I’ve got good news and bad news, Bears.
The bad news is that Cal lost its third straight Big Game in a not-at-all big way. There was no mighty fight for the Axe in Memorial Stadium this year. The Bears didn’t have a chance to fall apart; the offense didn’t even show up on Saturday.
Stanford steamrolled a shaky offensive line for what felt like 200 slot machine spins of three-and-outs.
The bad news is that after this most recent defeat, Cal won’t make a bowl game for the second time in three years. Not without a miracle, at least, and those generally don’t touch down in Memorial Stadium. A home tilt with Oregon can be written off now as a loss — the only lingering mystery is the final point spread.
The Bears have gone eight weeks without pause for a bye week, and the strain of such demand shows in the way the team peters out as soon as the first kickoff sails into the air. A final road bout with dark horse Oregon State should seal Cal’s fate.
But wait, good news is on the way. Sometime in the midst of the stalemate snooze-fest that was the second half of the Big Game, huge and earth-shattering news broke out in the Twitter-verse. Missy Franklin, the swimming world’s golden girl and winner of five Olympic medals at the Summer Games, verbally committed to Cal.
This is big, folks.
Franklin is easily one of the most highly touted recruits in any sport to come to Cal in recent history — she’s probably one of the nation’s most highly touted recruits, period. She’s a world-record-breaking Olympic medal machine.
In London, she won four golds and set a world record in the 200 back. She’s also got her own Wikipedia page and is frequently compared to the human gold medal that is Michael Phelps.
And she’s only 17 years old.
The only downside to this deal is the fact that Franklin only plans to compete collegiately for two years.
So, in short, while the football team languished on its own field on Saturday, the women’s swimming team that has won two straight national championships became even more of a lethal national threat.
There’s a certain byronic poetry to this particular juxtaposition. The football team is obviously Cal’s most omnipresent program on campus. We’ve all seen the YouTube mashups, partaken in the Gameday festivities and endured one loss after another from the stands and the sports bars.
We all know that being a Cal fan comes down to more than simply donning the blue and gold; it means entering a brotherhood of disappointment in which we all secretly take pride.
But look alive, Cal. That doesn’t have to be our shared fate.
Just because our football team can’t reward us with a sense of accomplishment and jubilation doesn’t mean we shouldn’t look elsewhere. Let Tedford be Tedford, and let the team be the team. The only ones of us who can even remember a strong showcase in Memorial are set to graduate this year. The rest of us inherited a perpetually underperforming squad.
Yet there’s an entire bastion of smaller sports whose national accolades fly under the radar — the two swim programs are perhaps the best examples of this. Both teams won back-to-back NCAA titles in 2011 and 2012. We sent the likes of Nathan Adrian, Dana Vollmer and Natalie Coughlin to London this past summer.
And with Franklin’s addition to the roster, we’re probably set to extend this era of Cal domination.
So don’t turn your face toward Memorial, fans. Look instead to the pool deck next to Haas Pavilion. It’s much more likely to reward you.
Plus, the meets are free.
Contact Annie Gerlach at [email protected].
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