Hey there buddy, it’s been a rough week hasn’t it? The height of midterms, the respiratory illness being passed around by rundown pre-meds, the increasingly irritable weather and rasssin’ frasssin’ all my sport teams lost.
Sorry, did I slip from third to first there? Didn’t notice. As much as 2014’s rendition of Stanford football is disappointing, it certainly did not end in Arizona last weekend. No, it ended in South Bend when a Notre Dame tight end decided that he kind of wanted to win the game, took a leisurely stroll down the left seam, took a slight turn to the left, walked to the left corner of the end zone, stopped to talk to the leprechaun (which, by the way, had its first ethnic rendition in 1999; is it any surprise that the band is too risqué for them?) and then, apologetically, caught the winning touchdown.
OK, now that the sour grapes are done with, it’s time for some much-needed perspective and history lesson. As disappointing as this football season may seem, I firmly believe that I have been truly lucky to witness the current lofty heights that our football team has reached in a ridiculously short timespan. Does anyone remember Trent Edwards? If not, it’s story time.
Before Shaw, before the man named Jim, there was Walt Harris. He had, by all accounts, been a very competent coach in the now-defunct Big East. He guided the Pittsburgh Panther’s to moderate success and coached the likes of Larry Fitzgerald en-route to a Fiesta Bowl loss. After that season he was jettisoned and a 4-7 Stanford team picked him up to the tune of a 2-9 record. Now back to Trent, who really deserves a lot of credit for being on crummy teams and parlaying it into an NFL career that, believe it or not, continues today, if only on practice squads. Given the talent routinely told to shove it and never come back by the NFL, I have to say, that’s pretty impressive.
The futility of the Walt Harris years are perfectly epitomized by one play: Trent Edwards punting from the shotgun on third down. And by one play, I don’t mean that it was an isolated occurrence; it happened multiple times a game. If that is not an exercise in futility, then you don’t understand which definition of exercise I’m using (one could very reasonably assume that the players were indeed getting some exercise on those plays).
Fast forward a year and the irrepressible Tavita Prichard in his first-ever start made three incredible plays in a row — yes, one to receiver Richard Sherman — famously ending in the sideline throw to Mark Bradford. The world shuddered and delicious tears dripped down the cheeks of USC fans and, like some bloodless and poorly reenacted Battle of Hastings, the single event and the stuff of legends would both signal and establish a new order in what would shortly become the Pac-12.
Still there? Good, now to admonish you for feeling things about football. OK, truth be told, I am probably just as jaded and disappointed as the rest of you. But, having gone to Stanford games through the end of an age, I can say quite confidently that the current rendition is much better than the previous one. Therefore, I posit that we’re spoiled. We really are. What’s more, we continue to be despite the fact that our football team has not lived up to the lofty expectations bestowed upon them at the beginning of the year.
You do know about that Director’s Cup thing, right? I believe it is a point of pride here and “The Streak” continues well beyond the dark ages of Stanford football. The point being, there are a lot of other sports out there that Stanford has and will continue to excel at. That’s just math.
Do you know what that means? It means you can go watch greatness happen. Not just winning stuff greatness, which is indeed great. I mean the genuine article, the real deal, something like what happened that fateful fall night at the L.A. Coliseum in 2007.
Go watch the second-ranked Cardinal women’s soccer team and their future Olympians. Seriously, there are already three members of that team on track to be on the national team and I would be shocked if they were the only ones.
You disappointed freshman, you let-down upperclassmen, go watch for no other reason than to tell your kids you were there when Jane Cambpell stood like a stone wall. Go watch the 10th-ranked men’s team and Brandon Vincent before they move on to leagues around the world.
Don’t like the world’s game? How about the top women’s volleyball team in the nation? I don’t think I need to elaborate on that one. It’s alright, I will anyway: There are athletes on that team that will be on the plane to either Rio or Tokyo, and yes that is the Olympics again.
It is so easy to get swept up in the malaise of football, if it can even be called that. There are people, myself included (albeit in a higher pitched, cracking voice), that would have laughed in genuine hilarity at any contention that Stanford would be disappointed in losing to the 7th and 14th ranked teams in the country.
So don’t get down there, friend. Use your mild disillusionment to start enjoying what people around the world pay exorbitant amounts for (yeah, I know we are too) to see world class athletes compete. But it doesn’t stop there. Every time the underappreciated athletes put on the Cardinal jersey, emblazoned with a redwood, they represent you and me. Their sacrifice is our glory. Let’s get out there and let them know we appreciate it — and do it loud.
Sure, Nic plugged the men’s and women’s soccer and volleyball teams, but where’s his love for the Cardinal’s distance runners? They’re in-season too, you know. Tell Nic why he should venture out to the Stanford Golf Course to watch the cross country squads compete at nradoff ‘at’ stanford.edu.