The CGB Hall Of Fame Tournament keeps a coming! It keeps chugging along. Today, we have another matchup. Former Cal QB Mike Pawlawski versus former Cal baseball coach Bob Milano. Pawlawski was one of the best Cal QBs of the early 90s and now broadcasts games. Milano coached Cal baseball for years upon years. Although he doesn't coach now, you can still see his mark on the baseball team. Pawlawski is a 3 seed while Milano is a 14 seed.
The winner of this matchup will take on the winner of the Syd'Quan Thompson and Vinny Strang matchup. This matchup is in the Pete Newell Regional, anchored by Kevin Johnson!
You can see the entire bracket here. Vote in the poll below. The voting ends this Friday, April 15, at Noon. GO BEARS!
Pete Newell Regional
Mike Pawlawski (3)
The old-timers remember him and the team he led quite fondly, perhaps in the same way the younger minds remember Rodgers and 2004. Pawlawski was Cal's starting quarterback in 1990 and 1991. The 1991 team went 10-2 and won the Florida Citrus Bowl against ACC champion Clemson-Cal's first appearance in a New Year's Day Bowl since the 1959 Rose Bowl game. Pawlawski had an outstanding 1991 season, winning co-Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Year honors with Washington WR Mario Bailey. And Pawlawski's 1990 team went 7-4-1 with a win in the Copper Bowl (nka the Insight Bowl), which was Cal's first bowl appearance since the 1979 Garden State Bowl.
LeonPowe and California Pete offer their thoughts on Pawlawski and the 1991 team he quarterbacked-
LeonPowe: Quarterback for the 1991 Citrus Bowl Championship teams. Coming out of high school he had no arm strength, no accuracy and was rated by one recruiting service as "the worst recruit in the Pac-10"
Damned if he didn’t will and win his way to becoming the Pac-10 offensive player of the year in 1991. And this was with a UW team that won the National Championship. I really dislike attributing stuff like "intangibles" and "leadership" – because good players usually prove themselves in some measurable way. Mike really didn’t – he had okay stats and won a lot. But it was the little things. Like when he scored on a keeper and knocked out the opposing linebacker. Like when he played special teams to get on the field. Like when he took an offense full of talent (Russ, Brian Treggs, Mike Caldwell, Greg Zomalt, Lindsay Chapman) and molded them in his image – they became a cocky, loud-mouthed, trashtalking offense that WON. Back-to-back Bowl Games (huge for Cal at the time).
In my freshman year after Pawlawski had graduated a lot of fans and students said (not jokingly either) that they should bring Pawlawski back . . .to coach the linebackers.
Ohio Bear: Until the 2004 team came along, the 1991 team was the best of my Cal fandom. And I think the 1991 team was better overall than the 2006 team.
California Pete: I think the 1991 team would have a great chance against the 2004 team, although the 91ers’ penchant for personal fouls probably would do them in. Both teams were Rose Bowl worthy—far better than the teams sent most recently by the likes of WSU and Stanford—but both unfortunately shared the conference with two of the all-time greats: UW 1991 and USC 2004.
He is dealing with neck issues in retirement, but many of us have seen him broadcast a Cal game, several this past season, and he seems to be in generally good spirits.
And let's put ourselves in good spirits with some highlights of that 1990 team!
Bob Milano (#14)
Bob Milano is a Cal baseball legend. Even now, despite retiring from coaching in the late 1990s, Coach Milano remains synonymous with Cal baseball.
For the better part of four decades, Bob Milano was the heart and soul of Cal baseball. He played catcher for the Bears in the early 1960s. Then, after a brief semi-pro career in western Canada and a decade coaching and teaching at Burlingame High School, Milano returned to Berkeley in the ‘70s to serve as the Bears’ assistant coach and assistant athletic director. All of this was prelude, though, to his 22 years at the helm (1978-99), during which his teams’ 668 wins made him the winningest head coach in school history. Earlier this year, Milano was elected for induction into the American Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame, topping a long list of career achievements, which also include the following:
- two-time Pac-10 Southern Division (the "Six Pac") Coach of the Year
- "Six-Pack" championship in 1980
- three College World Series appearances (including a 3rd-place finish in 1980)
- Olympic gold medal as an assistant coach of the U.S. National Team in 1988
- head coach of the U.S. National Team in 1997
- coached 15 All-Americans, 49 all-conference selections, and 1998 National Freshman of the Year, Xavier Nady
- fourth person in Cal baseball history to have his game jersey (No. 7) retired.
When I arrived at Cal in 1985, Milano was the senior member of a triumverate of charismatic coaches leading the three major men’s sports. Indeed, he seemed a perfect fit alongside football’s Joe Kapp and basketball’s Lou Campanelli. None of their teams were conference (let alone national) powerhouses, but all three men instilled a competitive fire in their players that made them a lot of fun to watch. For Milano, this meant the occasional belly-to-belly, nose-to-nose rhubarb with the umpires that always livened up an otherwise lazy weekend afternoon at Evans Diamond, and given the intimacy of the setting, fans were always well within shouting distance themselves. Alongside the series with Stanford, I always looked forward to the Sun Devils’ annual trip to Berkeley. ASU was, arguably, the premier team in the Six-Pack, and it was clear to all that Milano had a less-than-friendly relationship with his counterpart from Tempe, the late Jim Brock. I don’t know the full story, nor how much their feud extended beyond the diamond, but it centered around the 1988 College World Series, when Brock’s Devils handed Milano’s Bears a painful first-round loss using a bit of gamesmanship that stretched the boundaries of conventional baseball ethics. Leading up to the game, Brock had implied that he’d start his right-handed ace against Cal, only to surprisingly start the left-handed Rusty Kilgo in his place. As the New York Times explained, Brock was happy to ’fess up to the deception:
Brock said that he had not lied, since he had not specified a starter. When asked if his move was a breach of etiquette and whether it would affect Pacific-10 relations, Brock said: ‘’If you had to sacrifice 20 years of good relations to win today’s game, I would have done it.’’
Milano said he did not intend to speak to Brock about the issue. ’’I’ll file it away,’’ Milano said.
Lest anyone get the wrong impression, while a fierce competitor himself, Milano has long been revered around Berkeley as a gracious gentleman. That was certainly the impression I got in the few interactions I had with him myself, during my days at KALX. Ohio Bear recalls the same:
It was my play by play broadcast debut in the 1990 season. It was a brutal season for Cal baseball, but Bob Milano was the same old Bob. Anyway, we went down to the field to do the Bob Milano show taping and my broadcast partner informed Coach Milano that it was my baseball broadcast debut.
Bob: "That’s great. So is your mom going to be listening?"
Me: "No, not that I know of."
Bob: "Well, if your mom’s not even listening, I guess you’re not any good."
Awesome. (Yes, he was kidding.) Broke the ice nicely for my nervousness.
One of the things he was always gracious to do was the "Bob Milano Show," a pregame show that was pure Bob monologue. He’d take the mike and go 5 minutes. Awesome. It was a never fail lesson in baseball and candor, with the occasional funny malaprop. My favorite of all time was during a season in which a USC baseball player named Mark Smith shred us. He batted something like .600 against us that year and won 2 games with game-winning HRs. Yet, for whatever reason, Milano kept calling him "Chris Smith" over and over again. Gave him props, sure. But never got his name right!
And the Bob Milano legacy at Cal is far from complete. His son, Bob, Jr., is the Assistant A.D. for Capital Planning & Management. There is also a Diane Milano on the staff, who manages Cal’s Spirit Groups, but I don’t know if she and the Bobs are, indeed, related. (And to be honest, I’m assuming Bob and Bob, Jr. are father and son, but that is subject to fact checking.)
So, vote, vote, vote, vote and vote!