After a long summer of profiles and voting, we've made it to the final vote for the California Golden Blogs Hall of Fame. We've got our 4 regional champions with Nathan Adrian in the Pete Newell, Joe Kapp in the Joe Kapp, Ron Gould in the Pappy Waldorf, and Robert O. Briggs in the Brick Mueller. But since we're all inclusive here at CGB, we're having one final vote for all of the finalists that did not make it, and Jorge Gutierrez, who ran up against Briggs.
Our finalists for this vote are electrifying running back Jahvid Best, former mic man Ken Montgomery, beast of a defensive lineman Andre Carter, former Cal defensive football star and current Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera, and everyone's favorite basketballer Jorge Gutierrez. These are all stellar individuals who represent Cal in the best way possible, so really, whoever gets in from here is a win for all of us.
So this is your last chance to get your (one, just one vote please) vote in for who you think ought to be the final member of the 2012 Class for the CGB Hall of Fame. You can take a look at the rest of the bracket and all the match-ups here. The full write-ups are after the jump and the voting will end on Friday. GO BEARS!
Jahvid Best - Cal Football - Jim Rome Is Burning 11/4/2009 (via calbearsgobig)
Best seems to always have one mode: Fast. He ran fast. He cut fast. He caught fast. He leapt fast. He even interviewed fast. He's the prototypical Internet-generation athlete!
He was a one man instrument of warfare, like that sniper in Saving Private Ryan. In a blink of an eye, he took teams out of games. We can count the games, the names, the teams he left burning on the turf in his wake. CSU '08. Wazzu '08. Furd '08. Washington '08. Miami '08. Maryland '09. Minnesota '09. UCLA '09. Opposing fans probably felt a little helpless once the Jet found the seams and broke loose--it was hardly a fair fight once Xs and Os crumbled into the 100 m dash.
I don't think I've ever seen a football player take over a football game by himself the way Jahvid did with the liabilities he had to nurse from everyone. He was hampered with a generally weak offensive line (especially in the interior) and a terribly hamstrung quarterback situation. Even Desean had a fairly accurate Longshore throwing to him much of his career. Best had to win many games on his own (and when I say on his own, he generated around 70 to 80% of their meaningful offense, sometimes even more). The only Bear who had to burden that much of the load in modern times was probably Deltha, and those teams still stunk. One player can't make a team great; it's to Jahvid's credit that he kept the offense running alright with minimal help (Ta'ufo'ou, Mack and Malele in '08, and mmmaybe Summers-Gavin in '09).
Jahvid Best 2009 Season Highlights (via HANDSOMElifeOFswing)
Via Leonpowe: I think it's really important for me to talk about how much his (Ken) being mic-man impacted my Cal fandom. I grew up a pretty big sports fan - my dad and I went to lots of pro sports when I was growing up - Lakers, Clippers, Dodgers and a couple of UCLA games (pro sports . . get it?). But, my high school was terrible at major sports, my junior and senior years we won a total of 5 football and basketball games combined. So I was really looking forward to attending Cal as a freshman in 1992 - I mean we'd have Heisman Candidate Russell White with a team coming of a National #7 ranking . . . what could go wrong? (Oh Cal Sports, always ready to teach a life lesson).
Anyways, behind Gilby and some injuries, we floundered to a 4-7 record. And while I remember some lingering gut punch defeats from that season - what stands out in my memory a lot more was just how much fun it was to attend a college football game - even though the product on the field was less than spectacular, the guy standing on the boards made the games fun.
And that guy was Ken Montgomery. How did he do it? He knew the game - that much was clear - especially in the interceding years when we've had a lot of other mic men (and women) who have ranged from pretty good to terrible. The first and most important part was knowing when to cheer and make noise and when to shut up and when to crack jokes. It was really the last part - not that he was cracking jokes, but he was definitely having a lot of fun with the opportunity to be mic-man. It was a constant conversation with the student section, knowing what to say, commanding, but friendly hat really enriched my game experience as a freshman. And when I speak to alums who are slightly older than I am (my freshman year was the last year Ken was mic man) they mainly remember the same thing. Ken made the game fun. And that, more than anything, contributed to being a Cal fan for life.
But lest you think that he is just about Cal sports, Montgomery too has dedicated much of his time and energy to philanthropic efforts in Africa. He spent a year volunteering at Malawi Children's Village, a village based orphan and other vulnerable children support program in Mangochi, Malawi. It now supports over 2,000 HIV/AIDS orphans living with members of their extended family in 37 villages. MCV supports children from birth to eighteen years providing, shelter, food, safety, health care and education until they can live independent healthy lives. There Montgomery designed and implemented intensive math and English tutorial programs for the high school aged children. These efforts helped MCV orphans pass the national exam (similar to the US SAT) at a rate four times greater than the national average! Upon returning to the United State Montgomery served as president of the board of the US Non Profit that over saw it and along with other board members spearheaded efforts to raise funds which built a new high school and vocational training center. In a small coincidence, one of Montgomery's students just recently graduated from University and in July will be making his first trip to the United States to train for the Clinton Global Initiative!
There are few legends among the Cal spirit squads, but Montgomery is one of them. Long considered the Teddy Roosevelt of Cal Mic Men (for being thoroughly awesome in every way, and a pioneer of sorts), Montgomery is the man current Mic Men should idolize and replicate. His passion and love for all things Cal translated into some of the most raucous student sections that ever populated Memorial Stadium and Harmon Gymnasium in the early 90s.
He explains how he fell into the role:
So, I hate to sound like one of those people living in the past, but I remember it like it was yesterday. CAL was down by I think 7. So I turned to the crowd, which had been apathetic, and said "Hey Everyone. We are playing the defending national champions... we are only down by 7. The team is playing great. But you don't seem to be in the game. Listen, we come here to have fun right?" And to my surprise a lot of people shouted back "YEAH!" And then I said "So are you ready to start making some noise and getting behind the team?" And again, more people shouted "YEAH!" So then I said "O.K., here's what we're going to do. It's an oldie, it's simple and effective. On three, everyone yell GO BEARS!.... One, two, three", and then you know what, everyone yelled "GO BEARS!!!"
I can't explain what a high it was and how exhilarating to have everyone do what I just told them to do. Then I said "You can't cheer sitting down, you all need to stand up!" That's right, back in the day people actually sat down during the games... So then everyone got up... again, I was thinking to myself "wow, they're doing what I'm saying." So we did another Go Bears! and that is how it all started... So a little later Miami was about to punt and I got everyone chanting "Block that kick! Block that kick!" and you know what, we blocked the punt!!! The crowd went wild, and while I am sure it was unrelated, it got everyone thinking they could have an impact on the game. It was awesome.
He shares one of his favorite memories:
On our way back we stopped by the office where I worked while I was at CAL. Now across Harrison Street was the GAP HQ. So from my office I could see Don Fisher, CEO and founder of the GAP as well as huge CAL alum - was in his office. So down on the street I had the band play the fight song up towards Don's office... He looked out his 6th floor window and pumped his fist, which was cool. But as we were getting on the bus, Don came running across the street to thank us and play another song. I mean, how cool is that? This titan of American business, the owner of one of the iconic American brands that is - literally - a part of the very fabric of America, dropped what he was doing and rushed down to the street because he was so excited about hearing the CAL band! That is the kind of stuff I just love.
Coach Tom Holmoe pulled quite the coup in 1997 when he recruited studly Andre Carter to play his college football at Cal. Carter's college career was certainly forgettable from a wins-losses standpoint, as Carter was unfortunately in the middle of the Holmoecaust. But Carter was certainly a bright and shining light on Cal's "Hit Squad" defense of those years.
Carter played for the California Golden Bears from 1997-2000. During his junior and senior years he was a unanimous All-Pac 10 Conference selection. In 2000 he won the Morris Trophy, awarded to the Pac 10's top defensive lineman as voted on by the starting offensive lineman from the conference. In addition to being selected as the Golden Bears' most valuable player, Carter was also a finalist for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, given to the nation's top defensive player. Finished as the school's all-time sacks leader.
#2 seed Scott Fujita was also big on his old teammate, calling Carter his favorite teammate (HT kolwave).
When Fujita got to Cal as a 6-4, 195-pound safety who was the last man on the depth chart, his intensity on the practice field routinely perturbed his veteran teammates. "I was kind of the annoying, walk-on, ‘Scout Team All-American' who irritated the old guys," Fujita explained. [...] It was hard not to feel excluded, especially when everyone was lining up for training table and I wasn't allowed to eat. Andre Carter would sneak me food all the time. He really took care of me in every way. He's my brother from another mother."
White might've been more important for us at Cal, but Carter has definitely had the better professional career.
Great career as a D-lineman at Cal, became a top-10 pick in the NFL draft, and has had a long pro career. On top of that, he has become CGB's meme for "needing an adult."
This guy was an absolute beast off the edge. Could stuff the run, rush the passer, and was known for running down backs/receivers down the field...even on the opposite side. If not for being knee-capped by the Holmoe era, he would have put up unreal #'s.
Similar in speed to Cam Jordan, but not as big. However in terms of motor/focus, he started from day one and was a force even as a true frosh.
It's fitting to look at Ron Rivera with Texas A&M upcoming on the schedule, since Rivera will forever be defined (at least to our thinking) by the A&M game his senior year. With 1:20 left in that game, Cal and the Aggies were tied at 17 and Cal had the ball deep in A&M territory. On 4th and short, the Bears set up for an easy field goal attempt, and Randy Pratt knocked it through for a three-point lead and, apparently, the win. Then Joe Kapp lost his mind.
The Aggies had jumped offside, and for some reason Kapp took the points off the board to go for a touchdown. This was the precise moment when Old Blues looked at each other and realized that this coaching experiment would not work out. On the next snap from center Gale Gilbert lost the handle and A&M recovered the fumble at their own two yard line. What happened next was nothing short of a miracle to our fourteen-year old eyes.
A&M Coach Jackie Sherrill called a toss sweep - a dumb call deep in your own territory, but not quite Kapp-esque. The ball arrived to Hawkins at approximately the same time as Rivera, who was coming on a run blitz. Rivera was traveling a bit faster than the pigskin, and he knocked Hawkins backwards into the A&M end zone for an improbable safety - and the upset win for Cal.
Rivera had many more shining moments as Cal's best defender of the early 1980s. He was named team captain as a sophomore, and led the Golden Bears in tackles from 1981 to 1983. In 1983 he set a record that still stands with 26.5 tackles for loss including 13 sacks. For his efforts Rivera was named co-Defensive Player of the Year in the Pac 10 and was a consensus choice for All-America at linebacker. He was also the first Golden Bear to become a finalist for the Lombardi Award.
Rivera was drafted by the Chicago Bears in the 2nd round of the 1984 draft, and became the first Puerto Rican to play professional football. Following his retirement in 1992, Rivera entered the coaching ranks and is now the highly-regarded defensive coordinator for the Chicago Bears.
And readers share some memories:
"Ron Rivera also had a hand in helping erase the dumbest coaching mistake in Cal history when he tackled a Texas A&M running back in the end zone scoring a safety, when coach Joe Kapp had taken 3 points off the board." ~LeonPowe
"I remember that game oh so well, even though I could only listen to it on the radio. It was the first game of the 1983 season, making it Cal's very next game after The Play. Cal had it won with the FG. Then there was a penalty, and Kapp decided to take the 3 points off the board and try for a TD. The next play, Cal fumbled. But then the next play, Rivera got us the safety. Cal wins! In Texas!" ~CalBear81
Pac 12 player of the year Jorge Gutierrez hits the court with Daily Cal sports editor (via thedailycal)
I'm pretty sure I speak for more than just myself when I say that Jorge is one of my favorite Cal athletes to watch, not only in the past few years, but also in my lifetime. I always felt like no matter whom we were playing or how the game was going, as long as Jorge was there we had a chance. I knew that he would never quit and would be right there to take a charge, dive on the floor for a loose ball, or hit a huge shot at the buzzer. Simply put, he was an exciting player and one that embodied everything that Cal athletics represents. It was a privilege to watch him play and I'm glad he was a Golden Bear.
When we first watched Gutierrez, it was hard not to love him. Jorge was just a high energy bundle that wasn't terribly focused, but it always seemed to spark the team when he was really able to get into it. Here was a guy who struggled to dribble, struggled to pass, struggled to shoot, and there he was locking down James Harden, spearheading a double digit comeback against the Furd, dunking and throwing an and-one layup high in the air to clinch a Pac-10 title.
Love does funny things to you. It makes you forget about turnover rates and field goal percentage and free throw rate because numbers be damned, watching Jorge was a joy. You discard those things because you like to imagine you can play with that sort of wild desperation, put that much effort into something you love that much. With that type of effort, that type of confidence, and just enough skill, anything is possible.
I've watched Cal basketball seriously for four years, and having Jorge be part of those experiences made it not just worthwhile, but meaningful. Watching almost every big momentum-changing steal, every forced turnover; every grimace; every sell of a call, every race he made toward a basketball regardless of what might be in the way, every time he went to the ground and we held our breath, until we realized it was Jorge and he'd be up in thirty seconds because that's who he was, every little inch he refused to give to his opponent, every chestbump from an inspired teammate, every spontaneous standing ovation we gave him for some random Jorge thing he'd do, every little thing he did do that we thought he couldn't do--those moments added up.
The first recruit signed by head coach Mike Montgomery at Cal (mid-May 2008), Gutierrez is a versatile guard who can play several positions on the court ... proved to be an invaluable reserve coming off the bench ... consistently one of the hardest-working players whenever he's on the court ... named the team's Defensive Player of the Year last season.
Senior guard Jorge Gutierrez, the heart and soul of a Cal team that chased the conference championship until the final day of the season, became the first player named Pac-12 Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year on Monday.
"Jorge just wins, and he has done that for us for four years," Cal coach Mike Montgomery said. "Coaches appreciate that part of it, without getting stuck on numbers or the spectacular athleticism. I'm not trading Jorge for anybody."