Cal's seven plays that made a win a loss


Cal's seven plays that made a win a loss

Californias return to bowl football ended up being a face-first education. But the choice of lessons is greater than merely, Texas is better.In losing to the Longhorns, 21-10, in the Holiday Bowl Wednesday night, the Golden Bears learned the distance between themselves and a middle-of-the-pack Big XII team. Also, what happens when two legitimate offensive weapons match up against five turnovers. And especially how hard the Pac-12 would have become if it had become the Pac-16.Theyre a very good team you have to give all the credit in the world to, and they have a lot of very skilled athletes, head coach Jeff Tedford said after watching those athletes slowly but surely dominate his own athletes.RECAP: Texas tops Cal 21-10 in Holiday Bowl
And his own skilled athletes . . . well, they were fewer in number, and fewer in impact.

Indeed, Cals entire production was limited to its opening drives of each half. In the first, the Bears moved smartly and cleverly downfield for 40 yards and what ended up a 47-yard field goal by Giorgio Tavecchio. In the second, they looked even more Texas equal by driving 69 yards for their only touchdown, a six-yard toss play by Isi Sofele.And then there were The Seven Plays That Made A Win A Loss.1. The 17-yard punt return by Marvin Jones after Texas was forced to punt from the back of its own end zone, putting Cal at the Texas 27 down only 14-10
2. The incomplete pass from quarterback Zach Maynard to Sofele.
3. The personal foul by tight end Anthony Miller that took the ball back to the 44.
4. The sack of Maynard by safety Adrian Phillips, causing a fumble that was recovered by Texas tackle Chris Whaley.
5. The 37-yard run by wide receiver Marquise Goodwin to take the ball to the Cal 7.
6. The three-yard push by fullback Cody Johnson.
7. The final four-yard push by Johnson.And that was surely that. Cal would have enough problems getting the touchdown that would have put them ahead, but two was asking far more than Cal had the ability to give.That was obviously a big swing there, Tedford said wearily. To be in that position and have it turn around that quickly, that was hard to overcome.Truth be told, though, it would have been an event against the run of play, because the Longhorns turned the game into a study of being overmatched. Cal would have trouble with Texas under any conditions, in any venue and this was a substandard Texas team.But throw in the four fumbles, three by Maynard, and the interception by Maynard, and the season-high six times he was sacked, and the number of times Sofele couldnt find open ground and how Jones and Keenan Allen couldnt separate from the Texas secondary . . . and frankly, what you find out is that 21-10 really was not a representative score for the differences between the two teams.And Texas in its present state would be, at best, the fourth best team in this years Pac 12, distantly behind Oregon, Stanford or USC. Which means that Cal found out Wednesday what it already knew that their 7-5 record was a true measure of their worth on the open college football market.And that Texas didnt regard this as a crowning jewel in its history.Were not jumping up and down, and were not throwing Gatorade all over the place, head coach Mack Brown said. But this was a particularly important game for our seniors, and for the players coming back.He went on to make a point that Holiday Bowl wins one year have become bigger bowl wins within two years the Cotton Bowl win over LSU a year after the Holiday in 2001, the national championship over USC two years after the Holiday in 2003, the Fiesta Bowl win over Ohio State the year after the Holiday in 2007 and a loss in the national championship to Alabama the year after that.Cals goals are more modest by necessity, even if the Golden Bears are loath to admit it. They went from 5-7 to 7-6, but lose Jones and Allen, their two nonpareil receivers, plus defenders Mychal Kendricks and Trevor Guyton. They relearned the art of winning, but they have to consolidate that knowledge to become less susceptible to being slowly devoured by a team like Texas.Thus, Wednesday did have lessons. Starting with the understanding that as 21-10 losses go, this one wasnt close to 21-10 at all.

A's stripped of little-engine-that-could classification at a bad time


A's stripped of little-engine-that-could classification at a bad time

As rumored over the past two months, Major League Baseball just lowered the Oakland Athletics’ revenue by $34 million, and now all the other developments of the past few weeks have finally become a call to arms by an organization that has always been strident pacifists when it comes to money.

In other words, The Little Engine That Occasionally Could has now been stripped of its little-engine classification, and the conditions that allowed them to play the cute little underdog are gone. No more waiting for more clement economic circumstances, or a more favorable political climate, or for the ever-nebulous “future” which the A’s always dangled before its dwindling fan base.

That was the news of Wednesday. Thursday, reports from ESPN’s Jim Trotter indicated that San Diego Chargers owner Dean Spanos is going to swallow his pride to exercise his option to join Stan Kroenke in Los Angeles, thus reducing Mark Davis’ viable options to Las Vegas and the tender mercies of the NFL, or Oakland and the tender mercies of whoever decides to tackle the problem of a new football-atorium.

In other words, push and shove are now jockeying for position in what is expected to be a crash.

First, the A’s.

With the news that Major League Baseball is going to hack the team’s revenue sharing check by 25, 50, 75 and then 100 percent over the next four years, the margin of error for new front man Dave Kaval to get a stadium built has been reduced to those four years. He is following the dictates of his boss, the persistently hologrammatic John Fisher, who essentially shoved Lew Wolff out the door for preaching San Jose and then caution.

The A’s don’t want to share anything with the Raiders, which rules out a Coliseum site. They have investigated Howard Terminal, which is not without its issues. And there is a new darkhorse site, the land around Laney College which, in a tart bit of irony, is the site of the Raiders’ first Oakland home, Frank Youell Field.

The city and county are in the early stages of a deal to sell the Coliseum land to a group faced by Ronnie Lott and the money-moving Fortress group, and get out of the landlord business entirely. It has pledged somewhere between $190 and $200 million in infrastructure improvements, though in the case of two stadia, the question of whether that amount is split remains to be politicized.

But the real point here is that the Gordian knot that is Oakland’s weird hold on its franchises remains tightly raveled. The Fortress announcement was supposed to be a point of clarity, but the revenue sharing news and now the Chargers-to-L.A. rumors have returned chaos to its usual position at the tip of the food chain.

And chaos makes for hasty decisions, and hasty decisions are often regretted. But hey, what’s life without rich people awash in regrets?

The new developments ratchet up the pressure on the City of Oakland and Alameda County to decide what support – if any – to provide a new A’s stadium, and coincidentally what support – if any – can be provided to the Raiders if they are forced to stay in Oakland by the NFL.

It even ratchets up the pressure on the NFL owners to decide among themselves whether their actual end-game goal – to have the Raiders controlled by someone other than Mark Davis – is better served by allowing him to move his team to Las Vegas or denying him his escape route.

But now for the first time there are time constraints – a few months for Mark Davis, a few years for John Fisher and Dave Kaval. The principles of subsidized Moneyball are now conjoined with the principles of Darwinism, and as the A’s have had innovate-or-die thrust upon them, the Raiders have approached the day of reckoning they’ve been desperately kicking down the road since Al Davis’ death. Plus, the political structures of Oakland and Alameda County will catch the holiest of hells either way, and probably across the board.

But as Paul Weller once wrote, “That’s entertainment.” Find shelter, children. The acrid smell of roasting money is in the wind.

Defying common sense makes another official look inhuman


Defying common sense makes another official look inhuman

Officials are a pet cause of mine, since they are uniquely hired and set up for daily failure as a condition of having the job at all. They are given a supervisory role against a group of mesomorphs running, jumping, colliding and athletick-ing all over the place, only so that they can interpret a rulebook written in Cambodian script in such a way that he or she angers everyone involved, and is supported by none of the people who gave him the rulebook to defend.

But sometimes, despite all this, officials need to be left alone to apply common sense in direct defiance of the dictates of the bloated swine who made the rulebook a tool of the socially ignorant.

And no, I am not talking about Doc Rivers snapping like a stretched bobblehead the other night after Ken Mauer tossed him from the Los Angeles Clippers-Brooklyn Nets game for being geographically inappropriate with fellow official Lauren Holtkamp (he crossed the midcourt line, and curb your dirty minds). Screw him. He had it coming.

No, this is about Frank Schneider, who refereed the otherwise unremarkable Paris Saint Germain-Angers match in Ligue 1, the top division of French soccer, and felt compelled to yellow-card PSG goalscorer Edinson Cavani for doing this.

For you link-averse weenies, Cavani scored a goal and then took off his shirt to reveal an undershirt that read “ACE FUERZA” in support of the Brazilian soccer team Chapecoense, the team involved in the plane wreck that killed 77 of 81 passengers, including all but a few of the team’s players and staff en route to the championship match of the Copa Sudamericana in Colombia against Atletico Nacional.

It was a thoughtful gesture, one we want our athletes to produce to show that they are not just mercenaries with expensively shod feet. It was a credit to Cavani, who is Uruguayan and who knew none of the players involved. He did it to be a human being.

And Schneider knew that. But the rules say he had to give Cavani a yellow card for removing his shirt as an act of celebration or in this case, sympathy, and if Schneider had ignored it, his supervisors would have punished him knowing full well that ignoring it was exactly the correct and decent thing to do.

This right here is one more reason why people hate officials, even more than they used to. They are not allowed to apply their own common sense to a situation that demands it, and if honoring fellow athletes who died in an accident doesn’t demand the common sense of saying, “Heartwarming thought there, Scooter. You’re a good lad. Run and frolic with the other woodland creatures, unconcerned with any notion of punitive action.”

Maybe Schneider walked up to him as he presented the card and said, “Listen, this is crap. You know it and I know it, and I will back your play in the game report, but I have to do this. Please find it in your heart to forgive my bureaucratic obligations.”

That’s not the zenith of understanding as we would wish it, but it would be a way to try and shield Cavani from the withered arm of the law.

Or maybe Schneider said, “I give this card to you in my role as a strident and iron-willed defender of mindless regulations. I spurn you as I would spurn a rabid wolf.”

I don’t know. All I know is, Schneider ends up looking stupid for carding Cavani for supporting his soccer-playing brethren, and officials across the globe cry out as one, “You put him in a ridiculous position, you suit-wearing filth. Where is your compassion? Where is your dignity? Why can’t we line up in an orderly fashion and kick you squarely in the groin 30 to 70 times?”

And a decent human instinct is stamped out as though it were caught stealing office supplies.

You can extend this lesson as far as you wish, including the No Fun League’s old-white-guys fetishistic ban on post-touchdown self-expression, but right here is where that sort of mockable nonsense starts. People died, some of them soccer players. A fellow soccer player honored them on the field of play without disrupting the game itself. He was sanctioned. This is idiocy.

But Doc Rivers getting flipped in Brooklyn? Sorry. There’s only so far we can go with this, and in this case, well, to quote the old philosopher, “Nice tantrum, Glenn.”