Clardy's Corner 9-11-12
It’s a simple
question, really. But the closer you look, it becomes a deceptively simple
Has U$C replaced cal
as Stanford’s foremost football rival?
With the Cardinal
preparing to host the Trojans this Saturday on The Farm, San Jose Mercury
News college football writer Jon Wilner posed that very question on his
blog this week. However, instead of answering it himself, Wilner merely offers
this response: “[that question] can only be answered by Stanford players, fans,
Well, I’m a Stanford
fan. And, according to that piece of paper hanging on my wall (and all the mail
I keep getting from The Stanford Fund), I’m a Stanford alum, too. I think those
facts qualify me to take a swing at Wilner’s question.
So, to Wilner’s
simple question, I offer this simple answer: Yes. And no.
I can hear some of
you now: “but California has to be our biggest rival! That’s why they call it
Big Game! It’s always been ‘Beat Cal’, not ‘Beat U$C’!”
If you’re saying
that, you were probably one of the Stanford faithful who staggered out of
in complete disbelief after the Screw of ’82. Time may heal all wounds, but the
scars still probably haven’t healed. Not even after 30 years.
You were also
probably one of the Stanford fans who actually got to experience a real live Big
Game bonfire in Lake Lagunita. You also probably remember when Big Game was
always sold out, and when it was always the biggest college football game of the
year in the Bay Area. To you, I would imagine, the question of who Stanford’s
biggest rival is may not even be a question at all.
At the same time, I
also suspect that the younger Stanford fans may have a different answer. The
current students and the young alumni have been absolutely amazing. Their
support has been incredible, and they deserve a large measure of the
credit for Stanford Football’s renaissance. (I just wish they were able to be in
full force for this game. But that’s a different story for a different
The thing is, the
younger fans’ experiences with Cardinal Football likely won’t be defined by any
Big Game moments. Sure, parading The Axe around is nice, but their fondest
memories of watching the Card probably won’t center around beating the
University of California. After all, Stanford defeated both U$C and cal in
2007…but which game does everyone remember? Exactly.
Big Game is always
big, but the recent games against U$C have all been bigger, more dramatic, and
have had more impact nationwide. So if the younger Stanford fans considered the
Trojans to be the Card’s biggest rival right now, I wouldn’t be shocked in the
Now, for cal,
Stanford will always be the Bears’ biggest rival. Period. Even
if Golden Bear football ever reaches the heights that Stanford has
experienced over the past few years (the heights they certainly seemed to be
destined to reach a few years ago), nothing will ever satisfy Old Blues and New
Blues like a win over Stanford. In anything. Football, basketball, table tennis,
Farmville, whatever. That will never, ever change.
Perhaps the real
question should be whether Stanford has replaced UCLA or Notre Dame as U$C’s
biggest rival. While that answer can only truly be provided by U$C players,
fans, and alumni, I’ll take a stab at that question, too. And my answer is
Which program has had
the biggest hand and the most responsibility for toppling U$C from the top of
the league standings? Which program has dealt the Trojans their most devastating
blows? Which program seems to have annexed the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum as
its second home? Those answers would be Stanford, Stanford, and
So it was no surprise
that when Nickell Robey snagged that pick-six last year in the Coliseum to put
the Trojans ahead of Stanford with less than four minutes left, U$C fans
celebrated like it was the Rose Bowl, Super Bowl, the World Cup Final, and Cinco
de Mayo all rolled into one.
The Greatest Upset
Ever. The “What’s Your Deal?” game. Triple overtime. Andrew Luck leveling
Sharece Wright. After decades, the tables have finally turned. Stanford is in
U$C’s heads. And their fans will be looking for blood on Saturday. I’d venture
to think they don’t quite have those same feelings toward UCLA, Notre Dame, or
anyone else right now. A win over Stanford would mean more than say, a 50-0
steamrolling of an incompetantly-led crosstown rival UCLA.
never really hated cal. That was true even when the Bears football
program was light years ahead of Stanford’s, and it seemed like the Cardinal
would never catch up. I have never had a bone to pick with the UC athletic
department, who seem to be doing things the right way. And as I’ve publicly
mentioned in previous Corners, I love California's
However, the People’s
Republic of Berkeley™
is still stuck back in 1968. And when it comes to Stanford, cal fans lose their
minds and act like absolute hooligans. Those two reasons are why, overall, I
truly do dislike cal.
That said, dislike is
never as strong as hatred. And my hatred for "That Think Tank on Figueroa" is
well-documented in these Corners. I am always in an especially chippy mood
during U$C week, and this year is no different.
You want to put me in
a foul mood quickly? Start playing their fight song. Anything from that damn
band serves as my personal musical laxative.
Does my hatred stem
from jealousy? Partly. After all, no program outside of Notre Dame has a more
storied college football history than U$C. But it’s hard for me to respect that
history when they achieved much of that history by cheating and playing dirty,
and when their fans use that sordid history to fuel their own superiority
complex. That’s where most of my hatred comes from.
Now don’t get it
twisted: I don’t want Stanford to ever lose to cal. Ever. But as a card-carrying
nothing gives me more joy than beating U$C in football.
But historically, the
rivalry between Stanford and U$C has been next to nonexistent. Sure, it’s been
great the past five seasons, and during the Vow Boys years, the late
1960s, and the early 1970s the rivalry got pretty heated, too. Outside of
those three periods in time and maybe the How Boys' Rose Bowl season of
1951, Stanford was almost never U$C’s chief rival. Heck, most years,
Stanford was so far in U$C’s rear-view mirror, the
Indians/Cardinal weren’t even worth Troy's
You can’t have a
rivalry with someone who’s out of your league. Meanwhile, the Bears have always
seemed to be in the same boat with Stanford. Sustained success always seemed to
be just within reach. Berkeley always seemed to be near Stanford in the
standings whenever they met. So, historically, yes, California is still
Stanford’s biggest rival.
But the "most-hated"
rival? I think those guys are showing up to Stanford Stadium this Saturday,
looking for a fight.
Hard to quarrel when
you hang a half a hundred on the opposing team. Much better performance from
Stanford this time, particularly on defense…
Is it me or do we
look a little faster in our black uniforms?
Don’t look now, but
Usua Amanam is quickly rising to become my favorite player on the Stanford
I’ll readily admit
that I’ve probably been spoiled by the past few years, but I’m still waiting for
Stanford’s offensive line to start dominating. Haven’t seen it
It wouldn’t surprise
me to see Lane Kiffin and the Trojans try to bubble-screen Stanford to death. If
they do, I hope the Card’s tackling is up to snuff. But when the Trojans call
dropback passes, I hope Stanford blitzes the hell out of Matt Barkley, who has
never been a good passer under pressure…
Sure, it was a great
weekend for the league. But how much better would it have been if it were still
the Pac-10 instead of the Pac-12? Thumbs up to Oregon State, Arizona, and UCLA
for taking care of its business. Thumbs down to Utah. And Colorado? They get the
That said, the
Pac-12’s biggest wins this past weekend were at home. Let’s see how the league
gets represented this week in Columbus (cal @ Ohio State) and Columbia (Arizona State @ Missouri)…
FOX called Sacramento
State’s win over Colorado a shocking upset. Really? Quite honestly, with the
Buffaloes in as bad a shape as they are, I wasn’t shocked. Disgusted? Yes.
Oregon State shut
down Heisman hopeful Montee Ball, and held Wisconsin’s offense to merely 207
yards. Pretty impressive. Now, just think what the Beaver defense would have
done to Wisconsin if Badger head coach Bret Bielema had actually given Oregon
State game film to look at…
Ryan Mannion looked
very poised at QB for Oregon State. Ditto for Brett Hundley at
Even though it’s way
too early to be talking Heisman, if you wanted to replace Montee Ball with UCLA
RB Jonathan Franklin on the short list right now, I wouldn’t
At halftime, I
thought UCLA’s defense might lose them that game. As it turned out, they were a
major reason the Bruins were able to hold off Nebraska in the second half and
win. They might not have discipline, but they have speed and they can
Fresno State, and Tennessee Tech? All at home? That’s the best you could come up
with for a non-conference schedule? Shame on you, Oregon…
LSU 41, Washington 3?
Down in Baton Rouge? Yeah, that sounds about right…
Too bad for Utah QB
Jordan Wynn, who was knocked out of the game against Utah State with another
shoulder injury. After three previous shoulder surgeries, Wynn has decided to
call it a career…probably wisely.
The season is yet
young, but the Bears have a lot of work to do on
Not a Pac-12 thought, but… That win over Arkansas is
the biggest thing to hit Monroe, Louisiana since my grandmother's gumbo…
Not a Pac-12 thought, but… by the way, have you noticed that none of the college football talking
heads are using Arkansas' inexplicable loss last week to the Louisiana-Monroe
Warhawks of the Sun Belt Conference as a damning indictment against the
all-powerful SEC? If that had happened to Oregon or U$C, all of the pundits
would be falling all over themselves to declare the Pac-12 as being overrated.
Must be nice to be in the SEC…
Not a Pac-12 thought, but… oh, NFL RedZone channel, how I missed you so…
Troy Clardy is in his 20th year of following the Cardinal as a columnist, broadcaster, and announcer. In its 11th season of Cardinal commentary, Clardy's Corner appears Wednesdays during the college football regular season on TheBootleg.com. You can also check him out online at TroyClardy.com, hear him on Pittsburgh's Sportsradio 93-7 The Fan, or e-mail him at email@example.com.
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