Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Cal Game Prelude

This should have been posted a while ago but now is as good a time as any. I went to the Cal vs. ASU game a few weeks ago. First things first, it sure brought back terrible memories. The last and only time I had been there before was the site of "The Drop." If my memory serves me right, a Duck who shall remain nameless dropped a crucial pass right in front of the seats I was sitting in for this game. What a horrific moment to relive.

Now some random observations from the game:
  • The atmosphere at Cal games is very weak. They seem to think they are a big time bunch of fans but they have a dudeleader yelling into a megaphone/pa system telling them what to do. For me a lot of Duck fans are major homers but that sure beats having a trust fund, frat kid reminding me to get "moderately louder so that the opponent has difficulty converting on third down and long, which is defined by being seven yards or greater." So maybe those weren't his exact words but they were similar.
  • It's no wonder the fans need to be clued in on what's going on. If the folks sitting around me are any indication of the fan base then I would guess they prefer to attend art shows, not football games. The man seated right in front of me was a nice guy. He seemed like the type of guy that has two or three advanced degrees and works in a bookstore. Here are some of his gems:
"Hard yards, but well earned." (After a decent five or six-yard run.)
"One more opportunity to shine." (After a big play was called back on a holding penalty.)
"That was a work of beauty." (After a touchdown pass.)
"No creativity on that run." (After an unforgettable kickoff return.)
"Not a very distinguished series." (After a patented second half drive by a Tedford team that goes three and out, giving the impression that he has no desire to score and wants the opponent to stay in the game.)
"I hope you have a bulletproof car." (Yelled at referee after a questionable call. This one came out of nowhere but no one else seemed to think it was a weird thing to yell when the stadium was completely silent. And it got me thinking: What if a fan from say the Southeast or Midwest had said the same thing would the tolerant liberals of Berkeley had shrugged it off as no big deal? Oh, I am sure they would have. What am I thinking?)
  • I did not go to Cal but was offended by what they call a video screen. As a California resident who pays taxes that support the school I can't believe that is all the athletic department can muster. From the other side of the field it looks like nothing more than a 47" tube television seen at any number of grandparents' homes across America. Simply pathetic.
  • If this does not describe Cal then nothing does. Between the first and second quarter the UC Chief of Police was honored for doing such a wonderful job handling the tree protesters. Are you kidding? This is government at its finest. The man does nothing for over a year and gets recognized publicly for it. And to top it all off the crowd actually stands and claps for him. My conscience does not allow me to respect a place that thinks law enforcement's job is to do absolutely nothing and let hippies run anything but a commune.
  • I did not spend all of my time trying to rip on Cal. Through squinting eyes I did notice that they did a great job on one video shown on the big screen. As part of Homecoming they had a recent graduate spend a couple of minutes describing the fun she had as a Cal student. The genius part of the thing was that this recent graduate was very good looking. For a brief moment in time I wondered what it would have been like to go to Cal and I was not the only one. One gentleman I went to the game with who is 47-years-old seriously considered pursuing baccalaureate studies after the video ended.
  • Finally, I did learn something worthwhile that day. I now know how to determine if a college football rivalry is a real rivalry. Notre Dame is involved in the equation. If you hate Notre Dame more than the team in question then a rivalry does not exist. A true rivalry is like Cal vs. Stanford. When the score was announced that Notre Dame had beaten Stanford there was a unanimous cheer celebrating the Stanford lost. In comparison, I'm pretty sure the typical Duck fan is still tickled pink about Oregon State's Fiesta Bowl win way back when. To prove my point further let's pretend we are at Autzen. If Oregon State is beating Western Washington there is polite applause and a few cheers. If Notre Dame is losing in the first quarter by one point to Virginia it sounds like Oregon just scored a touchdown, minus the horn. So when someone tries to tell you that a rivalry is fierce just add Notre Dame to the equation to see if it really is. And if anyone can explain to me the vitriol Ducks fans have for a team that they have not played or had any reason to care about in the last 30 years please tell me.


Ben Hameen said...

As a loyal Cal fan and son of two Cal alums, I feel I must speak up.

1. "Trust fund, frat kid" leading the yells? Sorry, that's down the road in Palo Alto. Cal is a state school and certainly doesn't require a trust fund to attend. Just really good grades / test scores. I guess the preferable alternative here is the Oregon basketball fans yelling racial slurs at opposing players. Doubtful there are any trust fund babies in that group.

2. If you're going to judge all Cal fans by the guy that was sitting in front of you, then it's fair for me to judge all Oregon fans by the two knuckleheads who tumbled over the railing in a fight, while UCLA receiver Terrence Austin was being carted off the field after a head injury. Stay classy, Eugene...

3. The video screen. California's public university system is slightly larger than Oregon's: 10 schools in the UC system, with another 23 schools in the Cal State system. So all funding has to be split between all those schools. And it's not like Cal has Phil Knight in our back pocket, willing to provide plasma TVs in the bathroom stalls at the student-athlete center. Incidentally, I think if/when the facility upgrades ever happen at Cal, the scoreboard / video screen will get a much-needed upgrade.

4. The UC Police Chief. "The man does nothing for over a year and gets recognized publicly for it." So you'd rather he climbed the tree and knocked them out, rather than let the legal system run its course? Once all the court dates and appeals were over, the police moved in swiftly and removed everyone. And that was in the face of being pelted by feces and urine - all in all, I think recognition between the first and second quarter isn't too over the top.

Look, I realize that Cal fans aren't "perfect." They're still learning how to cope with heightened expectations (and the inevitable failure to live to them). The Tom Holmoe era in Berkeley was quite damaging to our collective psyche. To be honest, though ... I'd still take our mindset / behavior over those damn Dookies in Durham or obnoxious USC fans at the Coliseum.

J Smith said...

ben hameen thanks for your thoughtful reply.

1. First things first, I left the discussion/diss on Cal to the football stadium and its surrounding trees. Comparing football teams is a fair argument, whereas comparing academics would not be. Cal is one of the Top 5 public institutions in the world. UO is Top 5 in Oregon, I'm pretty sure.

2. Though I know Cal students aren't trust fund types I was giving them the benefit of the doubt. At least that would be a legitimate reason for needing a dudeleader to tell them when to yell at a football game. You must admit that is embarrassing.

3. This is Pac-10 football. It does not matter if the UC system wants to open another campus in Riverside, Merced or some other arm pit of the state. Big states have multiple arm pits. A 47" video board is a 47" video board. Again, a bit embarrassing.

4. Ask a cop in nearby Oakland if they would prefer flying feces over flying bullets. I do not find that to be that great of a sacrifice. It's sad to think a campus police officer that dodged poop while waiting for a judge to rule would receive more love from a Berkeley crowd then any soldier that returns from Iraq.

5. I'll be the first to admit Ducks fans can be the ultimate homers. In my travels they appear to be the most hostile toward opponent fans and that is unacceptable. I think a hybrid of the two fan bases would be great: over educated and really loud!

Ben Hameen said...

You make some good points. Having said that ...

1. Think back to high school, and consider the students that would qualify to go to a school like Cal. How many of them were sports fans? And better yet, how many were knowledgeable enough about football to be a true fan? These students are going to need some help figuring it out ... Is a "dudeleader" really any different than a video screen asking fans to make noise (which, for the record, I also think is horrible), or the sound system playing songs or sound effects which elicit fan response? If you're going to rail on the method that Cal uses to rally the troops, rather than the rallying itself, then I guess you do have a point. But to say that Cal is the only team whose fans are prompted when and how to cheer would be pretty ignorant.

2. Cal's lack of a sufficient scoreboard / video screen, while unacceptable, certainly isn't an isolated Pac-10 issue. USC's video screen / scoreboard setup is awful - there are seats in the stadium that don't have a view of them (they also have a really bad view of the field, but that's a rant for another day); UCLA plays in the friggin' ROSE BOWL and their video screen is just as bad; Arizona Stadium in Tucson is certainly better than Cal, but not up to industry standard. For the most part, the teams who have recently renovated their stadium have generally upgraded to the latest technology; otherwise it's antiquated and embarrassing. Also, let's not forget that Cal's stadium sits on a friggin' earthquake fault, so getting the OK to spend any money on upgrades takes a couple hundred layers of red tape that nobody else has to worry about. Like I said, this will no doubt be addressed by the upcoming facilities overhaul, now that those damn hippies are out of the trees.

3. I think this is a more important way to honor the troops than some between-quarter ceremony that people don't pay attention to.

Do you have a prediction on this weekend's game?

Allison said...

I don't have anything to add. Just enjoying the banter between two the funniest/smartest peeps I know.

This one is hard to predict. Oregon certainly rolled ASU, but the Sun Devils have to be the most overrated team since...well, a long time.

Cal doesn't exactly have its QB situation figured out. But, they are at home. And, I still have nightmares about the drop that was mentioned in the post.

I will give Cal the edge for being at home.

Cal 34
Oregon 17