Post by Nevadanut on Dec 30, 2018 19:14:50 GMT -8
As most of you know, Yeseeka and are are the best of friends (and very much alike). I call her Jessi; According to her own words, only I am allowed to call her that.
At Cal, as roommates and best friends, Jessi and I went to a lot of football games. At times, the results were painful to watch. At other times, it became an honor to be a Cal student-fan. Think about it, if the players are student-athletes, were we not student-fans? At one time, after several long struggles, We won a championship. Sort of.
Jessi and I graduated in the spring of 2016. We are Golden Bears alumni.
Flash forward to this season. Cal, under second-year head coach Justin Wilcox and an extremely stingy defense, my Golden Bears returned to the bowl scene in 2018, finishing with a 7-5 overall record and 4-5 in the Pac-12 Conference's North Division. They swept their non-conference schedule and, while they had trouble with their conference slate, they did record impressive wins over traditional powerhouses Washington and USC.
That winning record led my Golden Bears to the Cheez-It Bowl the day after Christmas. It was a defensive slug fest in the first half before TCU's running game woke up in the second. Still, the teams played to a 7-7 stalemate at the end of four quarters. It came down to overtime. Cal's first possession ended in an interception. After driving to the 10-yard line, the Horned Frogs preserved the 10-7 win with a field goal.
The current crop of student-fans must be disappointed. They were on the brink of winning their bowl game. Despite that, the Golden Bears are in excellent hands with Wilcox. They made a bowl game and the future looks bright. For the seniors hoping for something more, alas. You saw a competitive and challenging season end with disappointment.
On the other hand, when you were freshmen, you won a championship. Sort of.
When Jessi and I started going to Cal games as we were freshmen, we saw struggles. Our Golden Bears went a paltry 3-9. Jeff Tedford, who had led Cal to its most recent bowl games, was dismissed as head coach that season. We were going to start over with a new coach by the name of Sonny Dykes.
During my sophomore season, my Golden Bears fared even worse than they had the previous season. Their only win came to Division 1-AA Portland St. And, even that one was a struggle.
We got better the next season. We hit a 5-7 mark and showed promise under Dykes and a native Californian quarterback named Jared Goff. The team made such a marked improvement over that season, us student-fans began dreaming of bowl season in 2015. Jessi and I, on behalf of our team and our school, wanted to go bowling in our senior season. And no, I'm not talking about knocking down pins with a 12-pound ceramic ball while wearing tacky rented shoes.
We wanted a bowl game. We could taste it. Dykes and Goff were entering their third year together. It would be the last chance for Jessi and I so witness our team in the postseason as students. But, we knew the Pac-12 would not be an easy schedule to navigate.
I realize it's difficult to be a vested fan in a team and see them struggle year after year. I think of the stories of the Chicago Cubs, Cleveland Browns and the prior to Michael Jordan Chicago Bulls. They all had major droughts and struggles. Let's face it; losing sucks.
But, that last year when we were at Cal was fun. It was a fun season. The season had its ups, and also its downs. Our Golden Bears opened the season with five straight wins, but that was followed by four straight losses. With wins over Oregon St. and Arizona St. (that one was particularly entertaining and tense), Cal ended 7-5 with an invitation to the Armed Forces Bowl. It would be patriotic to say the least.
Well, in the Armed Forces Bowl in Colorado, my Golden Bears rolled out to a 35-21 lead by halftime, then pretty much evened things out in the second half en route to a 55-36 win. Overall that season, we ended 8-5.
Jared Goff threw for six touchdowns in Cal's 2015 Armed Forces Bowl win.
My Golden Bears did not win the national championship, nor even the Pac-12 championship. They merely made to a bowl game and won. But, they DID win a championship. At least, in my eyes.
There are numerous colleges who always seem to make the college football playoff. Heck, It would not surprise me that if Alabama went 0-12, the committee would still try to find a way to put them in the top four in the name of name recognition. The rubber stamping of some teams in the national championship does not negate the championship I felt.
No, we did not win the whole thing, but we won. After seeing our team struggle for so many years, I feel that senior year was an amazing time of growth of my team. It was following that game that Goff was selected first in the NFL Draft by the Los Angeles Rams. Imagine that, an NFL franchise is building around a QB who went only 8-5 in his final season. Jared is that good..
By now, Goff is one of the top emerging QBs in the NFL. The Rams are vying for home field advantage in the playoffs. A win in week 17 should do it. I continue to look forward to what Wilcox can build for my Golden Bears.
As for Cal, Tedford and Dykes are gone, as are several players. Those players are the reason I am writing this. I adore the contributions that each player on those Cal teams from 2013-16. Even in the rough years, I know they were fighting on every play.
I also admire that amazing team from 2015. We were not in the BCS Playoff but, we won a championship in that Armed Forces Bowl.
That is what I will remember from my final student-fan season of watching Cal football We may have not won the College Football Playoff, but for what we did from my freshman year to my senior year; we ARE champions. I will always feel that, and I will always adore that. To me, that was the same as winning a national championship.
My champions. My Golden Bears.
This is the periodic blog of According to Heidi on SCtoC. She is a Head Coach on this site and a college graduate with a B.A. in Music and a Minor in English. She now lives and works in Portland, Oregon. To comment on this thread and others on this forum, please login or register.