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A rare week to savor at Cal

Clay Kallam

For the first time in a long time, it’s a good week to be a Cal fan. And what better way to mark the occasion than by emphasizing academics?

What we learned:

1) Cal’s football team was able to hammer an inferior opponent, despite losing its starting quarterback early in the game.

After years of watching Justin Wilcox-coached teams sputter and struggle to get by mediocre second-tier teams, the Bears put the wood to overmatched North Texas – on the road, no less.

Jadyn Ott made it clear he’s the real deal, the defense took over in the second half, and the much maligned offensive line simply overpowered North Texas, showing mobility and aggression it never did before.

2) After a month of limbo, Cal found a home in the ACC.

Why is this second on the list? Because the driving force in college sports is football, plain and simple. Had Cal been winning eight or nine games for the past five years, the agony of finding a Power 4 home would have been avoided. In fact, the B1G would have been eager to add the Bears to its West Coast pod, and the TV folks would have gone right along, but too many years of administrative indifference kept Cal from any kind of college football relevance.

The ACC is hardly ideal, of course, given the travel issues, but remember that the Bears had to get on a plane to play every Pac-12 opponent not named Stanford anyway, so all this means is the plane flights are longer. And the longer plane flights will be on charters, minimizing the hassle and presumably allowing for plenty of time to study on the way.

The ACC does offer some advantages, however, as the league isn’t quite as strong, top to bottom, in football or women’s basketball. And the storied ACC history in men’s basketball may also help energetic new coach Mark Madsen recruit at a higher level.

3) Carol Christ is retiring.

OK, we knew this already, but still …

Christ gave incompetent athletic director Jim Knowlton an inexplicable contract extension, despite his lack of experience at this level (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is not a great proving ground for Power 4 success) and inept handling of almost every situation (the Teri McKeever swimming debacle being the worst).

Second, Christ’s notable quote about competing rather than winning shows a complete ignorance of the realities of professional collegiate sports. High school principals can speechify about competing, but college chancellors need to focus on winning – as mentioned above, had Cal been winning football games (rather than playing hard), this whole Power 5 drama could have been avoided.

Third, Christ is committed to keeping all 150 college sports that Cal presently supports. OK, 150 is an exaggeration, but however many there are is way too many. When you add Knowlton’s inability to tie his shoes to the necessity that he oversee 30 sports you have a perfect recipe for idiotic decisions – and Knowlton’s guaranteed $26 million for mediocre results from Wilcox is only one of them.

4) The ACC Channel is 826 on Comcast.

Who cares about USC now? More important, how good is Miami? What does Louisville bring to the table? Does West Virginia have a good defense?

We’ve got all fall to start to focus on future opponents, and then all winter to watch ACC basketball – and not only that, we don’t have to stay up late to do so. All those East Coast games will be shown in the late afternoon and early evening, perfect for watching live or taping for an after-dinner ability to skip through all the commercials.

All in all, Old Blues should settle back with some good whiskey and enjoy a week of positivity – or at least a few days before the realization sets in that a loss to Auburn on Saturday could erase all those good feelings with a few short hours of old-fashioned Wilcox football.

Oh, sorry. As a Cal fan, I just couldn’t help but look for the dark clouds on the horizon. After all these years, it just comes with the (Bear) territory.
Photo byZetong Li for Unsplash

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Clay Kallam is a lifelong East Bay resident who spent several decades in local journalism -- and still writes for Diablo Magazine (among others). Over the years, he has covered just about every aspect of life in the Bay Area, from rock-and-roll to the arts to political coverage to food to sports. On the food front, he does not claim to be a critic, but rather someone who enjoys a good meal, a well-made drink and a nice red wine. As for sports, he has written for national publications (including Sports Illustrated and Slam) and covers girls' basketball across the nation for MaxPreps. He is a high school coach and a serious fan of the local teams -- and savored every minute of the Giants' and Warriors' championships. He graduated from Acalanes, UC Santa Barbara (ancient history) and Cal (philosophy). He lives in Walnut Creek with his wife Maggi, who takes many of the food photos. He appreciates his readers and is always happy to talk about anything he's written. His food experiences can be found at #dishdining on Instagram, and emails can be sent to

Walnut Creek, CA

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