The novel: Washington State Football (2021) – by Nam Le

At the end of the first half of Saturday’s game, Pac-12 Network showed Justin Wilcox limping – without crutches, but limping – Cal’s sideline. The Bears were only down by one score at the time, just hours before they ended up losing by two, but I found myself in the aftermath drawn to what, frankly, might be the best metaphor. visual of the program right now.

Just limping, aimlessly.

The Bears are now 1-4, having been physically battered by the Cougar 7 front and playing them up close in defense. It wasn’t enough, however, to keep Wazzu at 4.4 yards per play, as they were never able to turn their own chances into points, and another critical series of special teams mistakes – a first in my life this week: a blocked punt that went for a first down – surely didn’t help.

As Nick and I both noted, this loss to the bottom of the conference has parallels with how Oregon State dominated the Bears for the 2016 team: a silent recognition that even the most lukewarm and patient sects in the blogosphere, this time has exhausted that era. When that decisive action arrives – and remember, Sonny Dykes was set to return for 2017, even after all of this – depends on the actions of a notoriously slow sports department and trying to predict the timing for that body to act competently. is pretty useless. effort. Whether that day is this offseason or the next, the reality is that after five years, albeit with slightly higher highs and slightly lower lows, Cal has returned to the same place he was then under Dykes: knowing that the arc of the program has already reached its peak with the man currently in charge.

It’s not hard to imagine the Bears playing tug-of-war with Wilcox in the same way – leaving him to linger until they are forced to act, but it sure looks like the fanbase in his together have already decided to stop it. There were reports that “the late Wilcox” was chanted in the student section on Saturday, and by the second half most of them were already gone; to say nothing of the fan talk or empty seats everywhere else. It was at this speed that the goodwill dissipated: from an SS outburst for the opener against Nevada, to the dozens of surviving students standing against Washington State; from a loud Friday night crowd in 2019, to this one.

Would you blame someone who decided to enjoy a precious weekend afternoon in sunny California? This team is not who they expected to see – all the posts were about a group that, now not so ravaged by the pandemic, was and is supposed to be competing this season, and there isn’t even not really the glimpse of a Pac -12 tough squads everywhere to get. Give them back any injured or retired starters, and that doesn’t change either; not when the people who are supposed to be leading them are busy correcting a different mistake every week.

It’s a good time for a goodbye, to say the least – if not to rest, then certainly to step back and recharge, for all involved.

What is confusing is that when the Bears come out always have a chance to pull something off the conference slate. This is how the Pac-12 is down this season – one more of the endless frustrations of not being able to take advantage of such a thing so far – to the point that a bowl always is not mathematically off the table.

Let’s say, at best, the Bears come out of the stretch and finish 5-2, or 6-1 to grab a playoff appearance, as we’ve been talking about in this space the past few weeks. If so, should I reverse course and get back into the boat? Do most of the fans? I can’t sit here and say confidently anyway – but finding her way back to a bowl bunk would definitely be another boring thing to factor in when interpreting her work, which includes a year already in us. canceled because of the pandemic, a year we canceled because Chase Garbers was injured during key periods, to cap off a two-year period in which Wilcox’s signing unit definitely began to decline.

In fact, there hasn’t been a series of games under Wilcox yet that we couldn’t find a way to cancel because X, Y, or Z were lacking, be it players, time. preparation or other. Going back to a theoretical bowl would take us back to the start of a very familiar cycle, in which we talk to each other about all the pieces lined up under it for discord, as it did in 2020, and again this preseason.

It would be three years in a row with the program in a wait-and-see pattern, espousing the same mottos and the same expectations.

But this, and to some extent, last year already was supposed to be the competing team (which, to be fair, I really thought it would too), and if 7-5 or 6-6 is what we get at the end of the season, there’s a ton of talent at the start at the end of the year – impossible to project because of the additional eligibility available – and the team will find itself awkwardly in mid-reconstruction by 2022. Would you bet on this project which will bear fruit immediately?

And with a more average situation, Cal is still getting closer to a bowl – maybe 4, maybe 5 wins, as there are still more to be won, as there were earlier with TCU, Nevada, both Washington. – to… kick the box on the road to 2022, hoping again for a breakthrough in a year which, as we saw above, could involve, among other things, the introduction of a new QB. (We don’t need to spend mental energy discussing victory scenarios 1-3, which I hope the sports department would recognize, have to lead to his ouster.)

In either of the above cases, do you see them improving from 2019? With this staff at the helm?

I cannot answer this question for you.

Fandom is its own Rorschach test, and I don’t blame any of my remaining peers who still cling to the belief that a turnaround is happening, because I still desperately want such a thing too, even though I do. can’t convince me it’s in store.

I can note ironically, however, that the Washington State home game five years ago was the first glimpse of what Wilcox could bring to Berkeley. And that something seems… poetic, that they maybe also gave the last glimpse.

About Karren Campbell

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