Bochy’s Legacy; Bears’ Bad Luck; More Nonsense from Game Officials, Ohio State, Pac-12, Leach

I’ve never met Bruce Bochy.

Which is a real shame because everyone I know—and I mean, everyone—says the newly-retired Giants’ manager is a great guy.

So I have no stories to recount today, but just want to tip my hat to the man who led the Giants to three World Series championships, showing class, humility and a players-first mentality that I admired from afar.

None of Bochy’s teams was favored to win the championship. All featured a few stars—Madison Bumgarner, Buster Posey, Tim Lincecum—and a bunch of guys rescued from the scrap heap. But with Bochy pulling the right strings and making the right moves at the right moment, the underdog Giants prevailed.

Most of today’s managers are 35-year old guys armed with a bunch of statistics and orders from the front office. Bochy was one of a dying breed who managed by experience and instinct…his “feel” for the game, if you will.

We’ll miss him. And if he ends up managing somewhere else, we’ll cheer him.

Luckless Bears: The football gods were unkind to the Cal Bears Friday night. Coach Justin Wilcox's club went into the game unbeaten and nationally ranked, with a hot quarterback in Chase Garbers. The student body turned out and Memorial Stadium was loud and electric.

But with the score tied late in the second quarter Garbers was tripped up, fell hard on his shoulder, and left the game. His replacement, Devon Modster was, to put it bluntly, horrible. He completed only 5 of 14 passes for 23 yards. He was immobile, indecisive, off-target, and had a throwing motion that seemed to unfold in slow motion.

It remains to be seen how long Garbers will be out. But with Modster in the lineup, the Bears will be hard-pressed to win more than a couple of their remaining games.

No fun intended: Is it just my imagination, or is "unsportsmanlike conduct" called after about half of the touchdowns scored in college football this year?

I understand that officials don't want players performing choreographed dances or talking trash in the face of their opponents. But it's getting ridiculous.

Saturday afternoon in Seattle, USC and Washington were each flagged for questionable unsportsmanlike conduct penalties after "celebrations" that were, shall we say, quite modest. SC quarterback Matt Fink scored on a keeper and did a quick little half-spike in the middle of three teammates, before trotting off the field. I doubt any Washington players even saw it. Yet he was penalized.

Come on, zebras. These are college kids. Let them have a little fun.

Empty Threats: Ohio State Athletic Director Gene Smith says he'll stop scheduling opponents from California for dates after January 1, 2023 because of the California bill that will compensate athletes for their name, image and likeness (NIL), signed into law yesterday by Governor Gavin Newsom.

“They won’t be members of the NCAA,” Smith says. “I think that’s going to be the problem… those schools in California have an unfair advantage because they’ll be able to offer student-athletes benefits that the other schools will not be able to offer. So, yeah, my position would be we walk."

Utter nonsense. First of all, there’s no way the NCAA would expel the four California schools (Stanford, UCLA, USC and Cal), who rank No. 1, 2, 3 and 10 in national championships won. The chances of that happening are, pun intended, nil. In fact, even blowhard NCAA president Mark Emmert has walked back his recent threatening comments.

Second, the organization has until 2023, when the California law will go into effect, to come up with a national model. There is no question—none—that an accommodation will be reached so the Cal schools can compete.

And oh by the way, Gene, the state of Illinois, right in the heart of Big Ten country, is considering similar legislation. Are you going to refuse to play Illinois?

No Sale: The Mercury News reports that the Pac-12 has given up on its ill-conceived plan to sell private equity in the conference's media rights. Surprise! When you get no decent offers, you decide not to sell. It's kind of like pulling your house off the market after six months and no offers.

The conference apparently remains open to a “strategic partnership” with, say, a television network.

Duh.

As we’ve written many times, the Pac-12’s decision to go it alone with their network, rather than partnering with ESPN or Fox, was a fatal mistake. It’s the main reason why the failing network has only about 18 million subscribers while the competing conference networks from the Big Ten, SEC and ACC—all of whom have joined forces with Fox or ESPN—have three times as many viewers. And tons more revenue.

Consider this comment from Dean Jordan, managing executive for the Wasserman Media Group, who brokered the ACC Network's partnership with ESPN: "In this day and age, you can’t launch a network as an independent; you have to have someone that has the ability to package and leverage you in distribution negotiations. So you wouldn’t want to try this without a strategic partner like ESPN."

The visionaries in the Pac-12 office felt otherwise, and they are paying the price. It’s a very steep one.

Classless Act: After his team was destroyed by Utah, 38-13, Saturday night, Washington State coach Mike Leach ripped his players thusly: "We’re a very soft team. We get a lot of good press. We like to read it a lot. We pat ourselves on the back. And if we get any resistance, we fold. And what’s amazing about this is that most of these guys were on the same team last year that was a tough team…All of the sudden they’re not tough. They’re fat, dumb and happy and entitled."

I guess poor coaching had nothing to do with the Cougars’ performance. But for my money, if you’re not ready to play a week after blowing a 49-17 lead, there’s only one person to blame: the head coach.

And here’s something else Leach should remember: The best coaches never publicly throw their players under the bus.

Gary Cavalli - Bowl and League co-founder, author, speaker 

Gary Cavalli, the former Sports Information Director and Associate Athletic Director at Stanford University, was co-founder and executive director of the college football bowl game played in the Bay Area, and previously was co-founder and President of the American Basketball League.

Get in touch//@cavalli49//gacavalli49@gmail.com

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