Friday, November 17, 2006

Q&A w/ Michael Silver from SI - Part II

RBBID: There has been some talk recently (especially after the Arizona loss) that Cal does not play well when high expectations are placed on the team. Do you think that there is any validity to these statements?

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 Washington and now we beat them every time. We ended a seven-year Big Game losing streak (and 2-12-1 stretch) and have punked Stanfurd four times in a row. We’ve won two out of three from UCLA, and when they’ve beaten us down there the games have been very close. We’ve won two of the last three from Oregon, though we probably didn’t deserve the one in ’04. We kill Arizona State every year; it’s a ritual. We beat SC in ’03. And we’re going to do it again, dammit.

RBBID: What does Cal need to do to beat USC at the Coliseum on Saturday?

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 Oregon. That and for Tommy Trojan to fall off that insufferable horse, bump his head and go staggering onto the field and in front of the free safety when Marshawn is cutting back for the winning score.

RBBID: What are your predictions for the USC game? Both as a writer for SI and as a Cal alum?

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 L.A., raised in the era before BCS bullshit—it has always been about the Rose Bowl. And given that we have not won our conference for 48 years—48 years!—in football (and 47 in basketball, by the way… ecccch), we need to do that, right now, end of story. I do believe that once we go to the Rose Bowl and you and I are thus assured of dying happy, I’ll snap out of it. For example, it is inane that we have no playoff in college football, and I could give you 100 rational reasons why I feel this way. But until we go to the Rose Bowl, I won’t advocate for one, because it is something that MUST be experienced, by us. And, of course, it is all about us.

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 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.


Lawrence said...

Look God, for over 20 years, I spent way too much money drinking beer at the Golden Bear, being frustrated at Sproul Hall because of this or that, and watching some generally crappy football at Memorial, to be disappointed. We are simply going to win tomorrow. I DEMAND it.

Displaced Trojan said...

I guess Silver should stick to the NFL, which according to him he will do, since that column about Cal going to the Rose Bowl remains on hold. LOL.

The Displaced Trojan