Interesting matchup here. Two Old Blues. Kevin Johnson, former Cal basketball and current mayor of Sacramento! He is taking on Mike Pawlawski, one of the best Cal QBs of all time and sometimes announcer. Only one can move on to the CGB Hall Of Fame. Who will it be?
You can view the full bracket here. Voting ends this Friday. So, go and vote. AND GO BEARS!
Kevin Johnson (1)
Here's the Oski-friendly summary of one of the most exciting points to ever play ball at Harmon.
Despite excelling at two sports in high school, Johnson decided to play basketball exclusively at the collegiate level, and accepted a scholarship to play basketball for the University of California at Berkeley . Playing all four seasons, Johnson ended his college basketball career in 1987 as the school's all-time leader in assists, steals, and scoring (since eclipsed by Lamond Murray). He was also the first player in the Pac-10 Conferenceto post a "triple-double" in the statistics, and he was named to the Pac-10's all-conference First Team in both his junior and senior seasons, averaging 17.2 points and 5.0 assists in his final basketball season. His number 11 is retired.
California Pete's favorite lineup while at Cal involved Johnson running point, mainly because they ended a long streak of misery to UCLA.
11 – Kevin Johnson
22 – Chris Washington
33 – Eddie Javius
44 – Leonard Taylor
5 – Dave Butler
I still don’t know why Butler didn’t change his # to 55. It’s a toss-up for me between KJ and Jason Kidd as far as the most entertaining player I’ve seen wear the Blue and Gold.
JoshinPortland: Best player on that team. Glorious day in a packed Kips watching UCLA go down for the first time in my lifetime.
Here's the only Cal footage I could find of KJ, from the 1987 NBA Draft (starting at about 3 minutes in).
The announcers were surprised he was drafted so high at 7th. I was surprised too. He should've been drafted 3rd.
Now the mayor of Sactown, KJ still reps the Gold and Blue as often as he can. Here he is at Cal's Pac-10 championship celebration, as ebullient as can be.
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!