Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Around this time 27 years ago, two high school seniors came up to Cal with a huge decision to make.
They didn't know each other, but they were stuck in the same boat-neither one knew which college to attend the following year.
Michele's parents went to Cal, and her sister was a senior there at the time. But she wanted to be different as most 17-year-olds do and was thinking about Stanford as well.
Michael was just as confused: Was Cal the right place for him? Somehow his dad came upon some tickets to that weekend's football game, decided that it would be the perfect opportunity to check out the campus and flew young Michael up.
They came to Berkeley searching for an answer. And they got it in the last four seconds of regulation of a football game. It was the weekend of the Big Game, 1982.
For Michael and Michele, "The Play" is not just the greatest play in football history, it is a defining moment in their lives.
Michael (Silver) is now covering the NFL for Yahoo! Sports and after all these years, he still remembers it:
"I saw-even before The Play-one of the greatest college football games I've ever seen ... We were on the alumni side, and I'll never forget what I saw next, because I swear I would have remembered it forever even if The Play had never occurred: The entire Cal student section stood up as one and began clapping and doing their pre-kickoff cheer in what I can only describe as a total and uniform act of defiance.
"What I saw in that moment was a large group of people saying, 'Fuck it-we have come too far and worked too hard for this, and we do not accept this outcome. We are NOT FUCKING LOSING THIS GAME.' In other words, they were clinically insane.
"And that, honestly, was the moment I knew I'd go to Cal if I were to get admitted. Those were MY people, or at least I wanted them to be."
Silver got in. And so did Michele Tafoya. Now a sideline reporter for Monday Night Football, she got her first taste of the field at Memorial Stadium, when she stormed the it after "The Play."
"People ask me, 'Is that why you decided to go to Cal, because they won that game?' And I say, 'No, it was more the energy and the atmosphere of the university that Cal had, compared to what I experienced when I visited Stanford,'" Tafoya said. "Though "The band is on the field!" play certainly didn't hurt my decision."
At that moment, Tafoya fell in love and simultaneously found something to hate.
"As soon as that game was over, I knew what it meant to not like Stanford," Tafoya said. "From the moment I made my decision, it was an instant dislike, an instant I'm-never-going-to-like-you feeling towards Stanford."
But do the feelings lighten over time towards the bastards across the Bay?
"No, No, No, No, No, No. Once it's set in stone, it's set for life," Tafoya said. "If anything, my feelings towards Stanford have strengthened. Every time I see guys like Aaron Rodgers and Tony Gonzalez–my Cal guys–we all have healthy and strong feelings towards Stanford."
So Mr. Silver, why is Cal better than Stanford?
"That's kind of like answering why I'm turned on by lesbian love scenes ... The first answer: It just is," he said. "We have a more challenging school, a better campus, a better campus community, better athletes, better coaches, hotter chicks, better fight songs, a better drinking song, better student journalists, better former student journalists and a better grip on reality.
"Most important of all, we enter the world equipped to kick everyone's ass and not whine about it when we face obstacles, and that's worth a hell of a lot more than $40,000 a year and easy access to a golf course."
And if that's not enough proof, world renown astronomer and beloved UC Berkeley professor Alex Filippenko finds evidence in the stars.
"Cal is better than Stanford because Cal has an official star, the 'Cal Star,' and Stanford has no such star," Filippenko explained. "The Cal Star is formally named Albireo, or beta Cygni. Though to the naked eye it looks like just one star, through even a small telescope it is clearly seen as two stars, and their colors are blue and gold (due to their different surface temperatures)."
No star. No Stanfordium. And we have a bigger tower.
"We are superior. We know it. We're comfortable with it," Silver said. "Nothing can change that, ever. When we achieve athletic success, as we must on Saturday, it's not an illustration of our excellence.
"Rather, it's a validation-a confirmation-of all we know to be true and absolute."
Sing a drinking song with hotter chicks and Joseph at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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