Pigskin prospects, and a fight to remember

If you’re a sports fan, it’s been a weekend. Let’s take a look back:

  • Let’s start with the state of college football in the Bay Area. What a study of contrasts,

Was about to write Stanford salvaged some pride in a disappointing season with its seventh straight Big Game win over Cal last Saturday, but a peek at the stat sheet shows the Cardinal to be 8-3, with the losses coming to this year’s Pac-12 heavyweights, Washington, Washington State and Colorado. Yes, Colorado!

A trip to Pasadena seems unlikely, but bowls will definitely be calling.

Then there’s California. Has there been a bigger mess in Strawberry Canyon since Memorial Stadium’s rebuild?

The fine folks in Berkeley knew they were hiring an offensive coach when Sonny Dykes was hired four years ago, but one lesson is being reinforced week after week: You can’t discount defense in the Pac-12 like you did in the WAC. At times you wonder if the Bears aren’t studying some of the finest matadors in Mexico when making their defensive recruiting lists.

  • Then there’s this weekend’s anti-Big Game, when San Jose State heads over Pacheco Pass to meet Fresno State in a battle of rivals that have fallen upon hard times.

Both are coming off heartbreaking late losses, the Bulldogs losing when a field goal was blocked on the last play of the game, seconds after Hawaii scored the go-ahead touchdown, while San Jose State yielded a late touchdown to Air Force.

We’ve also got a battle between a lame-duck interim coach at Fresno vs. one who may be on shaky ground at SJSU.

Still, it’s a rivalry game, and I’m sure both schools have thrown the records in the recycling bin getting ready for this one. And who knows, we may get another finish like this one (alas, I don’t have a recording of the call by Ken Korach and Dave Ellis on KCBS of this one, but would love a copy if anyone’s in a giving mood!) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xu3rSTjLSQY

  • Then there’s the 49ers. Or to misquote Henny Youngman, take them, please.

Change seems inevitable, but in the GM’s office, or the coach’s office?

Trent Baalke seems the most likely candidate after the disassembly of a team that was in the Super Bowl a few years ago and just seconds away from it the next.

Hard to blame Chip Kelly for not turning this sow’s ear into a silk purse in one season, but ya have to wonder, despite words to the contrary, how much longer he can re$i$t offers from places to stay with a team that tried to put the fun in dysfunction, but even fumbled that opportunity.

  • Meanwhile, another tale in the story of the Bay area’s least appreciated champion, Oakland boxer Andre Ward, was written in Las Vegas Saturday night with his 12-round decision over Sergey Kovalev for the WBA, WBC and IBF light heavyweight belts.

Ward was knocked down for the first time in his pro career in the second round and appeared to be on the verge of his first loss since he was 12 at the midpoint of this 12-rounder.

But remember, Ward is not a boxer who goes for the big KO punch, but is a student of the art of boxing, who did what it takes to earn the one-point win on all three scorecards.

Was the fix in? Very, very unlikely. Even in his dispute with the late promoter Dan Goossen, Ward has always conducted himself with class. It’s unfortunate this suit and being stripped of his Super Six title by the politics of boxing has marred this legacy.

A bad decision? Who knows, considering some of the beauts we’ve seen in boxing of late.

But, because it is boxing, there will be a rematch. And who knows what that might bring?


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