Drumroll, please …
The time has come: the 125th Big Game, the 40th anniversary of The Play, the latest rendition of one of the oldest college rivalries in the nation. Set for … 2:30 p.m.?
On the Pac-12 Network?
One thing I’ve learned this season is that good games get played in the evening, when it’s at least slightly dark out, and they appear on ESPN or some other national broadcast, not a channel most people don’t have access to. And “good” games don’t even require two good teams — after all, Cal has seen late-evening matchups more than a few times this year.
So what does it take for one of the most iconic rivalry games, with a couple of anniversaries tied to it, to kick off at 2:30? Two bad teams. Two quite very bad teams.
Both Cal and Stanford enter Saturday with one conference win apiece, and they’re each fighting to be the team that finishes 2-7 instead of 1-8. Both have suffered some pretty embarrassing losses, and those looking to watch good football should probably avert their eyes down south to Cal’s Los Angeles counterpart.
Thus, the 125th Big Game truly has no bearing outside of the Bay Area. Neither team has a shot at a bowl game, and the only exciting things happening when the season ends are coaching changes (hopefully).
So why does it matter? Why are we paying $60 to watch two of the worst teams in not just the Pac-12, but the entire nation? I’m truly not sure, but as a UC Berkeley student, I’ll always take a chance to dunk on the weird school across the Bay.
We have to address the elephant in the room — although saying that feels insulting to elephants around the world. The monstrosity in the room, more accurately, is the Tree.
Now, you have to give (some) props to Stanford. It acknowledged that its mascot was racist and changed it, 40 years before the likes of professional sports teams. But it’s just slightly questionable that the best nonproblematic replacements Stanford could come up with were a color (the Cardinal) and a plant. What’s more, if your rivalry trophy is literally an axe, choosing a mascot that gets killed by axes on the daily seems like walking into a manhole (one of the other mascot options back in the day — were they OK?).
Regardless, it’s always nice to face a mascot that makes Oski look a bit less creepy. And Cal Band looks great regardless, but it looks phenomenal next to whatever the mess you might call the opposing band is.
Most importantly, in my penultimate column, I think I can say I could debate a Stanford fan (though, do they really exist?) and put forth a winning argument for Cal football. So to any Cardinal fans in the stands Saturday: A not-so-ditzy Darlene is ready to fight.