Following a college sports team is a lot like following a small-market major league baseball team. Every few years, all the best players move on, so you have to keep finding new favorite players in this year's team, and keep "cheering for laundry" as Jerry Seinfeld said. Yay blue shirts! Boo white shirts!
The Cal Bears kicked off their 2008 football season yesterday night, but most of last year's marquee players (including DeSean Jackson, Justin Forsett, Lavelle Hawkins, and Robert Jordan) have moved on, so there's a whole new team of blue shirts on offense and defense.
One position where Cal has continuity this year is quarterback, which was supposed to be a battle between redshirt sophomore Kevin Riley (Cal's energetic and exciting quarterback of the future) and senior Nate Longshore (Cal's quarterback of the past, who sucks eggs). Last year, Longshore led the Bears to a 5-0 start before they hit the skids and struggled to a 6-6 regular season, barely good enough to qualify for a bowl. When Cal fell behind 21-0 midway through that bowl game (The Armed Forces Bowl against Air Force), Jeff Tedford pulled Longshore and put the freshman Riley at QB, who rallied the Bears to a 42-36 victory.
That should have given Riley the starting job until he messed up, but the position was open at the start of 2008. For yesterday's game against Michigan State, Riley started and played most of the game (throwing two touchdown passes), and Longshore started a couple of series in the second quarter (throwing two interceptions, one which MSU returned for a touchdown).
After this game, there should not be any quarterback controversy in Berkeley. Kevin Riley will start for the rest of this season (and the next two seasons unless he turns pro early) and Nate Longshore will spend his senior season holding for place kicks and handing off to the backup fullback at the end of 30 point blowouts.
Other than the quarterback nontroversy, it was an impressive start for the Cal blue shirts who beat the Michigan State white shirts 38-31. This year's Justin Forsett is Shane Vereen (who broke one run for an 80 yards) , this year's DeSean Jackson is Jahvid Best (who was impressive last year before he suffered an injury against USC), and this year's tree people are the same losers from last year. It's costing $20k per day for the Berkely police to "protect" them. Why don't they just go to Amoeba and pay $10 for a used copy of Reign In Blood? According to South Park, loud thrash metal is the best way to repel dirty smelly hippies!
For some reason, I still want to call Kevin Riley "Kevin Gilbert", which means I'm either confusing him with this guy or this guy. I also keep wanting to call the 49ers new starting quarterback J.T. O'Sullivan "Gilbert O'Sullivan" (due to a childhood listening to 1970s AM radio). I will be spending Saturdays and Sundays this entire Fall shouting "get down Gilbert!" at the TV while people around me say "who's Gilbert?".