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CGB Hall of Fame: Final Vote

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Four Cal legends have entered the 2015 Class of the CGB Hall of Fame, but there's room for one more inductee. Who joins the CGB Hall of Fame?

Will either Desean or Oski take the final spot in the 2015 CGB Hall of Fame class?
Will either Desean or Oski take the final spot in the 2015 CGB Hall of Fame class?

CGB Hall of Fame Final Vote Candidates

(1) Justin Forsett, (1) Teri McKeever, (2) Dave Durden, (2) Desean Jackson, (2) JJ Arrington, (3) Mike Pawlawski, (3) Shane Vereen, (4) Mike Montgomery, (5) Diane Ninemire, (6) Bryan Anger, (11) Oski, (16) Pete Cutino

(1) Justin Forsett

Justin Forsett Extended Highlights Part 1 (via ronenlish1)

When Marshawn Lynch left for the NFL following the 2006 season, there were some Cal fans who wondered if Justin Forsett cold handle the role of Cal's # 1 running back. Sure, he was great as Lynch's backup and and as a quintessential "change of pace" back during the Beast Mode years, but how would he do as Cal's feature back?

Just fine, thank you very much. Forsett rushed for 1,546 yards and 15 touchdowns as a senior, which led the Pac-10 and tied for the best single-season total in Cal history. On top of all that, Forsett was a second team Pac-10 All-Academic selection. Forsett finished his Cal career with 3,220 rushing yards and was a valued member of teams that won 35 regular season games and three bowl games. These days, he is a member of the Baltimore Ravens.

Back in the day, danzig wrote one of the classiest tributes ever on this site, dedicated to Forsett (included in the post are his noted highlighted reels), chock full of emotion and memory. Here's the best of that post.


1) He's a great all-around guy: ALL fans love him. Great work ethic, high character, good morals, never got in trouble and patiently waited behind Marshawn without bitching about it. There are so few heros in life, but he's one of them.
All his life he's been told about the body he doesn't have... the speed he doesn't possess... to accept that he wouldn't go far... and he said to all of them... "F*** that, I don't give a shit what you think!!" (Actually, he probably would've have said, "Excuse me sir, I beg to differ" but...). To make it even more improbable, Ty Willingham yanked his only D-1 scholarship at the last minute, but he still became a star at Cal... I bet Ty is sorry now. His story is downright inspirational and I demand a movie be made about him immediately! Hey Hollywood, cancel that sequel you're about to make and do this instead: The Truth Laid Bear: The Justin Forsett Story. But if it shows up on Lifetime I'm going to F*ing kill you guys.

2) He's the son of a preacher man: And so am I. PKs (pastor's kids) don't have what you would call 'normal' upbringings. Pastors are incredibly strict with their kids because the kids' behavior reflects on the Pastor and the church itself. There are only two varieties of PKs... the ones that grow up to be upstanding role models in their communities and the 'rebels' who embrace all evil (I'm the latter). In short, it's tough to grow up as a PK and PKs the world over have somewhat of a kinship that grows from that. "Genesis says don't be spilling no seed"

3) He's got skillz: Admit it, sometimes when Marshawn was bogging down in a game or fumbling, we all secretly whispered to ourselves, "PUT JUSTIN IN !!!" When announcers said that he could be starting anywhere else in the country... they weren't kidding. He was an outstanding running back with accolades too long to list here. He's got moves and knows when to just run downhill. He's chocked my head full of great game memories...I'll miss him so much...sniff, sniff. (tearing up).

(1) Teri McKeever

TheBuckeyeBear gives us the run down on Coach McKeever:

Many athletes have tried to transition from competitor to coach, but not all have been as successful as Coach Teri McKeever in parlaying personal victories into mentorship triumphs. She has received many accolades at the helm of Cal Women’s Swimming & Diving and as the first female head coach of the US Olympic women’s swim team; the only reason the Golden Bears’ NCAA record in 2013 and 2014 could be described as "a mere [second and] third place" was because the team took home the national title in 2011 and 2012. These achievements are rooted in her personal experience and coaching philosophy.

McKeever has cited sports as "the first place [she] felt good about [herself]" and strives to instill the same love of swimming in those she coaches. Cal alumnus Anthony Ervin returned to competitive swimming in the 2012 London Olympics because McKeever took his "very fragile mentally kind of persona" and "brought back what it was like to swim for fun." She has been able to harness the mind-body connection in yoga, dance, jump-roping, and other cross-training for her athletes so that swimming is not just the drudgery of thousand-fold laps. Without her diverse training program, alumna Dana Vollmer observed that "you’re going to get good, but you might not get great."

Although McKeever delights in her swimmers’ medals, she is most proud of helping college students develop skills that will "translate into the next 30, 40, 50 years." Her genuine concern for her athletes, alongside her coaching wisdom, attracts world-class swimmers like Olympic gold medal winners Natalie Coughlin and Missy Franklin to Cal. The Pac-12 Conference and the NCAA have both anointed McKeever as Coach of the Year, recognizing her team-building success to be rooted in a commitment to her swimmers’ well-being and excellence.

(2) Dave Durden

Dave Durden 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 last spring. This is how he celebrated:

(2) Desean Jackson

Cal_20bears_20football_2006-1014_0063_medium

via www.calbearsonline.com

Desean Jackson Complete Highlights 3 (via ronenlish1)

Miner Niner presents the case for Desean.

Perhaps no other skill player in Cal history instilled as much fear and respect into opposing defenses and special teams coverages as DeSean Jackson. Opening day starter as a true freshman. His first two career touches went for touchdowns against Sacramento State. Led the Bears in receiving as a sophmore with 59 catches for 1,060 yards and nine touchdowns as set a Cal record with four punt returns for touchdowns. Perhaps his greatest play was a 77 yard punt return against Tennessee in 2007 that went for a touchdown. Some consider him an enigma during his Junior year, in which the Cal football team collapsed in the second half of the season, however, his overall body of work is not to be ignored. He departed holding Pac-10 records for punts returned for a touchdown both in a season (four), and in a career (six). Jackson ranks third all-time at California for receiving yards with 2,423 and receiving touchdowns with 22. He is sixth in receptions (162). Jackson finished with 52 career plays of 20 yards or more, making up 23 percent of his 226 touches.

Desean Jackson Complete Highlights 1 (via ronenlish1)

(2) JJ Arrington

Tightwad Hill ranked Arrington the 10th greatest Golden Bear football player...ever.

Cal fans were understandably anxious to see what Arrington would do carrying the full workload in 2004. What he did was have the greatest season by any player in the history of Cal football. That's right. The greatest season ever.

In each of his 12 games, Arrington hit for at least 100 yards - the only back in America to make that claim. Against Air Force in the opener, he scored three times including an 89-yard run that set a Cal record. 3 more scores against NMSU, and then a couple of off games - 108 yards and a TD v Oregon State and 112 in the heartbreak loss to SC. Then J.J. got serious. UCLA was torched for 205 yards and two scores in the next outing, and then ASU, Oregon, Washington and Stanford all surrendered a touchdown and at least 120 yards to #30.

But J.J. Arrington, to us, defined himself in the rain and mud of Hattiesburg, Mississippi. You recall the scene - the Bears needed a blowout win to impress the human pollsters and vault past Texas into the Rose Bowl. It was not to be, but Arrington moved heaven and earth to make it so, rushing 31 times for 261 yards, the most by a Cal back since 1954.

Ohio Bear talks up Arrington as well.

Arrington had an all time legendary season playing for one of our most prolific teams of the last half century. And he did it sort of out of the blue. I mean, we all knew that Arrington was good and had the potential to step in and do the job, but I don't know that very many Cal fans expected that he would surpass the production of Echemandu's 2003 season, much less run for 2,000 yards. I kind of expected the 2004 Bears to be all about Rodgers and G-Mac. It wasn't.

Kodiak: We had the pleasure of meeting JJ during the spring game of his senior year. He was humble, well-spoken, and polite; he was such a nice young man that it made you want support him even more. He had the best burst of any back that we've seen. Although he didn't have Best's game-breaking speed, Marshawn's strength, Forsett's vision, or Igber's wiggle, he had a unique way of decisively hitting the hole that I've never seen before or since. We've seen shake n' bake. We've seen one cut n' go. JJ was GO. If not for being drafted by the inept Cardinals, I think he might have made some noise in the league. They took an instinctive runner and knee-capped him by forcing him into a wait/delay/read scheme that was a poor fit.

(3) Mike Pawlawski

Cal fans from the early 90's remember him and the team he led quite fondly, perhaps in the same way the others 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.

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 . . . 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 in the past few seasons, and he seems to be in generally good spirits.

You can check out his write-up on Tightwad Hill over here.

(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. Vereen looks to continue being a vital cog in NFL offensive schemes as a member of the New York Giants.

(4) Mike Montgomery

Bear in Mind: Mike Montgomery (via CalTV Berkeley)

NorCalNick shares his perspective from back during Monty's coaching days.

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?

(5) Diane Ninemire

Coaches come and go in college sports... even the legends can be temporal. But Diane Ninemire transcends all of that, to the tune of 28 years as Cal Softball's Head Coach, more than 1,200 career victories (one of only eight coaches in the history of NCAA Softball to reach that milestone), more than 11 College World Series appearances, and one national title. All of the above at Cal.

But for the players she coached and mentored, Ninemire means more than just the numbers and the victories. She is a mother figure to 28 years of student-athletes.It is a bond she forged through her partnership with her own mentor and predecessor, Head Coach Donna Terry.

Sean Wagner-McGough of the Daily Californian explains:

In 2002, Ninemire's attention to detail and work ethic paid off when Cal won its first Women's College World Series. But she hasn't built her program by being a drill sergeant like her former boss. The first time Cheyenne Cordes, Cal's junior shortstop, met Ninemire, she couldn't believe how funny she was.

"You expect these college coaches to be super evil because they have these great programs, and in the back of your mind you're wondering how they got here," Cordes says. "But coach is the exact opposite of that. If you take the time to get to know her on a personal level, she'll invest her time into you."

The game has changed since her days spent catching Terry's fastballs in the dimly lit basement of Hearst Gym. Softball season doesn't end in summer anymore. Now, she's working year round. She vacations in Hawaii once a year, but she can't turn off her phone in case someone needs her. She lives on a golf course, but her golf cart sits idle in her garage. When she goes home after a day spent at the Simpson Center and Levine-Fricke Field, she watches film, looking to gain an edge on her adversaries.

"You're kind of married to your job," Ninemire says. "There is no downtime. I never feel like I can walk away from this job anymore and not have it in the back of mind."

Ninemire's happy, insisting that when her passion is gone, she'll step down. She doesn't know when that day will come, but when it does, she'll walk away. But for now, the passion is still there — it still runs deep.

"I have a lot of heart and passion for what I do," Ninemire says. "I always tell people what I do here at Cal is not a job. This is purely being in recess."

(6) Bryan Anger

CAL FOOTBALL 2010 - Bryan Anger Feature (via calbearsgobig)

iVinishe: The first football game I had ever watched was 2008 Michigan State @ Cal. I had absolutely no idea how football worked; in fact, I remember wondering why we kept giving the ball to that Best guy when he clearly wasn't scoring. This game was also Cal's introduction to Bryan Anger, punter extraordinaire. To my naive mind, Anger was clearly the best guy on our team.

Over the next 4 years, Anger went on to become the most outstanding punter in the nation. Other punters occasionally averaged a yard more for a season here and there, but only Anger had the ability to make an entire stadium go "WOW." From 2009-2011, Anger garnered First Team All-Pac-10/12 honors for three straight seasons, and set the all-time Cal single season punting record with an average of 43.5 yards/punt.

This spring, he goes into the NFL Draft as one of the top punters of his class.

Before that fall day, I had no idea people could kick balls that high, or that far. To this day, I'm still not sure people can. I've watched quite a bit of football at all levels since that day, and I still haven't seen anyone who can match a well-placed Anger bomb. He is, quite literally, a game-changer, and there has been some element of truth to jokes of our punter being the best (or at least, most outstanding), player on our team for the past 4 years

California Punter Bryan Anger Draft Profile (via ProFootballWeekly)

Anger ended up being taken in the 3rd round of the draft by the Jacksonville Jaguars and had a stellar rookie season, averaging over 47 yards per punt and also demonstrating his tackiling ability by taking down Houston Texans return man Keshawn Martin on a 71-yard runback to save a touchdown. Of course, national sports media had a lot of fun with that one, but it only reinforced what we Golden Bear fans already knew, which was that this guy is a legit athlete.

(11) Oski

NorCalNick shares some thoughts:

Why do I like Oski? Because he's different. Here's the thing: Most mascots are one of two things: Boring, or trying too hard*. Mostly boring. Just within the Pac-12 alone, here is a list of generic mascots:

Arizona. Arizona State. Oregon State. Washington State. Washington. UCLA. Utah.

*By trying too hard, I mean in terms of absurdity and irreverence (hellooooooo Stanford) or pomp and circumstance (hellooooooo USC).

I don't mean generic in the sense that the mascots themselves are generic, although Arizona and Washington State have fallen into the different-name-for-the-same-cat chasm. I mean the costumes. Every school listed above evidently decided that they were just going to put a guy in a boring, bipedal animal costume and then make him wear a football jersey. Most Pac-12 mascots are full-kit wankers.

No, Oski aspires to more. He has class. He wears a cardigan and trousers. While most other mascots act like capering circus clowns or adrenalin-addled über-jocks, Oski calmly strolls around the field, always friendly, always smiling.

One might argue, then, that Oski is boring. Why isn't he doing lazy knee push-ups every touchdown, like some mascots, or constantly twirling, twirling, twirling towards freedom, or generally making a ruckus? Because Oski knows how to pick his spots. Oski paces himself. And when called upon, when our need is dire, Oski is there. There to beat down the tree. There to shotgun a bear through a straw in his eye. There to throw a cake at Gary Payton's mom. You know the famous John Wooden quote: ‘Don't mistake activity for achievement?' He coined it after comparing Oski with other, lesser mascots.

Frankly, Oski doesn't feel like a mascot. He feels like another classmate or alum. I'd feel weird sitting next to Wilbur the Wildcat at a bar. But Oski? We could sit right down and reminisce together about our crazy mutual friend from the dorms freshman year or the incredible basketball game against Stanford. Oski is the eternal sophomore, after all. And although you'll have to carry most of the conversation, he's fully capable of getting his point across non-verbally.

Here's to Oski, the best mascot in the Pac-12 that isn't a real live friggin' Buffalo running around the field.

(16) Pete Cutino

If nominations were solicited for a Mt. Rushmore for California coaching legends, names like Pete Newell, Andy Smith, Pappy Waldorf, and Teri McKeever would be among the first. However, any list of nominees would be incomplete without water polo coach Pete Cutino.

The numbers are staggering: in twenty-five years as the head coach of Cal's Men's Water Polo program (1963-1988), Cutino won eight... eight national championships. Cutino was also the national team head coach, and coached 68 All-Americans and five Olympians.

Cutino's influence extended far beyond Cal's Men's Water Polo program. In addition to his coaching duties, Cutino also served as a professor of physical education. In that role, Cutino became an adviser and mentor to many future Cal coaches, including Kirk Everist (water polo head coach) and Bob Milano (baseball head coach).

Cutino's contributions to Cal, and to the sport of water polo, can be summed up in one fitting tribute: the Peter J. Cutino Award, which is presented to the top male and female collegiate water polo players in the nation.