Sunday, December 05, 2004
Sure, USC will get a chance to play for the national championship against Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl on January 4. But the real story here is the fact that California will not play in the Rose Bowl. Instead, it will be Texas who gets the privilege of playing Michigan January 1.
If you read my college football post last night, I laid out the reason why Cal deserved a BCS bid over Texas:
Cal lost to USC 23-17, even though Aaron Rodgers was nearly perfect, going 29-for-31, completing his first 23 passes. The Golden Bears are the best 1-loss team in America, no question.
Texas was shut out by Oklahoma, 12-0. If you have 1 loss and in that 1 loss, you get shut out, you have no business being in a BCS bowl, no matter who the opponent was. And let's not forget that the Longhorns scraped by both Arkansas and Kansas, two less-than-stellar teams.
And yet Texas will play in Pasadena while Cal is relegated to the solid, but not as prestigious Holiday Bowl. Unreal.
Cal head coach Jeff Tedford showed a lot of class last night at Southern Miss by having his team take a knee instead of running up the score. In today's world of college football, you don't see that very often. All you have to do is look back a few weeks ago when Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops left his starters in against Nebraska. Yes, I'm from the school of thought that you play all 60 minutes. But in Cal's case last night, they didn't need to run up the score late in the game. They had the game won and that was the bottom line. It's funny how all the talk about last night's Cal-Southern Miss game sounds like the Golden Bears had lost. Well, technically, they did lose out on a Rose Bowl bid. And it didn't have to be that way.
I like to think that I'm a sports fan who believes both in the old school and new school way of doing things. But one tradition that I always want to see in sports is a Big Ten/Pac-10 Rose Bowl. Unfortunately, with this season's Michigan-Texas game, this will be the 3rd Rose Bowl out of the last 4 seasons that won't feature both the Big Ten and the Pac-10.
As for Cal, they will face Texas Tech from the Big XII in the Holiday Bowl in San Diego. Texas Tech has a high-powered offense with Sonny Crumbie, but the Red Raiders' offensive success is because of their head coach Mike Leach. That being said, Cal should win this game, no questions asked. The Golden Bears are pissed off. I can see Aaron Rodgers going for 450 yards in this game, since the Red Raiders can't play defense at all. The Holiday Bowl may be the last game as a Cal Bear for Rodgers, who's been rumored to leave Berkeley after this season.
With today's events, I'm convinced more than ever that Jeff Tedford will leave the East Bay for the University of Washington. ESPN's Kirk Herbstreit made an excellent point on ESPN News earlier tonight. He pointed out that if Washington were 10-1 and were in the same position as Cal, they would be in the Rose Bowl. Herbstreit is 100 percent right here.
We all know that Washington has money, i.e. the Tyee Club. Cal has money, but not nearly as much as Washington. It's been reported that Cal athletic director Sandy Barbour will talk with Tedford about an extension to stay on as head coach at Cal. But I believe at this point that it's a lost cause. Let's be honest here, Cal doesn't get many opportunities like this to shine on the national stage. Their last bowl game on New Year's Day was the 1992 Citrus Bowl against Clemson. Hell, their last Rose Bowl appearance was 1959.
Why do I care so much about Cal? Well, the first college football game I ever witnessed in person was at Memorial Stadium in Berkeley as an 11-year old in 1993. Cal played the Jeff Garcia-led San Jose State Spartans. The Golden Bears won that day, but what I remember most about that day was when I went down to the front row behind the end zone. For some stupid reason, I touched the hot as hell AstroTurf and paid for it big time. My fingers were hurting like hell. Good times, though.
As for the rest of the bowls, tomorrow I will post information about the first annual Sports and Bremertonians bowl challenge. It will be at ESPN.com as part of the Sonic Bowl Mania challenge. Fellow bloggers and readers will be invited to join. The first bowl game is next Tuesday, Dec. 14 in New Orleans. The New Orleans Bowl with North Texas and Southern Miss. Yay.
The bowl season is the most wonderful time of the year, no doubt about it.