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CGB Hall of Fame: Wild Card Round

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We have one final spot in the CGB Hall of Fame and 11 Bears battling for it. Who emerges from the fray?

Many will enter.  One will win.
Many will enter. One will win.
Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Wild Card Candidates

Last weekend we held the Final Four matchups to determine who earned spots in the 2014 Class of the CGB Hall of Fame.  We're not done yet, however!  We have room for one more candidate in our Wild Card Round.  To qualify, the candidate must have reached the Sweet Sixteen.  Now it's an all-out brawl for that final spot.  Who will emerge victorious?  We will introduce the 2014 Class next weekend, so get your votes in before Friday at noon.

(7) Russell White

LeonPowe: Superman. One of the 3 best running backs (some would argue the best ever) to play at Cal. Finished in the top 5 in Heisman as a junior. Carried Cal to a #7 National ranking at the end of the 1991 season. Hurdled a Purdue player well before anyone else did it.

Kodiak: Took it to the house on a 100yd kickoff return first time he touched the ball in a Cal uniform.
Had some crazy reverse-the-field oh-no-he-didn't runs that were Marshawn-esque before Marshawn.
Put up huge #'s while still sharing the ball with another 1000-yd rusher (Anthony Wallace).

Freaky athlete. He hurdled a guy once and got penalized for it...because the guy was still standing. (yes, not diving, not tackling, not kneeling/crouching.)

For you younguns: A little taller/faster than Forsett, similar vision. Not quite as powerful as Marshawn, but similiar wiggle/athleticism.

Tightwad Hill elaborates:

Cal's all-time leading rusher was perhaps the biggest recruiting coup in school history. Controversy surrounded White's decision to move from Crespi HS to Berkeley, since he was a Prop 48 student who had not achieved a qualifying SAT score. A summer of tutoring revealed that Russell was dyslexic, and he would go on to earn his degree in social welfare in four years with a B average.

He would also go on to become Cal's all-time leading rusher, behind 1,000 yard efforts in 1991 and 1992. Fifteen times he rushed for at least 100 yards in a game, including a 229-yard effort in Cal's record setting 52-30 beatdown of USC in 1991. With White, the Bears reversed a decade of futility and won back-to-back bowls in 1990 and 1991. His '91 season, with 1,177 yards rushing and fourteen touchdowns earned White first-team All-America honors from the Walter Camp Foundation and the FWAA.
Now thanks to Prd74, we all get to bask in Russell's greatness a little; his freshman campaign in 1990 had some great moments, including a 99 yard kickoff return against Miami in the first video and an utterly insane run starting at 4:24 in the second vid.

(7) Anthony Ervin

Anthony Ervin (California) (via SwimmingWorldSPI)

LEastCoastBears gives us tons of good info from the Calympics post on Anythony:

The feel good story of the US Swim trial, Anthony Ervin is again an Olympian. After winning a gold medal in the 50 freestyle at the 2000 Olympics, Tony (his preferred name to friends) retired in 2003 (after the end of his Cal career) when he was 22 years old to explore "other interests".

After joining a rock band in New York and various other youthful exploits (that some articles try to make a bigger deal than others), he eventually found himself teaching swimming to kids in both New York City and Oakland. Last year he began training again, and qualified for London by finishing second in the 50 free (by narrowly edging out fellow Cal bear, Nathan Adrian). Between his colorful sleeve tattoos and a more slender body type, Anthony stands out in the pool.

Also of note, Anthony auctioned off his 2000 Olympic gold medal on eBay to aid survivors of the 2004 tsunami. Anthony did eventual finish his Cal degree in English in 2010 and is now currently in the Cal graduate program for sport, culture and education.

  • Event: 50 freestyle
  • 2nd time Olympian (In Sydney 2000 Olympics won gold in 50 Free and silver in 4x100 Free relay)
  • Cal career: 1999-2002
  • A great sentimental comeback story (which NBC will surely milk in the Olympics), Anthony won a gold back in 2000 and proceed to take almost a decade off from swimming. After teaching kids to swim an year ago, Ervin decided to make a comeback and was able to finish second in 50 Free (narrowly edging out Nathan Adrian by 8/100th of a second).

Anthony's slightly different training method/mentality is nicely explained in this USA Swimming article here. Interestingly, the article also conjectured about the success of Cal swimming:

Cal Swimming has long been at the forefront of alternative training approaches. Which could explain why they are – and have been -- so successful. Their two most individualistic and strongest personalities, Ervin and 29-year-old Natalie Coughlin, are also two of the sports most inventive, innovative thinkers. They tinker. They ask. They learn. They reflect. It’s no secret they both are still involved in the sport at an age once considered "ancient."

Read more about Anthony in this SFGate article here.

Grantland has the following interesting short blurb about him:

Enigmatic 31-year-old who won gold and silver in Sydney, retired from swimming in 2003 at age 22, and sold his gold medal to raise money for the Indian Ocean tsunami relief. (Lost his silver medal during his notoriously nomadic travels.) Returned to competition last year. Has such poor eyesight that a competitor had to tell him he had qualified; when Brendan Hansen congratulated him afterward he squinted and responded, "Who is that?" Speaks in full paragraphs, but also says things like "I just want to keep this fun train chugging."

(4) Cameron Jordan

You really can't describe Jordan's game better than Avinash does in this in-depth analysis:

"Jordan is an athletic marvel, with incredible arms he can whip around offensive linemen. He's prototypically perfect, the type of defensive linemen you could put on any front and he'd probably succeed. Perhaps Jordan's greatest assets are his arms, those million dollar arms. If he manages to make contact with you on your side when pass-rushing, he will utilize that deadly swim move, cycle that arm around, and get into the backfield and make a play. You have to defeat him and lock him up early. And when he finds you and tries to make a tackle? Might as well get your mind set for the next play, because you're not escaping."


From Remembering the Seniors:

NorCalNick: I loved many things about Cameron Jordan. For one thing, he went to more Cal games than I did. Cal vs. Stanford rugby at Witter field? Cam was there. Cal women's basketball versus, well, a bunch of teams? Cam was there. And he always showed up pretty noticeably at football games too. College fans have this ideal that the players they root for love their university as much as they do, and it's not a realistic or fair ideal most of the time. I'm pretty sure that it describes Cameron Jordan.


Solarise:
I think Cam was an ideal teammate. You can tell from his easy smile that he just enjoys playing football. Coaches asked Cam to bring more intensity his senior year and he delivered. Cam was dynamic crashing through the line pursuing QBs, even earning a LIFE photo for his heroic harassment of Nick Foles in a bitter loss.

(5) Dave Durden

Dave Durden is now eligible for our Hall of Fame tournament, and not a moment too soon. Durden has quickly established Cal as one of the top men's swimming programs in the nation. CalBears.com highlights his accomplishments:

David Durden, beginning his sixth year at the helm of the California men's swimming and diving program, has led the Golden Bears to back-to-back national team titles in 2011 and 2012, and has been named NCAA Coach of the Meet and Pac-12 Coach of the Year three seasons in a row.

In just five years Durden has brought the Cal program to the pinnacle of college swimming as he coached the Golden Bears to their first NCAA team title since 1980 in 2011, and then guided his squad to another national crown this past March in Federal Way, Wash.

In his spectacular fifth year at Cal, Durden led his 2011-12 team to the program's fourth NCAA title with a dominating 535.5 to 491 point victory over second place Texas at the national meet. Before his pair of national crowns, Durden led the Bears to an NCAA runner-up finish in 2010 and fourth-place finishes in 2008 and 2009. He now owns an overall dual meet record of 24-9 (.727).
...
Since his arrival to Berkeley in 2007, Durden's (along with head coach emeritus Nort Thornton) swimmers have established school records in 18 of 19 swimming events, including all the relays. He has guided Cal to 23 NCAA titles, including nine relay crowns and 33 Pac-12 individual and relay titles, in five seasons.

That article is woefully out of date, however, as Durden and the Bears won another National Championship two weeks ago. This is how he celebrated:

(3) Ron Rivera

Ron Rivera - Training Camp Interview (via nflpanthersO7)

Tightwad Hill has this to say:

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

(9) Jolene Henderson

Jolene Henderson's 120 Wins (via Cal Softball)

NorCalNick gives us the dirt on Jolene:

Probably, within the context of softball, Jolene's workload is less insane looking. But from someone raised in the era of strict MLB pitch counts and constant horrific pitching injuries, I have always had trouble comprehending how it is possible for Jolene Henderson to pitch as much as she pitches.

Just look:

Freshman: 192.2 innings

Sophomore: 333.1 innings

Junior: 282.1 innings

Senior: 286.2 innings (despite an injury that kept her out a few weeks.)

The softball season lasts about 4 months. Jolene was throwing significantly more innings over 4 months than most major league starting pitchers would throw over 6 months. In 2011, with Valerie Arioto injured and out for the season, and as a result Jolene pitched 87 percent of the available innings.

OK, so we've established that she has an indestructible rubber arm. But just being able to throw a ton of pitches doesn't mean much if they aren't good pitches.

CAL JOLENE HENDERSON MONTAGE (via espnu)

They were the best pitches. During that insane sophomore season Jo finished with an ERA of .99 despite carrying the burden of pitching nearly every competitive inning available. And her workload didn't come back to haunt her in the playoffs (when she, of course, pitched every inning). She just kept right on dominating all the way to the softball World Series.

I've always wondered if the reason that Jolene can throw so many innings without any obvious impacts to her effectiveness is because of her best pitch: the change-up. I haven't seen a ton of Cal softball games, and yet I still feel like I've watched batters swing over the top of way out in front of her change-up more times than I can count. Maybe the arm action (and not having to constantly throw as hard as you can) on a change-up allows her to stay fresh. Maybe I'm just fishing for plausible explanations for the unexplainable. Either way, her change-up sits right up there with Rob Nenn's slider and anything Yu Darvish as my favorite pitches to watch.

She departs Cal as perhaps the best pitcher since the legendary Michelle Granger (who, looking at the record books, compiled even more insane numbers.) A mid-season injury this year likely prevented her from attacking some of the more hallowed career pitching records that Granger still holds. It's a shame that her injury prevented her from dominating this year like she did earlier, but it does nothing to diminish her resume as a Bear.

And the most important part of her resume? Without Jolene, Cal doesn't achieve two College World Series appearances and one Pac-12 title.

(3) Shane Vereen

Shane Vereen 2009 Highlights (via HANDSOMElifeOFswing)

Royrules22: "This guy carried the ball 40+ times against a top-10 Stanfurd team on the Farm and helped us pull of a monumental upset. That alone makes him deserve this."

TwistNHook: Shane Vereen might be the most interesting runner of the Tedford era. He always had Jahvid Best ahead of him, but in the tail end of 2009 and 2010 managed to show why there was no real drop off from Best to Vereen.

The first memory that immediately pops into my mind and, most likely the minds of all others, is Vereen's yeoman performance in the 2009 Big Game. A legendary performance.

Rushing No Gain Loss Net TD Lg Avg
-------------------------------------------------
Vereen, Shane 42 199 6 193 3 36 4.6


Watching the game in person, you didn't really have an opportunity to reflect on how amazing a day Vereen had. He took the ball every which way, including multiple Wildcat options. He scored 3 TDs and willed Cal to victory that day.

Berkelium97: My fondest memory of Shane Vereen will always be the legendary 2009 Big Game. But my first memory of him was the Michigan State game in '08. I was quite excited to see him play in his first game--particularly since he played high school a couple miles from where I grew up. In fact he was one of the highest recruited players ever to come out of Valencia High School, so I was really looking forward to seeing him hit the field. Anyway, back to 2008. Throughout the second half of the game, it seemed like Cal was never quite able to put the game away. With just under 5 minutes to go, Michigan State once again made it a one-possession game. Best returned the kickoff, so Vereen was the RB sent out for Cal's play on offense. I remember thinking that all we had to do was burn the clock. A five-minute drive would seal the game and certainly seemed possible. Vereen, of course, had other plans. He didn't burn the clock. Instead, he burned the entire Michigan State defense with an 81-yard run that sealed the victory. It was clear after that day that we had a lightning and lightning combination at running back--two guys who were capable of breaking free on any given run.

Four weeks later Vereen gave us a first glimpse of his incredible durability--a trait we often felt was lacking in Best. Against ASU Vereen ran the ball 27 times and caught 5 passes. In his entire career at Cal Best never topped 27 carries. Vereen did it in his first start and kept the offense chugging along. Vereen was an excellent complement to Best because he could take a pounding and still churn out yards. The Best-Vereen tandem might have been the best of the Tedford era, thanks to the unique combination of skills they had.

Solarise: Shane Vereen off the field is just as impressive as his accomplishments on the field. He spent a summer interning at CSN Bay Area and earned lauded praise for his maturity and work ethic:

"It's remarkable. He's just Shane to us," CSN Bay Area news executive Doug Brown said. "We don't treat him any differently than any other intern. Around here, he's just one of 20 interns we have that is willing to rip scripts and all the other stuff that interns are supposed to be doing." The fact that Vereen was interested in an internship says a lot about his perspective. He is expected to have an NFL career someday, whether he leaves Cal after this season as a junior or waits until the 2012 draft. But Vereen says he wants his life to be about more than football, and broadcasting is something that has always interested him. His father, Henry, works in the television industry as a video engineer.

"I understand that football is just one part of my life," Vereen said. "When that is all said and done, I'm not going to sit at home and do nothing. Anything can happen. You can get hurt anytime. It's good to have options, especially an option that I've been interested in for a long time." One of the highlights of Vereen's internship so far was holding the microphone for a news conference with San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom during an event to kick off the World Cup. He returned to the newsroom and worked with producers to put the story together, just like a regular field reporter.

More than a star player on the field, Shane Vereen was the epitome of a Cal student athlete.

Shane Vereen 2010 Highlights (via HANDSOMElifeOFswing)

Shane's gone on to the NFL and has had a nice couple of years with the New England Patriots, even delivering a highlight reel run against the Houston Texans and developing from a role player to a vital part of the rushing attack.

(16) Lamond Murray

As for Murray, his nomination is all LeonPowe.

The best scorer I've ever seen at Cal - and I saw Ed Gray, Sean Lampley and ‘Reef play. Effortless, smooth jump shots, making 3s from all over, Mid range. Also had to play out of position at power forward due to Al Grigsby's (multiple) injuries. Buttery smooth left handed jumper. Led the Pac-10 in scoring (and maybe rebounding) one year. Of course, wasn't Pac 10 Player of the year due to another Cal player (um, Jason Kidd)

Couldn't find any clips of Murray at Cal on his own, mostly of him finishing off Kidd lobs. Enjoy some of his power finishes (it's scattered in here, he's Number 21)

He did have a productive NBA career, but was unfortunate to be drafted by the Clippers and hence spend most of his pro time in relative obscurity. It would not be a huge stretch to consider him one of the top ten Clippers ever. Nice tidbit: Teamed up with Kidd in New Jersey in his final season in the league.

And check out this unbelievable alley oop dunk from Jason Kidd:

RARE Jason Kidd to Lamond Murray for unbelievable dunks (via thebruceblitzchennel)

(6) Steve Bartkowski

Not much Cal footage (by not much I mean none) of Bartkowski on the internet, so we'll relive his most famous NFL play.

As for his time at Cal, Tightwad Hill recapped his storybook season.

There's no harder player to rate than #17 on our 50 Greatest countdown. Steve Bartkowski is, of course, the only Golden Bear to be picked #1 in the NFL draft. No quarterback in the school's history possessed the arm strength of #10, who was reported by assistant coach Paul Hackett to have thrown a football 100 yards in the air at practices. Few if any players matched his overall athletic ability; Bartkowski was also a magnificent baseball player who made All-America as a 1st baseman in 1973.

In his senior year of 1974, Bartkowski put it all together once he got to work with Hackett, a punchline of a head coach who was nevertheless a gifted tutor of quarterbacks. He convinced Bartkowski to trade velocity for accuracy, and the results were spectacular. Despite playing through the pain of a separated shoulder, Bart led the nation with 2,580 yards passing and earned consensus All-America honors for the 7-3-1 Bears. He topped the 300 yard mark four times (Washington, WSU, UCLA, Stanford); each of those efforts came after the shoulder injury, suffered in a 31-14 upset win over #14 Illinois in Champaign. Bartkowski finished 10th in voting for the Heisman that year, and would almost surely have ranked higher had he received even a modest amount of pre-season hype.

(9)Sean Lampley

Cal Mens Basketball 1998-99. Highlights from NIT Championship Year (via DubOutfit)

For Lampley, as Ohio Bear, said, 4 years at Cal and a Pac-10 POTY. The second leading scorer in Cal history, whose career was mirrored almost to a key by the new scoring leader in Randle. He was balling in Melbourne, Australia, last I checked (well, before he spent much of this season with front row tickets at Haas nervously watching Jerome break his scoring record. He didn't seem too bummed about it though.). Also he and Dennis Gates were best buds.

Twist: It was so many years ago, I struggle to remember, but I feel reasonably confident that I attended the game where Lampley broke the Cal scoring record. I remember nothing about it. I just have this feeling. Man, I'm probably making it all up. But if I was there (I was, dammit!) I saw Cal beat WSU and march towards the first NCAA bid in many years.

It was a move that Sean Lampley had made a zillion times in his four years at Cal.

Receiving the ball on the right block, the senior forward spun around his defender and banked a quick shot from the edge of the lane.

But this basket was far from ordinary. With 10:03 left in the game and the noise-level at Haas Pavilion approaching unbearable, Lampley's bucket pushed his career-point total to 1,689-one more than Lamond Murray's 1,688-and gave Lampley the prestigious honor of being Cal's all-time leading scorer.

Yes, Sean Lampley, who would have a rough career in the NBA before going to the Australian Basketball Association. But at Cal, he's still the best. Note this from his Wikipedia page: Lampley ended his career as the only player in school history to rank in the top 10 in points (1,776, 1st), rebounds (889, 4th) and assists (295, 10th).

(3) Mike Montgomery

Bear in Mind: Mike Montgomery (via CalTV Berkeley)

NorCalNick shares his perspective:

Mike Montgomery has been at Cal for five years now, which means he has now reached the threshold of CGB hall of fame eligibility. Thankfully, Monty has been successful enough that such an achievement is very low down on the list of things he should be celebrating.

It's way too early to get nostalgic about the Monty era, seeing as how it's still going strong. But I suspect that in a decade or two, I'll look back and remember how much fun his teams were to follow. Granted, that's in no small part due to the players themselves. But how much did you love watching Jerome Randle get unleashed for two years under Monty, or how he helped turn Jorge Gutierrez from a defensive specialist into a Pac-12 player of the year? How much did you enjoy watching Allen Crabbe these past few years, and how much fun do you think Jabari Bird is going to be?

Monty has made four NCAA tournaments, won a Pac-10 title, finished in the top 4 of the conference every year, and consistently made basketball games fun, win or lose. That last part tends to get short-shrift, but this is an entertainment business, isn't it?

We might not have Monty for much longer - if he decided tomorrow to spend the rest of his life sipping wine and occasionally sitting in a Pac-12 network studio with Ernie Kent, it would be well deserved. But we still have him and he's going to have some talent over the next few years. Monty may not make the CGB hall of fame this year, but I'd like to think that he will add to his resume very shortly.

Nick was wise to cherish the time Monty was with us, as the legendary coach has since retired.  Will his retirement propel him into the Hall of Fame?  His challenger may have something to say about that...