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CGB Hall of Fame: (8) Bruce Snyder vs. (9) Anthony Ervin

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One of the best coaches in Cal Football history matches up against an Olympian Golden Bear swimmer in the latest CGB Hall of Fame pairing.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

(8) Bruce Snyder

1990 Cal Football Highlights Part A (via PRD74)

From the incredible 2011 Profile Ohio Bear put together:

In December of 1986, Cal Athletic Director David Maggard hired then-Los Angeles Rams assistant coach Bruce Snyder to take over as head football coach after the largely unsuccessful tenure of Joe Kapp. Prior to accepting the Cal job, Coach Snyder had modest experience as a head coach: he had spent 1976 to 1982 as the head coach at Utah State, where he had rebuilt a program that had been down and out. Perhaps it was his experience at rebuilding that made Snyder a good fit for the Cal job: after a disastrous 2-9 season in 1986, to say that the Cal football program needed a rebuild was an understatement.

Through five seasons, Snyder compiled a 29-24-4 record at Cal and was the first coach to lead the Bears to two bowl wins. Unfortunately, and to the universal dismay of Cal fans, the epic 1991 season was Snyder's last as Cal head coach. Arizona State, which had fired Larry Marmie after the season, lured Snyder away with a lucrative contract offer after the Citrus Bowl. New Cal athletic director Bob Bockrath, who assumed his duties just a few months before the Citrus Bowl triumph, is generally regarded by Cal fans as having done too little to retain Coach Snyder. In 2004, in an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, Snyder still felt regret about how his Cal tenure ended after having reached what was, at the time, the highest point of his head coaching career.

The relatively short five-year tenure of Snyder as Cal coach does not, however, diminish his legacy as one of Cal's best coaches of all time. Indeed, the fact that five Cal Athletic Hall-of-Famers played for him (MIke Pawlawski, Sean Dawkins, Russell White, Troy Auzenne, David Ortega) is a testament to his coaching as well as to the players' ability. Coach Snyder's greatness is further illustrated by the way he and his staff had a knack for finding the diamonds in the rough when it came to recruiting. The most striking example was Pawlawski, who was not recruited heavily as a quarterback coming out of Troy High School in Yorba Linda, Calif. Pawlawski played only one season as a high school quarterback and put up modest numbers in that year; yet, Snyder and his staff saw something in Pawlawski that led them to offer him a scholarship. One publication called Pawlawski the "worst recruit in the Pac-10" in 1987; Pawlawski had the last laugh as a senior in 1991, when he was the Pac-10 co-offensive player of the year for a team that finished in the top 10 in the national polls.

Coach Snyder would go on to have a 9-year run at Arizona State, where he went 58-45 with four bowl appearances (one bowl win) as coach of the Sun Devils. Most notably, Snyder's 1996 ASU team went undefeated in the regular season and were within just a few seconds of a national championship before falling 20-17 to Ohio State on a late touchdown in the Rose Bowl. Snyder was the 1996 Pac-10 Coach of the Year and won several national coach of the year honors that year. To add insult to the injury of losing him to a conference rival, Snyder's teams went 7-2 against Cal.

(9) 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."