Chase Garbers’ season-ending upper-body injury is more than just an inconvenience — it has had cataclysmic consequences that have been felt throughout the space-time continuum that have doomed this year’s Cal football season and the future of the world as we know it.
Say, hypothetically, that you are a young college student, perhaps at Cal, who has been writing for the sports section of the local newspaper. You know that Cal is by no means at the head of winning sports teams in the Pac-12, much less the NCAA, but at least the mascot isn’t some animal like a duck or a tree. You have followed enough of the teams by now to know that the typical arc for a Cal team is to burst out of the gates at the beginning of the season, stunning fans, coaches and other teams with its early and thoroughly shocking success only to lose a critical game, hit a brick wall going 100 and watch season hopes plummet into an inferno.
But there are some teams that don’t even get that lucky and are just bad from the get-go. This was how things were supposed to be with the football team, which you’ve been given a chance to cover. But in a Tarantino-style plot twist, Cal football storms onto the Pac-12 football scene with overwhelming intent — Chase Garbers, the quarterback whose career-high yardage the previous year was only 234 against Oregon State, the team that finished dead last in the Pac-12, transforms into an Aaron Rodgers-esque, NFL-level quarterback overnight and has the season of his life.
Garbers leads the Bears to a 12-0 record, their first undefeated season since 1937 under Stub Allison. Cal faces and defeats Alabama in the national championship, Tua Tagovailoa transfers to play for the Bears, Baker Mayfield leaves the Browns to work under Beau Baldwin and Cal head coach Justin Wilcox goes down in history as the most decorated college football coach of all time and never leaves the program. Cal also never loses another game. Ever. You score a job with ESPN, because one of their reporters sat next to you in the box and liked the stickers on your laptop. World hunger is solved and climate change fixes itself.
If Garbers hadn’t gotten injured, I — uh, I mean, you, theoretically — would be on the way to a fruitful career of sports reporting, and all the sea turtles would be saved. At the very least, Cal almost certainly would have beaten ASU had Garbers continued putting up the astronomical numbers he was earning before his injury, but in all likelihood still would have lost to Oregon either way.
While an offense that was just hitting its stride must now restart from ground zero with backup quarterback Devon Modster — a transfer from UCLA who torched Cal in the 2017 edition of the schools’ matchup by going 14-18 and combining with Josh Rosen for 393 total passing yards — there is no reason to abandon hopes for the Bears’ season just yet.
Wait a second — you mean to tell me that Modster actually knows how to play quarterback? He threw more completed passes to receivers out of bounds than he threw touchdowns in Cal’s loss against Oregon on Saturday, and the only thing he’s better at than Garbers is throwing interceptions. No one could ever match Garbers’ pure, raw, irreplaceable talent!
Relax, Twitter neigh sayers.
Cal’s bye week before playing Oregon State will grant Modster adequate time to warm up to his new role and responsibilities in the spotlight, and since he knows his ropes better than a standard backup quarterback, the Bears remain in good shape to finish the season strong, make a bowl game, and even vye for the Pac-12 crown. At this time last year, the Utah Utes boasted the same 4-2 record that Cal has now and ended up playing Washington in the 2018 Pac-12 championship game. This season is a long way from over for the Bears.
If you have found yourself among the many Cal football fans who decided to buy into the team because of the success it garnered early on in the season and have now hopped off the bandwagon faster than fake Warriors fans traded their Stephen Curry game jerseys for a Kawhi Leonard practice jersey after the playoffs, I urge you to take the season for what it is at face value. The Bears remain 4-2 (that’s the same record as Washington, people) and still have a quarterback who, with a little time to settle in, poses a legitimate threat to opposing defenses, particularly on the deep ball.
Garbers’ injury is more than unfortunate and came at the worst possible time, but what’s a good story without a little adversity?