PALO ALTO - NOVEMBER 20, 2021
Son: Wow, Dad. Stanford has the coolest stuff!
Dad: Yes, Johnny - it does. Let's save archery for later and look at these exhibits right here.
Son: Dad, why is this case empty? And what's with all the spiderwebs?
Dad: Um, well...I don't know, son.
Biff: Allow me to answer your question. This case formerly housed the Stanford Axe.
Son: The Stanford what?
Biff: Axe, my dear boy. The Stanford Axe was passed back and forth between the student bodies of Stanford University and the University of California as a trophy for the winning school in what was once known as the Big Game.
Son: The Big Game? You mean the basketball game against UC Davis?
Biff: No, the Big Game refers to the annual football contest between Cal and Stanford, which traditionally ended the regular season for both schools. The series was discontinued in 2016 after Stanford's re-classificiation as D-1AA in collegiate football. The Cardinal's season now ends with the traditional tilt vs. Occidental.
Son: So the Axe used to be in this case?
Biff: Oh yes! For much of the 20th century, Stanford dominated its rival from across the Bay. During one period under coach Ty Willingham...
Son: Ty Willingham.....Dad, isn't he the coach of Jimmy's high school team?
Biff: Yes - before becoming head coach at Palo Alto High in 2018, coach Willingham led a number of collegiate football programs. Under coach Willingham, Stanford kept the Axe for seven consecutive years. And it sat in this display case for Stanford students and fans to gaze upon it each day.
Son: So what happened?
Biff: Ah, yes. California tired of losing to their rivals, and hired Jeff Tedford as its head coach in 2002.
Son: Governor Tedford?
Biff: Yes, of course, you know Jeff Tedford as the current Governor of California, though he maintains close ties with his adopted alma mater. Under Governor Tedford, the Bears won the final 14 Big Games as well as three national championships. His success led to a general disinterest in college football throughout the South Bay Area.
Son: But Dad! Stanford is so good in so many sports, why did they have to quit football?
Son: Like swimming and diving? Or sailing?
Dad: Yes son, like sailing.