And with that, he was gone.
Most of us anticipated the Jet's Saturday announcement for so long that there was kind of a definite finality to it, unlike with Marshawn and Desean. We knew that if Best had a good year, even a highlight-worthy season, he would probably be outta here, and deservedly so. He didn't have much left to prove on the college level, and his decision is the prudent one (That's not to say all players should leave just to maximize their draft stock--as CalFanNY pointed out, Jake Locker's decision to come back was the right one too, more because Locker had more to learn to become a successful Sunday QB, whereas Best had very little left to learn.)
So having watched him explode into the spotlight the past few years, I ask Cal fans...what do you expect from Best as a pro? And do you think Cal's offense will be okay without him?
I know some of us sour on 2007 thought Desean would bust, although I always felt he would do better than most of us were giving him credit for--he was so damned good in a pro-style offense adjusting to quarterbacks not equal to his talent that I got the feeling he'd break through SOMEWHERE. Of course, we know that he blew through all our low expectations, and Cal's receivers have looked particularly ordinary ever since he left.
A similar strain of dismissal seems to be surrounding Jahvid's game-changing abilities, and the impact it could have on our running attack in the future. AERose made an interesting point about the feeling circulating some of Best's doubters:
I think Best wants to compete on the highest level and has the potential to do so. I don’t like the way he came in to the season the number one running back in the country and leaves it with part of the Cal fanbase having written him off as a running back entirely. It smacks of a lack of perspective that people believe Best’s place on the field is as a specialist, despite all of 2008.
It is curious how some fans are rationalizing that Jahvid's absence will somehow make Cal a BETTER team offensively in 2010. Dchu illustrates that viewpoint here.
Honestly, though, as much as I love Jahvid, both for his electrifying ability and the way he conducts himself, I am not terribly stressed over whether he leaves or goes.
Vereen doesn’t have quite Best’s electifying flash, but he’s better at churning out tougher yards and is no slouch himself in terms of pulling off big runs. DeBo looks like he’s ready for an increased role, and Yarnway if nothing else should be ready to help out in short yardage situations. That’s to say nothing of Isi, Briggs, and whatever other commits Tedford and crew can pull of their collective caps.
While I concur with some of the Vereen stuff, it's hard to say exactly how we can feel secure with the running crew behind him--how can you be comfortable with players we've barely glimpsed in action? Really, it seems that this faith in our corps has more to do with faith in running backs coach Ron Gould, which is reasonable enough, since our running backs have never slipped. In other words, we don't really have much of a clue.
It feels too much like we're blaming Best a little bit too much for the type of running back he is, rather than pointing at ancillary issues that played into the boom-and-bust style of our offense (bad offensive line, predictable playcalling, inconsistent passing leading to constant stacking of the box). It's hard for me to see a Jahvid-less offense performing up-to-par unless all three facets make huge strides this offseason.
Mister Pie probably summed up best (no pun intended) what all Cal fans are thinking about #4's career at Berkeley.
Whatever he chooses, I’d support it whole-heartedly. He has represented our school well and based on all the interviews I’ve seen with him, just a pretty terrific teammate and individual. I don’t think he owes anyone anything and I hope he just does whatever it takes to look after himself. If he wants to come back (perhaps to get his degree?)— great, but I hope that’s a decision that he makes that isn’t influenced by anything else other than his own ambitions. If he wants to enter the NFL— also great, and I hope he gets drafted high and early. Hell, on the off-chance that he doesn’t want to play football anymore — also great, he seems like a bright kid with a good future ahead of him and I wish him the highest success in whatever endeavors he chooses to pursue.
Good luck Jet; keep on flying. Just don't soar too close to the sun.