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So we've already inducted 4 members into the CGB Hall of Fame (Congrats to Alex Morgan, Carli Lloyd, Jorge Gutierrez, and Valerie Arioto) but now it is time to add one more person to the CGB HoF Class of 2013. So we're matching up all of our finalists to see how makes it in. Cast your vote today for who you think should be the final member of this class! GO BEARS!
"He of Big Game glory. He went from an unheralded 2* recruit to a top-notch LB in the Pac-10." The pride of Brawley, CA, he was versatile and smart enough to play all three positions in a 4-3, or play either inside/outside in a 3-4. When fully healthy, he was an instinctive player who was a sure-tackler and equally adept defending the run or pass."
Hydrotech: " I remember when Mohamed first arrived on campus, there was a lot of talk about how the coaches thought he really was going to be special despite not being a big time recruit or the flashiest guy. Looks to me like they were right. I think Mohamed is definitely one of the best "diamonds in the rough" that the coaches found in the past five years or so."
Berkelium97: "In addition to remembering everything he did on the field, I remember his interesting background. He came from a small town in Imperial County, where he grew up on his family's farm. The farm was established by Mike's great grandfather, who left India, became a citizen, and bought 1000 acres of land. The farm has since been passed down through the family and played a big role in Mike's life when he was growing up. During his interviews at the Combine, Mike kept emphasizing his hard-nosed, blue collar work ethic. When asked about his life growing up, Mike says he learned these values by working at the farm. Off the field he works just as hard, as he was named to the Pac-10's all-academic team each of his four years. In a way, Mike is a lot like another recent Cal grad who earned great respect for his tremendous work ethic on and off the field: Alex Mack."
Let’s start with the obvious achievement: Caitlin Leverenz is an Olympic medalist already, winning a bronze in the 200m Individual Medley. Cal athletes win plenty of medals, but it’s still pretty rare to win one when you’re still enrolled as a student. And to get a medal in an event that is essentially measuring how well-rounded you are as a swimmer? Even cooler!
But in a way, her collegiate accomplishments seem somehow more impressive. At the 2011 NCAA championships she swam in five events and placed 5th, 4th, 3rd, 1st (relay) and 1st(relay). In 2012, she again swam in five events (3 individual, 2 relays), and this time she recorded four wins and one 2nd place finish . . . and that 2nd place finish was an American record. And Cal won national titles both years.
2013 wasn’t quite as illustrious as 2012, but Leverenz again competed in five events and finished 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 3rd and 6th. 15 NCAA championship races, and finishing 6th or higher every time. That’s a level of versatility and endurance rarely seen, and I have no doubt the Bears will miss her next year.
Here is Caitlin talking about her win in 200 IM at the 2013 NCAA championship:
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.
NorCalNick gives up the scoop on Coach Newell:
What I know about Pete Newell is likely very similar to what you know about him. He’s a legendary head coach, universally regarded as one of the great innovators. Bob Knight thinks he’s the greatest. John Wooden couldn’t take over the conference until he left. He won a national title and his team took down Oscar Robertson. He won an Olympic medal with Oscar Roberson. He became known as a big man guru and introduced the reverse action offense. Perhaps most importantly, the iconic picture of him nervously chewing a towel doubles as an iconic visual metaphor for Cal fans.
Unfortunately, that picture hints at a problem: Newell retired from coaching at the age of 45 due to stress, leading to a gigantic ‘what-if.’ It’s hardly unusual for respected coaches to keep going well into their 60s or 70s. If Newell had stayed active, would Cal basketball have fallen into a 50 year wilderness of only occasional relevancy? Would John Wooden be the same Wooden? Perhaps Cal would be the west coast blue blood.
In any case, Newell compiled a record of 119-44 while at Cal, then became Cal’s athletic director until 1968. I can’t begin to vouch for his abilities as an administrator, although I doubt anybody would look back at the 60s as a golden era for Cal sports. Considering the climate on campus at the time, perhaps there wasn’t much anybody could do.
If the CGB hall of fame were identical to the Cal hall of fame, Pete Newell would be a charter member as perhaps the best (and most influential) coach in school history, in any sport. Alas, few if any of us were able to witness Newell’s teams in action. Will his legendary reputation be enough to earn him your vote?
So who gets your vote for the lofty prize of being inducted into the CGB Hall of Fame?
And the final member of the 2013 CGB Hall of Fame Class should be?
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