The original ‘Big Game’ just got a whole lot smaller
Reminiscent of the fears over schedule changes as a result of SEC conference expansion and partial divisional realignment, the Pac-12 Conference left a lot to be desired when it released its schedule for 2012 on Wednesday. Next season, Stanford and Cal will play on October 20. Yes, the 2012 Cal-Stanford game will be played on the third saturday in October.
The problem with that is not that these schools are trying to steal anything from the Tennessee-Alabama series, but rather that for decades — the first so-called Big Game was played in 1892 — these two cross-bay rivals played each other as the last scheduled game, typically in late November or early December.
This rivalry has seen many memorable games, extra-curricular events, and plays, most notably ‘The Play’ at the end of the 1982 game in Berkeley when four Cal players lateraled the ball five times on a kickoff return with four seconds left in the game, ending with Kevin Moen running into Stanford’s endzone, and running over Stanford trombone player Gary Tyrrell, for the game-winning score.
But now, a bit of that extra-special feel to the rivalry has been stripped away. The game in 2012 will be the first time that it has been played in October, and only the fifth time that it has not been staged in November. The athletic directors of Cal and Stanford voted ‘no’, but the majority of the twleve ADs voted yes to alter history. As Stanford’s AD Bob Bowlsby said, “the conference is governed by the will of the majority, and we have a duty to respect the outcome of the vote.”
I say you have the duty to lobby your league mates and make sure that this kind of travesty never happens again. However, both Cal and Stanford are a bit to blame for tainting their storied rivalry. Both institutions expressed their desire not to play the game on Thanksgiving week, so they presented alternatives. Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott weighed in by indicating that the conference’s championship game, scheduled for November 30, plus priorities related to the conference’s new television argeement beginning next year, can result in “occasional date adjustments to rivalry games.”
This should be a lesson to the SEC and their various member institutions and ADs — if the people in the San Francisco Bay Area are upset about this, no telling what might happen in the American South if games like Bama-Tennessee, Auburn-Alabama, and others are messed with for the sake of convenience and television contracts. It all reminds me of that famous line from Bob Dylan’s It’s Alright Ma…Disillusioned words like bullets bark
As human gods aim for their mark
Make everything from toy guns that spark
To flesh-colored Christs that glow in the dark
It’s easy to see without looking too far
That not much is really sacred.