Our next matchup pits one of our finest receivers versus a Cal coaching legend. For each athlete, you can vote in the poll; it closes a week from today. After the jump, you can read the athlete profiles written up by our commenters, and discuss in the comments your memories of each athlete and which one deserves to move on. (Check out the full bracket here. To check out the original nomination thread, click here. For those who want to track the CGB Hall of Fame posts exclusively, click here or right next to the timestamp where it says "Hall of Fame".)
They say it's better to be lucky than good. Well, "they" never met G-Mac. This guy comes out of nowhere to rewrite the Cal record book in 2003, catching 85 passes for 1,504 yards. He has five 150+ yard games and basically wins the Big Game by himself with the greatest stat line in Cal history: 16 catches/245 yards/2 TDs. Then, basking in the glow of All-Pac 10 and 2nd team All-America status and Cal's first bowl invitation in seven years, he fractures his right arm in a non-contact drill. No one touched him. Misses the Insight Bowl win over Virginia Tech.
Oh well, he comes into his senior year a pre-season All-America selection, and opposing defenses are ready. They feed him a steady diet of double teams, and Aaron Rodgers spreads the ball around. Seven different receivers have at least 14 catches on the season, and G-Mac's numbers fall to 57 catches for 862 yards and 7 touchdowns. Plus he plays with a strained oblique muscle for most of the season.
Our commenters can attest to his emergence into a preeminent offensive threat.
JoshinPortland: I remember being blown away by his improvement toward the end of his career. The guy caught nearly everything thrown in his direction regardless of coverage.
Norcalnick: I mostly remember the big game when he caught like 15 balls or something absurd like that. I just started yelling at Stanford: "WE’RE THROWING TO GEOFF AND THERE IS NOTHING YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT!"
I loved that Big Game.
Carp has nothing but great things to say about his former coach. Here's his writeup.
Coach Clark, a Cal rugby alum himself, deserves to be up there on the list of integral people associated with Cal. He has guided Cal rugby to 19 national titles since he took over in 1981. He led Cal to an unprecedented 115 game winning streak.
Winning was not necessarily the aim. Rather, it was a by-product of excellent preparation, attention to detail, dedication, and perservearance. He teaches his players to be thoughtful, selfless, and responsible adults. Clark is quick to point out that Cal rugby is completely self-sufficient and is comprised of non-scholarship athletes who earn their keep on and off the pitch.
After all, Clark is accustomed to overcoming incredible odds:The following month Clark attended a party at the house of an acquaintance in San Francisco and went outside to help break up an altercation. He ended up squared off against a man with a 9-mm Magnum. The assailant, who was under the influence of PCP, fired at Clark, hitting him four times. One bullet shattered his left femur, another the left fibula. At San Francisco General Hospital, heavily sedated and suffering significant nerve damage in the leg, Clark was confronted with the possibility of amputation. One night, while drifting in and out of consciousness, he awoke to a lecture on prosthetic limbs from a hospital counselor. "I called up one of my mates," Clark recalls, "and said, ‘I need you to get down here, and whatever you do, don’t let them take my leg.’"
Clark hung on, enduring a 45-day stay at the hospital and then more than a year of physical therapy. Eighteen months after the shooting he ran a 10K. "When something like that happens," he says, "you’re either going to be a victim or you’re not."
"We do a lot of pullups because they’re great for grip strength" said Coach Clark. Picture this: if you’re lifting your opponents up into the air by gripping onto their shorts – be it in a scrum, a ruck, or a maul – you have to rely on your gripping, pulling and hoisting muscles.
For example, rather than his team do bench press excercises, he has them do pullups:
On top of this, Clark volunteered to coach the USMC rugby team in the offseason.
To honor his efforts, the marines presented Clark with this American flag (above) that was flown over Camp Ripper in Iraq on the fifth anniversary of 9/11. It is one of his proudest possessions.
I’ll leave you with this quote from Clark on Stanfurd refusing to play Cal in rugby:"We lose to Stanford in many sports, but if you want to make a Cal team quit, bring a weapon."