Archive for January, 2007

Pac-10 bowl game wrap-up/analysis

Wednesday, January 3rd, 2007

Well, the Pac-10 started off REALLY slowly this year in the bowl games.  Both Oregon and Arizona St. were downright embarassed by 2nd-tier teams before Christmas.  On the one hand, both of those teams were in shambled and it was somewhat to be expected.  (As a short aside, Cal’s one touchdown victory over BYU in 2005 at the Vegas Bowl looks a little more impressive considering how well BYU did in 2006 and their completely embarassing of Oregon in this year’s Vegas Bowl.)

Unfortunately things didn’t get any better when UCLA, a team that definitely had the skills and were coming off a their biggest win since… well, since they beat Cal in 2005, couldn’t get the job done against a weak Florida State team.  So the Pac-10 was 0-3 in their early bowls and all the prognosticators were talking about how weak the Pac-10 was.

Boy did that change.  Cal destroyed A&M, Oregon State beat Missouri (although the final score was close and it required a last minute comeback by OSU, OSU dominated most of the game) and USC destroyed Michigan.  In the end, the best teams in the Pac-10 beat the better teams in the Big-12 and the Big-10.  I think it is safe to say that the Pac-10 is the best conference west of the Mississippi.

As for the other conferences:

The Big-12 is a joke going 3-5 which of it’s own right isn’t horrific but look at the 3 wins: Alabama, Minnesota and Iowa.  Not exactly teams to be proud of beating as a conference.  The Oklahoma loss to Boise St. is the difinitive example of where the Big-12 is at.

The Big-10 is 2-4 going into the championship game.  While two of the victories, Penn St. victory over Tennessee and Wisconson over Arkansas, spoke surprisingly well for the conference, the Michigan loss and the the overall record reinforce my though that the Big-10 is a weak conference.  If Ohio State loses to Florida, it will hard to avoid that impression.

The surprise conference is the Big East, they’re 4-0 and no one can speak poorly of that.  However, I think one still have to temper that record with who they’ve beat: East Carolina, Kansas St., Geogia Tech. and Wake Forest.  Not exactly a great lineup.

The ACC, which I thought was the most under-appreciated conference (I’m not saying the best, just not as bad as most people thought) didn’t do all that well, 3-5.  Their lineup was a bit tougher than most, but still, overall they didn’t live up to my expectations.

That leaves the SEC who still have two games left.  They’re 3-4 so far but if they win their remaining two games, it’ll be hard to debate them as having the most impressive bowl record of the BCS conferences when “strength of schedule” is included.

The other big winner this year is the non-BCS teams.  BYU and Boise St. did a lot for their reputation.

But overall, when one looks at the big picture, I think the Pac-10 did well when one considers how the other conferences did and their bowl schedule.

Next post: a end of season look forward to the Pac-10 next year.

Holiday Trip report – Finally!

Wednesday, January 3rd, 2007

It was my original intent to write a blog entry every day for the trip and I started off well with my 12/26 report.  But since I was combining a Holiday Bowl trip with spending some time with my uncle Rick, I found myself with less time to write than I had hoped.  So, I guess it’ll have to be a single wrap-up at this point.

On the 27th I went to the press conference for both head coaches.  Since most know my opinion of Tedford (a class act) I’ll keep my comments to A&M head coach Dennis Franchione and the press who was there.

Franchione was a class act himself.  He seemed more comfortable with the media than Tedford who has always been a little media shy.  But he was humble about the opportunity to play in the Holiday Bowl and very respectful of his competition.  You could tell he loved the game and had respect for all those who felt the same way independent of their success.  He had particular respect for Tedford (the feeling appears to be mutual).

The A&M press was not so humble.  There were three type of press people there.  Press who cover the Bears (like me), press who cover A&M and local San Diego press.  I knew most of the Cal press from having covered the Bears this season but this was my first exposure to the others.  The local press was mostly fairly naive and was easy to distinguish from the A&M press.  The A&M press was suprisingly arrogant.  They threw lots of questions at Tedford about how they were going to be able to slow down the A&M offense and in particular Jevorskie Lane.  It was interesting because the Cal press, which tends to run fairly critical, combined with the A&M press, which ran arrogant, gave the impression that it was Cal who was the underdog and was going to killed.

Obviously we know what the result was.

After that I went to the Kickoff Luncheon.  I was given the impression up front that the press would be getting to sit down at the luncheon and even get lunch.  At the press conference we were told that it wouldn’t be the case, that there instead be chairs at the back of the room and that they would see about box lunches.

When we got over there, there were no “chairs at the back of the room” to be found.  A few of us press hung around for about a half hour but it was pretty awkward and so one by one we all left.  I think I was the last one to go about 15 minutes into the speaches.  In retrospect I wish I had stayed to hear everything.  It would have been worth it just to experience the event.  See my pictures of the event here.

What I can tell you is that if you’re heading to a Cal bowl game and they have a similar event it is probably worth going to.  It was only $50 a head, you got a nice lunch and each table had two players at it.  Of course I’m sure the table with Marshawn Lynch or DeSean Jackson or Desmond Bishop was reserved for those people who are candidates to have new buildings that they paid for named after them.  Nevertheless it seemed like a good opportunity to meet some players, be with a lot of committed fans and get a taste for the other team’s players/fans.

That was the end of the festivities for the day and of all the days leading up to the bowl game.

On game day my only plan was to go to the game and tailgate with a few family members.  Well that was going swimmingly when I realized that I had left my press-pass in San Marcos, where I was staying, about 45 minutes away.  It was impractical to go back for it at that point and since I didn’t have a seat in the press box (I had the pass for post-game access to the field and press conferences) and had a ticket for the game, I decided just to leave the issue alone and go to the game as a regular fan.

Unfortunately I didn’t have any Cal gear on.  When you’re press, you’re supposed to be impartial.  So no Cal hat, no gameday shirt, no Cal bottle openner that plays the fight song every time you open a bottle of beer.  I can deal with that if I get the on-the-field access but if I don’t get that, it’s a bummer to be dressed in Khakis and a dress shirt when I could be showing my school spirit.

The pre-game and halftime shows left lots to be desired.  I guess the fireworks at halftime were fine, but the combination of the fireworks with the band with the on-the-field fireworks with PA system music with occasional announcements… well let’s just leave it at “poorly choreographed”.  I must admit that the American flag that covered the whole field and the Navy parachuters from the pre-game were pretty cool.

Speaking of military things, the Texas A&M band was… interesting.  I’ll give them this, they were very good at what they do.  I’ve never seen such precision in a band.  In many ways, they’re just like their football team: they only do one thing and they do it pretty well.  But all they did was march up and down the field with the occasional crossing patterns.  So if the song was longer than one trip back and forth, they’d just loop back and do it again.  So for their first song during the pregame, I was impressed with the precision and how different it was from your average marching band.  However by the time they were done with their halftime show, the band had lost a lot of its appeal.  I mean, other than some minor formation changes they did the exact same thing, including the song, at half time as during the pre-game.

On the other hand, the Cal band seemed to be a little out of sync.  They just didn’t have the intensity that they usually do.  Additionally I thought they really dropped the ball with their halftime music selection.  While I understand why they choose to do various modern music during regular halftime shows, so they’re not always doing the same thing, why they did that for the Holiday Bowl?  There are all kinds of Cal songs that aren’t included in the usual pre-game show.  Sure, it would be repetitive to do those every week, but this is the bowl game.  Where’s the Stanford Jonah?  Hail to California?  Or any of the other Cal songs.  That would have been a much wiser choice for a bowl game particularly in front of a mixed crowd.  It’s an opportunity to showcase everything Cal.  Playing some Chicago songs doesn’t exactly do that and was a letdown.

After the game I went back to my uncle’s place in San Marcos (the press-pass was EXACTLY where I thought it was) to sleep for the night.  I drove home the next morning.  The trip took me about 8 hours both ways and I hit very little traffic either way.  Speaking of which, since we seem doomed to go to the Holiday bowl for the forseeable future (OK, maybe not but I’m better with low expectations and exceeding them), I’ve got some sothern California freeway advice for Cal fans (yes that means you Jason).  Don’t take I-5 all the way through LA.  That’s just asking for trouble.  Instead you want to circle around LA to the east.  In addition to bypassing all LA traffic, it also naturally gets you on I-15 in San Diego (which is where Qualcomm is located next to) and it goes right by the Rose Bowl (and I figure the more we drive by it the better luck we’ll have in eventually getting to stop there because… well… we’ll know the way).  So here’s the route everyone should be taking in the future:

  • I-5 to I-210 east (north of LA)
  • I-210 to CA-57/CA-71 south (in San Demas)
  • CA-71 to CA-91 east (in Corona)
  • CA-91 to I-15 south (still in Corona)

It really is the best route and I doubt it is a sigificant number of miles longer than taking I-5.  Plus you won’t have any traffic problems like you would in LA.

So overall it was a good trip, 1140 miles at 32.5 MPG (I love my Jetta!) with about 16 hours of driving.  Plus because I stayed with my uncle Rick, the trip costs were low (about $100) for gas and a couple meals on the road.  When coupled with a wonderful butt-kicking of any team from Texas, who can complain about that? 

Marshawn Lynch is going pro

Wednesday, January 3rd, 2007

Well this isn’t a surprise to anyone but Lynch has decided to go pro.  Here is a link.

I was among those who was fairly hopeful that Lynch might consider coming back for his senior year.  It appears I was wrong as he didn’t even need a full week after the Holiday Bowl to announce his decision.

In any case, let’s raise a glass to all the great moments Lynch has given us and to hoping that he finds great success and happiness in his life as an NFL back.  Do us proud Marshawn!

Movie quotes of good “car incidents”

Tuesday, January 2nd, 2007

OK, I’m looking for some help here.  I’ve got a top-secret project right now that I could use some good audio clips from movies.  What I’m looking for is various “car incidents”.  You know, crashes, people yelling at/from cars, that type of stuff.

Can anybody think of some good lines from movies that come from “car incidents”?  Funny stuff is prefereable but anything is OK.  I’ve got a block and can’t think of anything.

And for those of you who are here for the Cal Bears coverage, there will be more coming tonight: A wrapup on my Holiday Bowl trip and post bowl game analysis.