Bears Show True Character In Defeat


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Even the most optimistic of Cal fans knows it's out of reach now.

With Saturday night's 31-14 loss to Oregon State, the Bears are essentially out of the Rose Bowl hunt.

To be fair, a nearly impossible scenario would have had to play out coming into Saturday's game, but there was a glimmer of hope when Oregon fell to Stanford a few minutes before the Cal-OSU game began.

And as much as the players try to take it one game at a time, they knew in the back of their minds that if they had achieved their goal of going 7-0 after two humiliating losses, they could have potentially been rewarded with something special.

Still, there was no real sense of gloom or heartbreak on the players' faces afterwards.

Maybe, because of one terrifying incident, football took a backseat to something far more important to them.

The game, and the thoughts and emotions that come along with it, all came to a crashing halt when running back Jahvid Best took a scary fall onto the turf of Memorial Stadium a few minutes before halftime.

Players looked on nervously as their teammate lay motionless by the end zone. They were hoping and praying for good news.

When coach Jeff Tedford gathered his men and told them that their "brother" was moving his extremities, they felt a sense of relief. When the players walked off the field a couple hours later, they were dismayed but not saddened.

To them, the thing that would have truly been distressing hadn't occurred.

Tedford said it best.

"First and foremost, without a doubt, the most important thing when something like this happens is the health of one of your players. It puts football in the right perspective."

That's not to say the loss was not disappointing. Once again, Cal showed that it simply hasn't improved in certain areas. But just as the loss revealed so much about where the Bears are lacking, it also revealed the amount of character this team possesses.

"There are bigger things than football games," Kevin Riley said. "I'm just glad he was OK."

In fact, the only thought that seemed to be on the minds of many players was whether or not they would be able to visit Best in the hospital.

No, this isn't an attempt to find the good in what was an admittedly poor performance by the team. It's merely some insight. It's insight into how this coaching staff has kept these players grounded.

So often, fans and the media put pressure on these kids to win, but few remember what the game is about. It would have been easy to rip this team for what it did wrong on the field, but that's something for them to deal with.

They know what happened out there on the field. Tedford knows it especially.

"We got out-coached (on Saturday)," he said. "We got out-played in every phase of the game. Give credit to Oregon State. They played great, and we didn't."

So as much as it hurts for Cal fans to go another season without a spot in the Rose Bowl, think about how the players feel.

They'll try to learn from their mistakes once again and move on from this loss.

Frustration will be held over from this game, no doubt, but in the grander scheme, everything is looking on the upside.

That's because every single player on the roster will live to fight another day.


Is winning the only thing? Tell Jimmy at [email protected]

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