The Big Game: When?

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By Dave Newhouse, Guest Contributor
Posted Oct 16, 2012
If by BearInsider Staff or Contributor, this article is Copyright © 2014 BearInsider.com


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For those traditionalists pulling their hair out over the Big Game being played for the first time in October, some words of sympathy: Get over it.

This may sound harsh to those of you who hold dearly to 130 years of Cal football (1882), and 120 years of Big Games (1892). But tradition, alas, sometimes dies hard.

To comfort you somewhat, Pacific !2 Commissioner Larry Scott has an innovative concept in mind -- a grand plan -- to lessen your pain.

An Oct. 20 Big Game is hardly the first step in Scott's creative scheme. For his next move is to move the 2012†Big Game to Tuesday, Aug. 27 and have it kick off the college football season -- in the Meadowlands in New Jersey.

You shouldn't be alarmed, or surprised, by Scott's thinking, which is strictly big market and even bigger television exposure. After all, the Pac-12 has been all about TV since Scott became commissioner, including 24-7 conference exposure. Hey, it's 3 a.m., and field hockey from Corvallis. Yippie!

And didn't Scott take conference football players and coaches to New York to expose them to the New York media. Go East, young man, for westward expansion is a thing of the past. Right, commish?

The television camera's lens mean everything to Scott, whose new plan includes transporting the Big Game around the country and having it called the Bekins Big Game. For exposure is the core of Scott's transient soul, and....

Ok, by now you've caught on that an August Big Game is just a joke. We think. And that Scott knows by now, or should know, that the very first Big Game in 1892 actually was played in the spring; a second Big Game that year was played in December. Which makes an October Big Game more reasonable.

Scott also notes, or should note, that this isn't the first year that the Big Game is not the last game of the regular season. For in 1896, Cal had four more games following the Big Game: Los Angeles Athletic Club, Redlands High, San Diego High and Whittier School. Those Cal gridders were then invited to the respective high school senior balls.

Therefore, Scott shouldn't be castigated for his futuristic thinking. It's well known in the Pac-12 offices in Walnut Creek that Scott has taken the "tra" out of tradition with his three-part response: Tra-la, tra-la, tra-la. And Scott regards the "Pa" in Pacific-12 as "this isn't your pa's conference, or your grandpa's. We've gone modern, baby. Get with it."

With that in mind, he has an ingenious image of what he perceives the Pac-12 will grow into this century. And so he will drop the phrase "Pacific-12 Conference," and replace it with a new name: "Pacific-12 Ball-O-Rama."

If this sounds extreme to you, wait until you hear what else Scott has in mind -- his out-of-the- box imagination that falls perfectly in line with his Ball-O-Rama approach, which he is convinced will revolutionize college athletics.

As an example, he will hold the next conference basketball tournament on the flight deck of the USS Enterprise. Three free throws will be given to any player who is fouled in the process of being pushed into the Pacific Ocean, providing the player is fished out of the water. A four-point shot is awarded for any jumper made from behind a Navy jet, and the only times outs called will be for those times when the boat rocks.

Scott has other otherworldly ideas to spice up various tournaments. For the next golf championships, the final round will be played at a miniature golf course. Forget chipping in from the rough; try putting through the rotating blades of a windmill -- blindfolded. Now there's a golfing hazard!

For the gymnastics championships, two new events will be added: Bungy jumping and sky free fall. Points will be given for the amount of inventive flips and twists demonstrated before the cord snaps or the parachute opens. Hopefully in both cases.

The 2013 swimming championships will offer new challenges and new world records. For Scott is staging the meet in San Francisco Bay, figuring that the 200-meter backstroke could take 10 to 20 seconds off the existing world mark if the swimmers see a shark approaching. Don't worry, shark repellent will be applied like Coppertone.

For those parents worried that their athletic children are being endangered by Scott's daredevil instincts, he has commissioned "Survivor" to televise, and also supervise, these events, thereby guaranteeing their safety and giving the Pac-12 further exposure.

Scott is playing fast and callously, however, with the ethics of sports. For instance, for the next soccer season, he will replace the soccer ball with a beach ball, envisioning that the Keystone Kops theatrics will transform into tremendous TV ratings.

And how about the upcoming crew championships, where the oarsmen and oarswomen will face the finish line instead of with their backs to the finish. A whole new way of rowing, and spinal displacement.

For the water polo championships, there will be a new approach to scoring: No ball-tossing, but mascot-throwing. Cal gets to pitch Oski in a wet suit toward the goal, while Stanford will hurl The Tree, which might face strangulation at either end of the pool.

This all fits into Scott's Ball-O-Rama format, which basically means to have a ball, regardless of the ball's size. For lacrosse, though, the ball stays the same, but the lacrosse stick will have a picnic-basket-sized netting. Try getting the ball out of that netting to score.

Scott's not finished yet. For volleyball, the net will be replaced by a telephone wire, which will make spiking obsolete, unless Paul Bunyan and Gulliver are recruited, but will make serving the ball quite an adventure.

All you tennis players, Scott is showing you no love. You will have to serve and volley over the volleyball nets, which are no longer being used. No more serving aces, but lob shot artistry will result.

Oh, and cross country runners, you're not spared either. You will have to run in work boots. And discus throwers, you'll be tossing Frisbies. Hurdlers, you'll be hurdling over Smart cars.

So, then, football lovers and tradition-steeped alums, an October Big Game hardly seems a sore point with all these other changes Scott has in his tradition-less head.

Thus sit back and enjoy the first October Big Game, figuring that Scott will move the Big Game around like pieces of chess as long as he is commissioner of the modernized Pacific-12 Ball-O-Rama, whose offices are being shifted to Hearst Castle in San Simeon.

As a piece of history, did you know that Stanford student manager Herbert Hoover -- yes, that Herbert Hoover -- forgot to bring the football to the first Big Game, which was played in San Francisco? After he found a ball somewhere, Stanford won 14-10.

Believe it or not, Scott does have a sense of history. In honor of that first Big Game, he will re-introduce the rugby-sized ball that was used during that embryonic era of football. You would guess that this larger, cumbersome ball might reduce the accuracy of the passing game. But with the current Cal and Stanford quarterbacks, who can tell?

So get with the game, traditionalists. Like the commish says, have a Ball-O-Rama.

(Dave Newhouse, a retired Oakland Tribune columnist and a follower of Cal sports since the 1940s, writes occasionally for bearinsider.com. Read his latest e-books, "Before Boxing Lost Its Punch" and the novel "White Lightning", on†amazon.com)

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