen one cut n' go. JJ was GO. If not for being drafted by the inept Cardinals, I think he might have made some noise in the league. They took an instinctive runner and knee-capped him by forcing him into a wait/delay/read scheme that was a poor fit.
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