RBBID: There has been some talk recently (especially after the
MS: First of all, this is yet another sign of progress: The complaint is that we don’t play well enough in big games. Compare that to 20 penalties—including eight false starts—in our 11th game of the season in 1999 (when Stanfurd beat us to go to the Rose Bowl), and we’ve come a long way, baby. I don’t think that’s a fair charge. Virtually every game was huge in 2004, and we played well in most of them, including the SC loss. Texas Tech obviously was a disappointment, though it’s not like we had a whole lot to gain by winning that game. I guess my answer is that when we have a quarterback who isn’t throwing the ball six feet over a receiver’s head or seemingly panicking in the face of pressure, we play pretty well in big games. Again, perspective: We ended a 28-year losing streak to
RBBID: What does
MS: Protect the quarterback, pure and simple. If we give Longshore time he will get the ball to the people who need to have it. I fully expect DeSean to go off in front of his homies from the LBC, and I think this is the game when Marshawn Lynch will take over. All we need is for Longshore to have some time and for the defense to play it’s ‘A’ game, like it did against
RBBID: What are your predictions for the USC game? Both as a writer for SI and as a
MS: That’s like asking, “What are your predictions for World War II, both as a war analyst and as an American?” There is no possible way I can be objective about this game, and I can assure you that when my age-inappropriate drunken friends and I begin chanting “SC Sucks” five minutes before kickoff, I will not be doing so as an SI writer. So here is my prediction: It will be a good, back-and-forth game, and in the end good shall prevail over evil. Nate Longshore is going to nut up and play the game of his life. Lord Jeff Tedford is going to come with the spellbinding gameplan. Brandon Mebane (who is so due), Desmond Bishop and the other LBs and the great Daymeion Hughes are going to ball like we’ve never seen them. DeSean is going to go off. And in the end, Marshawn Lynch, who is probably the best player we’ve had since Ron Rivera, and maybe since the gold rush, is going to give us a parting gift for which we will always be indebted.
RBBID: This blog is entitled Rose Bowl Before I Die, so you can guess which one I favor. But what would mean more to you, a Rose Bowl victory or a national championship?
MS:For me—growing up in
RBBID: I am a big fan of Stewart Mandel but I think it would be great to have you take over the SI college football blog. Any chance you will be covering more college football in the future?
MS: The only college football story I plan to write for SI (or si.com) is the lengthy first-person piece leading up to the Rose Bowl about all things Golden Bear—like my then-colleague, the great Rick Telander, did when his alma mater Northwestern went to Pasadena under Gary Barnett. It’ll be tough to convince the higher-ups to let me slip away from NFL coverage to do that, but I’m pretty sure the big boss, managing editor Terry McDonell, will greenlight it. That’s because, back in the day, he went to God’s University, too.We will definitely keep an eye out for Michael's first person piece on Cal's first trip to the Rose Bowl in 48 years. It should be the cover story for SI that week. Go Bears. Beat $C.