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Hope of yore: A Bears’ tale

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Head Sports Editor

SEPTEMBER 08, 2023

If there is one storied truth about Cal football — a tale as old as time, if you will — it is this: hope remains abundant among true fans despite having no real precedent to do so.

And I get it — I myself am guilty of being a hopeless romantic. But where do we draw the line between hopeless and impossible? The Bears amounting to a truly victorious program parallels the fabled quests for Atlantis or El Dorado, a (very unlikely) phenomenon amid a sea of mediocrity.

Cal fans hope for a Rose Bowl appearance the way I dream of a “White Chicks” sequel, but what hasn’t happened since 1937 probably won’t happen in 2023.

And yet, we persevere.

A sweeping 58-21 win over North Texas — coupled with a reinvigorated offense curated by new offensive coordinator Jake Spavital — has also been unhelpful to the contagious case of Cal hope.

In spite of quashing this festering hope, ESPN favors the Bears in their home opener against Auburn, an SEC powerhouse that is widely accepted as one of college football’s greatest programs of all time.

So maybe, just maybe, Cal fans aren’t holding their breath for nothing. When faced with towering accolades, what can one do but hope? In fact, some may argue that the only correct reaction is to hope.

Or maybe (more likely than maybe), it’s too early in the season to make unfounded claims — too early to dream big.

But I’m a dreamer, I’ll admit it. Growing up, I was convinced that I could fly — well, not convinced, I was certain. In the face of unwavering gravity, my mind mustered all of its strength, every last speck of brain power, to take flight.

Eyes shut, fists clenched, I channeled my entire being to lift off into the air — if only a millimeter. And I did. There I was, a millimeter off the ground, levitating like there was no tomorrow.

The air filtering between my toes, the weightlessness washing smoothly over me — it felt too good to be true. Yet there I was, effortlessly floating, convinced I’d never have to meet the ground again.

The landscape of my reality had changed until moments later, when I realized that I was lying flat on my back on the trundle bed I shared with my younger sister, very much on the ground.

Believing in Cal football feels a little bit like that: a dream that just feels too good to be true. And yet, we persevere.

Perhaps a standout running back accompanied by a solid offense is enough for fans. If the last time we saw a conference championship was 2006, you can’t blame a fan for believing.

And then there’s the harsh truth that the Pac-12 will disintegrate as we know it come 2024. Given that this is the Bears’ final opportunity to notch a Pacific conference victory, we (likely) will never see another conference victory as we know it ever again. But that’s a story for another article in this game day issue.

Many argue that the worst thing a Cal fan can have is hope. I argue that the worst thing any fan can have is doubt in the possibility of a comeback story, no matter how unattainable.

As an avid fan of fairy tales, this storyline is a neatly wrapped gift, packaged with precision, containing all the makings of a happily ever after. Bear hope is a tale as old as time, but how will this story end?

Contact Mia Wachtel at 


SEPTEMBER 10, 2023