Thursdays With Raider: The Return of the Mangino


Raider Thoughts

Cal finally did what they probably should have done about three years ago and fired Jeff Tedford.  There are two or three moments in his tenure where you pretty muchknew that Cal wasn’t going to be what Oregon is now or even what Washington once was.  But I have arrived at a postulate here and I’m going to formally present it to your readers as well as the internet.  I now feel as though I can present to you the formalvetting of what I like to call The McBride Theory.

Let us compare for a moment the two tenures of Tedford and McBride.  From roughly the time the Port Huron Statement was drafted until Tedford got hired, Cal hadaccomplished a whole lot of nothing.  Like I’ve said in this feature in the past, when I was a youngster in the Bay, no one outside of the alumni of either Cal or Stanford cared about their football teams.  It took Miami when they were “Da U” to come there and play for anybody to notice them.  They had one good year (1991) under BruceSnyder that was followed up by a lot of Keith Gilbertson, Steve Mariucci, and Tom Holmoe awesomeness.  Stop and think about that for a minute.  Cal was so bad at one point they hired Tom Holmoe to coach them.  I mean, that would be like some school in Utah County hiring a very bad former PAC head coach and….oh, wait.

Utah as most of us know went through a very comparable and very lengthy rough patch, with one game (the 1988 Holy War) as the glimmer of hope rather than an entire season.  But then McBride showed up and we know the story there.  Let’s look at the records of the two, shall we?:

Overall Records:

McBride 88-63 Tedford 79-48

Bowl Appearances/Records:

McBride 3-3 (6 appearances) Tedford 5-3 (8 appearances)

Tedford did share a conference title in 2006 and Mac shared two conference titles (one WAC and one MWC), but my point behind the theory is this: some schools, franchises, and so on become so moribund that one coach brings them to a reasonable amount of success.  But at some point, the natives get restless and higher expectations are placed upon their shoulders.  After a certain point, they hit a glass ceiling and then things start to go sideways.  And so it was with Tedford and this theory’s namesake.  Of course, we saw what happened after McBride was fired and it remains to be seen what Cal’s next move will be, but let’s apply this to other sports.

–You will hate me for this, but Dan Reeves fits this theory more than you may realize. Now, Denver wasn’t exactly the Washington Generals before he arrived, but he neverquite got over the hump for reasons that may or may not be his fault.  If you dare, feel free to expound upon that.

–Rick Adelman had the distinction of achieving this phenomenon twice.  First with the Trail Blazers in the early 90s and then with the Sacramento Kings, culminating in a Western Conference Final against the Lakers where every shooter they had couldn’t hit the broadside of a Rio Linda double wide in Game 7.  It might have been the only time I could remember where I actually didn’t immediately root against the Lakers.

–I probably ought to throw in Dusty Baker here for my own sake, but I’m going to mix in another airing of grievance and mention Darryl Sutter’s tenure with the Sharks, whocouldn’t get past the Avalanche, and then continues to torment us by beating the Sharks in the 2004 Western Conference Final and win a Cup with the Kings.  Just end the lockout now and nobody gets hurt, got it!?!?!?

Add or subtract others at your own peril.  Remember, it’s science!

MAC Thoughts

While I am a believe in the McBride Theory, here is a question I wonder out loud before we attach it to Cal and Tedford.  Is Cal in fact a place where you could seriously win the Pac-12.  When you look at the Pac-12.  USC is committed to doing whatever it takes to win at football.  UCLA and Stanford trying to win at football and are committed to the minor sports.  And then you have Cal.  If you’re a kid looking at those schools, why on earth do you pick Cal.

And I’ll add a second part to this, Colin Cowherd said (and yeah I hate quoting him but I’m right here) that when hippies can affect your program you’re not a real program.  There should be an Oregon addendum to that which reads, unless you’re willing to spend billions so the hippies don’t matter.  With Cal you have a fan base which is a little too cool for school.  In a city where there are a billion other things to do if things don’t go right.  You’re a great academic school who has the misfortune of being next to one of the very best in the country.  I don’t know at the end of the day what Cal’s selling point is.

I think it was time for Tedford to go, but I’m not sure anyone else can really hope for better.

As for the others you mention, I want to address Dan Reeves specifically.  Dan Reeves is a moron.  Dan Reeves got handed a once in a generation QB and thought, I’ll run the ball and play defense and then when the game is close I’ll let Elway go.  Imagine if you had John Elway, big QB with a cannon who can also run.  Now imagine if he could play in today’s spread offenses.  If you just had some talent at WR and on the O-Line, that becomes unstoppable.  Dan Reeves would do that in the last two minutes of ever game and never once thought, hey lets try this during the other 58.  Then he drafted Tommy Maddox while Elway is in his prime?  Reeves might be the perfect McBride guy because he actually had greatness close enough to tough and refused to grab it.

The other thing I might say about the McBride theory, is that in a way, the whole of the Utah fan base was holding us back.  I mean all we wanted from McBride was a conference championship that we didn’t share with 4 other teams.  If he’d won two of those, hell maybe he’s still our coach and Kyle is kicking our ass in Provo.

It’s why I say Urban Meyer is a miracle worker.  Literally we have a fanbase talking about firing a coach who took us to a BCS game.  That guy drug and entire program and fans and said, we can be SO MUCH FREAKING MORE.  To the point that many of us have become delusional idiots.

BTW, did you see the Jon Embree press conference.  Colorado should be embarrassed on every level. In a way it seemed like the Jim Boylen firing, we’re doing it for some reason we can’t articulate, because we should magically be better, yet we’ve done nothing to support the program and have no real plan to get there.  This kind of gave me a reason to hate Colorado.

Raider Thoughts

Humor me in a scenario where I make a sales pitch to a potential recruit–and a very specific type of recruit–to get them to Berkeley.

Let’s say you’re a skill position player and you play at De La Salle High.  Your a team that’s a crown jewel of high school football and in large part, you could probably have your pick of whatever school offers you a scholarship.  (Yeah, I know, there are schools in the CIF Southern Section that have just as much talent as De La Salle and the sections in the North aren’t quite as good, yadda yadda yadda.  That’s not my point and I’m not going to get into a California high school football argument.)  Why would that kid go to Cal?  Oh, I don’t know, maybe he’s an East Bay kid from Richmond or East Oakland and his single mom busted her back side to get him into that school.  Maybe he’d like to go to a USC or Oregon, but they won’t give him the time of day.  This particular kid has the talent to play at the D-I level and unless he’s a drooling idiot he’ll do just fine with a degree from Cal (bonus points if this kid has some sort of conscience about Darfur or Kony or wants to get a Primitive Cultures degree or something.)  That kid plays with a chip on his shoulder and thanks to the coach that recruited him, Cal becomes the power they thought they should have been.

In theory at least, Chris Petersen can make that pitch.  He’s done it at Boise State, where it seems like you have an entire football team, university, city, and most of the state that operates with a chip on their collective shoulder, so it would make sense that he could attempt something similar at Cal.  It’s why I have mentioned to my brother whenever BCS jobs come open that the one he needs to worry about the most is Cal.  It would be a working relationship nothing short of perfect.  The only problem with that is that Cal probably doesn’t have the kind of money it might take to get him there, if the 11th hour salvation of their baseball program is any indication.

(All this is, to paraphrase Cowherd “hippies permitting”, so apply as much or as little of that as you so choose.)

There’s a significant chance I’m remembering this wrong, but when I first moved toDenver country, the number of people who would probably have done something lewd and lascivious with another man to get them a “running game” astounded me.  Ipresent this not to knock running the ball and playing defense, but to keep in mind that if you’re going to be a running team–as Coach Bud Kilmer in “Varsity Blues” once admonished–it’s probably not a good idea to depend on the services of BobbyHumphrey or Gaston Green.  This is where I always felt a little uppity when I could say quietly in the corner “yeah, that’s right Donkeys, we have Bo Jackson…oh, wait, he blew out his hip in the 1990 AFC Division Playoff against the Bengals…we have Marcus Allen…oh, wait, that was Al’s Pyrrhic Victory…but we have Napoleon McCallum now…oh, wait, he blew out his knee in the 1994 Monday night openeragainst the Niners…so yeah, now I’m angry.

As for Elway and your reference to the types of offenses that exist now, couldn’t hehave done just fine in a run and shoot type of offense?  I’m thinking, of course, of the Jerry Glanville era Houston Oilers, who had this kind of season in 1989:

Granted, that offense had to be good, because for the most part, their defense couldn’t stop a Betamax.  But imagine if you will Elway throwing bullets to Drew Hill and Ernest Givens and Haywood Jeffires.  He may not have gotten them deep into the playoffs as often as he did with Denver, but it did pop into my mind.  And yes, I know, he had something similar to that with the Three Amigos, but ponder that and get back to me.

I’ve kind of gone off on an NFL tangent with this reply, so I have to include the 4th and eleventy billion the Ravens converted against the Chargers on Sunday.  You can watch this and I’ll make some comments when you’re done.

Okay, a few things here:

1. If this EPIC FAIL doesn’t get Norv Turner fired, then A.J. Smith will never fire him.

2. Eric Weddle gets lit up on this play.  He wasn’t seriously injured, but it gives me pause to remind my fellow Ute fans that I’m not less of a Ute fan simply because I don’t choose to bandwagon NFL teams because of a single former Ute football player. Don’t give me the whole “don’t you want former Utes to do well” line.  I do, but in thewords of Hyman Roth in “The Godfather II”, “…I said to myself, this is the business we’ve chosen I didn’t ask who gave the order, because it had nothing to do with business!”

3. Hiring Bobby Ross might have been the best coaching/personnel move they’veever made and they did that almost 20 years ago.  Think about that.

Here’s the thing I need to ask concerning the meltdown at Colorado: what of The Hippie Factor, as I’m going to refer to this from henceforth?  Were it not for that, is CU a) still in the Big XII, b) more relevant to the point where they stay as far away from Dan Hawkinsas they could, let alone Jon Embree, c) recruiting the same types of players Bill McCartney got and no one would have been the wiser?  This may need to be properly formulated, but it wouldn’t hurt to take this a step further.

 MAC Thoughts

While I don’t disagree with the pitch Chris Petersen could make at Cal (or maybe Arkansas if those rumors are to be believed), but can you win like that.  It’s one thing if you’re Boise and have to get up a couple of times a season with kids like that and they you have New Mexico St.  But as Utah is finding out, it’s quite another to do it every week.  So the question becomes, could Pete do more at Cal?  Or if he can’t and he’s tired of waiting for one of the Super Major jobs to come open, does he take Arkansas’ big pile of money and ride off into the sunset, leaving all Boisians sticky broke and confused.

First I’m saddened you didn’t mention the great and glorious Sammy Winder as another AWESOME Bronco running back.  Also was there ever a group of crappier receivers to get a nickname than the Three Amigos?  I say this as I can recall my Three Amigos poster on the wall of my bedroom in Evanston, WY.  And truthfully, I think I’d be a lot more defensive about all that, except Shanny came and got us two Super Bowls, probably a third if Michael Dean Perry gets his fat ass off the field against Jacksonville.

But I think it was the era just thinking you had to have a running game.  I mean back then Air Force was still a full wishbone team.  Colroado St. was two backs but ran all the time and it wasn’t until 1986 that Dennis Erickson brought the concept of the forward pass to Laramie, and it frightened us.  No one thought offense like Houston or the K-Gun in Buffalo could really win it all.  If you’d put Elway in one of those offense, well, I do believe it would have been on, like Donkey Kong.  But I’d still go totally gay for Elway.

I have to think my response about anything San Diego does.  Aren’t they just trying to make things so bad that they get to move to the new stadium in LA?  Could there be any other reason Norv is still their coach?

Colorado is a fascinating study in how not to run an athletic program.  CU grows weary of Bill McCartney and his combination of recruiting criminals, letting them impregnate his daughter and then justifying every decision by talking about Jesus.  So to go around that they hire Rick Neuheisel.  In their defense they didn’t know Rick Neuheisel was Rick Neuheisel.  Then they topped that one with Gary Barnett.  Barnett when asked about allegations that his female kicker was raped said, “She wasn’t a very good kicker anyway.”  So now CU sucks and the economy tanks and they’re broke.  The Denver Post is theorizing that they needed a patsy to come in for a couple of years till they could afford to write  a check.  Enter a guy whose dream is head coach at Colorado, Jon Embree.

Colorado is going to have to make a giant commitment to football across the board, even to keep up with us let alone the rest of the Pac-12.  One has to wonder if they have it in them at this point?  BTW, rumor has it they’re looking at Mark Mangino.

I’ll stop now so you can have a good laugh.

 Raider Thoughts

Forgive me for the stupor of shock, but is there a worse fit for a program than CU and Mark Mangino?  That relationship probably ends before it even begins.  The only thingthat might be a worse fit is Bronco Mendenhall and…well, anyone except for BYU.  It reminds me a little bit of Giants fans who are convinced that Brian Sabean should go after Josh Hamilton. Let me be the first to say that Hamilton in the City of San Francisco is a match made in Divorce Court.

I’ve long trolled Charger fans by saying that their humble little franchise only cares about one thing and that’s beating the Raiders twice a year.  Why else do you hire Marty if you don’t have that mentality?  Why else do you hire Norv Turner after he had an offense on paper that should have scored 40 points a game but didn’t even manage to crack 20?  Per your other question, I’ve wondered about that myself.  For a while the league, in concert with CBS and FOX, had in effect made LA a Chargersmarket, but the whole “moving my team back to LA” thing is a sore subject with me, so I’ll have to shelve that for when I don’t care if I’m in a good mood or not.

Here is where I think you and I differ on Petersen being able to get kids to Arkansas. Arkansas is first and foremost an SEC school and as such they’re still prone to delusions of grandeur.  Outside of the Mississippi schools and Vanderbilt, every last one of them thinks they have a shot at a national title every year.  I didn’t includeKentucky, but you know full well that deep down they had BCS title glory on their minds when they first hired Joker Phillips.  Petersen may look at that program, look atthe mess he’d have to inherit there and say “hmmmmm, well if things don’t go well, I’d have a bunch of crazed fanatical parents *cough*Mitch Mustain*cough* all over me and then there’s the whole FOIA request for my cellphone records which happened to Houston Nutt, so I’d better stay away from that.”

Understand that I feel very conflicted about writing this, but let’s say Denver wins Super Bowl XXXI instead of the Packers.  First of all, there’s no “OMGFavre” that infests America outside of the states of Wisconsin and Mississippi, so hang your head in shame for that.  But would they have won two more if they beat the Jaguars in the divisional round?  Would Elway have retired after that game?  Also, understand how much of a temptation it is for me to compare the ascensions of Terrell Davis and Buster Posey and how both put their respective teams over the top, if for no otherreason than to make me feel better.

On the subject of coaching searches, Tennessee is pulling out all the stops to get Jon Gruden.  I know when I’m looking for a job, a part-ownership in the Cleveland Browns seals the deal for me:

Allow me to wrap this up by predicting the Pac-12 Championship Game.

UCLA v. Stanford 2: Electric Bugaloo

Since you referenced on Twitter the epic “Simers vs. Mora” battle, I can’t help but wonder if Simers was right after all.  Given the choice, which would you rather have,two chances to beat Stanford or have beat them and Oregon to get to the Rose Bowl?  Now, the fact I’m still mad at Stanford doesn’t change the fact that they’re playing some very good football.  Down the road, UCLA will be team we will have to reckon with and they’ll have more than their fair share of days in the sun, but this is Stanford’s title to lose and I don’t they they lose.

MAC Thoughts

The amazing thing about the CU story is how bad they’ve blown this whole thing.  Then, Promise Keeper Bill McCartney wades in and says that Embree got fired for being black or at least that didn’t help him keep his job.  Now no one is taking Colorado’s calls.  At the end of the day it just might have to be Mangino or Bobby Petrino because they’re they only ones who will go.

You’re probably right about Chris Peterson.  Seeing as he has stayed in Boise, I’m guessing that the last thing he wants is SEC loons.  Maybe you’ve talked me into the Cal idea.

The one story I’ve heard consistently is that Elway actually wanted a shot at a three-peat and would have returned but for Shannahan convincing him it was time.  Shanny did that mostly because he to show that he was a genius and didn’t need Steve Young or Elway.

I don’t know how much you read TJ Simers but I always kind of enjoyed his columns when I lived out there.  But I enjoy funny snark, I’m sure no one reading this has noticed.  But I am going to concede some final points here and admit that if we were keeping score, this one is a blow out for you.

  1. Elway probably doesn’t win those titles without Terrell Davis.
  2. Stanford is your Pac-12 Champion.