It apparently isn't so hard to sell Cal after all. In a poll taken by Student Sports, the Bears ranked in a tie for 8th among all college football programs. Cal is ranked just behind Oregon and USC in the Pac-12 and tied with Stanfurd at that position.
It's always good to see that negative recruiting hasn't affected Cal's stature at all when it comes to recruiting the best players that fit our program (Interesting to note that Washington is nowhere to be found on this list, and there were eight programs in the Pac-12 that received votes).
That made me wonder about a question you've probably already pondered in your head.
What's your second favorite Pac-12 school and why? If for some bizarre reason you couldn't root for Cal or wanted a second team in the conference, who would you go with?
Let's pass over the usual suspects. We eliminate the Cardinal and the Trojans because that's what we do if we're good little Golden Bears. You can make a case for Stanfurd and USC only if you enjoy hating.
Oregon. I mean, yeah, if you're a football fan, this is the hot ticket. But I imagine most Cal graduates want a little bit more than just the Nike experience when they go to college.
Arizona State. Replace "football" with "beer pong" and "Nike" with "beer pong" from the Oregon description, and the same thing applies.
Arizona. Replace "beer pong" with "basketball" and "beer pong" with "Tucson night life"...
Washington. Would have been much higher on this list a few years ago, because it's probably the top Pac-12 academic school not in the state of California. But we have sporting complications at the moment. We'll try again in a few years.
Utah. General feelings of neutrality. No ill will, no real hostility. But there's nothing here to distinguish them as my second favorite program. The Switzerland of the Pac-12.
Oregon State. They have an engineering program! And they have the most adorable college football coach ever. It's a pretty decent team to root for. Living in the wilderness would take some time getting used to, but I wouldn't begrudge anyone going Beaver here.
Washington State. Based on the fine folks up at Pullman, which include Keith Jackson, it's hard not to like the Cougars. It's hard to say I've met a Washington State fan I didn't dislike.
However, it's in the middle of an ocean of nothingness, and as much as I feel like reenacting scenes from the Book of Eli, I do like being around trees.
Runner-up: UCLA. They're our rivals, but I really don't mind the baby brothers that much. Good athletics + good academics. Probably one of the nicest locations in the Pac-12.
However, Westwood is like The Shire. Seems fun for a day. Then you wake up and realize you have to stay here for four years.
And honestly, with UCLA, I'll just end up comparing everything to Cal, and I'll remember they stole all our stuff, and that everything is a little bit worse than it is at Cal, and that'll be just enough to knock it down a notch. You can only have so much Diddy Riese before you realize you're not at Cal. (and C.R.E.A.M. already has it beat anyway).
A little on the cold side, but Boulder is probably the nicest of the college towns in the conference. It has a nice blend of good academics and great outdoor options out there. The athletics are in a bit of a slump, but you figure tradition will eventually revive the Buffs into a premier program in the Pac-12. All in all, I'd love to see Colorado get back on their feet because it's currently my second favorite Pac-12 program.
What's your second favorite Pac-12 school?