Stanfords 21-3 victory over California in the 283rd Big Game was a pretty desultory affair by any definition except maybe Stepfan Taylors.
And Cals performance was particularly pewter-gray. Its offense, spotty in the best of time, left barely a drop of ink, and was so ineffectual that the defense, which was acceptable, couldnt actually make a dent at the other end.
As a result, Jeff Tedford got another turn in the pan, because there is nothing quite like never having a chance in the Big Game to agitate the alums who influence these decisions. He wont get fired unless one of those alums ponies up a big enough package to buy his last three years out, but he continues to lose support across the board.
Thats the politics, baby, as Richard Pryor used to say.
But having a coach on the hot seat on October 20th feels as hollow as anything else connected to this new Big Game tradition. The Pacific 12 Conference moved the game to this completely alien time, and though this seems a lot like complaining about the soot after the fire has been extinguished, its still difficult to take the game, its results or its ramifications seriously.
RELATED: Stanford dominates Cal 21-3 in 115th Big Game
And there are ramifications above and beyond just Tedfords still-chimerical jeopardy. Stanford has national aspirations that dont feel like they were particularly advanced by Saturdays win. Cal didnt have a game upon which it can build for the rest of the schedule Utah, Washington and the two Oregons. The new Memorial Stadium has still not been properly blooded by a game in bad weather.
There was an artificiality about this Big Game Week, as baseball crowded it out of the attention it rightly expected. There was no proper buildup, and even the on-campus traditions seemed a bit too, well, stand-alone. The Big Game is not a campus-only event, and frankly has been powered mostly by the alums for most of its history.
Oh, the schools tried, but traditions do not take dents lightly. This was a necessity logistically, but it still ended being a failure.
The game came and went Saturday but it never even approached Big-dom. It will be little known nor long remembered. Stanford controlled the game but did not dominate. Cal held its own in the second half, but never got close to making it an argument. And the arguments about Tedfords security just fell flat, because there is too much season still to be negotiated.
2012 doesnt figure to be a great year in Berkeley (the Ursines have a decent chance to split and finish a deeply meh 5-7), but the Big Game is designed either to buoy the fan base or bury it. This does neither.
Nor does Stanford look ahead to Notre Dame and then a big-deal bowl game yet. The Cardinal already played Notre Dame, and are likely to finish either 8-4 or 9-3, with Oregon State the make-or-break game.
But the season is still going to be kind of a pffffffttt, because the big moment for both schools has already come, and gone. The Big Game may have taken one for the team the team being Larry Scott but it took more for the team than the team deserved.