38-24...AND TWO TO GO FOR THE ROSE BOWL
Arizona, you're next
GAMEDAY GOOD KARMA THREAD
2002: 17-12 and Tedford's first big win. More of the same tonight, please.
2004: Aaron Rodgers leaving the field after a 45-28 victory over the Bruins.
50 GREATEST GOLDEN BEARS - #38 - BENNY LOM
#38 - BENNY LOM - HALFBACK (1927-1929)
Benny Lom was Cal's greatest triple threat (running, passing and kicking) player who became nationally famous for his part of college football's most infamous play.
Lom and captain Irv Phillips (another great player who just missed our cut) led the Bears into the 1929 Rose Bowl against Georgia Tech. In the second quarter of a scoreless game, Lom delivered a hard tackle to a Tech ball carrier, jarring the ball loose on their 40-yard line. Cal defender Roy Riegels snatched the ball but got turned around in the scrum and started running for his own end zone. Lom ran after Riegels, shouting for him to stop, but he could not be heard over the roar of the crowd. Finally he caught Riegels from behind on the one-yard line and dropped his teammate with his second tackle on the play. The resulting safety proved to be the difference in a 8-7 loss to Rambling Wreck. Despite the loss, Lom was named Player of the Game for throwing a touchdown pass to Phillips late in the game, and for leading the Golden Bears' to 271 yards of total offense (Lom also ran 68 yards for a score that was called back on a penalty).
In each of his three years on the Cal varsity, Lom was named at least Honorable Mention by one or more of the major All-America surveys. After his junior and senior seasons he was named All-Coast at halfback. He was regarded by football historians as perhaps the greatest passer of the pre-war era on the West Coast and, because he also handled punting duties for the Bears, he made Cal a constant threat to score from a punt formation. To wit, his greatest moment came in 1929, when he ran 85 yards on a fake punt against USC for the deciding touchdown in a 15-7 victory.
Benny Lom died on his birthday - June 29, 1984 - at the age of 78. He is a member of Cal's Athletic Hall of Fame, as well as the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.
This is Marshawn Lynch on two sprained ankles. He's feeling much better now.
I've had my heart broken more than a few times by Cal football. I saw Tuan Van Le block that kick. I saw John Belli rough Jason Palumbis. I saw Dave Barr go down against the Huskies.
But trust me, nothing was worse than last year's debacle in Pasadena. Giving them a score right before halftime...Punting to Drew - again...The fake punt on 4th and 2...Our inability to tackle Maurice Drew, ever...47-40. This was my Clockwork Orange game, the main feature on every screen of the cineplex in my personal hell.
So it's payback time tomorrow evening in Berkeley. It's not as 'big' a game now that SC has lost a conference game; we could
lose tomorrow, beat SC and still win the conference. But try telling that to Tedford or to the players who left their collective heart on the Rose Bowl turf last year.When Cal has the ball
...they need to block Davis
. This is the whole game, really. Control them, and UCLA will be forced to bring the blitz. If they bring the blitz, there is simply no way that five or six Bruin defenders can consistently manage Cal's skill people. Unless Nate makes bad decisions, which would be out of character.
Tedford will want to - surprise - establish the run. I hope we do it off the pass. I'd like to see us come out throwing - lots of quick throws on the perimeter to Jordan, Jackson and Lynch. Force their linebackers into pass coverage; gas their line a bit. Then, give them a steady dose of Lynch and Forsett as a change of pace.
With two weeks to prepare, Tedford will surely introduce something new - hopefully it involves DeSean Jackson's hands around a football. Look for at least one end around or reverse.
I look for Craig Stevens to have a big game. I assume Walker will be obsessed with our speed on the edges, hopefully opening up the middle of the field for Stevens and the backs.When UCLA has the ball
...they will have to throw and generate big plays from the passing game. They simply don't have the horses up front or the athleticism in the backfield to control this game on the ground. Bruins OC Jim Svoboda has opened the passing game up a wee bit in the last two weeks, and Cowan has been able to hit for a couple of long scores. They'll need more of that against Cal - at least two 40+ plays for scores or set-ups.
Cowan can't throw interceptions. He must stay away from Hughes and make smart decisions against Cal's zone package.Special teams
...Can't be much worse than last year. Medlock
is a very good kicker, which would matter more in a low-scoring game. We must continue to be efficient in the red zone and put up sevens rather than threes.Intangibles
...See above. JT may have never won a truly big game, but he's also never failed to pay back an opponent who had it coming. Memorial will be hopping.Prediction
...I've got more respect for the Bruins than I should, given their performance this year. I think they will show up and play with emotion, but I'm not convinced they have enough scoring to compete with Cal. Cal's had a couple of relatively poor games offensively, but I trust that Tedford has worked things out over the bye week. I don't see a blowout, but I do see a W.California 35 UCLA 19
I went from awful to mediocre last week, coming in at 5-4. Yet another reason this should not be regarded as anything resembling professional advice. Cal/UCLA to come later.Penn State (+7) at Wisconsin:
The Badgers are at home, and PSU has struggled to generate any offense in the past three weeks. Plus, I pull for any school that can incorporate House of Pain
in a football tradition. Wisconsin 31 Penn State 14Self-Respect in Scheduling (+30) at Auburn:
Here's one where I like the Tigers. LSU (+4) at Tennessee
: I'll continue to pick the Vols, especially against this overrated bunch. Tennessee 26 LSU 20Oklahoma State (+18) at Texas
: Statement game. Texas 41 Oklahoma State 20Georgia Tech (-4.5) at NC State.
NC State should lose badly, so they'll win outright. NC State 24 Georgia Tech 21Washington (+16) at Oregon
: Udub plays close games, and 16 points is a ton in a rivalry game.... Oregon 30 Washington 20Arizona (+16) at Washington State
: ...But it's not too many points in a who-cares battle between Captain Concussion
and a very confident Cougar team. Washington State 35 Arizona 10Arizona State (+2) at Oregon State:
Looks like the oddsmakers are banking on a letdown, or maybe they think Dirk's got the Devils back to respectability. I might be following dumb money, but I agree on both counts. Arizona State 42 Oregon State 38USC (-27.5) at Stanford
: Stanford's remaining fans have given up; estimates are that many, many thousands of Trojies will fill John Arrillaga's shiny new stadium. Still too many points. USC 34 Stanford 10
STANFORD A 3 POINT UNDERDOG TO STAPHYLOCOCCUS
According to this disturbing article
, three Stanford starters have missed time this year with staph infections, and a rather funky locker room couch is believed to be the responsible party. But don't worry, parents of Stanford recruits, Walt Harris is on the job:
"We did some things yesterday with the couch, and we're trying to coach (the players) up better -- what they should wear and when should they go sit on the couch," Harris said. "In other words, you don't want to be coming in from practice and go plop on the couch when you're all sweaty.
I've got an idea, Walt. How about getting a new fucking couch?
You know, Cal football has been bad in my lifetime. Really bad
. But we've never sunk to the point where our head coach has to "coach our players up" on how to clean themselves or where to sit down.
5 QUESTIONS WITH THE BRUINS NATION
is one of the best CFB blogs anywhere - comprehensive and intelligent. It's also become the Lord of the Flies of the CFB blogosphere since Karl Dorrell assumed command of the Bruins program and, in their eyes, engineered its systematic collapse. To borrow a different literary metaphor, I prefer to think of them as CFB's Don Quixote, tilting at the remaining windmills of indifference that surround the UCLA football program and urging decisive action from typically indecisive university bureaucrats. God bless them - it's refreshing to find such passion on the left coast.
The good folks at BN exchanged questions with us this week regarding this Saturday's game. Our answers will be posted on their site at some point along with those of Tedford is God
, here are theirs:1) What advice do you think Ben Olson would have for Nate Longshore, who is apparently contemplating taking his Mormon mission at some point in the near future?
(Question from TedfordisGod
- By the way, he's not. God wouldn't have kicked to Drew
.)BN: Not really sure. From what we have heard from Olson he has nothing but positive things to say about his two year mission. He is truly a remarkable guy. And I don't think his mission hampered his ability to develop as a blue chip quarterback. He looked just fine when he started that first game of this season. His numbers went down after Dorrell and co. put the shackles on with very predictable, dull, and boring offensive game plans. So I am not sure Olson will have anything but positive feedback when it comes to giving advice to other athletes who are contemplating taking his or her Mormon missions.
2) What makes you think Dan Guerrero will pull the trigger on Karl Dorrell, given the time left on his contract and the prospect of better talent in 2007?
BN: Steve Lavin also had "time left on his contract," when Dan Guerrero booted him out of Westwood. So did Bob Toledo as well as other incompetent head coaches who routinely get fired from high profile programs around the country when they are not getting the job done.
If Dorrell continues to underachieve in Westwood maintaining the trend of meltdown during second halves of our seasons, he is not going to be in line of landing better talent in 2007 when UCLA will have more 25 scholarship rides to give out.
Right now we have no idea what Dan Guerrero is going to do. No one does. But we do know if the UCLA football programs continue to collapse through rest of this season, Dorrell is going to be in huge trouble (if he is not already). The outcry from Bruin alums, students, and season ticket holders will increase exponentially with every loss from here on out.
3) Which was the worst moment of the Dorrell Era so far: The last-minute loss to Notre Dame two weeks ago or losing to Wyoming in the 2004 Las Vegas Bowl?
(from TisG)BN: As alums who originally started blogging over here , the worst moment in the Dorrell era was neither the disgraceful loss against Wyoming nor the last minute choke against Notre Dame. The worst moment during the Dorrell era came after a close loss against Southern California in 2004, when we saw tons of Bruin fans celebrating a moral victory as a sign of turnaround in the Dorrell era. Those reactions to us summed up what was going so horribly wrong under the failed experiment we now know as Dorrell.
Sure Notre Dame was a devastating loss stemming not just but from that last drive by Brady Quinn, but also due to botched clock and game mismanagement. It was an epiphany for lot of folks in the traditional media, but we caught on to the real story long time ago.
4) Do you think Dorrell and Svoboda will open things up a bit on Saturday? If so, will Cowan be up to the task?
BN: Every week we have been hearing from Dorrell and Svoboda how our offense has been "growing" and how they are working out their "issues." Every week we have gotten our hopes up this season perhaps this will be the week when the offense shows some sign of life since the opening game Utah. Except it hasn't happen. You can only cry wolf so many times.
Perhaps Dorrell's much hyped West Coast offense will finally open up this Saturday. However, we are not holding our breath.
5) Can you confirm that Maurice Drew is no longer returning punts for UCLA?
BN: Ask Jeff Tedford and his special teams coach. I am sure they are on top of this.
Thanks again for the questions guys. Good luck in the rest of your season, especially against Pom Pom Carroll. GO BRUINS.
And thanks to Bruins Nation once again for their participation, and for their perpetually entertaining site.
50 GREATEST GOLDEN BEARS - #39 - BOBBY SHAW
#39 - BOBBY SHAW - WIDE RECEIVER (1994-1997)
Bobby Shaw left Cal as the school's all-time leader in receptions with 180 catches for 2,731 yards and 27 touchdowns, and was the brightest offensive light during some rough years for Cal fans.
After a sophomore year in which he shared starting duties, Shaw emerged as a force in 1996. Steve Mariucci became Cal's head coach that year, and his passing offense was well-suited to a playmaker like Shaw who was renowned for his ability to run after the catch. He immediately prospered, turning in great performances against UCLA (12 catches for 168 yards) and in a memorable 48-42 triple-overtime win over Oregon State, when he scored three touchdowns. In the Aloha Bowl following that season, Shaw scored twice more on passes from Pat Barnes in Cal's 42-38 loss to the Navy. Bobby was named first-team All-Pac 10 for his performance that year.
In 1997, Shaw stepped up to captain Tom Holmoe's first team and elevate his game to a higher level. He set single-season records with 74 receptions for 1,093 yards and 11 touchdowns, despite receiving near-constant double-coverage. It was a tough year for Cal, but Shaw helped deliver one of the Bears' three wins with 158 yards and 2 touchdowns in a 40-36 win over Oklahoma. He was again voted to the All-Pac 10 first team, and also became the third Cal wide receiver to win first-team All-America honors (from Sporting News).
Shaw was drafted in the 6th round by Seattle in 1998. He signed later that year with the Pittsburgh Steelers, and played five productive years with the Steelers, Jaguars and Bills. UCLA Head Coach Bob Toledo put it well when he said of Shaw, "(he's) the best receiver in the conference, one of the best in the country, and he'll end up being the best receiver in Cal history." While we would quibble with the last part of that assessment, Bobby Shaw is certainly a deserving member of the Fab 50.
THE RETURN OF MOOCH...
. Glad that we got Sparty back on the schedule. (corrected
KEY MATCHUPS - UCLA v CALIFORNIA
1. Cal tackles Andrew Cameron, Mike Gibson and Mike Tepper vs. UCLA defensive ends Bruce Davis and Justin Hickman
: This is the matchup of the game. UCLA - like most teams, actually - is successful on defense when their ends can generate pressure from the basic four-man rush. Davis and Hickman are quick and strong and will be the biggest challenge this side of M'Kristo Bruce for Cal's OL. If the Bears can shut them down and force UCLA into blitz packages, it should open up the middle of the field for Longshore. 2. Pat Cowan v. Cal's Linebackers
: OC Jim Svoboda is fond of short and intermediate routes; Cal's athletic LBs, led by Desmond Bishop and Mickey Pimentel, have prevented opponents from breaking these plays into big gainers. Additionally, Cal's cover packages have lured opposing QBs into 18 interceptions - against Washington LBs Bishop, Follett and Williams each had a pick. If Cowan throws a couple of picks in bad field position situations, UCLA will have a hard time keeping the score down.3. Mike Dunbar v. DeWayne Walker
: Bruins DC Walker has had two really bad games: last week's meltdown against Wazzu's big receiving corps, and an earlier loss to Oregon. Oregon's the game that interests me here, because the Bruins looked a bit lost against Gary Crowton's spread offense. Could Tedford and Dunbar have installed more of the spread during the bye week, and will we see it on Saturday? If so, has Walker learned how to attack the spread offense?4. Rodney Van v. Robert Jordan/Lavelle Hawkins
: Van is the junior corner who benched himself
after getting repeatedly torched in last week's loss to Wazzu. I'm guessing he won't be assigned to DJax (a former teammate at LB Poly), and will instead tangle with our 'possession' receiver. It will be tough for UCLA to zone Cal given Longshore's efficiency in distributing the football. Is Van up to the task in man coverage, or will he volunteer once again for pine time?5. Karl Dorrell v. Himself
. Has the embattled Bruins' coach lost the ability to rally his team to what would be an improbable upset? Dorrell needs to coach a desperate game this Saturday for his Bruins to outscore the Bears. Vertical routes, trick plays, new formations - Dorrell will need all this and more unless Davis and Hickman can control the game through a superior pass rush.
STATE OF DENIAL? - A LOOK AT UCLA FOOTBALL
On the one hand, UCLA has a storied football tradition, thanks to a litany of star players ranging from Kenny Washington to Bob Waterfield to Gary Beban, Kenny Easley and Troy Aikman. Their version of the "50 Greatest" list would have a lot more All-Americans and NFL Hall of Famers on it than Cal's. They've been to lots of Rose Bowls, and their powder blue-and-gold jerseys are instantly recognized from coast to coast.
On the other hand, how good has UCLA ever really been in modern history? Certainly a lot better than Cal, and much better than most other Pac 10 teams - but have they ever been a truly dominant program? The answer is yes, but you have to go back fifty years to a time when teams could win national championships running the single wing
Recently, dead-from-the-neck-up ESPN analyst Bill Curry wrote a piece
suggesting that Karl Dorrell could get UCLA back to the glory of the Terry Donahue era. One problem with that - a sizable portion of the UCLA fan base wouldn't be satisfied with a return to the Terry Donahue era, and they're quite open about it
. Donahue went 151-74-8 in his 20 years in Westwood - that translates to about 7-4 or 8-3 in an average year. These Bruins are looking for, I don't know, John McKay or Don James-style domination of the conference. That's why last year's 10-2 record didn't matter to Dorrell's critics - I mean, Terry Donahue went 10-2. It's no big deal.
I like their spunk
, though. Passion is a good thing, and you shouldn't settle for second-best. Look at UCLA hoops - they hired the right guy, and bingo - a spot in the NC game and the prospect of two decades of domination in front of them. But I'm afraid with respect to the football program, their eyes are a bit bigger than their stomachs. There's at least two problems:
* The UCLA football
fan base is largely a mellow bunch, despite the zealots. We've all seen the crowds arriving with three minutes left in the first quarter (traffic, my ass) looking to be entertained for a few hours. They want a winner, of course, and attendance figures will dip a bit if they don't get one. They'll boo a bad performance, but they generally won't use the power of the pocketbook to demand change. This is West LA, not Tuscaloosa.
* UCLA is cheap. Well, so is Cal, but even a blind squirrel finds an acorn once in a while. The blind squirrels at Berkeley tied Tedford down by augmenting his UC-system base to the tune of a $1.5m base plus incentive goodies, making him one of the highest paid coaches in the conference. UCLA is at the bottom of the list; Dorrell make less in base than Mike Riley, if that's any indication. Not that he deserves more, of course.
For these reasons the folks at Bruins Nation
face an uphill climb. I could be wrong, but I'm betting that the wheels have to completely come off for AD Dan Guerrero to buy out the three years remaining on Dorrell's contract and pony up for a big-name coach. BN may disagree, but I'd bet a good chunk of change that Dorrell could be saved by winning any one
of his last four games and finishing 5-7. If he can pull an upset against Cal or SC, he's almost certainly returning to Westwood, where most experts believe he'll have the talent to go bowling next year. And so the cycle begins again.
For UCLA fans, then, the choice is crystal clear. They should come to the dark (blue) side this Saturday. A Cal victory is the ultimate win-win proposition, bringing each of our programs one step closer to the Promised Land. If UCLA can manage the upset, then no one goes home happy.
Except Karl Dorrell, that is.
50 GREATEST GOLDEN BEARS - #40 - CHARLEY ERB
#40 - CHARLEY ERB - QUARTERBACK (1920-1922)
Erb (fifth from the left in the above picture) was a three-year starter in the backfield for Andy Smith's "Wonder Teams" - the first great football squads in the Western US and among the most dominant in the history of the sport.
During Erb's years on the varsity, Cal went 29-0-1 (the only blemish being a scoreless tie with Washington & Jefferson in the 1922 Rose Bowl). They outscored their opponents 1220-81 over those three years, and shifted the balance of power in West Coast football from the Pacific Northwest to the Bay Area. The 1920 team was the most dominant, outscoring their opponents 510-14. Erb got off to a quick start that year, returning an interception 85 yards for a touchdown against the Olympic Club in the season's first game. In the Rose Bowl following that season, Erb quarterbacked the Bears to a 28-0 thumping of favored Ohio State, Cal's first victory on New Year's Day. He served as team captain of the 1922 squad that went 9-0-0, but could not return to Pasadena due to a rule that prevented repeat appearances by teams). He was selected to participate in the first East-West Shrine Game in December 1925, despite being out of football for two years.
Interestingly, Erb's uncle Billy is credited with an even more enduring contribution to Cal football even though he attended Stanford and never participated in intercollegiate athletics. It was uncle Billy - a Stanford yell leader - who decided to bring an actual axe to a baseball game in San Francisco between the Bears and Indians on April 15, 1899, and it was Billy who taunted Cal fans by chopping off the heads of dummies dressed in blue and gold. Thus was born the Stanford Axe, the possession of which has been the overriding goal of both schools' football teams and fans for more than a century.
THE PASADENA CHAINSAW MASSACRE
For those of you who need a little extra motivation for Saturday. Happy Halloween: At least in this movie, the bad guy doesn't rise from the grave to kill again and again. He gets drafted by Jacksonville.
THE BCS RANT
FBofS Ray Ratto wastes ten minutes of our lives making some sort of point about how the BCS has corrupted college football here
For the uninitiated, Ratto is a San Francisco Chronicle writer
who occasionally writes about college football and has a vote in the AP poll. He knows about as much about college football as my mother. He ostensibly covers Cal and Stanford, but if you put a gun to his head he couldn't give you the O-Line depth chart at either school. He'd rather be writing about the Warriors, I guess, and it shows in his laziness and lack of enthusiasm for the subject. This is the same clown who ranked Virginia Tech #10 and Georgia Tech #24...the day after GT beat the Hokies 38-27...in Blacksburg.
There is a point to be made about the BCS, which is that it should be done away with as quickly as possible. This won't happen, so here are some suggested improvements:Scrap the Spurrier rule
- In statistics, the larger your sample size, the easier the analysis. The sample size for a college football season is 12 games - not very large at all. Wouldn't it behoove the computers to analyze as much information as possible? Isn't margin of victory a pretty important piece of information? Jeff Sagarin
calls the elimination of MOV "politically correct," and he's dead on. Today, the machines give Ohio State as much credit for beating MSU 38-7 in East Lansing as Notre Dame did for winning by a field goal and the grace of God. Scrap the Orrin Hatch rule
- Why does Boise qualify for a BCS game if they're ranked 12th in the BCS? Because Orrin Hatch said so, that's why. He told the NCAA that he would haul their ass before Congress if they didn't cook up a better plan for the smaller conferences (he was thinking of BYU and Utah at the time). Voila - a stupid, indefensible rule! (By contrast, I actually like the rule that would allow Boise and their ilk to go if they're ranked higher than another BCS conference champion)Scrap the special dispensation for the Domers
- See above.Get rid of the opening polls
- This year's opening ESPN poll had six SEC teams - Auburn (OK), Florida (yep), LSU (why?), Georgia (why?), Tennessee (OK) and Alabama (what?!?!). Two of those teams clearly didn't belong in the Top 25, and one doesn't belong (LSU) until they beat at least a mediocre football team. But with opening polls, you'll never find out how good a team really is! Alabama will go 3-0 out of conference against Cupcake Tech, and when they suck wind in conference, well that's just 'cuz the SEC's so durn tough. No it's not. It's because they suck. Better to start polling after week 4, when presumably everyone outside the SEC has played a real opponent.Better yet, get rid of the Harris and ESPN polls altogether
- Ratto is right about one thing - the Harris Poll is an joke. The ESPN Coaches poll is even worse because it's populated with voters who BY DEFINITION don't watch lots of football games because they're focused on the one in which they are participating. It's also insanely political, as Mack Brown proved in 2004 by selling himself like a ten-dollar street whore to opposing coaches. If you have to have a poll, take the Master Coaches Survey
. These are tough old men (Terry Donahue excepted) who know football and have nothing but time to watch game after game after game. Put Strength of Schedule back into the formula
. We need to give our SEC friends every incentive to schedule real non-conference games. On the road, occasionally. You can't control how good your conference is, but you can control whether you play Arkansas State in November. I'm looking at you, Tubby
So a better system would be 1/2 computers (with MOV), 1/4 Cranky Old Man poll, and 1/4 Strength of Schedule. And an even better system would be no system at all. At least in the old days, we knew it wasn't scientific and we could have fun, honest debates about Alabama v SC in '78 or Washington v Miami in '91. Teams got to big bowls by winning their conferences - a pretty objective standard. The Rose Bowl was the Rose Bowl, not some consolation match for BCS also-rans from any old conference. The old system wasn't perfect, but at least it didn't lie to your face.
50 GREATEST GOLDEN BEARS - #41 - TED ALBRECHT
#41 - TED ALBRECHT - OFFENSIVE TACKLE (1973-1975)
Albrecht is the first of several members of Cal's record-setting offense in 1975 to appear in the Fab 50. He started at tackle for that team, as he had for the prior two years, and paved the way as Cal led the nation in offense with 458.6 yards per game. He was by far Cal's best lineman, famed for shutting down defensive ends and tackles with excellent pass protection technique. The Vallejo HS star had a relatively compact frame (6'3"/250) but possessed great quickness and a strong initial punch. It's fair to say that without Ted Albrecht, Cal would not have set records in 1975 and certainly would not have tied for the conference championship.
Albrecht was a two-time first-team all-Pac 8 selection, and the Associated Press named him to its first-team All-American squad in 1975. Ted was elected to the Cal Athletic Hall of Fame in 2000. He was a first-round draft pick of the Chicago Bears in 1976, and played for the Bears for five years. He still lives in the Chicagoland area, and is currently doing color commentary for Northwestern University's football team.
WHY AUBURN (AND MOST OF THE SEC) IS OVERRATED
Before we begin, the usual disclaimer with any SEC post: "I acknowledge that Tennessee beat the pants off Cal in the first week. I still rank them ahead of Cal in my top 25, and I will continue to do so. Until they lose to LSU or Arkansas."
The reason I do have great respect for UT is that a) they have terrific speed on defense, b) they kicked Cal's tail, and c) they have a coordinator in David Cutcliffe who could run a very successful Pac-10 offense. Auburn, to pick on one of the once-beaten SEC schools, does not.
The fact that Al Borges is a mediocre-at-best offensive coordinator is well-documented. Go ask Mike Belotti. He hired Borges in 1995 and got middling results before Al decamped for Westwood. Belotti then hired Dirk Koetter, and saw his offense improve by a touchdown per game. Or, you could ask Bob Toledo. Before Auburn, Borges' resume was largely built on the back of a couple of good seasons with the Bruins. The wheels came off in 1999, though, and UCLA did nothing
to keep Borges in Westwood when Cal came in with a better financial offer.
You could ask...no, come to think of it don't ask Tom Holmoe. He'd just sit there with a vacant smile on his face. Ask me, and I'll tell you that Al Borges was one of the worst coaching hires in Cal football history. He had no idea how to work with Kyle Boller, who one year later would be a first-round NFL draft choice. After a year with Borges the QB Guru, Tedford had to rework all
of Boller's mechanics, from footwork on up. Al talked to the press about how his brilliant schemes were undermined by poor execution. He undermined a lame-duck coach as much as possible in an effort to get the top job. Worst of all, his offense scored four points per game less than the previous year's team, which had less talent and was run by the worst OC in the school's history. After the final game he was gone along with Holmoe, and Jeff Tedford took the same damn players and scored 17 points per game more
After an iterregnum at Indiana, where his teams again scored less than they did before and after his two-year tenure, he was hired by Tommy Tuberville at Auburn.
And he was welcomed as a God! I mean, there is actually an Al Borges t-shirt
Why, southerners had never heard of such concepts! Sending running backs on intermediate and deep routes! Three-step drops! It was all part of this mysterious new invention called the West Coast offense. Ironically, as Borges was installing the WCO at the Loveliest Village on the Plains, most WC schools had scrapped their versions, opting for either the spread (Oregon) or a two-back power attack (Cal). No matter to the locals, though, who rarely pay attention to blue-state happenings. To them, Borges was a revelation, like that first caveman who walked upright and could sharpen a long stick into a spear.
Why bring this up now? Well, it appears the shine is off Borges' offense, even if few in Auburn seem to have noticed. Seven points against LSU. 24 against a mediocre South Carolina defense. 10 in the awful home loss to Arkansas. No offensive touchdowns in the win over Florida. A lackluster performance against another bad Ole Miss team. Hey, in Year 1 you're the only guy who can make fire; by year three, just about everyone's figured the trick out. You need to evolve...and we know how some folks down south feel about that
Don't get me wrong, Al Borges could definitely get a job in the Pac 10. Hell, UCLA would take him back given the current occupant
of that job. But he'd probably not be welcomed at more than half the conference's schools, because he's just an ordinary guy who's about one offensive revolution behind the blue-state conferences.
I love SEC football, I really do. Tons of passion, and some of the finest athletes in the country (outside of Columbus, OH). But it's a bit sad that some of those athletes - specifically, the ones who take the snap from center - are wasted because of offensive thinking that's, dare I say, backwards. It's not true everywhere, of course - Florida and Tennessee figure to seperate from the rest of the conference (assuming Cutcliffe stays and Meyer stops playing Tebow in the single wing), and South Carolina will rise if Spurrier can get a respectable talent level in Columbia.
In any event, the pundits will continue to lap it up and confuse primitive offense for exceptional defense, and rank 7 SEC teams in next year's Top 25. Message board posters will point to high-octane Pac 10 games as proof positive that no defense is played west of the Rockies. And I'll continue to clean up betting against SEC teams in their bowl games.
50 GREATEST GOLDEN BEARS - #42 - RYAN O'CALLAGHAN
#42 - RYAN O'CALLAGHAN - OFFENSIVE TACKLE (2002-2005)
The biggest and usually the baddest man on the field for every snap of his three seasons as starting right tackle for the Bears. O'Callaghan was an absolute road grader, using his 6'7" 365-pound frame to simply overwhelm opposing linemen.
After his junior and senior seasons, O'Callaghan was voted first-team All-Pac 10 by the conference's coaches - not coincidentally, Cal finished either first or second in the conference in rushing both years. After his senior season, O'Callaghan was voted by the conference's defensive linemen as the winner of the Morris Award, recognizing the Pac-10's outstanding offensive lineman. During that senior campaign, O'Callaghan did not surrender a single sack, and recorded 38 knockdown blocks and 19 touchdown-resulting blocks. The most amazing statistic is that the defensive ends who lined up across from O'Callaghan recorded a total of 12 tackles the entire year. His junior year was only slightly less brilliant with 28 knockdowns and 15 touchdown-resulting blocks.
Last April Ryan was drafted in the 5th round (136th overall) by the New England Patriots, and he is starting at right tackle as a rookie.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS: UCLA v CALIFORNIA
There is really only one set of numbers that explains the difference between UCLA and California this year.
UCLA has been to the red zone 29 times on the season. In those 29 trips, they have scored only 12 touchdowns, a truly pitiful result. Their offensive struggles have likely made Justin Medlock an All-America selection, but settling for field goals doesn't cut it in the high-scoring Pac 10. Cal, by contrast, has reached the end zone 19 times out of 23 trips inside the twenty.
This Saturday, UCLA is facing the best red zone defense in the Pac: Cal has only allowed 9 touchdowns in 21 red zone possessions by the opposition. This fact, paired with Cal's +10 turnover margin, explains how a team that ranks 8th in Total Defense can be regarded as having a pretty good defense.
What explains this glaring disparity? I haven't seen every UCLA game, but I've seen enough to make a reasonable judgment. The first problem is the man wearing the headset. Dorrell and his OC Jim Svoboda have been fairly unimaginative inside the twenty. This might be driven by the limitations of QB Pat Cowan, who has thrown three picks in those 29 trips, but it results in lots of predictable runs off tackle or flare passes that don't go anywhere.
The second, and much bigger problem, is the dearth of playmakers on the UCLA side. Last year the Bruins had one of their all-time greatest scoring machines in Maurice Drew, and this year they have...what? Chris Markey is a fine back, but he's not going to create a lot of big plays on his own - to wit, he's scored exactly one touchdown this year. Moline is more of a tank suitable for short-yardage duties. The receivers are OK, but they need a reliable arm to deliver the football - and Cowan hasn't been up to the task.
Compare that with Cal's situation. Tedford can choose from three wideouts who have at least thirty catches each, a reliable if under-utilized tight end, the best back in the conference (Lynch), or his very capable understudy (Forsett) - both of whom are excellent receivers. Oh, and his QB is leading the conference in TD passes.
UCLA has an outstanding run defense, and given these facts, they will need it on Saturday. If they can hold Cal to less than 30 points, they've got a reasonable shot at the upset. If not, then the Rose Bowl Express moves further down the track.
50 GREATEST GOLDEN BEARS - #43 - WALTER GORDON
#43 - Walter Gordon, Guard/Tackle, 1916-1918
Walter Gordon was Coach Andy Smith's first great player, and one of the first black men to play college football in the West. When Gordon came to Berkeley from Riverside Poly High, the school had just restarted its football program after switching to rugby for a number of seasons. Gordon arrived at Cal with Smith, who had moved on from Purdue, and quickly became a dominant force on the offensive and defensive lines. The football of that day was a running game exclusively, and Gordon - a big man at 6'0" and 200 pounds - cut an impressive swath through opposing linemen. He had remarkable quickness and reflexes, owing not only to natural ability but to his training as a varsity athlete in both boxing and wrestling at Cal.
By 1918 Cal was showing flashes of excellence, finishing the year 7-2 with a win over mighty Oregon. After his senior season, Gordon was named an All-American - the first black man and the first Golden Bear to earn the recognition. Andy Smith regarded him as one of the fiercest tacklers he had ever seen - quick enough to chase down opposing backs and strong enough to break through a wall of blockers.
Gordon broke barriers off the field, as well. He was the first black to obtain a law degree from Boalt Hall, and became the first black officer on the Berkeley police force. While serving on the force, Gordon was also one of Smith's top football assistants and helped guide the "Wonder Teams" of the mid-1920s as a line coach and scout. He opened a law practice in 1922, and also served as President of the Alameda County NAACP. In 1944 Gordon's old classmate Governor Earl Warren appointed him to the California Adult Authority, which he eventually served as Chairman. In 1955, President Dwight Eisenhower appointed Gordon Governor of the US Virgin Islands. After three years in that post, Gordon stepped down to take yet another appointment, this time to the federal bench. He retired back "home" to Berkeley in 1969, was named to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1975 and passed away a year later at the age of 81.
Walter Gordon's was a fascinating life: trailblazer, star athlete, and legendary figure in the Berkeley community for most of his 81 years.
WEEKEND ROUNDUP: TROY FINALLY FALLS, FULLMER GETS OVER, AND CHARLIE WEIS HAS A POTTY MOUTH
- USC's conference unbeaten streak died in Corvallis Saturday, about 3 1/2 quarters after the death of an even more venerable institution: the USC rushing attack. The school that redefined the tailback position cannot run the football. At all. USC has as good a 1-2 punch at wideout as any school in America. Their quarterback is one of the 20 best in the nation. Their defense is very sound and occasionally capable of superior play. They should be a terrific team, but they're not because right now because USC couldn't run the football against, well, Stanford. Their offensive line is soft by SC standards and Chauncey Washington doesn't hit the hole with any sort of impact. Worst of all, they don't take care of the football. At this rate, they are a cinch to lose one more game - probably two.
- I don't know that I've ever seen a team quit at half time like UCLA quit against Wazzu.
- I learned four things watching the ESPN Saturday night game. 1) Fullmer got a much-needed win over the Old Ball Coach; 2) the Cockaboose is the greatest tailgating tradition in America; and 3) South Carolina has the only coach in America who could possibly win an SEC championship at that school. Spurrier has about half the talent as Fullmer, and he came pretty close to winning his second straight against the Vols.
- Oh, and 4) My wife does not want a Cockaboose in our back yard.
- Charlie Weis swears a lot. Actually, he only swore four or five times by my count in the 60 Minutes piece that aired Sunday night, but CBS decided to make it the focus of the story. An even greater concern: he starts his day at 5:00 am by listening to Bon Jovi. That's got to cost him a recruit somewhere down the line.
- It's Payback Week. Time to strap it up and bring Bruins Nation one step closer to the promised land.