A while back, some parents of Stanford players commented that they've learned a lot about Stanford football by reading The Bootleg. That got me thinking about what it would be like for a new Stanford fan to start reading The Bootleg. A lot of what we see on The Bootleg assumes quite a bit of familiarity with Stanford Athletics. Also, we assume that everyone remembers previous discussions we've had on this board over the years. For somebody who is new to Stanford sports, it must seem like we're all talking in code sometimes. I thought it might be helpful to provide some background information to help new people understand the discussions on this board. So, here's a quick primer on some terms relating to Stanford football and to The Bootleg.
Arrillaga – The name of the building that houses the Athletic Department, the football coaches' offices, and the football locker room.
Arrillaga – The name of the university's spectacular Frances C. Arrillaga Alumni Center, named in honor of Mr. A.'s late first wife, Fran, a truly lovely woman.
Arrillaga – The name of the university's student and staff recreation center. And the new basketball practice gym. And the new dining hall near Toyon. And probably some other stuff. It's hard to keep track. To our benefit, Mr. A. likes to build.
Arrillaga – Stanford alumnus John Arrillaga. He drove the building of the new stadium, quite literally. Our Athletic Directors, past, present, and future, take his calls. See also "Don Corleone."
The Band – The Leland Stanford Junior University Marching Band, or LSJUMB. You can love them or you can hate them, but nobody seems to be able to ignore them. The Band has supported football for many years. For that, I love them. We always should remember that Band members show up faithfully, devote their time generously, and support the program through good and bad. But they do it in their own way. The Band delights in having the freedom to be blissfully irresponsible and act outrageously. The Band tries to push the limits of taste and cleverness; it succeeds in pushing the limits of taste far more often than it succeeds in pushing the limits of cleverness. I've often wondered why someone would watch the Band's halftime shows, and then get outraged or offended. I mean, come on, folks – we all know the Band is trying to be outrageous and offensive. If you don't want to be outraged and offended, then just don't watch, OK? Is that so hard? Among the Band's most infamous moments were The Play in the 1982 Big Game, the Spotted Owl Show up in Oregon in 1990, and the Potato Famine Show at the 1997 Notre Dame game. Other favorites include the Band's tribute to Chairman Mao, the impromptu concert outside the courthouse during the O.J. Simpson trial, and the tribute to marriage at the BYU game a few years ago ("marriage is a union between a man and a woman . . . and a woman . . . and a woman. . ."). If you're sorry you missed those chances to be outraged and offended, stick around – they'll come up with something new soon enough. If you see a scraggly bunch of students on campus who look like a roving transvestite Halloween party, and some of them are carrying musical instruments, well, that would be the Band.
Beer Ban – Believe it or not, fans used to be allowed to bring beer into Stanford Stadium. Not just cans or six-packs, though they were plentiful; I'm talking about kegs, in the stands in the student section. Needless to say, this really enhanced the spirit displayed by the students (even if some of them didn't have a clue about the game by the time it ended). Several unfortunate incidents occurred in the late 1980s, including a rash of fights at the Big Game and the death of a fan who ran across El Camino at halftime to buy more beer. Andy Geiger, who was Faber's Dean, uh, I mean our A.D. at the time, decreed that there would be no more fun of any kind. Stanford Stadium has been dry ever since (though there are rumors of moonshine smuggled in by bootleggers, or even Bootleggers). Is it a mere coincidence that attendance was at its highest level ever before the beer ban?
The Big Game – Come on, do you have to ask? The Big Game is one of the best, oldest, longest running rivalries in college football. You should mark it on your calendar and save the date . . . for the rest of your life. Even if it takes place in October instead of November. Stanford vs. Cal is not just a rivalry in football. It's a rivalry in everything. It's the Hatfields and the McCoys. The Montagues and the Capulets. Athens and Sparta. Wyatt Earp and the Clanton Brothers. The Jets and the Sharks. Ali and Frazier. Tupac and the Notorious BIG. The Deltas and Dean Wormer. Some people talk about it as a "friendly rivalry," with friends or family or spouses attending opposite schools and rooting for opposite sides. Sure, it can be friendly. And it should be friendly, mostly. But make no mistake, I still want to kick their bear butt.
Biggest Upset Ever – Stanford 24, USC 23, October 6, 2007. If you don't already know what I'm talking about, you must have stumbled on The Bootleg by mistake while looking for Oprah.com. See "We bow to no program."
Black Trim – For many years, the football team's uniforms were a classic, clean, cardinal-and-white. In 2002, black trim was added. Traditionalists hated it. The team started losing immediately. In 2008, Stanford abolished black trim and returned to more traditional uniforms. Soon after, the team started winning again. Mere coincidence? Now that we have our classy uniforms back, we just need to keep our marketing people away from the nimrod at Nike who designed the freak show costumes they wear at Oregon.
Bonfire at Lake Lag – For years, Stanford held a traditional bonfire during the week of the Big Game. The bonfire used to be on the lake bed of the optimistically named Lake Lagunita, a seasonal lake that fills up in the spring after the rainy season and dries up in the fall, except for those frequent years when it is dry all year long. A number of years ago, somebody discovered that Lake Lagunita was the home of a colony of California tiger salamanders (ambystoma californiense). No more bonfires at Lake Lag. No, I am not making this up, even though it sounds like a joke. I think grilled salamander is quite tasty, but there's always a spoilsport.
Bookman Up The Middle – Anthony Bookman was a Stanford tailback in the mid-1990s who had tremendous speed. Give him a little daylight, a little room to run, and he was gone. One thing he couldn't do, however, was move the pile. Or break tackles. That's because he was about 5'8" and 175. Nevertheless, we had an offensive coordinator, Dana Bible (currently at NC State), whose favorite play was Bookman up the middle. For several years, both "Bookman up the middle" and "Dana Bible" were used on the Bootleg to symbolize offensive stupidity. See also "Shotgun Draw," "Short-Side Sweep."
The Borg – The Borg derives its name from the grim, relentless, merciless, aggressive, remorseless collective life-form in the Star Trek series whose goal was to assimilate everything into itself. The Borg originally referred to fans who held the dark, pessimistic, intractable view that Stanford football was circling the drain, partly because of the incompetence of its coach and partly because of the university's insistence on devoting resources to non-revenue sports rather than focusing on football. The Borg made its first appearance on The Bootleg during a bad losing streak in 1997-1998. The Borg spawned a counter-movement of fans proclaiming a more optimistic outlook, known as the Stepfords. With our Rose Bowl trip in 1999 and our very successful 2001 season, the Stepfords were vindicated . . . or so it seemed. But the Borg struck back, with a vengeance. Resistance was futile. See "Buddy" and "Walt." Since the era of "enthusiasm unknown to mankind," the Borg is not so much in evidence. But don't be fooled. It's still out there, arranging its sock drawer.
Buddy – Buddy still is a bad word around here . . . the scars just haven't healed yet. Buddy is a shorthand way of referring to our living nightmare of 2002 through 2004. Buddy's glib, almost hyperactive persona was endearing at first, coming after years of the taciturn Willingham. Like a golden retriever after a triple espresso, he oozed energy and eagerness to please. It turned out that he had about as much coaching ability as my golden retriever, and he made a much bigger mess.
BuddyBall – Ah, "BuddyBall"... Perhaps the single-most misguided and certainly among the briefest marketing campaigns in college football history. Arriving as an FOT ("Friend of Ted") from the sycophantic staff of Florida Gator coach Steve Spurrier and his vaunted "Fun 'N Gun" offense, where he had been listed as an assistant offensive coordinator, Eugene "Buddy" Teevens was purported to possess some of the offensive creativity of the former Heisman Trophy winner Spurrier. He did not. Someone in Arrillaga got the brilliant idea of producing a quantity of white "BuddyBall" hats and after a few days of distribution, they became something of a laughingstock. The ill-conceived campaign was almost immediately pulled at Buddy's own request (one of the most admirable decisions of his disappointing tenure on the Farm), recognizing that to brand the Stanford team based on a non-existent brand of offensive football would border on the ridiculous. Those who were fortunate enough to snag a now exceedingly rare BuddyBall hat are now hoping they can put their kids through college by auctioning their hats on eBay.
Cal – A university built on an earthquake fault in the East Bay. See "safety school."
"Cattoused" – Cal safety Sean Cattouse had a reputation as a big hitter. Then he ran into Andrew Luck. In the 2010 Big Game, Luck broke loose on a 58 yard scramble. When Cattouse launched himself at Luck in an attempt to make the tackle, Luck just blew him up, knocking him flat on the grass. Luck stood over Cattouse for a moment to watch him fall, then kept running. Every time I see a replay of that, I can hear Howard Cosell's voice in my head: "Down goes Frazier! Down goes Frazier! Down goes Frazier!" That sucker got Cattoused. See also "Quarterbacks Aren't Supposed To Do That, Are They?"
Centering the Ball – In our first game in the new Stanford Stadium, we had a first and goal at the Navy 2 yard line with 6 seconds left in the first half. We had time to run a quick play, then kick a field goal – or maybe run two plays in an effort to score a TD. Instead, Walt Harris ordered our QB to take several steps to his left, then slide to the ground, putting the ball closer to the center of the field for a field goal attempt. It was the call of a coach who had given up on his offense . . . as he demonstrated with his coaching for the rest of the year. See also "Quick Kick."
Character and Cruelty – During Stanford's 2010 run to the FedEx Orange Bowl, one of Stanford's players said the team had a motto: "We're going to win with character, but we're also going to win with cruelty." That sums up the transformation of Stanford football from the depths of Buddy and Walt to the heights of Harbaugh and Shaw. Stanford didn't just go from 1-11 to 12-1; Stanford also went from centering the ball and quick kicks to character and cruelty. No longer is Stanford content to be just a bunch of smart, high-character guys who happen to play football. No longer is Stanford content to win (or more likely, lose) with finesse and style. Rather, Stanford is going hit you in the mouth, knock you down, and then step on you. Stanford is going to run the ball right at you, with six or seven or eight offensive linemen, and maybe two or three fullbacks, and dare you to stop it. Stanford is going to be bigger, stronger, tougher, and more physical than you. And Stanford is going to have an attitude – an impose your will, show no mercy, bad-ass attitude. Stanford football morphed from Clark Kent into Jason Bourne.
Cordova/Benjamin – The quarterback controversy that defined the mid-1970s. Stanford's coach, Jack Christiansen, persisted in giving playing time to Mike Cordova and his career 45% completion rate, while using Guy Benjamin as a back-up. Rumor had it that Coach Christiansen liked Cordova because Cordova was dating his daughter, and didn't like Benjamin because Benjamin smoked a lot of dope. I don't know about the dating-his-daughter part, but I can believe the smoking-dope part. Hey, it was the ‘70s. Eventually, the year after Cordova graduated and Christiansen was fired, Benjamin became an All American. See also "Waldvogel."
The Dollies – The Dollies are Stanford's divine divas of dance. These five comely coeds bring spirit, smiles, and style to numerous Stanford and community events, athletic and otherwise. The Dollies are one of Stanford's most popular, best loved traditions. In a mind-boggling, dumbfounding, stupefying paradox, the Dollies – one of Stanford's truly classy institutions – actually are part of the Band, which is . . . uh . . . not often described as "classy." Let's just say it, the Band would need passports and security clearances to get within four area codes of classy. But somehow, those merry masters of madcap melody manage to sober up enough to get it right year after year when they select the new Dollies. It's kind of a "Beauties and the Beast" thing. And remember, the Dollies are not cheerleaders. "Divine divas of cheer" doesn't have the same ring to it.
"Don't Get Hurt In The Celebration" – Against USC in 2010, Stanford got the ball with a minute to play, at its own 26 yard line, trailing by one point. On the sideline, Jim Harbaugh's instructions to his team were: "We are taking the ball down the field and we are kicking the game-winning field goal, so don’t get hurt in the celebration." And that's exactly how it went down, with the winning kick touching off an epic field-rushing celebration. Nobody got hurt. How great is it that so many of Stanford's memorable moments in the Harbaugh-Shaw years came against USC? Stanford found so many different ways not only to beat the Trojans, but to get under their skin and into their heads. From Harbaugh's "We Bow To No Program" declaration, to the "Biggest Upset Ever", to the "What's your deal?" game, to the "don't get hurt in the celebration" game, to the Andrew Luck triple-overtime win in the Coliseum, Stanford turned USC's world upside down. You know how the Marx Brothers used to show up at some posh, stuffy, high society event, and chaos would ensue, and Margaret Dumont could never figure out quite what had happened? Well, Stanford brought some chaos to this rivalry, and USC couldn't figure out quite what happened.
Door Number 1 – An all-too-common reason for recruits to disappear from Stanford's prospect list is rejection by the admissions office. Remember on "Let's Make a Deal" when Monty Hall would ask a contestant whether he wanted to keep the new Kenmore washer and dryer or take what was behind Door Number 1? And you just knew there was a donkey behind Door Number 1, and you were hollering "no, don't do it, keep the Kenmore washer and dryer," and the moron took Door Number 1 anyway, and Door Number 1 opened up, and there was the donkey, just like you knew it would be? Well, if somebody asks "what happened to such-and-such a recruit, he's not mentioning us any more" and the answer is "Door Number 1," that means we can all guess what's behind that door. Some years, we have more disappearances due to Door Number 1 than Argentina had in a year of the dirty war. See also "Montagged."
Elway's Scramble – In a game against USC, John Elway dropped back to pass, but the protection broke down and USC pass rushers flooded the backfield. Elway tried to escape the rush, retreating first one way, then another, then changing direction again, all the time falling back farther from the line of scrimmage. After being chased 25 yards deep in the backfield, Elway found some daylight and turned his eyes downfield. Meanwhile, Ken Margerum was running toward the end zone. USC's Ronnie Lott, who was covering Margerum, said to him, "He can't throw it this far." Margerum replied, "Yes he can," and kept running. Elway unleashed a 65-yard laser into the end zone, hitting Margerum in the chest for the TD just before Lott leveled him. Lott later said, "I saw the gift!" It was brilliant, it was athletic, it was spontaneous, it was a play only Elway could have made . . . and Stanford lost anyway. That pretty much captures the essence of Elway's Stanford career.
Enthusiasm Unknown to Mankind (or EUTM) – A Jim Harbaugh catch-phrase. When Harbaugh was hired, he vowed in his first press conference "to attack this endeavor with enthusiasm unknown to mankind." Harbaugh later explained that when he was growing up, his father used to exhort him and his brother to approach each day with enthusiasm unknown to mankind. So EUTM was part of Harbaugh's DNA – and it showed. He urged his team to practice and play with that same enthusiasm unknown to mankind. And Harbaugh didn't just talk the talk, he also walked the walk, and bounced off the walls for good measure . . . even when it might have been wiser to relax a little bit. That's just how he rolled.
The Farm – An oft-used nickname for our university. The nickname has nothing to do with an agriculture curriculum at the university (there is none), nor does it derive from the pile of manure left by Buddy and Walt. Rather, the university's founder, Leland Stanford, owned a trotting horse farm near Palo Alto. When he and his wife, Jane, decided to start a university, they chose their horse farm as the site of the university. To this day, there still are horses and cattle grazing on Stanford land. But if that sounds a little too "Green Acres" for your taste, don't worry. We also have a Bloomingdale's on Stanford land. And a Victoria's Secret, which is where the percussion section of the Band gets its uniforms (the men, anyway). See "The Band."
The Fence – A cyclone fence used to stand between the first row of seats and the field in Stanford Stadium. The fence was a universally despised eyesore. Most of the time, the only functions of the fence were to prevent youngsters from getting autographs after the game, and to prevent shadysiders from toppling over the rail and on to the field if their pacemakers failed. See "Shady Side." Once every two years, the fence was supposed to help control the unruly and abusive hooligans in the Cal student section, who show up with booze in their bloodstreams and mayhem on their minds. Of course, when drunken mobs of Berkeley students really wanted to rush the field, the fence didn't stop them – as in 1997, when Cal students rushed the field at the end of the game and tore down the goal-posts . . . after a Cal loss. I guess they weren't clear on the concept. Or maybe they just didn't get in. Stanford fans were anxious for the fence to follow the Berlin Wall into the dustbin of history. And with the new stadium in 2006, it did.
The Fort – For many years, Stanford's practices were open to the public. Most days, you could find a handful of fans leaning on the rail of the practice field as they watched practice. Jack Elway dubbed them the "railbirds." The railbirds were coaches' wives, players' girlfriends, a few professors emeriti, some retired folks, and a few random fans who snuck out of work early to spend an hour or two in the sun watching Stanford football. (I may have done that once or twice . . . or maybe it was more like a hundred times. Who's counting?) But Jim Harbaugh was determined to wring every ounce of competitive advantage out of every facet of the football program, and he wanted to avoid the slightest chance that sensitive information might fall into unfriendly hands at an open practice. So Harbaugh built a tall screened fence around one of the practice fields, cutting it off from public view. Harbaugh is gone, but the Fort remains. Any significant practice activity takes place in the privacy of the Fort . . . thereby ruining my retirement plans, which were going to involve many hours of leaning on the rail watching practice.
Friday Faxes – When The Bootleg started back in the mid-1990s, it was a newsletter distributed by fax on the Friday morning before each football game. The Bootleg was different then: it was a vehicle for the editors' often cynical opinions, rather than the legitimate (more or less) news source it is now. It was nicknamed the Rebel Rogue of Restroom Reading, with an emphasis on rogue. Back then, The Bootleg was sometimes informative, occasionally scathing, often wickedly funny, and always entertaining. We used to wait for those Friday faxes to come in, and then go howling down the hallways to find other Stanford fans who would appreciate the latest outrageous, cutting, non-PC humor.
FOT (Friend of Ted) – Normally, the most qualified, most well-suited candidates for a new job opening are chosen for critical positions of leadership. Not so under former Stanford Athletic Director Dr. Ted Leland. Ted was a really nice guy. Too nice. He made a lot of friends over the years. Too many. Apparently being an old "Friend of Ted" gave an otherwise ill-suited candidate a rubber-stamped head coaching appointment, brazenly circumventing a normal search committee process. "FOT" became part of the BootBoard lexicon as the only explanation for the hiring of Buddy Teevens and his ill-fated successor Walt Harris, each of whom had been a longtime . . . "Friend of Ted."
Goat – In sports, the term "goat" evokes unhappy images: Bill Buckner and Ralph Branca and Scott Norwood and Charlie Brown. But on The Bootleg, the term "goat" is associated with very high praise – better than Player of the Week, better than All Conference, better than the Stanford Hall of Fame. An athlete who has demonstrated excellence and achievement and character and determination and resilience and fortitude, and then something beyond all that, has a chance to get the highest honor a Stanford athlete can have: Terry McGrath, one of our regulars around here, may name a goat after him. Yes, a real goat. Whether an athlete is goat-worthy is determined in McGrath's sole discretion, because, well, they're his goats.
The Goose, the O, and Zott's – Three long-established, well-known watering holes near campus: the Dutch Goose, the Oasis, and the Alpine Inn (formerly Rossotti's, or Zott's). Popular among students (only those 21 or older, of course) and alumni alike. A good place to grab a burger, some fries, and a beer. Or two. Or just forget the burger and fries, and let's just have another beer.
"He's Not Young, He's Just Bad" – The theme of an infamous post on The Bootleg's message board during the dark days of the 1998 season. Somebody made a post saying that our 1998 team was suffering due to inexperience and would improve the following year. It might even have been me who posted that. One of the frequent contributors in those days, Long Winded, responded by going down the line-up, one unfortunate player at a time, brutally ripping each player to shreds and concluding in each case, "he's not young, he's just bad." It was a tour de force, a classic of the genre. Jeff Cronshagen's father was incensed and came looking for Long Winded at tailgaters after that, but I guess Long Winded must have been home arranging his sock drawer. Long Winded turned out to be wrong, as Stanford went to the Rose Bowl the very next year with essentially the same players, but it was one of the memorable posts in the history of this board.
The Immortal 21 – The Stanford Axe made its first appearance at a bonfire in 1899, where it was used to decapitate a bear in effigy. (There is no record of the number of salamanders that joined the bear as bonfire casualties.) The next day, at a Stanford-Cal baseball game, the Axe was again used to show Stanford's low regard for bears. After the game, Cal partisans seized the Axe and whisked it away. For the next 31 years, Cal held the Axe, occasionally trotting it out to taunt us. In 1930, a group of 21 brash Stanford men pulled off an elaborate plot to recover the Axe. After Cal's annual Axe Rally, as the Axe was being returned to its bank vault in Berkeley, several of the Stanford group stepped forward posing as photographers, saying "We want to take a picture." The Axe was brought forth. In a burst of flash powder and tear gas, the Stanford men seized the Axe, passed it from man to man like a relay baton, spirited it into a waiting getaway car, and returned it to campus, where the heroes immediately were hailed as the "Immortal 21." Three years later, the two schools agreed to make the Axe a perpetual trophy awarded annually to the winner of the Big Game. Remarkably, the Immortal 21's game plan worked again over 40 years later. In 1973, a group of Stanford students persuaded the Cal Rally Committee to bring the Axe to a Palo Alto restaurant. The reason? All together now: "We want to take a picture." The Axe was produced and promptly was stolen again, demonstrating just how much they learn at Cal in 43 years. It's called the Stanford Axe for a reason: it's our Axe; Cal just borrows it from time to time.
Kibbles & Bits – An occasional Bootleg feature over the years. It was a staple of the old Friday Faxes. Kibbles & Bits is a miscellany of short blurbs, usually just a line or two, ranging from the interesting to the off-beat to the bizarre. Most of the time, the Kibbles & Bits are statistics, facts about our team, and facts about upcoming opponents. On occasion, they extend well beyond that. I love some of those off-topic Kibbles & Bits. You never can tell when it might come in handy to know the back-up quarterback on our 1968 team, or the favorite rock bands of the USC song girls, or the airspeed velocity of the African swallow. I never could figure out which were the kibbles and which were the bits, though.
Leland Stanford – The university's founder, Leland Stanford, was a 19th century business tycoon. He left behind a law practice back east to make a fortune running a store that sold supplies to gold miners during the gold rush. He made a bigger fortune in the railroad business as one of the "Big Four" behind the Central Pacific, which built the western half of the Transcontinental Railroad. When the two halves of the railroad were joined, it was Leland Stanford who drove in the "golden spike." (He needed a mulligan after whiffing on his first try.) Leland Stanford served as Governor of California and later as a Senator. As Governor, he supervised the establishment of the university that is now San Jose State University. Obviously that didn't come out quite right, so he took another crack at founding a university later in his life, establishing our university. This time, he nailed it (giving San Jose State the inferiority complex it has had ever since). Some would say Leland Stanford was a robber baron, in light of his use of his position as Governor to funnel money and land to his railroad, his exploitation of immigrant laborers, and the murky financial dealings between his railroad and his construction company. But he was a member of the bar, so his ethics must have been above reproach . . . right?
LSJU – Leland Stanford Junior University. No, a "junior university" is not the same thing as a "junior college." Leland and Jane Stanford named the university after their deceased son, Leland Stanford Junior. The dead kid's remains are in a mausoleum on campus, which has kind of a creepy Norman Bates feel, when you think about it.
"Montagged" – The Admissions Office sometimes is called "Montag" because it's located in Montag Hall. Admissions used to be in the Old Union, and you still occasionally see Admissions called "Old Union" or "OU." Wherever it's located at the moment, all you really need to know is that the Admissions Office is arbitrary and evil. It exists to reject highly qualified athletes. For the coaches, dealing with Admissions is like being a gladiator in the Roman Empire. You fight like hell to stay alive, then you turn to the Emperor to see whether it's thumbs up or thumbs down. And whichever it is, there's not a doggone thing you can do about it. A recruit who gets the thumbs down from Admissions has been "Montagged." See also "Door Number 1."
Murph – Murph refers to retired Stanford broadcasting legend Bob Murphy. Murph can be either a verb or a noun. "To Murph" is to conduct an interview of a Stanford player so that the only possible answer is "yes, I agree." An example of Murphing: "Todd, it looked like you really had good chemistry with Troy out there today, I guess all those summer workouts must have paid off, when all you guys worked so hard all summer long, just for that moment, so that you could tell exactly where he was going, and that's what allowed you to hit him on that long pass in the corner of the end zone in the third quarter, which reminded me of a pass Bobby Garrett threw to Sam Morley in our great win against Michigan in 1952. Talk about that." Todd: "Uh, right." Todd, you've been Murphed! A secondary meaning of "to Murph" is to toss in references to former Stanford athletes who most of us never saw and many of us never heard of, but who were good friends with Murph back in the day. This type of Murphing also shows up in the last example. A third type of Murphing involves pulling one of your old buddies out of the crowd and putting him on the microphone, which is how we used to end up listening to Murphy and an old pal talking about a 1951 baseball road trip during a football pre-game show. As a noun, a "Murph" is a play call that Murphy made on the air, and that he wishes had happened, and that almost happened, but didn't really happen. An example of a Murph: "Childress goes high for the rebound and the putback! Wow, did he really get up there! He's just so athletic, as we were discussing with Joe Chez in the hotel today! Oh, and he almost got it, but the Bruins came down with it and scored at the other end." When you only had radio coverage, with no TV, a Murph was especially entertaining.
# 1 – Before Luck and Gerhart, before Elway and Nelson, before Plunkett and Brodie and Albert, there was Ernie Nevers. The "Big Dog." Ernie Nevers was a true legend. Not a legend in the Big Ten "Legends and Leaders" sense (come on, Northwestern is a "Legend"?), but a real legend. A four-sport athlete at Stanford who later played both NFL football and major league baseball. A college and pro football Hall of Famer. A guy who played all sixty minutes of the Rose Bowl on two broken ankles and ran for over 100 yards, outgaining the "Four Horsemen of Notre Dame" combined. A guy who, in 1962, was declared by Sports Illustrated to be the best college football player ever. Stanford's jersey # 1 is retired in honor of Ernie Nevers. Yet many people haven't even heard of him. That's just not right. If Ernie had gone to Notre Dame, he would be a saint by now. Literally. Fans would pray to Saint Ernie at his shrine in the Basilica on Saturdays before the game. There would be an "Ernie" movie instead of the insipid, gag-producing "Rudy." So, what do we do here at Stanford to celebrate the legendary Ernie Nevers? Well, you should check out the memorial to Nevers at the Stadium. . . . Oh, wait, there isn't one. Not a trace of Ernie in the entire Stadium. Hey, Bernard Muir, come on, can't we do something at the Stadium to honor Ernie?
The Old Lady – An affectionate nickname for the old Stanford Stadium. There was a lot of history in the Stadium, a lot of memories. Lots of great Stanford games, a Super Bowl, world-class track meets, graduation ceremonies, the list goes on. Sure, like a beloved grandmother, she was showing her age a little. She needed some touching up – like removal of the track, and removal of the fence, and moving the seats closer to the field, and closing in the open end of the bowl, and new bathrooms, and new concessions, and earthquake retrofitting, and better ingress and egress, and electrical and plumbing upgrades. But otherwise, the Old Lady was just fine. . . . Oh, who am I kidding – I was delighted to see them fire up the bulldozers and knock her down. Sorry, grandma.
The Play – The five-lateral tiptoe-through-the-tubas kickoff return on the final play of the 1982 Big Game, enabling Cal to win the game after Stanford apparently had pulled off a great comeback victory with a field goal four seconds earlier. The end of the kickoff return went winding crazily through members of the Band, who came on the field before the play was over. Trombone player Gary Tyrrell (who used to be an occasional Bootie – Gary, are you out there?), earned much more than his allotted 15 minutes of fame when he was hammered in the end zone by the Cal player who carried the ball over the goal line. (Of course, most Band members are usually hammered, so this was nothing new.) He became the symbol of the Band's most infamous moment. The officials, who will have to live with this debacle on their consciences until the end of time, preferably longer, and who deserve to spend a few thousand years in purgatory, or maybe in Berkeley, inexplicably allowed The Play to stand, despite numerous illegalities, the fact that one runner's knee was down, and the fact that one official had blown it dead while it was in progress. After The Play, the karmic scales began to balance out, with Stanford winning the Axe in 15 of the next 19 years, including our own miraculous comeback in 1990. But the football fates still owe us for The Play – big-time. Bonus points to anyone who can name a current Bootie who was there on the field as a Band member that day. Hint: rhymes with "Teejers."
Jim Plunkett – Jim Plunkett was perhaps the greatest player in Stanford history. Plunkett won the Heisman Trophy, despite the fact that Stanford's media relations office (headed at that time by Bob Murphy) characteristically did almost nothing to promote Plunkett, spending only $179 (yes, that was the actual amount, and no, I'm not making this up). Plunkett led Stanford to a win in the Rose Bowl, set numerous Stanford and NCAA records, and was the top overall pick in the NFL draft. His jersey number, # 16, is one of two Stanford jersey numbers to be retired. Plunkett often can be seen on campus at football and basketball games. Plunkett grew up in San Jose in modest circumstances, which once led a numbskull writer to ask in a press conference: "Lemme get this straight, Jim. Is it blind mother, deaf father, or the other way around?"
Posty – A Posty is an award for a great post on The Bootleg. The term was coined by Bootleg regular TLV01 to recognize particularly artful expression of ideas. It's kind of like an Emmy, a Grammy, or an Oscar, except without the actual award, the national recognition, the media coverage, the permanent distinction, or the boost to your career (though the Grammy didn't do that much for the Starland Vocal Band's career). There is nobody in charge of awarding Posties. Any of us can award one. When you see a great post, you post a reply declaring a Posty. But let's keep our standards high, OK? If we lower our standards, then the next thing you know, somebody will be giving a Posty to Trojan Al.
Potato Famine Show – The Band's notorious halftime show in the 1997 Notre Dame game was titled "These Irish, why must they fight?" The show featured a character named "Seamus O'Hungry," and the narrator commented that the Irish people have "a sparse cultural heritage that consists only of fighting and starving." The script included a line suggested that Notre Dame's teams should be nicknamed "the Blighting Irish." It was a brilliant, inspired, witty, satirical lampooning of the Fighting Irish nickname and the ridiculous leprechaun mascot. Uh, wait a minute . . . sorry, what I mean is that it was an utterly inappropriate, offensive, tasteless display that should be roundly condemned.
Prince Lightfoot – Prince Lightfoot was a Yurok Indian named Timm Williams. For many years, back when Stanford's nickname was the "Indians," Williams performed traditional Yurok dances at Stanford football games. In 1972, coming off two straight Rose Bowl victories, Stanford dropped the "Indians" nickname and told Williams he was no longer welcome. See "Robber Barons." Stanford hasn't won the Rose Bowl since. I'm just sayin' . . . .
"Quarterbacks Aren't Supposed To Do That, Are They?" – No, they're not, but Andrew Luck did a lot of things quarterbacks aren't supposed to do. There have been more than 1.5 million hits on the video of Andrew Luck clobbering USC's Shareece Wright. I'll let the TV announcers tell it: "Luck saved a touchdown by creaming Shareece Wright! Are you kidding? That was the quarterback!" "That was the hardest quarterback shot I've ever seen. Oh, man!" "Boy, Shareece Wright had set sail." "He's still sailing somewhere, probably." "Oh, geez, what a shot! I mean, quarterbacks aren't supposed to do that, are they?" "I've never seen one hit like that." "Neither has Shareece Wright." But a certain Cal safety has. See "Cattoused."
Quick Kick – The quick kick was a tactic employed in the days before sophisticated passing offenses, back in the old "three yards and a cloud of dust" days. A team facing third down and long yardage in those days knew it had virtually no chance of making a first down, and would occasionally choose to play for field position by punting on third down. The quick kick was thought to be virtually extinct, as modern passing offenses rendered this tactic obsolete by allowing a decent chance of a third-and-long conversion. These days, no rational coach would give up the football on third down in exchange for a few yards of field position. Or so we thought, before Stanford's 2006 season, when Walt filled the air with quick kicks. See "Walt."
Robber Barons – Stanford's athletic teams used to be called the "Indians." In 1972, due to concerns raised by Native American students and others, Stanford dropped "Indians" as its nickname. But the university had not settled on a replacement. For the next nine years, we lived in a state of nickname confusion. A number of alternatives were suggested . . . Cardinals (plural), which was used on a quasi-official basis during this nine-year period . . . Trees, Sequoias, or Redwoods, because the university's seal features the landmark redwood tree for which the City of Palo Alto is named (Sequoias could have been shortened to Seqs, which would have allowed the students to cheer "Seqs! Seqs! Seqs!" – say it out loud) . . . Griffins, or Gryphons, because no other school had the name and there are a couple of griffin statues on campus . . . Railroaders or Spikes, due to the railroad background of our founder . . . Steaming Manhole Covers, because, well, if you've walked across campus early on a chilly January morning, you get it . . . Space Cowboys, because, uh, well, it was the 1970s (see the Benjamin part of "Cordova/Benjamin") . . . The students voted. The winner was "Robber Barons," in a touching gesture to honor our founder. See "Leland Stanford." The administration looked within its heart and determined that just as "Indians" was offensive to Native Americans, "Robber Barons" was offensive to fabulously wealthy, exploitative, rapacious, old white business tycoons. So they rejected it. After nine years, the administration picked "Cardinal." The color. You know, like the Harvard Crimson. Nine years to decide we wanted to be like Harvard?
Sears Cup – The award for the best overall college athletic program was known for years as the Sears Cup. Sears no longer sponsors it, so the award now generally is known as the Directors' Cup, but the Sears Cup name still is seen sometimes. Stanford wins this award every year. The Borg views the Sears Cup as a pernicious influence. The Borg believes the Stanford athletic department has allowed the pursuit of the Sears Cup to divert resources away from the football program to the non-revenue sports. The Borg believes the administration creates hoopla around the Sears Cup to distract people from the shortcomings of the football program. For the Borg, the Sears Cup is a symbol of everything that's wrong with Stanford's athletic program, an object of scorn. This led to the memorable catch-phrase expressing disgust at particularly revolting developments, a phrase which first appeared in one of The Bootleg's old Friday Faxes: "Hand me the Sears Cup, I think I'm going to be sick!" The Stepfords, on the other hand, believe that success is all good, that we want to win in all sports across the board, and that success in football is compatible with winning the Sears Cup. Of course, even the Stepfords realize that we all have to keep the relative importance in perspective: at an important point in a football game a few years ago, a fan on the sunny side rose up and hollered out: "I'd trade the Sears Cup for a first down right now!"
Seattle Bowl – The Seattle Bowl, also known as the Siberia Bowl, was Stanford's reward for its superb 9-2 regular season in 2001. Stanford finished in the top 10 in the BCS poll, knocked off two teams that were ranked in the top 5, and came within a play or two of winning the conference championship. However, Stanford found itself the odd man out in a scramble for bowl game slots. So we ended up in frigid Seattle, playing on a baseball field, on a Thursday afternoon, two days after Christmas. Seattle at the winter solstice has about 6 hours of daylight, a likelihood of sleet or snow, permafrost on the field, and dogsleds in the streets. In late December, the fish that are tossed through the air at the Pike Place Market are frozen by the time they're caught. Those and other attractions drew dozens of fans from all over the country. The atmosphere was . . . uh, about what you would expect. Our team played as though it were stuck in a crummy bowl in a cold, dreary location after spending Christmas in a hotel room. In fact, our team played as though the coaching staff already had decided to jump ship and was just mailing it in. Which, of course, was the case. See "USB." If I were a cynic, I might have wondered whether our coaching staff was interested in making Stanford look bad so recruits would choose USB over Stanford . . . but that would be way too far-fetched, wouldn't it? See "Oliver Stone."
Short-Side Sweep – Stanford has a long history of innovative football. Some of the cornerstones of modern football got their start at Stanford – the T formation, the west coast offense. But for a school with such a great heritage of offensive football, we've had a remarkable number of play callers with boneheaded offensive tendencies. Before "Bookman up the middle," before the "shotgun draw," Stanford had the "short-side sweep." Back in the Jack Elway era, Stanford would run a sweep trying to get the ball into the open field, but inevitably would run the play to the short side of the field – thereby ensuring that we would be hemmed in by the sideline and would not find the running room we were seeking. But that didn't stop us from running that play over and over . . . and over . . . and over . . . For years afterward, fans in Section E would yell "short-side sweep" in response to boneheaded playcalling.
Shotgun Draw – The shotgun draw was the cornerstone of Stanford's running game during David Kelly's single season as our offensive coordinator in 2003. The shotgun draw isn't inherently a bad play, with the right personnel, the right scheme, and at the right time. However, we just didn't have the right personnel. So we compensated for our personnel deficiencies by running it out of the wrong scheme and at the wrong time. And that summarizes the font of inimitable offensive brilliance that was David Kelly. See also "Buddy."
"Shut Up and Play Football" – You know those yappy little dogs that are always trying to show you how fierce they are? They yap and growl and snarl, but they know in their hearts that they aren't really the big dog – and it bugs the hell out of them. So they yap louder and harder to cover up their insecurity. Well, Cal reminds me of those yappy little dogs. At the coin flip for the 2010 Big Game, the entire Cal team came out on the field and starting jawing at Stanford's players. (Unfortunately, a number of Stanford players took the bait and responded.) When Jim Harbaugh was asked about it afterwards, he said: "The Cal guys did a lot of trash-talking before the game. I don't like that kind of football where you try and talk and intimidate. Just play football. Shut up and play football." And that's what his team did, cruising to a 45-0 lead before emptying the bench . . . leaving Cal with nothing to yap about. Everyone knew who the big dog was.
Sock Drawer – During the dismal losing days of Buddy and Walt, one of the regulars on the Bootleg message boards announced that he was giving up on Stanford football. He told us he had better things to do with his life instead, such as arranging his sock drawer. He told us we were wasting our time with Stanford football. While he was busy arranging his sock drawer, the Stanford program rose from the ashes and soared. Those of us who believed in Stanford football and stuck with it through the dark days saw our faith rewarded. I may not know where all my socks are, but somehow I'm OK with that.
Spotted Owl Show – The Band's 1990 halftime show at Oregon took on the timber industry, unemployed loggers, and environmentalism. Logging in some forests in the northwest had been halted, throwing loggers out of work, because the logging was infringing on the habitat of the spotted owl. The Band offered its typically sensitive take on the situation, with a script that included lines such as "Mr. Spotted Owl! Your environment has been destroyed, your home is now a roll of Brawny and your family has flown the coop. What are you going to do?" To which the spotted owl replied: "Me? I'm going to Disneyland." The Band's chainsaw formation was a nice touch. The Band was banned from the state of Oregon after that.
Stepfords – Fans holding an optimistic, hopeful, upbeat view of the future of Stanford football, and believing that success in football can co-exist with success in other sports. The Stepfords arose as a counterpoint to the Borg. See "The Borg." The Borg originally coined the term "Stepfords" as a derisive way of describing those who held this Panglossian world view, suggesting that they had been brainwashed by the athletic director's official party line. Later, Stepfords embraced the label as their own, taking pride in their Stepfordism. There has been a resurgence of Stepford sentiment over the last few years. But the Borg is always lurking.
Sunny Side vs. Shady Side – The two sides of Stanford Stadium. One side faces the sun; the other side has its back to the sun and falls under the shade of the press box in the afternoon. But "sunny side" and "shady side" aren't just locations; they're states of mind. The sunny side traditionally has been the home of younger, rowdier, louder fans, while the shady side has been populated by older, quieter fans. The Sunnysiders often criticize the Shadysiders for their supposed lack of spirit – yet many Sunnysiders eventually become Shadysiders. There's a natural progression from the sunny side to the shady side. It's a part of growing up, a normal process of maturing. Of course, some folks never grow up. They stay on the sunny side, desperately trying to hold on to their youth, sweltering in the heat of September and early October while trying to convince themselves that they love the sunshine. The Sunnysiders hold the Shadysiders in contempt for their reserved manner, all the while envying their shade. Meanwhile, the Shadysiders are the backbone of the program, the heart and soul of the Stanford fan base. The Shadysiders keep buying season tickets, donating to the Buck/Cardinal Club, and endowing scholarships. The Sunnysiders are young and energetic; the Shadysiders are mature, responsible adults. The Sunnysiders are excitement and emotion and noise, the Shadysiders are a deep current of support that keeps flowing, year after year. The Sunnysiders are James Dean, with attitude and unpredictability; the Shadysiders are Jimmy Stewart, with solidity and quiet assurance. The Sunnysiders are Madonna, once contemporary and hot and young, trying hard to be cool even as they outgrow the role; the Shadysiders are Tony Bennett, older, with lots of miles on them, widely presumed to be dead, but comfortable in knowing who they are and that they still have it after all these years. The Sunnysiders are Bill Clinton, energetic, sometimes brilliant, often late, sometimes never showing up at all, watching the game with one eye while keeping the other eye on comely young coeds; the Shadysiders are Franklin Roosevelt, hanging in there year after year, through depression and disaster and recovery and triumph, providing support, encouragement, and assurance, but only rarely getting up out of their seats. . . . At least that's how it was for many years, all the way up until 2008, when the students and the Band moved to the shady side. The stadium was changed, changed utterly. The students and the Band loosed a little anarchy on the world, or at least on the shady side. They've helped keep the Shadysiders awake, and they've made it easier to identify the ones who passed away in their seats two seasons ago. . . .
Tavita – In the Broadway show and movie "42nd Street," the star of a new musical is injured shortly before opening night and is replaced by an unknown chorus girl. The director tells the chorus girl, "You're going out there a youngster, but you've got to come back a star!" And of course, she does – she's a smashing success and the show is a hit. It's an old plot, too trite to be true. But Stanford quarterback Tavita Pritchard lived that dream. In October 2007, Stanford's starting QB, T.C. Ostrander, was sidelined for medical reasons before Stanford's game against # 1 ranked USC. Tavita Pritchard, whose entire college career had consisted of one pass completion, was pushed into the starting line-up. The result: Tavita led Stanford to the upset that shocked the world. Tavita reminds us that an unknown reserve player can step up and do something unexpected and wonderful. See "We bow to no program," "Biggest Upset Ever."
Ted's Tarp – Ted Leland's solution to declining attendance in the cavernous old stadium was similar to the Soviet Communist Party's solution to internal conflicts: the Communists turned the losers of power struggles into non-persons; Ted Leland turned empty seats into non-seats. He covered them with a tarp. A really big red tarp, covering several acres of north end zone seats. And it wasn't even the right color red. Maybe he figured nobody would notice. With the opening of the new stadium, the tarp was retired, I hope for good.
Texas – Our opening game in the 1999 season was at Texas. Stanford had won just four of its previous 17 games. The Borg had our coach in its gun sights, and was ready to pull the trigger at the first sign of weakness. See "The Borg." The Stepfords took encouragement from the upbeat finish to the 1998 season and the large number of experienced returning players. See "Stepfords." For months, all of us were focused on the opening game in Texas, which Teejers repeatedly proclaimed "huge." But when game day finally arrived, we were horrified witnesses to "The Annihilation in Austin." The FCC later took scores of complaints for allowing such a terrifying program to air on a Saturday morning. Texas won, 69-17 – and the game wasn't as close as the score indicates. In the stands in Austin, one Stanford fan turned to another as the game got out of hand and said, "This isn't even funny." Moments later, Texas muffed a field goal attempt, never got the kick off, and ended up scoring a touchdown on the play when the holder picked up the ball and weaved through the Stanford defense. Back in the stands, that same Stanford fan said, "OK, now THAT was funny." Before the game was over, the Bootboard was swamped by a tsunami of posts calling for the immediate firing of the coaching staff, preferably before the end of the 3rd quarter. The only rallying cry the Stepfords could offer: "Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?" And you know what? They were right. Stanford ended up winning the Pac 10 title and going to the Rose Bowl. So, "Texas" evokes utter futility, but also hope for better times. Maybe losing 69-17 isn't all bad. . . . Nope, I'm lying. It stinks.
Thunderchickens – The nickname of the outstanding defensive line on the 1970 and 1971 teams, both Rose Bowl champions. The "Thunderchickens" nickname was coined by defensive end Pete Lazetich, a student of Hegel, who juxtaposed these two dissimilar terms because he wanted to capture the contradictions and oppositions between the heavenly and the earthbound, between untamed forces and man's domestication of nature, between uncontrollable might and fragile vulnerability, with the opposing concepts evolving through contradiction and negation into a rational unity that preserves and encompasses both. Or maybe he just got the name from a Montana motorcycle gang and he thought Dave Tipton looked like a chicken when he ran. It was one of those. I forget which.
Thunderdome – One of The Bootleg's message boards has been dubbed Thunderdome. Remember the law of Thunderdome: "two men enter, one man leaves." Thunderdome is no place for the timid or the easily offended. It's an arena for gladiators. The reigning champion in Thunderdome is not Mad Max, but Dr. Football, also known as "johnnyo53." Although, come to think of it, has anyone ever seen Mad Max and the Doc together? Or for that matter, has anybody seen Aunty Entity and the Doc together? Be warned that the Thunderdomers do not suffer fools lightly. And if they think you're a fool – which they probably will – they're not shy about telling you . . . probably IN CAPITAL LETTERS, JUST TO MAKE SURE YOU GET THE POINT, YOU PINHEADED JOCKSNIFFING NITWIT SURRENDERMONKEYS!
Toby – Toby Gerhart symbolizes the resurgence of Stanford football more than any other player. During Toby's four years, Stanford went from a laughingstock to a winning team with the best running back in the nation. Toby ran over, around, and past (but mostly over) opponents while smashing records and scoring touchdowns in bunches. He made it fun to watch Stanford again. Not bad for a guy named after a "Thomas the Tank Engine" character. Actually, Toby played like a tank engine. There's an unfortunate Irish defensive back who's still feeling like he was in a train wreck.
TOS – The Other Site. Sometimes you will see posts on The Bootleg referring to information that came from the other Stanford fan site. You know the one I mean. The Bootleg's management would prefer I not actually mention its name, because they wouldn't want me to give undue publicity to any of their, uh . . . rivals.
The Tree – The Band's mascot. Not the university's mascot, but the Band's mascot. And that explains a lot, doesn't it? Actually, I like the Tree. My kids always loved the Tree when they were little. The Tree is one of the most recognizable mascots in college sports. But there's a big wild card with the Tree – the person who is selected as the Tree makes his or her own costume every year. The quality of the costumes varies tremendously. We've had some real stinkers, bad enough to tempt me to turn in my Sierra Club card and start contributing to the timber industry.
Brian Treggs – A former Cal player. In 1991, Cal rolled through its schedule and came into the Big Game with a top 10 ranking and a 9-1 record, having lost only to top-ranked Washington. Some Cal players were feeling pretty cocky, and they weren't shy about it. The week before the game, Treggs brashly promised that if Cal lost to Stanford, he would move to Palo Alto. Stanford thoroughly whipped the overconfident Bears, running the ball down their throats with "Touchdown Tommy" Vardell running behind offensive tackle Bob Whitfield ("Highway 70") all day long. We're still waiting for Treggs to make good on his promise (not that we really want him here, come to think of it). Here's hoping that every Cal visit to Stanford Stadium will be equally satisfying for the Cardinal faithful, if not for Palo Alto real estate agents. With Brian's son Bryce Treggs now a freshman wide receiver at Cal, look for the unresolved issue to be raised frequently during the next several years.
Trench Dogs – Stanford's defensive linemen on the 1999 Pac 10 champion team, led by the ever-animated Willie Howard, called themselves the "Trench Dogs." They even wore metal dog chains around their necks, which is a little too "Fifty Shades of Grey" for me. Not that I've read it. But whatever, it worked – we went to the Rose Bowl. Let's do that again, and the defensive line can wear leather bustiers and fishnet stockings if it wants. I'm sure they can get some from the Band.
The Truth – In fall camp of his freshman year, Andrew Luck's teammates dubbed him "The Truth." Which he was. Which kind of makes you wonder why he was redshirted that year, doesn't it?
Tunnel Workers Union – The offensive linemen on the 2009 team adopted the nickname "Tunnel Workers Union" because it captured their attitude of blue-collar teamwork as they opened up holes in the defense. The name was inspired by lineman Chris Marinelli's father, who really was a member of the Tunnel Workers Union in Boston. It's just as well that he wasn't a member of the Sewage Treatment Workers Union.
USB – University of South Bend, located somewhere in Indiana. See "insufferable arrogance."
USC (also U$C) – The other private university in California that plays Division I FBS football. Stands for "University of Second Choice" or "University of Spoiled Children." See "insufferable arrogance."
The Vow Boys – No, "The Vow Boys" isn't a weepy Nicholas Sparks chick-lit novel. In the fall of 1932, after watching the Stanford varsity lose to USC, Stanford's freshman team vowed that their class would never lose to USC. And they didn't, beating USC the next three seasons and going to the Rose Bowl each season. The Vow Boys played football for fun. A sportswriter once chided them for not taking the game more seriously; when he showed up to watch practice, they tossed him over an eight-foot fence just for laughs. Don't we all wish that would happen to Skip Bayless and Glenn Dickey? The Vow Boys were coached by Claude "Tiny" Thornhill and led by future Hall of Famers Bobby Grayson, Bob "Horse" Reynolds, James "Monk" Moscrip, and Robert "Bones" Hamilton. The vow was proposed by Frank "Owl Eyes" Alustiza. They were big on nicknames in those days. The best nickname belonged to Bill "The Baby-Faced Assassin" Corbus, who was on the first of those three Rose Bowl teams. How come we never see nicknames like that anymore?
Waiver Wire – After a stunning loss in his first season, Walt Harris was asked what he planned to do. His response? "There is no waiver wire, we can't bring in new players." Come on, Walt, in the name of Pop Warner, you shouldn't have needed new players to beat UC flippin' Davis! All you had to do was get the guys you had to play up to their abilities . . . which he never managed to do. Walt found himself on the waiver wire one season later, despite being an FOT. See "FOT (Friend of Ted)."
Waldvogel – Jerry Waldvogel was the third quarterback in the Cordova/Benjamin controversy. Some people thought he should be the starter. Any time a group started chanting "we want Benjamin," there was bound to be a lone voice calling out "Waldvogel!" See "Cordova/Benjamin."
The Walk – For many years, there were no locker rooms at Stanford Stadium. The football team would put on its uniforms in the locker room at Encina Gym, then would walk in full uniform through Chuck Taylor Grove to the Stadium. Fans would line the way, cheering. "The Walk" became a cherished Stanford football tradition, continuing long after locker rooms were built at the Stadium. Some other traditions disappeared into the mists of history – see "Prince Lightfoot" and "Bonfire at Lake Lag" – but at least we were still making our players walk a quarter of a mile in uniform to shower after the game. In 2009, the players finally started changing in the Stadium locker rooms. The players still make The Walk, but they do it earlier and in their sweatsuits, rather than in uniform. It's not quite the same to see them walk through the Grove listening to their iPods. . . .
Walsh I – Like Camelot, it existed only for a brief, shining moment, but it was glorious. Bill Walsh's first head coaching job was at Stanford in 1977-1978. He brought to Stanford a style that later became famous as the "west coast offense." Walsh was brilliant, innovative, energetic, sophisticated, and exciting. "Walsh I" was a true Genius.
Walsh II – Bill Walsh returned to Stanford in 1992 after stepping down as the 49ers coach. Walsh had a tremendous 10-win season in his first year. After that one good year, things fell apart. The center could not hold, as Yeats might have said (or too often, the center held and drew a yellow hanky, as ABC's Keith Jackson might have said). Stanford slipped to a losing record the next two years before Walsh stepped down. "Following my bliss," a phrase coined by mythology scholar Joseph Campbell and used by Walsh in the press conference announcing his return, now sounds like a bitter catch-phrase evoking the shattered dreams and unfulfilled promises of Walsh II.
Walt – Walt Harris coached Stanford in 2005 and 2006. Walt was a dour personality who lost his faith in his team. Before he was done, most of our fans had become dour personalities who had lost their faith in Walt. Sometimes called "Wlat," a nickname bestowed by Bootleg regular TLV01 to refer to Walt's bass-ackwards tenure.
Pop Warner – Yeah, the peewee football guy. He was Stanford's greatest, most successful coach. In the spirit of the university, he was a true innovator, a pioneer. He invented shoulder pads, jersey numbers, huddles, blocking sleds, the three point stance, numbered plays, the single wing, the double wing, the unbalanced line, the screen pass, the naked reverse, spiral punts, and more. He took Stanford to three Rose Bowls. He led Stanford to an undefeated record and the national championship in 1926. And he wrote "All Night Now" (just checking to see if you're still with me). He was a Jedi Master of the game. The Yoda of football he was (the "Empire Strikes Back" guru Yoda, not the "Attack of the Clones" MMA Yoda).
"We Bow To No Program" – Shortly after Jim Harbaugh was hired as Stanford's coach, before he had coached a game at Stanford, he got into a public spat with USC coach Pete Carroll. Harbaugh said in an interview that he had heard Carroll would be leaving USC in a year to coach in the NFL. Carroll publicly took exception. When reporters asked Harbaugh if he would apologize, he refused, instead upping the ante by saying: "We bow to no man. We bow to no program here at Stanford University." Well, that poured jet fuel on a five-alarm fire. The press was all over it – the new coach of a last-place team, which was coming off the worst season in its history, was poking a stick in the eye of the biggest, baddest team in the nation, the biggest odds-on favorite to win it all since Secretariat, the team with equal numbers of NFL prospects and entries on police blotters. Everybody piled on. Jim Rome predicted that USC would bury Stanford by 100 points when the teams met in the fall. Many thought that prediction was too conservative. Harbaugh again got Carroll's – and the media's – attention a few weeks later, when he told reporters that he thought USC's team that year was "the best team in the history of college football." Carroll didn't know whether Harbaugh was being sarcastic, was mocking him, or was sincere and just didn't know that you don't say those things. But Carroll definitely was not amused. Carroll's reaction, as described by one reporter: "Gotta love Jim, don't you? There's no way I'd ever try to understand what that's about. Thanks, Jim." This sparked another round of predictions that Carroll would take Harbaugh to the woodshed when their teams met. By the time the teams lined up in the L.A. Coliseum in the fall, Stanford was a 41 point underdog – yes, 41 points – mostly because of the belief that Carroll would teach Harbaugh a lesson. But a funny thing happened . . . Harbaugh proved that he didn't just have a big mouth, he actually could back it up. "We bow to no program" indeed! See "Biggest Upset Ever," "Tavita."
"We Smoke These Guys!" – Back in the early days of the Bootleg's Friday Faxes, every issue included a game preview that ended with the same prediction: "We smoke these guys!" The prediction didn't always come true . . . but what's the harm in dreaming of the way things really ought to be? You never know what's going to happen. Just ask Pete Carroll.
Weenie – Come on, this one is self-explanatory, isn't it? See "Cal."
"What's Your Deal?" – Jim Harbaugh and Pete Carroll had some great moments, didn't they? In Stanford's epic beat-down of USC in 2009, Toby Gerhart scored a TD with about 6 minutes left to give Stanford a 48-21 lead, putting the game out of reach. Stanford was dominating the game by that time, running the "Power" play on every snap of that scoring drive. Harbaugh, with a 27-point lead, then called for a two-point conversion. Later, he said "I thought it was an opportunity," which, translated, meant, "I wanted to hang 50 points on Petey, just because I could." The two-point try fell short . . . but Stanford got its 50, and more, with another TD on the next drive, winning 55-21. At the post-game handshake, microphones caught a steaming Pete Carroll asking Harbaugh "What's your deal?" To which Harbaugh replied "I don't know, what's YOUR deal?" which, translated, meant, "The deal is that I own your sorry Trojan ass, and you can't do a thing about it!" Enthusiasm unknown to mankind, indeed.
Willingham – Our former coach. Sometimes called the "Sheriff," as in the Sheriff of Willingham, because he was going to clean up the town and restore order. . . . A tough disciplinarian, who was just what Stanford needed after Walsh II. . . . A lazy recruiter, who contacted top recruits too late or not at all and who didn't bring in many more players than Stanford would have attracted based just on the school's reputation. . . . A man of integrity, respected by his players. . . . A man who didn't give a darn about the fans and who, to the eternal chagrin of many, never publicly said a grateful word about his time at Stanford. . . . A man who led us to our first Rose Bowl in 28 years. . . . A man who called a fake punt against us while sitting on a 50 point lead late in the 4th quarter in his first visit back as coach of USB. . . . A good man who did good things for the program. . . . Not merely the Devil incarnate, but the guy to whom the Devil incarnate reports. . . . Take your pick.
"Working Through Some Issues" – Jim Harbaugh did not like to talk about injuries. He didn't give injury reports, he didn't give specifics of injuries, he didn't indicate when a player might be available. He just stopped mentioning the player. We had to scrutinize the sidelines much as the CIA used to study the photos of the Moscow May Day Parade to see who was missing. When Harbaugh was asked a direct question about a missing player, the player was never "injured" – he was just "working through some issues." Seen leaving the locker room with a cast on his arm? On the sidelines on crutches? Getting last rites from a priest? Just "working through some issues" . . . .