When can a football game mean nothing and everything all at once? When you decide to let it mean something to you and your people.
Just wanted to say thank you for a season of introspective articles that help put my angry TV ramblings into coherent thoughts. I always enjoy reading these recaps.
Awww... sweet, I was glad to see you too, no joke. But you have hit on something important and fundamental about Cal sports: There were almost no SC fans because they ONLY care about winning, we have a deeper connection: Love. Love of the game, love of our friends, love of our school. We would have shown up in south central no matter what, but like Oregon fans in the Pac-12 championship, SC fans, really don't care about their team, or the game itself writ large.
What I’ve loved most about this season (other than all of the above, natch) doesn’t really have anything to do with football, ultimately, so let me tell you about a happening on Saturday that brought me joy.
As has been the case all season, the tailgate began well before game time, and as the afternoon transitioned to evening a shockingly large number of folks had gathered for this silly little football game. As we chanted for Nam and shared libations, a pair of curious first year grad students wandered by, heard the commotion, and asking what was going on. I explained the basics, and told them that they should come back at 7:00, when we would sing the drinking song and share a drink before heading to the game. They smiled, said thanks, and left. I assumed that they wouldn’t return to hang out with a bunch of olds drinking in a dark parking lot in the cold.
But just a short time later, they returned, with more friends. The bulk of the group were Germans studying abroad, and the found the entire party unique. We shared food and drink, tried in vain to explain what the lyrics to the Drinking Song mean*, and sent them extra tickets so that they could enjoy the game.
And that, ultimately, is what keeps me coming back each week. Do I enjoy shouting and carrying on in the stadium? Do I enjoy heckling the USC band? Absolutely. But it’s the new friends and the old friends and the friends you make for two hours who you likely will never see again but give you a memory anyway that make it so very worth it.
Re the Highland Dutch thing, German-Americans were often referred to as 'Dutch' historically, probably because 'Deutsch' is German for 'German'. For example, the 'Pennsylvania Dutch' are of German descent, not Dutch descent. So in that context, 'Highland Dutch' could be Bavarians, especially since the line in the song comes right after 'came over from old Germany'.
Re the season, what happened to us was like what happened to Nebraska, but on a smaller scale. 5-2 in multi-score games, 0-5 in one-score games including one in which we were playing with barely half a roster. With average luck, we probably go 2-3 if not 3-2 in those games and easily make a bowl.
This team was clearly better than its record. By yardage it was as good as Wilcox's other teams: we were +234 yards this year, compared to -190 in 2020 (1-3), -805 in 2019 (8-5), +343 in 2018 (7-6), -545 in 2017 (5-7).
Point differential shows the same thing: +18 in 2021, -25 in 2020, -9 in 2019, +15 in 2018, -8 in 2017.
Anyway, thank you for doing these writeups all season.
Sigh... Totally agree with Nick's "Big Picture" thoughts. Both this season and 2019 were huge what-ifs. What if Chase had stayed healthy all season in 2019? What if we had pulled out 1 more win out of all those last-minute losses earlier in the season? What if we had developed our backup QBs into even a mediocre passer for the Arizona game? The Pac-12 likely won't be down for too much longer, so I'm really hoping that Wilcox and co. can eventually pull it all together even for just 1 season if the admin decided to retain them.
Also, can we NEVER have that FS1 commentating team again? They came into the game with a pre-set storyline that Cal didn't want to be there, but USC would be playing their hearts out for their beloved interim coach, and by god, they were going to stick with that narrative no matter what. For example, when one of our DBs (was it Hearns?) barely missed an interception after trying to jump in front of the WR, they decided it was because he was mentally checked out and therefore making poor decisions. Then we get a turnover a few plays later...
The best defensive play didn't even count. The INT by Lu Hearns.
So close to bowling but so far as well. The bottom line is that we didn't play up to our potential in a few games, getting outcoached and in the Arizona game, getting bet by a moribund program because we had no second string QB.