CGB Hall of Fame: (2) Seamus Kelly vs. (15) Bruce Snyder

NHook, Twist

In our final matchup from the Round of 64, Famous Seamus battles the one that got away.

(2) Seamus Kelly

Needless to say, the Cal Rugby program is the most dominant in the sport. Since the inception of the program in 1882, there is one accomplishment that has only been achieved once--the only player in Cal Rugby history to be a three-time captain is Seamus Kelly. That speaks volumes to the quality of character and the quality of play that Kelly brings to Witter Field.

The on-field accolades of "Famous" Seamus are endless. During his time at Cal, he was a member of two teams that won the national championship, helped lead the team to our first Sevens National Championship, was named an All-American four times, and was the 2013 RUGBYMag Men's College Player of the Year.

When RUGBYMag named him their Player of the Year, they described his greatness as follows:

In the end we chose Cal's Seamus Kelly because he was the most consistently great. He scored the dramatic try to tie the [2013] Varsity Cup final before BYU's Johnny Linehan hit the winning drop goal. He was MVP for the [College Rugby Championshps] and started for the Eagles (the US National team).

Kelly's skills are myriad. He is smart, can lead a backline, is an excellent defender at center, and very strong over the ball in the rucks. It is his skill in the breakdown that can be overlooked, but will stand him in good stead in his future.

And we haven't even discussed his attacking acumen, which is as good as anyone's.

Not only has Kelly been a key playmaker for Jack Clark's Golden Bears, but he's also started for the US National Team, the Eagles. While his rugby play is plenty incredible, he's known for his humble and team-first character and his academic dedication that will lead him to graduating with a degree in Political Economy.

(10) Bruce Snyder

1990 Cal Football Highlights Part A (via PRD74)

From the incredible 2011 Profile Ohio Bear put together:

In December of 1986, Cal Athletic Director David Maggard hired then-Los Angeles Rams assistant coach Bruce Snyder to take over as head football coach after the largely unsuccessful tenure of Joe Kapp. Prior to accepting the Cal job, Coach Snyder had modest experience as a head coach: he had spent 1976 to 1982 as the head coach at Utah State, where he had rebuilt a program that had been down and out. Perhaps it was his experience at rebuilding that made Snyder a good fit for the Cal job: after a disastrous 2-9 season in 1986, to say that the Cal football program needed a rebuild was an understatement.

Through five seasons, Snyder compiled a 29-24-4 record at Cal and was the first coach to lead the Bears to two bowl wins. Unfortunately, and to the universal dismay of Cal fans, the epic 1991 season was Snyder's last as Cal head coach. Arizona State, which had fired Larry Marmie after the season, lured Snyder away with a lucrative contract offer after the Citrus Bowl. New Cal athletic director Bob Bockrath, who assumed his duties just a few months before the Citrus Bowl triumph, is generally regarded by Cal fans as having done too little to retain Coach Snyder. In 2004, in an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, Snyder still felt regret about how his Cal tenure ended after having reached what was, at the time, the highest point of his head coaching career.

The relatively short five-year tenure of Snyder as Cal coach does not, however, diminish his legacy as one of Cal's best coaches of all time. Indeed, the fact that five Cal Athletic Hall-of-Famers played for him (MIke Pawlawski, Sean Dawkins, Russell White, Troy Auzenne, David Ortega) is a testament to his coaching as well as to the players' ability. Coach Snyder's greatness is further illustrated by the way he and his staff had a knack for finding the diamonds in the rough when it came to recruiting. The most striking example was Pawlawski, who was not recruited heavily as a quarterback coming out of Troy High School in Yorba Linda, Calif. Pawlawski played only one season as a high school quarterback and put up modest numbers in that year; yet, Snyder and his staff saw something in Pawlawski that led them to offer him a scholarship. One publication called Pawlawski the "worst recruit in the Pac-10" in 1987; Pawlawski had the last laugh as a senior in 1991, when he was the Pac-10 co-offensive player of the year for a team that finished in the top 10 in the national polls.

Coach Snyder would go on to have a 9-year run at Arizona State, where he went 58-45 with four bowl appearances (one bowl win) as coach of the Sun Devils. Most notably, Snyder's 1996 ASU team went undefeated in the regular season and were within just a few seconds of a national championship before falling 20-17 to Ohio State on a late touchdown in the Rose Bowl. Snyder was the 1996 Pac-10 Coach of the Year and won several national coach of the year honors that year. To add insult to the injury of losing him to a conference rival, Snyder's teams went 7-2 against Cal.

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