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Bears Up, Bruins Down, Buckeyes Falter, Beavers in Limbo, Bo Dacious; Senators Push Legislation

Congrats to head coach Justin Wilcox and his Cal Bears for earning bowl eligibility with a 33-7 dismantling of UCLA in the season finale.

The Bears finished the year on a very high note, beating Washington State, Stanford and UCLA  to reach 6-6.

Superstar running back Jadyn Ott gained 80 yards against a very tough Bruin defense and also returned a kickoff for a touchdown to spark the Bear victory. Ott finished the regular season with 1260 yards, a 5.5 per carry average and 11 TDs. He also caught 21 passes for 141 yards and two more scores.

He has established himself as one of the best running backs in the country.

Quarterback Fernando Mendoza gained the starting job midway through the season and showed poise and maturity beyond his years.

The game was poetic justice for the Bears, gaining retribution against their UC colleague, UCLA, for leaving them behind when bolting for the Big Ten.

The Bears' strong finish bodes well for their future in the ACC.

Bruins Slide: It's been one step forward, one step back for UCLA during Chip Kelly's six years at the helm. After thrashing USC, the Bruins laid an egg against Cal and are now 34-34 under Kelly.

Our rule of thumb in hiring coaches was always to get them on the way up, not on the way down. Kelly had been to the mountain top in the BCS Championship at Oregon and in the NFL Playoffs. The UCLA brass went for a name, instead of an up-and-coming coach still trying to prove himself.

As we said at the time, it was an unfortunate hire. Now, as the Bruins head into the Big Ten, it may be time for a change in Westwood.

Ohio State: It all came down to the quarterbacks in the No. 2 vs. No. 3 Michigan-Ohio State game, and Buckeye quarterback Kyle McCord was not up to the task.

On the sidelines, Buckeyes' coach Ryan Day was outmaneuvered by interim Michigan coach Sherrone Moore, who made bold fourth down calls and unveiled some creative special plays. 

Most perplexing was Day letting the clock wind down just before the half to set up a 52-yard field goal attempt, which was unsuccessful.

Day has now lost three straight to the Wolverines, who head into the Big Ten championship game against an Iowa team that has no offense.

Michigan should win in a cakewalk and go on to the College Football Playoff.

Beavers' Loss: It seemed like a match made in heaven. Jonathan Smith, a former star quarterback at Oregon State, brought his alma mater to new heights as head coach. 

But with OSU's future in limbo due to the dissolution of the Pac-12, he bolted for a high-paying job at Michigan State, where he'll try to clean up the Mel Tucker mess.

Good luck with that. The Big Ten next year will include Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State, Iowa, USC, UCLA, Washington, and Oregon. It's going to take some time to resurrect a Spartan program decimated by scandal and an unstable administration.

Meanwhile, the Beavers now must try to find a head coach and hold onto their players, while still working to determine whether they'll be part of the Pac-2 with Washington State, join forces with the Mountain West, or form another makeshift Pac-something conference.

Ducks Rising: Down the road in Eugene, Oregon is playing like one of the two or three best teams in the country.

Washington's Michael Penix was the top player in college football for the first half of the season, but he's been overtaken by Oregon's Bo Nix, who's completing just under 80% of his passes while throwing for 3900 yards and 37 touchdowns, with only 2 interceptions, and rushing for another six scores.

Look for the Ducks to win the Pac-12 championship handily and Nix to claim the Heisman trophy.

Booker/Blumenthal Push: New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, the former Stanford tight end, and Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal, who 25 years ago backed the American Basketball League against the anti-trust tactics of the WNBA, are pushing legislation that would protect college athletes and enforce national policies on NIL: 

"I think college football and college sports in general is in crisis right now. We all see it, and this is nothing new that the almighty dollar has been controlling the game. We've seen time and time again over the years how that's been most often the most important principle...not the well-being of athletes. What we want to do it put athletes at the center of this finally, not only just empowering them with NIL rules but protecting them from a lot of the--frankly--exploitation that we've seen over the years."

Blumenthal adds: "I think what's most important is keeping our eye on the ball. What's best for the athletes? And it isn't just more dollars in their pockets. It's also educational outcomes, health outcomes."

Unfortunately, most of the suits running college football and basketball lost sight of what's best for the athletes long ago.


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//

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