As a Stanford fan, I usually view Cal’s regular season with an air of detached indifference. This year is different. With two games left in the regular season, ranked fourth in the BCS, Cal is on the brink of a special season. And with Stanford ineligible for a bowl game, I’m almost pulling for a Cal victory in the Big Game.
This has happened before. Several weeks into the 1991 season, Cal was undefeated and ranked in the top 10. My friend Kal and I came up with a hare brained scheme to buy season tickets to insure priority for a potential Rose Bowl bid. Unable to buy season tickets, we purchased tickets for Washington and USC.
Cal - UDub was perhaps the best college game that I have attended. Memorial Stadium was packed and I still remember the roar of the crowd when Lindsay Chapman broke off a long TD run to tie the score at 17-17. The Bears lost 24-17 that day, but they were game to the end.
But 1991 is a cautionary tale for Cal as well. Cal would lose to an Aloha Bowl bound Stanford in the Big Game. An incompetent AD would let Bruce Snyder go to ASU; where he would take the Sun Devils to national prominence, not the Bears.
The pieces are in place again. Coach Jeff Tedford has a $500,000 buyout clause in his contract if there is no progress towards renovating Memorial Stadium. A loss to Stanford in the Big Game would drop Cal out of the BCS.
The Big Game will be on at the East Side Cafe in Norwalk. I think that I’ll stay away this year. It can be a bit rocky when your heart and your head can’t agree on who you want to win.
PS In my years as a Stanford season ticker holder, I may have seen better games than ‘91 Cal-UDub. But fans surround the field at Memorial Stadium where a track intervenes at Stanford. When Memorial Stadium is rocking you can feel it in your bones.