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Golden Nuggets: Happy 100th Birthday To Last Surviving Cal Rose Bowl Winner Bob Wilhelm

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Cal Football Gets Rest During Bye Week

Bear Statue
  • Check out this San Francisco Chronicle interview with Bob Wilhelm, the only living person who played in Cal Football’s last Rose Bowl win on January 1, 1938.

Wilhelm played two more seasons for the Bears (the 1938 team went 10-1 and finished with a No. 14 ranking), and in 1939, he was on the field at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum against a UCLA team making history. At a time when African American players were scarce in the major programs, the Bruins had four in prominent roles, with Robinson, Kenny Washington and Woody Strode (later a Hollywood actor) all key offensive starters.

“Yes, I can see Jackie Robinson coming at me (in a 20-7 UCLA win),” Wilhelm recalled. “I remember trying to bring him down. He was fast as the devil. He could run around you if he didn’t go through you.”

In the meantime, Wilhelm was dating Doris Finnerty, the daughter of a country doctor and an accomplished golfer. She meant the world to him, and in December 1939, on the day he was scheduled to graduate from Cal, the two got married near the Finnerty home in Sonoma. “Yes, they knew about the conflict ahead of time,” Jim said with a laugh. “But Dad knew what he had to do. My mother was a very strong woman. He could pick up that diploma later.”

“Best decision of my life,” said Bob.

Cal, with its outstanding Academic Progress Rate, could get one of the 80 bowl bids at 5-7.

A win over Stanford would do the trick — a rivalry game the Bears haven’t won in the past seven tries.

“We’ve got to take advantage of this bye week,” Cal offensive coordinator Beau Baldwin said. “We’ve got to make it a weapon for us, because Stanford is going to be tough enough.”

The Bears don’t expect any major contributors to return from injuries, because their injuries have generally been season-ending. Cal has 11 players out for the season, including difference-makers Devante Downs, Demetris Robertson, Cameron Saffle and Tre Watson.

Since complete recovery wasn’t an option for those guys, the remaining Bears spent the week focusing on stretching and flexibility, eating and hydrating and getting the proper amount of sleep.

Saffell is likely to start again in his first Big Game, another opportunity to learn from Ooms firsthand.

"I think the biggest thing with him is just his mental processing," Saffell noted, "everyone talks about it, and it's so true. Every time he's asked a question in film he knows it right away, and that's a big advantage for a freshman kid to have, is a role model, just with mental processing of the game, because the game stays the same, but it's a lot faster, different looks, stuff like that. Just having, especially when I go in at guard next to him, how quick he is with his calls, how fast he knows it, really helps when you're a freshman, and it really takes the thinking out of the game when you have a center that's that smart."

  • Check out Pro Bears action from Week 9. Howabout that #Drop50 action from Jared Goff and the Rams?
  • Here’s all the action happening during Big Game Week. I know everyone in that header photo which just reminds me of how long its been since we won the axe... The Battle of The Bands is the first event and that happens in a couple hours in San Francisco’s Pier 39. Of course there’s the Cable Car Rally downtown tomorrow as well.
  • Congrats to Men’s Soccer’s Aravind Sivakumar and Halil Beqaj who picked up CoSIDA Academic All-District honors, given to players with a 3.3+ GPA and also played in 50% of the regular season’s games.

Fiat Lux!