September 09, 2006

Welcome Back, Cal Football

I can safely say we're once again more than a one-sport household. While the A's were battling on the East Coast in an eventual 9-6 defeat at Tampa Bay, the University of California Golden Bears returned home to Berkeley and the Memorial Stadium to take on the Minnesota Golden Gophers, and hopefully find some good news after their week one walloping at the hands of the Tennessee Volunteers. Of course, being the good alumni we are, my wife and I were there as well, ready to cheer on the Blue and Gold, the band, and Oski.

Since my graduation from Cal more than 7 years ago now, many things about Berkeley have changed and a great many more have not. It's always a delight to come see Cal football and wish for the best, even though we've experienced the worst. As Cal fans who suffered through a myriad of one-year coaches on the gridiron, and have seen the basketball team on probation for NCAA violations, not to mention the team's on-field troubles, we're often surprised when things actually work out well. Today, amid the tradition of the Cal band and the cannon - which shoots off with a bang after every Cal score - and the cries of "Take off that red shirt!" from the faithful, we saw a once-tentative team roar back to defeat the Gophers by a final score of 42-17.

After the Cal offense debuted with a "three and out" series, followed by the defense giving up a few big plays and the inevitable touchdown that followed, we found ourselves down early 7-0. And shortly after battling back to take the lead 14-7, the Gophers responded on the ensuing kickoff, running it back for a game-tying touchdown. The more bitter around us (myself included) made rumblings of beating the traffic, or noticing we had the lead for all of 17 seconds. But that would be the peak of our troubles. The team ended the first half with a 28-17 lead, and the Gophers were held scoreless in the second half, as the darkness and East Bay fog settled in to weigh down their hopes.

Approximately three hours after the game had started, the clock ticked down, the cannon sounded one last time, and Cal picked up its first victory on the season, evening their record at 1-1. And the victory was made even more sweet having already known that Stanford, the school's arch-nemesis, had lost a close contest against lowly-regarded San Jose State, 35 to 34. Even in Cal's triumph, the failure of their future foe was a wonderful thing.

Football is back. Gold and blue will rival the green and gold through the baseball playoffs, and we just may have to find a way to support both teams to the best of our ability. Both the next two upcoming Saturdays offer us the first time to conflict with the A's and Golden Bears schedules, where we are needed in two places at once. It's a rough life, but I am sure we can figure it out. Go Bears!

Listening to ''Tribute'', by DJ Shog (Play Count: 20)