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There's always next year, as Cal football fans have been saying for 51 seasons.

The saying is actually true-barring the end of the world-2009 will be followed by 2010. So there are logical implications to this motto, but ultimately, it's a cop-out for losers.

Why do we always have to wait another year? Why can't it be this year? Why can it never be this year?

Cal fans have become accustomed to losing. It has become part of the mentality. It is the Cal culture.

It is embodied in what has been labeled "the true Cal fan," which is a person who is unwavering in one's support, through thin and thinner, poor and poorer, loss after loss.

It is the homer's insult of choice: "You are not a true Cal fan." You cannot bleed blue and gold if you have a realistic view. You may never voice your displeasure. If you don't support the war in Iraq, then you're a terrorist.

The "true Cal fan" must treat the football team like a child-constructive criticism only. You wouldn't want to hurt Jeff's feelings now, would you?

You cannot boo, no matter what. Even if your team attempts a field goal when down by a serious amount of points, you mayn't boo.

At the Oregon game, senior associate athletic director Foti Mellis yelled at me, "Be a Cal fan!" after I chose to voice my displeasure with the Bears' superb play calling. And I understand that he gets paid to support a losing program, but I don't.

If being a "true Cal fan" means that I have to pretend that I'm OK with losing year after year, then I'm not true blue.

Go ahead, tell me I don't know about losing because I wasn't here for the Holmoe era. I wasn't. When the "true Cal fan" justifies losses by saying these losses aren't as bad as those losses, we all lose. It's a lose-lose situation.

The Bears do not have a fan base like USC, meaning that most of us received or are receiving our education from the best public university in the world. Cal fans are people who dedicated themselves to excellence to get into Cal and get through it like smaller, academic versions of rugby coach Jack Clark. So how has it come to pass that these people are accepting of anything representing this school that is less than excellent?

I know, I know, you're saying that football isn't as important as academics, but then why do 72,000 people show up to the game and not the walkout? Football is just another sphere for the Bears to assert the school's dominance. And for whatever reason, we're OK with that not happening.

Like all human beings with brains do in times of defeat, we rationalize and take pride in miniature and meaningless victories, or even single plays.

After the Trojans rolled over the Bears, sunshine pumpers latched onto Mike Tepper's catch and run as a bright spot, leading one blogger to call it the "BEST. LEAP. EVER." And while this was entertaining, let me remind you of football rules-you can't do that.

Muscle Milk has begun littering the campus with Cal shirts emblazoned with the word "Tradition" printed across the front. Tradition of what? Showing up on Saturdays during the fall and playing games? Yes, we have that, but what we don't have is a tradition of doing it well. The back of the shirt reads, "Home of 'The Play.'" It will be 27 years this November. And yet, it is still the beacon of hope for football at Cal during the modern era.

Welcome to Cal, where one memorable thing has happened to the football team since 1959. Go Bears!

It starts and ends with the coach.

Now, now, I'm not calling for Tedford's head just yet. He has done wonders for this program. He brought Cal to the next level. I'm just asking, when does the honeymoon end? Was 2006 the apex of his career?

Is he the guy that can take the Bears to the next, next level? I don't think so. Will Athletic Director Sandy Barbour ever be able to pull the plug without a missed bowl game or a sub-.500 season? Probably not. Is Tedford even capable of leading the Bears to a sub-.500 season? Again, not likely.

So for now, and until Tedford finally retires, Cal will be stuck in a place between above average and good.

And as a "true Cal fan," I'm going to support my Bears for eternity, to mediocrity and beyond.


Are you tired of waiting for next year? Tell Joseph at [email protected]

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