To all incoming freshmen: if you are anything like I am and you cherish the poetic, majestic sport that is football, grab your tissue box now because you go to UC Berkeley.
Still, feeling deflated is so 2015, so I am going to give you five reasons to pump, pump, pump it up in preparation for the 2017 season. Let’s kick this off.
1. Justin Wilcox
For those who do not know, Cal football has been notorious for having a high-scoring offense and a higher-allowing defense. The Bears were ranked 10th in the Pac-12 in total defense last year, and while the offense averaged 37.08 points per game, the defense gave up 42.58 a game. Sure, scoring a lot of points in a game is fun; everyone loves a sexy touchdown pass. But the only thing sexier than scoring is winning.
Wilcox, the new head coach, was a defensive coordinator in his previous 11 seasons of coaching. Any head coach coming from a defensive background is going to have a defensive-minded way of playing, and for Cal, there could be no better news.
If Wilcox can begin to shape up the mess that is the Bears’ defense, they have a better shot at a winning season, which means more fun for you. Woohoo!
2. Matt Anderson
Wait, who? Tell the quarterback to leave some room in the spotlight because when crunch time hits and the Bears find themselves down by three, all eyes will be on Anderson, the redshirt senior placekicker.
Few things hurt more than a loss by missed field goal, but luckily for you UC Berkeley students, you have one of the best kickers in the Pac-12 at your feet, and you will love him for his feet this season. Anderson led the Pac-12 in scoring among kickers with 22 field goals and was a perfect 51/51 on PATs. He, alone, was responsible for more than a fourth of Cal’s points in 2016.
When you are in the stands, holding your breath in a silent stadium, waiting for the pigskin to go through the uprights, know that you can have great faith in your kicker.
3. Tickets are only $99.
I get it, college students, myself included, do not like to spend money, but let’s break this down. There are six home games this season, which means each game costs you $16.50. The University of Arizona’s student football passes are $135, USC’s are $200 and the University of Oregon’s are a whopping $367. When you put it into perspective, you get bang for your buck with a student pass.
4. Statistically, Cal wins more at home!
In the last two seasons, Cal produced a 9-3 record at home versus a 3-9 record on the road. The Bears have a chance to win at least four out of their six home games this year, so even if Cal repeats its high loss rate on the road, at least you do not have to be in the stands.
5. Win or lose, college students still booze.
While Hollywood has lied to you about the grandeur of fraternity parties, one thing is for sure: the MVP of game days at UC Berkeley is none other than college’s most beloved mascot — Alchy Alcohol.
With the Bears lacking dominance in a very competitive Pac-12 conference, some students are more interested in the party starters of Natty Ice, Jose Cuervo and Moet Brut as opposed to the football starters on the field.
Walking near the stadium on game day, you see blue and gold everywhere, and spirited students and alumni reminiscing on their days as Bears. Even if a student is not drinking, which many do not, these parties are still immensely fun. Perhaps one of the most attractive parts of these game day celebrations is that they are free. (College students love the F word: “free.”)
Even if Cal goes 0-12 this year, there will still be game day parties. If Cal goes 12-0, there may be riots in the streets. No matter what, game days are all fun and games even if they are not primarily focused on the game.
So there you have it, freshmen! Take the good with the bad and the bad with the worse.
The bottom line is, if you wanted an exceptional football team, you should have gone to Alabama — beggars can’t be choosers.
Contact Christie Aguilar at [email protected].