Thursday, November 16, 2006

Comparing Comparisons

It’s funny to see what happens to fans of good college football teams with no tradition of success. People get all excited and start to over-analyze stuff. We’re seeing a lot of that in the northeast with Jersey State undefeated. But, Cal fans are getting a little loopy, too.

There’s a post on a good Cal blog called “Tightwad Hill” that attempts to build some mojo for the Bears by making connections between this year’s Cal team and another from 1975. Here’s the list
  • Cal was led by a highly-regarded QB in his first year as the starter (Joe Roth)
  • Cal featured a dominant running back who received Heisman attention (Chuck Muncie)
  • Cal was an offense-first, big-play team with a suspect defense
  • The Bears were led by a young, innovative coach who had come to Berkeley from an assistant job with a conference rival (Mike White - Stanford)
  • Cal was coming off a disappointing road loss in the prior game (UCLA)
  • Cal had lost its season opener to a non-conference power (Colorado)
  • USC was a three-time defending conference champion
  • The Trojans were led by a head coach who had won multiple national championships, and was the subject of constant rumors that he was heading for the pros (John McKay) [above]
  • USC was rated in the Top 5 (#4), but had been somewhat inconsistent in its play
  • Despite that inconsistency, SC was coming off a big, reassuring victory (at Notre Dame)
  • USC was the clear favorite in the game
  • (just for fun) Ohio State was the consensus #1 team in the nation, and a Buckeye was the odds-on favorite to win the Heisman Trophy (Archie Griffin)
We could go on - Tom Newton is Byron Storer, Wesley Walker is DeSean, but you get the point. […] We'll be channeling 1975 this week and we encourage you to do the same.
That’s a nice list if you like stretching stuff out of proportion a little. (Who’s Joe Roth?) But, I guess if you have no tradition, history or heritage of football success, you do what you gotta do to give yourself something … anything … to hold on to.

USC on the other hand, needn’t look so far back … or with as much obscurity. At the beginning of this season, many sports writers looking for an angle compared this year’s Trojans to 2003, when USC opened with a convincing win at an SEC school with a first-year starter at QB, who was replacing a Heisman Trophy winner, and a backfield full of freshmen ... etc.

After a few games the comparisons faded, but since the loss to Oregon State things have gotten a little funny … and by “funny” I mean spooky funny.’s Arash Markazi looked into very interesting aspects about the comparison earlier this week, and the stuff he pointed out is uncanny. So much so that I’m starting to think our man Carroll does indeed know a lot more than even we ever thought he could.
USC's leap back up to the No. 3 spot in the BCS standings within 14 days shouldn't be shocking to those who have followed the Trojans in recent years. It's almost as if Carroll has voodoo dolls for each team sitting in front of him in the polls and after he suffers a loss, poking each one off week by week. […]

Consider this: When USC lost to unranked Cal on Sept. 27, 2003, the Trojans were ranked No. 3 in the polls and subsequently dropped to No. 10 behind seven undefeated teams. Within two weeks of the Trojans' loss to Cal, six teams above them lost, returning USC right back to where it was in the polls. During the course of the next nine weeks after the Trojans' loss, every team above them lost at least once, giving USC the No. 1 ranking by season's end.

Fast forward three years and Carroll is enjoying the same kind of luck. Within two weeks of USC's loss to Oregon State, six teams above the Trojans in the polls have lost, and one more will fall next week when Ohio State and Michigan face off. Combine that with Florida's unimpressively narrow win against South Carolina this past Saturday and the Trojans find themselves right back in the 3 spot in the BCS standings and in prime position to earn a trip to the BCS Championship Game in Glendale, Ariz. on Jan. 8 if they win out.
Now that’s a comparison on which to build some serious mojo.

Certainly, none of this has anything at all to do with what happens this Saturday. It just helps our respective fan bases deal with the stress of anticipation and pre-game hype. Of course, if history and tradition could win ball games, very few football programs could beat USC. We’ll just have see what happens on Saturday.

Fight On!

Oh … that’s right. It’s Thursday. Well, while we’re at it, let’s compare 2003 with 2006. It's great to have tradition, right Beano?



east coast bias


SoCal Oski said...

Okay, so, this comment is directly related to your post, but I find it interesting for a few (somwhat tangentially related) reasons:

1. This Daily Trojan reporter actually said nice (or at least, not nasty) things about the Cal football program

2. It acknowledges what is really understood, but hardly ever mentioned - that Cal/SC is actually the new marquee rivalry in the Pac-10.

Despite your continued, overly mentioned blah-blahing about history and tradition (yeah, we get it, USC has a glorious football past), the fact is the Bears-Trojans rivalry is pretty storied across all sports. The coming of the Ted to Cal has reinvigorated the football competition to the level not seen since the 50's - when Cal's history was pretty impressive.

So, for all the contstant talk of tradition and heritage, it's nice to see at least one Trojan openly admit that things have changed a bit, and Cal/SC is bigger right now than either Cal/Furd or SC/Fucla.

I mean, we all know it ... it's just nice to see it actually admitted.

Go Bears!

Displaced Trojan said...

socal oski,

You are a good guy, and I appreciate your point of view. But history and success are relative. I'm not saying Cal is devoid of football success. But, virtually every Pac-10 school can say they have a "storied" past in "all sports" vs. USC ... or any other Pac-10 school for that matter.

If you need to go back 30 years to generate some mojo, or almost 50 years to your last Rose Bowl ... even completely objective observers would have to say that doesn't measure up to USC. Pretty impressive, sure. But that's about it. We find that amusing. That's all I'm saying.

It's obvious, looking at the last few years or simply by virtue of the fact that this Saturday's game determines the conference championship, that Cal-USC has become the marquee match up. That's exciting.

Tedford is a great coach. Cal has great players, including Jackson. But remember, this is a USC fans' blog, so why would I want to write about Cal's emergence as a challenger to USC in any overtly complimentary way?

The Daily Trojan, although a student newspaper, is supposed to be more objective as all the journalism students are taught at USC. I know this because I'm a former Daily Trojan staffer myself. But the blogosphere isn't bound by "4th branch of government" objectivity standards.

Moreover, if you notice, my posts about heritage and history this week also include self-effacing references to Song Girls and basketball ... not to mention criticism of that idiot who called Cal the "Rutgers of the West."

Relax, my good man. It's all for fun. Let's hope for a good, clean game tomorrow.

Fight On!

SoCal Oski said...


You misunderstood me. I wasn't getting on your case ... just that I am refreshed that Cal/SC is going back to the past, so to speak.

I would no more want to try and compare Cal's football legacy to SC than I would SC's rugby or Water Polo legacy to Cal's.

As for the song girls ... hell, smoking hot is about all you can say ... and is likely the absolute proudest of your SC football traditions.

Go Bears!

Displaced Trojan said...

LOL. It's all good, my man.

Fight On!

ff24789 said...

This is Joe Roth.

Joe Roth (died February 19, 1977) was an All-American quarterback at the University of California at Berkeley who played the 1976 season with melanoma and tragically died 3 months after his last game, in 1977.

In 1974, he led Grossmont Junior College (San Diego, California) to an undefeated season and state title.

In 1975, after he won the starting role, he led the Cal Bears to the Pac-8 title as co-champions. His team had such stars as Chuck Muncie and Wesley Walker. As a team, Cal led the nation in total offense, remarkably gaining the same yardage both passing and rushing (2,522 yards passing and 2,522 yards rushing).

In 1976, he was a pre-season favorite for the Heisman Trophy. The season was more tumultuous, and towards the end of the year Joe's performance started to drop. Still he was named an All-American. After the season ended, he revealed that he played the last half of the season with melanoma. It was the reoccurance of a previously removed tumor. He died on Feb. 19, 1977.

Posthumously, Joe Roth received the Berkeley Citation, which is awarded to a wide range of distinguished people, academic or nonacademic, whose attainments significantly exceed the standards for advancement in their fields and whose contributions to the University of California at Berkeley are manifestly "above and beyond the call of duty." He was also inducted into the University of California Athletic Hall of Fame.

Several Awards are named in honor of Joe Roth, including the Joe Roth Award for the High School player in the San Diego, California area that best demonstrates courage, the Joe Roth Memorial Award which is given to the San Diego County junior college football player that best exemplifies high academic standards and athletic excellence, and the Joe Roth Award which is given to the Cal football player who best demonstrates courage, attitude & sportsmanship.

Roth's No. 12 jersey is the only jersey ever retired by the Cal football program.