Results from the previous round
Twelfth-seeded Scott Fujita prevailed over fellow football alum, fifth-seeded Ron Rivera, 40-22, while fourth-seeded Mike Macdonald advanced past thirteenth-seeded Devon Rodriguez, 57-30.
(12) Scott Fujita
Strength in Numbers: Scott Fujita (via NFLPLAYERS)
Coming out of high school, Scott Fujita was not seen as a Division I college football player - not one deserving of a football scholarship anyway. Some fifteen years later, one looks back at Fujita's career and sees not only a Division I football career at Cal, but a long NFL career and a Super Bowl ring with the New Orleans Saints.
Cal football walk-on to world champion
Fujita redshirted his freshman year, but not before blowing away coaches in his first camp by helping out the injury-plagued Bears at safety even though both of his hands were clubbed up with tape-one because it was broken, the other because of a nasty gash. The Bears gave him a scholarship the next spring, and he added 20 pounds to his 6'5" frame while switching from safety to linebacker. But as a sophomore in 1999, he was plagued by nerve stingers in his neck. Following the season, he had career-threatening surgery that put him in the ICU for three days and a neck halo for a week. That was March. By August, he was cracking skulls again in live practice drills. Two seasons later, he was among Cal's leading tacklers. "I call it Pat Tillman syndrome," says former Cal defensive coordinator Lyle Setencich, now at Texas Tech. "There are a few players you come across who give their heart and soul to the game. That's Pat Tillman, and that's Scott Fujita.
Off the field, as paleodan pointed out, "[r]epresents the Cal bleeding-heart liberal spirit in much of what he does, see: NFLPA, gays in sports, Hurricane Katrina aftermath." Indeed, Fujita has been outspoken about the lockout situation, has been an advocate for gay rights, and has tackled numerous philanthropic causes. He recently gained national acclaim for his Op-Ed article in the NY Times urging acceptance and in defense of gay marriage.
He was suspended for his alleged role in the Saints bounty scandal, a suspension that was later overturned for lack of sufficient evidence. After leaving the Saints he signed and played with the Cleveland Browns for 2 years before being placed on injured reserve in 2012 for a neck injury. He signed a one-day contract with New Orleans atop Machu Picchu to retire as a member of the Saints. He joined Fox Sports 1 as an analyst for Fox Football Daily in August 2013.
(4) Mike Macdonald
Mac is considered by most rugby fans to be the greatest American rugby player ever. Between 2000-2004 he was a 5-time All American at Cal and won 4 National Championships. As a professional for Leeds in England, he became the first American to be named Captain to a Pemiership team. Furthermore, he was the youngest player to ever start for Team USA, and is America's all-time most capped player (meaning international matches started) playing in 3 World Cups.
Cal truly runs in MacDonald's blood as well. After retiring from professional and international rugby, MacDonald returned to the Bay Area to become an assistant coach for Cal Rugby under long-time head coach Jack Clark. Clark's own words about MacDonald:
"‘Big Mac' is truly a singular figure in the history of American rugby," Clark said. "He's consistently demonstrated unwavering sportsmanship and loyalty to team and country. His retirement closes out a generation of our most distinguished internationals. We can only say thanks."
For more on MacDonald, check out our very own interview of the Cal Rugby legend from 2011:
1. What got you interested in playing rugby initially?
1. Well, my brother started playing when I was a freshman in high school while he was a senior. The next year, all of his teammates were asking me to come out, so I decided to give it a try. Plus it was a great way to bridge the gap between the end of wrestling season and the start of football season.
2. What got you interested in playing rugby at Cal?
2. I've always been a Golden Bear, since the day I was born. My dad played football and rugby while he was at Cal and then when he graduated, he went on to be an assistant coach for the football team. After a few years of playing rugby for Lamorinda, I had the chance to come to Cal and further my career and jumped at the chance.